Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Summary.

Lately, the frequency and regularity with, which I uploaded posts on the blog is comparable to the transparency of the Belarusian electoral system. Nonetheless, I decided it’s time: time to sum up some of the events of the first semester in Prague. I’ll pick a few subjectively most interesting things.

1.     Czech elections: Those took place in late October. At first sight, not even close to an event that would attract attention of an average Erasmus student, right? Wrong. Already the campaign was quite eventful. One of the parties, which gained close to 20% of votes is led by some German-Czech aristocrat whose facial appearance would suggest that his roots lie somewhere between rural Moldova and the Bosnian highlands. If this wasn’t enough, his electoral posters portrayed him on a James Bond themed dark background trying to pull off a Bond smile, yet achieving a level of charm similar to this of an elephant speeding through African wastelands. Soon after the elections I found out that Czech politicians are the second least-trusted political in the world, right after Tanzanian elite. I wonder why.

2.     A cultural expedition to Warsaw: Also during the final week of October I visited my hometown together with a group of German and French volunteers (the Germans promised they wouldn’t stay this time around). The first and only disappointment struck my companions a few days before departure when they revealed the level of their geographical knowledge of Central Europe. “What? It takes 10 hours to get to Warsaw? I thought it’s like 4 hours away”. Gathering all my patience, I calmly explained that the capital of Poland is in fact over 600km away, we are going by bus not by some bourgeois TGV or other fast vehicle and that Polish roads on this route still do not quite fulfil the European standards. Also, the bus stopped in a couple of other smaller Polish cities. In order to make time fly faster we purchased a couple of divine beverages, which we consumed during the first hours of the trip. Sleep was somewhat easier afterwards. The stay itself was surprisingly productive. Aside from the obvious nighttime activities whose details will not be disclosed at the request of the aforementioned companions (What happens in Warsaw... blah blah blah) we managed to see most of the city. Needless to say, I tried to point out to my German friends’ whose fault it is that the majority of the buildings look chaotic and were constructed after the end of World War II.  We returned safely and in one piece (which was not a given).

3.     A cultural expedition around the Czech Republic: This happened around the end of November when 5 of us fit into a Skoda (Skoda. What else?) and travelled 800km in three days. The landscapes were absolutely outstanding. Castles and old towns of places outside of Prague also surprised us positively. On top of that, our accommodation wasn’t of the worst standard either. This was what we did not expect especially after hearing the locations and names of our hostels: Horni 19 in Brno and Hostel Havana in Cesky Krumlov. I must say the names were not close as attractive as some other global hotel chains would be. Giving our car back, a friend who travelled with us expressed her satisfaction with the car we rented (the cheapest one on offer, of course). The employee of our car rental looked at us as if he was about to have a heart attack. The only disappointing episode of the trip was the state of the main motorway in the country. It looked and felt like a whole division of Soviet tanks travelled on it just yesterday, not over 40 years ago.


Jan