Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just another day in Ctiboř

And we're stuck with average iPod photos for another week folks - hopefully my camera should be in my hot little hands shortly (fingers and toes and everything in-between crossed!)

I had a wonderful day today, in Ctiboř - my host family has a nice "weekend home" there and it's a lovely, simple place to chill out. We went to a fish fair - cooked some toast the traditional way ;) and Miky drew cute hearts for me with burned wood. We also planted three trees - apple, pear and plum. It was a really fun day despite the chill and gray skies.

I've been a bit distant lately - thinking, reading and learning. I've started to make a solid effort with my Czech. I've been told countless times by people it's a "useless" language and a "waste of time" - but for me it's more about 'learning how to learn a language' rather than about Czech itself. Plus, if the visa process goes well (it's costing me a fortune!) I'll be here for another year, so I'd like to make an effort. I plan to stay in Počátky until early-to-mid year - skip away to the Middle East for a month or two and then, depending on how I'm feeling, maybe trying to move to Prague to teach English. We'll see :-)

I spent last weekend in Budapest, which was a lot of fun! I'd always wanted to visit and it was a pretty cool city. I spent most of my time there drunk or hungover (I blame the AWESOME "recycled" bars, they're SO good and CHEAP). So, I basically have no photos. We saw an amazing pianist named Gyeniysz Macujev and ate at the most amazing cafe ever (New York Cafe). I'll have to go back with my camera sometime soon. Pro Europe tip: Don't buy one way tickets by train, it will not be cheap - hahaha.

Things haven't really gone as I hoped with that guy. But here I am, living in a town I'd never heard of, with a family I'd never met before and I'm loving it. I hope everything is wonderful in your world, too! x

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Deset things I love about Czechland

1. Prague... She's SO pretty. I genuinely have a serious crush on her. I want to go there every weekend and see new galleries and films. I think Prague is as beautiful as Paris, but so much more affordable and less pretentious. The architecture is beautiful, the bridge is amazing and there are castles! Ahhh..

2. Dobrý den - which literally means "good day". Czech language is complicated, I'm still struggling with the absolute basics in Czech, but I've mastered Dobrý den. I spend my time in Pocatky Dobrý denning anyone who comes into sight. I love to Dobrý den little old ladies! It's so cheerful, at least when I say it.

3. No fences - Thanks communism! You did something good. Fences are a rarity here, so you're free to wander around forests as you please, foraging for fresh, wild mushrooms, apples, plums and berries. At first I felt a little uncomfortable about blatantly wandering onto someone's property and harvesting their tasty fruits, but apparently it's kosher!

4. Dairy products - Okay, I feel a little weird writing this, but it has to be said. I was always under the assumption that NZ had the best dairy products (like everything else, of course) in the world... but I'm not so sure... I have discovered the most amazing jogurt in the whole world. While I'm stuck unsure of how I'm going to progress in my future career (yet to be decided) I am genuinely considering exporting this jogurt because it's basically gold.

5. The price of alcohol, method of delivery and availability - So alcohol is cheap here, cheaper than water (really!) - you can buy a decent sized beer for around 35 crowns ($2NZD) when you are OUT in a bar or restaurant. In Prague you can also have your beer come out on a train straight to your table... completely unnecessary but it was impossible to resist the child-like excitement when I saw my beer coming to me! On a train! And our supermarket in Pocatky basically has a 1:1 ratio of alcohol:food. Basically.

6. Trams! Well I've only used this in Prague, but they're so neat. Growing up in Christchurch I went on our tram once or twice, but soon realized it was just a tourist trap that served no real purpose except for doing a quick loop around something you could easily walk. However, in Prague the trams are a super easy, and scenic way to get around the city. They're also good for people watching (judging).

7. It gets super cold - okay, so I don't /really/ like the fact it's already super cold and soon will be plummeting into Izy-Death-Temperatures, but I'm so excited about the lakes freezing over and just going ice-skating a casual 5 minutes from my house. I did figure skating as a child but lost of all my talents. My plan is to buy a pair of ice skates, wake up early every morning (ha) and go skating. I really can't think of a much more wonderful way to start the day. And then there will be snow and skiing -- woop woop!

8. The scenery - it's beautiful here. The lakes are so still so it will be wonderful for pictures. Only 20 minutes walk from my house there are real forests with little bambis prancing around. The air is clean and crisp (compared to Asia). Czech people are very outdoorsy and I've enjoyed a lot of long walks since being here.

9. Location - Dobrý den Central Europe. This is probably the perfect location for exploring Europe, particularly Eastern Europe (which appeals because it's cheap and appears less touristy). It still blows my mind that I can catch a train to Berlin, Bratislava or Budapest. Which I'll do this weekend actually... Probably Budapest, but we'll decide later because I'm in Europe and I can travel to exotic places on a whim (yay!).

10. Flowers - they're so readily available, with little flower carts everywhere and they're so pretty, colorful and CHEAP. Flowers are ridiculously expensive in NZ - you'd expect to pay maybe $80 (NZD) for a nice bunch of flowers, which to me seems like a waste of money. But here, you can get something really lovely for $5-10. So yeah I wasn't a flower girl in NZ because it's too expensive there but, in Europe, I'll make an exception.

And these are just some of the reasons I want to stay here forever (or 12 months, legally). So dear Czech Embassy in Sydney - EMAIL ME BACK ALREADY. Thanks.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

a sort of vain post

this is kind of vain. like super vain. so vain I'm not even in denial... but I have r-e-a-l-l-y curly hair and most of the time it's awful. but sometimes, when i put no effort in and have no where to go (trying to save for potential visa) resulting in a pumping Saturday night in Pocatky*, my hair is good. like real good. like I had to take a photo of it to remember that sometimes it just falls wonderfully into place. and I had to show you because it's a true story!

here's a good song to balance out the vainness and lameness of this post. oh and I have such a cool idea for a self portrait, all I need is some snow... and uuhh my camera back!

* watching Madagaska 2 in Cesky so that I can try to learn some of the language, or at the very least learn where words stop and start. studying hard!

Friday, October 14, 2011

My year in iPod photos (part 1)

Okay, so this post is probably reason enough why I need an iPhone - the camera quality is so much better, but then again I usually have my badass camera with me (missing you!). This is my life since I bought my iPod in Cambodia in February of this year and up until the point where I left NZ in July. So that's four months of Izy-life. I'll post up the second set of pics in the next few days, I love flicking through the photos and remembering all the wonderful things I've seen and done.

The fourth and fifth photos are very special to me.

The fourth photo is the piece of side walk I sat on while desperately trying to find out whether my family were okay in Christchurch after the earthquake. I actually lost someone very special to me in that quake, the most remarkable woman I ever knew. The fifth photo (of food) is an example of the meals that the people across the road were bringing me. Because once I found out my aunty was missing I became a complete mess, just crying on the side of the road trying to find out anything I could about back home. I was there for hours at a time, without any concern for food or water, and so they tended to my basic needs. They filled up my roti and chai when things were low. They refused to take my money. They showed me love when I was hurting the most. Those photos make me sad, but always remind me there's so much kindness in this world, if you just open up and let it in.

Ps. If you had to predict my future I'm sure you could tell from these photos that I am going to be: a crazy cat lady, who eats popcorn and ice cream alone on the couch while reading amazing books. Emphasis on crazy cat lady.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


This song gives me goosebumps. In a good way. I could listen to it on repeat forever. It is a little creepy that the lyrics are "I was afraid I'd eat your brains."

I'm feeling a little funny today. A little distant. I've decided to spend the weekend at home in Pocatky with the boys. Trying to find out more information on this visa business.

When I've spoken to friends from home about how much I adore Prague, a few of them have said something along the lines that "you love everywhere you go" - which isn't quite true, I've got a list of a few places I wouldn't/couldn't live... but I am learning to find beauty in everything.

The leaves are turning crimson. I've never been a fan of winter, but I'm looking forward to the snow. And I think having Zara helps, too.

I've spruced up my blog a little bit. Let me know if you like it :-)


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I decided to get rid of Facebook for a little while. I'm not sure it'll be so long, because I appreciate it has it's uses. When you're far away from home, like I am, it's tempting to spend your time "catching up" on whatever everyone else is doing... I'm away but I don't necessarily want to miss out on anything. That's the choice I made when I left, though, I chose to miss out on things back home, in exchange for whatever here could offer me.

Coming to the Czech Republic was a fast decision, there was a catalyst. I've just found out I can only legally be here three months (I thought it was six) and reading those words made my heart sink: for me, because I want to be here longer. I'm going to look into applying for the youth visa which gives me 12 months here. I want to see Prague covered in snow and I want to see her flirting with blossoms.

I'm enjoying the time to be still and to process this last year. My mind keeps drifting back to India. It was the most abrasive place I've ever traveled to. I posted about my first thoughts and feelings towards India here. I went to the World Press Photography Exhibition in Prague and I stood in the gallery casually hurrying away tears. There was a photo of someone who had been killed in Haiti and it just made everything that happened in Christchurch a little too real for me. At the bottom of that sadness I found inspiration. I want to learn to be a better photographer so I can tell the stories of those who can't tell their own.

My camera's in the store being fixed. I still feel a little lost without it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

So, it's really broken.

My camera's broken, my memory card reader's broken (shame, I have a super cute cowboy photo of Miky) and I'm just going to give up on it for a while. I'll get it repaired soon enough.

I've been thinking a lot. Those big thoughts that usually creep up on you when your covers are pulled up and it's dark out. When you're alone and your thoughts consume you. I feel a little anxious about being so carefree. I'm a little of jealous (only a teeny bit) of those friends who are leaping forward in their careers; working hard and will, presumably, be rewarded hard for it. I wish I had something that linear that I could work towards. Sometimes I think focus makes things easier; clearer. I wish it was as simple as going to university, studying what I want and then kicking ass at it.

I'm in that awkward headspace, where I know I could really do anything if I committed to it. I could do Law (and be a mean bitch) or I could do Engineering or I could go back to Genetics and maybe even save the world. But, for whatever reason, those things don't appeal to me enough for me to commit to them -- to really live and breathe them forever.

The things I dream of, the things I'm in love with, are more abstract. I'd like to be a photographer, but I'd like to capture the world and it's people, not things. I'd like to be a writer, to capture my world. I'd like to be a travel writer, to share our world. And of course, I'd like to volunteer more, so I can help the world (or at least one person). I don't know how to progress in any of those things, and I guess, in the biggest way, being an au pair for now is a way to help time stand still, so I can think and figure it out.

This little picture is too sweet and reminded me to slow down and not worry so much. I'm happy, I'm healthy. I'm a little too far away from those who I love, but Prague will be my playground for the next few months, while I let time stand still. I first saw it here.

Ps. I think I'm going to start writing a book. Not sure if I'll finish. Not sure if I'll share. But, a book!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

in love

I spent the weekend in Prague. It's official; I'm in love. These photos do it no justice, and I'm looking forward to having a camera I can consistently take photos with. Prague's beauty reminds me of Paris, but it's more laid back and a lot more affordable.

I went to a few galleries, did a little shopping, watched a Czech movie, had beer that arrived to your table on a train (so amazing), saw some Czech cover bands, ate in a hipster restaurant (having dessert for lunch, yes), sat by the river in the sun, walked along Charles' Bridge at night (best time), had a traditional Czech dinner with a handsome European (cream on gravy!?) and then went on a road trip to Terezin, a former Jewish concentration camp. I've never been to any sort of war related memorial in Europe before, and I left Terezin with the same speechless nauseous feeling I first encountered in the War Remnants museum in Saigon, Vietnam. I think it's important to explore the history of a country, even the most awful and upsetting history.

I came to Czech Republic to get answers about something I was confused about. I'm not sure I got those answers. As we drove through Prague heading to Jihlava, I announced that Prague was a city I wanted to live in - that I didn't want to go to Korea in February as I want to be here. It's a city I want to know well, I want to know where the coolest cafes are and best galleries are. I want to search out the hidden authentic places in a sea of tourist traps.

I caught a train from Jihlava to Pocatky, except I missed my stop. Ended up 40 mins away from home with no way to get back. My host family's father had taken the car to Prague - the other's in for repairs - so it meant that no one could come get me. My awesome road trip friend from Prague drove 1 hour and twenty minutes to get me and drove me all the way home. I couldn't believe his kindness... and within that time frame my mind did a complete 180. I should go to Korea, for a year. So, I'm as confused as before I came... but I'm happy!

Can't wait to go back to Prague - I know I should explore more of Europe but I like the idea of being very with familiar this dreamy city.