Prague, AIPES, American Institute on Political and Economic Systems, The Fund for American Studies, TFAS

Monday, July 31, 2006

Top Ten Things I'll Miss About Prague

OK, so a top 10 of things I'll always remember about Prague/AIPES 2006.

10) Shakira, "Hips Don't Lie" -- it was played in every single club and at every single party at least 5 times.

9) Pilsner Urquell... The first beer I would have to say I enjoyed. Maybe because I finally drank enough beer to acquire a taste for it.

8) Corollary to #9: The fact that beer in Prague is cheaper than water blows my mind. Beer is usually about 20 KC (less than $1). Water is usually about 30KC (more than $1).

7) The architecture is so amazing--the really grand/old buildings are obviously stunning to look at, but I really enjoyed looking at the exterior doors on all the small buildings. The doors all had so much character. Doors in all shapes and sizes and styles... Really cool. Here's one I especially liked. (For some reason, I can't get the pictures to upload correctly.)

6) Hot Love. We had some good laughs when Lou ordered "Hot Love" as a dessert in this small town and we pissed off the waitresses because we were laughing at it so much.

5) Flaming absinthe shots. No hallucinations, but that was some potent stuff and lighting it on fire was scary. Absinthe is 70% alcohol, which I believe is 140 proof, but a lot of the alcohol burns off when you light it on fire. (See photo at this link.) My camera died before we lit our shots on fire, which is disappointing.)

The guy on the left is the older brother of one of our students--I only met him that day, but I thought he was super nice and adorable. He'd done the AIPES program in 2003 and came to watch the graduation ceremony. I met him at the ceremony and he coerced me into doing an absinthe shot with him. I coerced the other TAs into also doing a shot with us. Anyway, the guy is really cool; he's only 27 and he worked as the Economics Adviser to the Prime Minister of Slovakia until the Prime Minister lost the last election. He said that because of the transition, older people who still have the old Communist mentality just aren't as employable as young people who have been raised with new ideas about democracy/capitalism.

4) Such a great pedestrian city with efficient public transit... You know it's a city designed for walking because the sidewalks get way more space in the right-of-way than the street does. Sidewalks are like 20 feeet wide. Everyone walks everywhere and takes the metro (the subway). I think all the walking in the 90 degree heat/90% humidity is the only reason I didn't gain 10 pounds from the food...

3) And speaking of the food. I will miss the pastries (cheese and fruit pastries and croissants) and the gelato-like ice cream. Hilen, Kirsten, and I had ice cream together all the time and our favorite place was called "Cream and Dream." It was the best!

2) The feeling of being in such an international city--there were people from so many different nationalities in Prague. It was amazing to experience. Seattle has a long way to go in this regard!!

1) The people--especially at the Country Presentation Dinner. It was one of the most moving experiences to see all these groups of students really come together and cheer for each other in spite of cultural conflicts (i.e., the Russians and the former Soviet countries; the Bosnians and the Serbians; etc.) I really enjoyed getting to know everyone on this trip and I felt like I really bonded Kirsten, Hilen, Mike, and Sue, and a number of the students.


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