Much ado about nothing….

I’ve been pretty solidly putting off writing anything on here for a few months. But now I feel guilty because I finally posted my foreign police rant and I feel like now I need something a bit more positive to off-set it. So here goes. Positivity!
Overall this spring was pretty quiet. We were definitely not as busy as we were last year at work, to give you an idea, last may I had 154 units and this May I had 118. Not particularly great. But I have managed to start with a few private students which really helped me out, in addition to being a nice change of pace. Actually being able to pull my own material and do something outside of the school guidelines was a lot of fun. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be continuing with them with the holidays coming up, but I’m hoping at least through this month.
Also, I finally half-won my work battle for my tax money I was owed. One of the other guys is still trying to get his, depending how he decides to handle it, I might go in with him to see if I can get the other 55% I estimate that they pocketed. But, that’s corporate-Czech for you. Ha.

I was hoping to actually get out of Prague this summer and so I applied to a whole pile of summer camps and was offered jobs at 2. One was in Russia and I decided not to take it for a variety of reasons, and the other was in Switzerland. I got ridiculously, ridiculously excited about this one, and was subsequently crushed when the director called and said there was no way he could get my work permit and visa through in less than a month. So next year, I will be applying in January. Damn you bureaucracy! So in Prague I will be all summer. I still might go work at one of our kids camps for a week, but I haven’t been sold on it yet. We’ll see how many teachers they actually need and how many hours they can scrape together for us. Two teachers are already leaving for sure, and I’m hoping a few others bail for the summer. I think they’re pretty much expecting it, so hopefully there will be enough hours for those of us left. Apparently they’re offering a whole pile of week-long semi-intensive courses, but have had little to no interest in them. And the other day I overheard our boss speaking to a couple who want to send their visiting niece and nephew to us for a few weeks of intensive English, and I think I’ll be one of the only kids teachers left, so maybe I can snag those. But nothing is definite.

And as in the previous post, I am once again in waiting mode to see if my new visa comes through. My new work permit should be ready, our receptionist just needs to go pick it up for me. I have to go see about the visa in the first week of July when of course, we have 2 national holidays on Monday and Tuesday. So Wednesday it is. I’m planning on going to Germany for the long weekend so hopefully the Deutsch/Czech police don’t get all crazy on me.

Speaking of travel… how about I get to those positive topics? Sounds good, right?

In March I finally got my first visitor across the pond. I would say it was successful because she is already planning her triumphant return in fall. So my good friend from college, Alicia, came on over and together we visited the Emerald Isle for a little St. Patty’s Day ridiculousness. Here is the sole picture of either of us while there…
We hit all the high points in Dublin (or tried to anyway). ChristChurch Cathedral, Trinity College with the Book of Kells, Guinness, Jameson, and of course the Temple Bar area for the St. Patty’s Day fun. We even got up reasonably early on the day and got front row spots for the parade. We may have made a small child cry because we didn’t move, but really, there was no where to go. Everyone was so lovely and friendly, it was really a great visit. AND the guy giving us the tour at the Jameson Distillery was wearing a Green Bay Packer wristband. Fantastic. And the Irish breakfast TOTALLY made up for the last year of people trying to pass off a bun and ham as breakfast. Forget that, hit me with some eggs, some sausage, real bacon…. yum. I actually did take a picture which can be found in my Dublin album on the usual site.

In addition to Dublin, Alicia was in Prague for about 5 days and I think we showed her a reasonably good time, despite our apparent ‘fail’ syndrome. When we went up to Prague Castle and tried going into St. Vitus, it was closed. When we tried to take the funicular up Petrin Hill, it was closed. Go figure. But we saw most of the important stuff. I even got my private student, Tereza, to meet us and give us a little walking tour for one of her lessons. I thought a Prague tour by an actual Czech person would be nice and she did a lovely job. So all in all, I think Alicia had a decent time, since before she left we started planning her return trip in September/October, during which we will go to Oktoberfest. I’m not sure, but she might be trying to kill me. Oh well.

While Alicia’s visit was fabulous, I definitely needed some serious recovery time. Luckily I had about 2 months before my next visitor arrived. My friend Cassie from high school decided to come on over for her very first Euro-trip. And I admit, I feel a bit bad because I’m pretty sure I wore her little butt out. Sorry, hun. She arrived late on a Thursday and we decided to roll on to Vienna first thing on Friday morning. So we hopped a bus on Friday for the 5-hour (lovely) drive to Austria. We pretty much just wandered around Friday afternoon/evening, with the intention of getting up and being productive on Saturday.

Our first stop on Saturday was Cafe Landtmann for breakfast. Supposedly lots of famous people have eaten there, but really it was the lovely outdoor seating area for great people watching that appealed to me. Plus it came recommended by my friend who had studied abroad in Vienna and sent me a 2-page list of suggestions on where to go and what to see! (Thanks, Roni!) After that, we decided to head to a flea market that Cassie had read about in one of the books. We spent a solid couple of hours there, but definitely found some treasures amidst the junk. Wee, presents! It was a huge flea market, and absolutely packed with people. I did alright for a while but definitely was ready to roll by the time we left. Luckily from there we headed to Schoennbrun Schloss, which is a pretty serious palace. It was pretty much in the style of Versailles, but smaller (sorry Austrians). We didn’t go in, but went around the gardens. And even then we didn’t get to see all of it because we were kind of dying of hunger/tired/jet lag, and then a monsoon arrived. Euro weather this year has been wild. It was gorgeous when we arrived and then we got drenched. So we headed back to the city center, found some pizza, and got semi-refueled. Cass was still ready for a nap though, so I took her back to the hotel and then went wandering on my own for awhile. Vienna is really lovely, big and grand and imperial. Very different than Prague, which is compact and beautiful in it’s slightly grimy way. Anyway, Saturday night we ventured out to see the Viennese nightlife, which was a little hard to find, but definitely thriving. Sunday we did a bit more wandering about before our afternoon train, but I will be needing to make a return trip for sure, especially as I was wanting to see the Belvedere art museum with all the Klimt paintings.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take off of work for the rest of the week, so I had to give Cassie directions where I could so we could try and fit the rest of Prague in. Adjustment and culture shock and whatnot aside, I think she had a good time, but again, I’m pretty sure I wore her out. We walk A LOT. A. LOT.

So her flight was at 9:30 on Saturday, so I scraped myself out of bed to haul her to the airport. The night before, our friend had a concert/party for friends, which was a lot of fun, but we were up WAY too late to be functional at 6am. But we got her there on time, and I came home and collapsed into bed for 2 hours of sleep before I had to get up to go meet up with another friend from college who was in town for the weekend from Germany. OY. So I spent the rest of the weekend walking, walking, walking to play tour guide again with Joel, who has been everywhere in Europe except somehow, Prague. But it is really nice to have midwestern folk around sometimes. There aren’t too many of us in Prague, presumably because midwestern people don’t leave the midwest. Oh well. But we had a lot of fun and I think he’s going to accompany myself and Katie on our sojourn to Salzburg next weekend. Where the hills will be alive… at least for the weekend.

But I think that’s about it for the moment. That was a lot. I feel accomplished now. Woohoo.

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