Bohemian Pubs and American Politics

Last night in Budapest, my friend and I decided to try our chances at a little place called Szimpla Kert. Considered something called a “ruined pub”, Szimpla is part of a network of bars and clubs that specialize in Budapest’s bohemian culture. These establishments are located in abandoned buildings and courtyards throughout the city. They are decorated with a mixture of eccentric art and graffiti.For those of you familiar with Boulder, Colorado, this place would have fit in perfectly on Pearl Street. They serve a large variety of drinks and everyone over the age of 18 is welcome. Tip: It might be a good idea to bring an official form of identification if you plan to visit. Unlike many other establishments in Europe, they check ID for anyone that looks like they might be under 18.

Perhaps my favorite parts of the bars are the variety of people that they draw in and how relaxed everyone seems to be. People from all the world gather, hoping to mingle with interesting people. Compared with other Bars and Clubs that I have been to in Europe, people who come to Szimpla simply want to relax and take a moment to enjoy a chill night out. At the beginning of the night my friend and I were pleased to walk in and hear one of our favorite songs “All Night” playing. Szimpla mostly plays a mix of electro-swing. For anyone unfamiliar with this genre, check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_C7UgR_sIW0  by Parov Stelar. Although a little quirky, the lyrics and beat are sure to stick with you.

Before we knew it, we had met two students from the United Kingdom and a pair or friends from Canada taking a gap year. Talking to people in environments like this is low key one of my favorite things. Everyone is in a similar situation and everyone clearly has a passion for travel. This combination has always proven itself to make for great conversation. To hear everyone’s backstory and plans for the future of their journey is inspirational. We talked with the two guys from Canada for about an hour. We traded our best travel stories and shred tips about cities. But things really got interesting when they decided to bring up the upcoming American election. To hear an outsider’s perspective on the “circus” that people call the American Election system was humorous. For a while we debated on Hillary’s strengths while my Canadian friend referred to her as the “Attractive Boss Bitch” (he might have been a little intoxicated… to be fair) I found it relieving that everyone else in the world is horrified that we would let Donald Trump get this far in the election and they pass on their sympathies if he wins. One guy even told me that he hopes to visit the states before Donald Trump “takes over” and ruins the country.

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Szimpla during daylight hours. They serve cocktails all day, but they don’t get busy until 11 pm.

 

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Budapest: Here I Come

2016 has been a big year. It has changed me as person, for both good and bad reasons. The last five months of my life have been some of the most emotional ones I have ever experienced. Those who know me realize that I’m not one to openly express what I feel, it’s not in my nature. So as my first completed year of college comes to  an end, I’ve decided it is time to exercise my newfound freedom and take a trip across the globe.

When I first imaged taking this trip, I pictured being accompanied by my two best friends.  But, after a heartbreaking loss, it will only be my friend Lauren and I. Although our friend Luke won’t be able to accompany us physically, he will accompany us in our thoughts and our hearts. Although my trio may be gone, our original optimism and inclination for adventure continues. The world awaits and we will take it on with heavy hearts.

A year ago, I would have never pictured where I am today. Throwing together an international trip in only a week has been a challenge, but an exciting learning experience. I’m so thankful that I was raised with an international and opportunistic mind set. I get a thrill out of planning each and every new adventure.

This trip is unique because, unlike in the past when I had others doing my planning, the details were completely left up to my friend and I. To my surprise, the difficulty did not lie in the reservations or flights. The difficult part is getting ahold of the proper currency and learning enough of the language to get by. If you haven’t heard, Hungarian is arguably one of the most difficult languages to learn on the entire planet. According to wikipedia it has 14 vowel phonemes and 25 consonant phonemes… whatever that means. My overly American accent is not prepared to handle the sounds required to achieve proper pronunciation. It also turns out that Hungarian Forints aren’t typically kept in stock at currency exchange centers in the state of Colorado. Right now, our game plan for learning the language is to make friends on the plane during our layover from Heathrow to Budapest. As for currency, we are forced to try our luck at an airport currency exchange kiosk.

 

 

48 hours in DC

Washington, DC is a city of hustle and bustle. Personally, that’s why I am so attracted to it. The people in a city that never sleeps is usually driven by ambition and a vision.  DC is a perfect example. There is always someone new to meet, places to see, and things to try. I have a deep love for DC because whenever I am there its like I’m on top of the world.

This time around in DC, I was actually there for originally an international fraternity conference called Phi Alpha Delta. This group is composed of undergraduate students, graduate students, and also those going through law school. We are collectively committed to the end goal of finding a career in the legal profession. I was still lucky enough to find time to explore the city in the short 48 hours my group and I were there.

We spent Saturday afternoon exploring a few key Smithsonian museums. The Air and Space museum was impressive because of the space and air history artifacts put on display. This had been my second time at the museum so perhaps it was less interesting to me. But, I had never been to the Botanical Gardens or the American History Museum before.

For anyone traveling to DC in the near future, I would highly suggest the American History Museum. When you walk in its not overly impressive, but by the time you finally get to the meat of the exhibits, the content and research that has gone into the exhibits have a profound effect. There is nothing like experiencing an overview of American History where many of the decisions about the outcomes have been made. The section on American war was perhaps my favorite. It starts out with the American Revolution and slowly transitions from war to war based on a linear timeline. But as you approach later wars and more controversial wars, like the Vietnam War, they are presented in a way that becomes very real for those visiting the exhibit. I don’t think ever been so moved by an exhibit, not emotionally but mentally. The American History of war Museum at the Smithsonian left me with a deep curiosity and new perspective on quite a few things. I suggest that if you can make the time, it would be worth spending an entire day or two at this museum alone.

The botanical museum was mostly just beautiful. The diversity of plants are astounding. The most interesting rooms were probably either the endangered species room or the room that featured various medicinal plants. I have always had an interest in botany so I found this museum more interesting them my counterparts but they still enjoyed themselves. This  botanical museum could comfortably be seen in an hour or two. But make sure not to miss it. I had no idea that it was even there until this trip. It is hidden in comparison to the rest of the mall. Instead of being directly off the National Mall, it sits directly to the right of the Capitol Building.

After the Smithsonian closed we made our way up to Capitol hill and toured the outsides of the buildings in this area. From the outside, the Supreme Court was by far the most impressive. It reminded me of  ancient buildings that I’ve seen  in citifies like Vienna or Rome. Its Roman pillars were larger then most redwoods. You had to stand a couple hundred feet back from the building just to get a complete picture bottom to top, but you were free to walk up on the steps outside of the building. Perhaps less impressive from the outside but still beautiful was the Library of Congress.  Although, if you do make your way up to Capitol Hill, make sure that you do it between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:30 PM. Unfortunately, we arrived about an hour late and the doors were closed to the pubic. I would have bet though that the interior would have made up for the unimpressive exterior.

The most majestic moment that I encountered in DC was walking through the memorials during sunset. I cannot stress the beauty of the Lincoln Memorial with a gorgeous sunset behind it. The colored light was bouncing over the reflection pool and the area glowed of purple and blue.12118679_492143454288692_78464703576351655_n

An education in international relations 

As I sit here writing this, an episode of the Simpsons in Czech plays in the background. It’s slightly amusing even though I don’t understand the language the plot line is pretty simple to follow. Emotions and tone of voice is identical and gestures say all you need to know. Yet, this phenomenon proves ture for more then just tevevision shows. 

I walk into a nightclub last night called the “Harley”  accomplished by my cousin and a friend. We sit at a table near a bar and it takes a little less then five minuets before we are already being offered drinks by a groups of guys.  People from all over the world come to Prague to dance, mingle, drink, and enjoy the nightlife.  Three pretty girls was more then the guys were able to handle evidently because before we knew it we were being invited to bottle service tables, offered shots of Tennessee Honey, and pulled from around the waist into a twirl on the dance floor. We were especially careful about the drinks because of the growin popularity in date rape drugs. It made me feel much better about the situation to know I had a friend and and my cousin (who is pretty much my big sister) keeping an eye out for me. 

When eyes meet, winks are exchanged, and a hand is offered in a gesture towards the dance floor, the signals are clear. Would an offer for a dance actually hurt anyone? Probably not. By the end of the night I had met a cute guy from Transylvania, four flirtatious Dutchmen, several Germans, loud and slightly older gentlemen from Scotland, some pushy hipster with a man bun (I never got his nationality), and a very sweet local from the  Czech Republic. 

It’s an interesting game…. Meeting people in a bar with hundreds of nationalities. At first you aren’t even sure if you speak the same language. Ironically, this is the only time I have actually used my high school Spanish. But after you concour the language barrier, the conversation turns into the game of “guess where I’m from.” It’s very much like the American teenage boy version of “twenty questions.”  Strangely enough, no one ever guesses I’m form the United States. Everyone always guesses Russia, the Ukraine, or once in a while France or Italy.  

The guy from Transylvania was more intriguing then anything else and slightly creepy. He had gotten there about an hour after we did. The whole time I could feel his eyes constantly on our group. At first I thought his attention was on my cousin, until she pointed out it was really on me. He barely did anything else except stare in my direction and smile sweetly. His move was actually quite brilliant, because I eventually got curious and made my way over to say hi. He was obviously taken aback but we managed to exchange a few worlds he explained that he had not come over sooner but, ” he was too shy and I was  so I pretty.” I almost snorted at the cliche, but was able to resist and only smile in response.” 

Now, I should probably explain the bottle service reference. As we were on the dance floor, a guy approached us and started whispering in my cousins ear. He then lead her by a hand to a nearby private table, one by one he returned and did the same with both my friend and I. I know this sounds like a major judgement lapse on my part, but technically we really only talked…. Until he hailed the waitress and she soon returned with a bottle of vodka and cans of red bull. The three if us shot each other a glance and took on amused smirks.  

I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was given some very strange compliments last  night.  While I was dancing, the same guy who wanted us to come party with him leaned over and whispered in my ear “You have a beauftil from. I’ve ne’er seen anything like it. Your legs are so long. I’ve fallen in love.”  At this point, I could no longer contain my laughter. European men have this type of well spoken and smooth nature to them. It’s like a type of classy elegance which is reserved for such occasions. But, this was simply over the top. 

The variety of mucus was amusing because one moment they were plaing hardcore metal  and the next alternative artists like Train. 

By the end if the night, I was thoughtly enjoying myself. If anything, the atmosphere was fun to observe and the flirtatious comments bounced around the room.  

I was taken aback when the hippy guy with a man bun randomly put his hand around my waste and pulled me onto the dance floor. It did not take long too notice he was entirely too drunk and too much of an ass to even deal with. We were dancing with our palms together when all of a sudden he pulled my hands down and placed them directly on his own ass cheeks. The look on my face was probably priceless.  He was clearly a European, probably Bulgarian from the look of him. But he was so proud to show off his own body he wasn’t too interested in touching home. Thank goodness, or he would likely be sitting in en emergency room now, praying he might one day be able to walk again. I would have made sure of that. 

It was then when I noticed the guy I would soon find out was a local from Prague. He seemed to be very perceptive to others’ emotions and caught on quickly that I must have been feeling awkward in my current situation.  As soon as I was able to ditch the show off, the cute Czech quickly cut in for his turn.  He was probably about 6′ 4″ and very blonde with a slender build. It is innocent fun like that which I actually enjoy. He simply seemed to have no other motives then to get to know me and enjoy an evening out.  We danced for a while, content to enjoy each other’s company without any other strings attached. By the end of the night he finally asked I if I wished to go get dinner with him in an evening or two… Unfortunately, I had to politely refuse. In his cute little accent his sadly said “Then is suppose we will never see each other again. Goodbye!” It was one of those lingering statements, one that echos in your mind. 

By that time it was about 3:30 am and we decided it was time to head back so we could get about three hours of sleep before our busy day that morning.  Crazy as it might sound, this wasn’t even half the stories which I could share from the night. My first nightclub experience was legendary to say the least. I realize that I’ll be getting a hard time from my cousin for years to come after this! 

One to remember 

For all my friends back in the United States, there is about a seven hour difference beteern Prague and  Denver. So while I was experiencing the Czech version of jägermire, most people were off working day jobs and sleeping the Saturday away. Not to sound mean or anything…

Anyway, although today was a good day, the evening turned out to be even better. I mentioned in an earier post that Prague had a decent nightlife. That turned out to be an understatement. As we went to go visit the historic national museum building, we were disappointed to hear it was closed for the next four years because of construction. As we went to walk away, we happened to see a lady on the side of the box office. She was advertising tickets to a symphony. We were already interested at seeing an opera or musical performance so decided what she had to say. Turns out, she offered tickets to a symphony right here inside the national museum.

We were pretty skeptical when we heard that the cost was the equivalent to about twenty American dollars each, but decided to commit and buy tickets anyway.

As the six o’clock curtain call neared, we were sure there had been some sort of a mistake. A lady let us into the theatre and we went to go take seats. We walked into the building to find chairs on the stairs of the entrance to the museum. The walls were engraved with beautiful gold platelet faces and designs and red carpets adorned the large steps of four identical stair cases. Large golden lanterns lit the the main room and left dark shadows in dark corridors  of the remainder of the building.

My dad and I joked about how the museum was possibly haunted. The air was cool and the building was not heated.

When time for the concert to began finally came, a total of six musicians walked on stage. Three violins, a cellist, a bass player, and a pianist waked onto a platform which was set up with music stands. What I had believed to be a full orchestra happened only to be a chamber orchestra. For such a small group, their sound resonated beautifully. There only about ten people in the entire audience. For the small price of about twenty dollars, we were granted access of a private performance of Vilvaldi and Mozart’s most famous music in one of the most famous buildings of the Czech Republic.  For a reference, this building probably sees thousands of tourists a day in the summer and is reserved as a national landmark. Let’s just say I felt pretty special for a private performance in the middle of it all.

Afterword, perhaps a little drunk (no foreshadow or pun intended) on adrenaline. So we decided to take a sneak peak down the dark corridors of the abandoned museum. To be entirely honest, the wasn’t much to see. All the exhibits had been taken down, only dusty display cases were left as the moon shined though the large windows. At that moment, I almost believed it was haunted.

Now I should probably explain the jägermire reference. At dinner, since my 18th birthday is tomorrow, my dad suggested I be adventurous so the waiter decided to bring me a shot of the local  liquor. The tase would best be described as a cinnamon type mint, with a strong aftertaste of spice.  I usually don’t like minty drinks, but I must admit it had a really refreshing flavor. Despite being refreshing though, it was also very very strong.  After two glasses of wine plus that shot, I feel pretty loopy.

After being only my first whole day in Prague, I can’t wait to experience other crazy things in this unique city for the next nine days.

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A whole new world 

After nearly my first whole day in Prague I can say one thing for certain. This is a city, unlike other old European cities, that is still growing and developing its own sence of peonality.

Ever since the fall of the communist party here, Prague has been establishing a new culture. Since the city was not bombed during would war 2 all the historical buildings and gothic architecture stand tall and intact. From the cobblestone streets, up past the carefully detailed siding, bright redrooves, and up to the starkly contrasting bright blue sky, the city screams of its pride.  On the outside of town hundreds of ugly and cold apartment buildings can be seen falling into disrepair and rubble. They show proof of the communist party’s failed attempt at mass housing before independence was won for the Czech people.

Despite ancient buildings and historical streets, the city is beaming of youth.  At night the streets grow crowded and noisy as people flock to clubs, bars, restaurants, and concerts. Young adults from across Europe flock to the city on weekends to party and take part in cheap food and good alcohol. Beer is very popular here and the city is renoued for its various brews. They also have a selection of delicious wine (both sweet white and oaky red)… My favorites.

They are also unusually relaxed about rules and regulations. At dinner last night I ordered wine, since I am not yet eighteen they didn’t seem to care about age and therefor failed to ask me for identification. Although this is pretty standard around Europe, it still seems odd in contrast to the laws of the United States.

Cars park wherever they wish in the streets. Last night smart cars were scattered on sidewalks and larger cars jut out every which way on the street.  People also tend to be very aggressive  and fast drivers in this city. If you don’t look both ways before crossing a street, you have a very high chance at being hit head on at fourth miles per hour or more. Last night I was almost side swiped by a man on a little motorcycle.

Yet another variation which supposed me was the amount of smoke in the city. Unlike the United States, smoking is not only allowed …but encouraged in many public restaurants and bars. In the markets and major squares people use smokers to cook ham, cinnamon  rolls, and other classic street food. Instead of fried food, Prague seemed to have smoked food.

If you ever happen to visit the city, I highly recommend the local street food. I has some honey baked ham today for lunch and it was simply delicious. Tomorrow I hope to try other street food such as their famous potato crisps.

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the start of a travel blog on Prague

As spring break nears, so does my anticipation for my trip abroad. Like I have stated in past posts, travel is an important aspect to my life. Nothing can quite match the exhilaration of it. Still, the week before a big trip I find that my mind is racing and I am starting to freak out about all the things I have to accomplish before my plane takes off.

Passport: Check

Travel scarf: Check

Foreign Currency: Check

Still, making sure I have everything packed is one of my least concerns. Final plans and reservations for not only plane tickets, but hotel reservations, train tickets, and schedule timing sit in the back of my mind.

I have recently made a contact/ friend in the Czech Republic.I have gotten to know her because of my father who has previous connections with the IPA, an international organization for retired law enforcement officers for various nations all over the world. The group provides a local representative to greet fellow members of the organization and their families traveling abroad.  Over the last week I have been coordinating with her about plans and possibilities about my trip.

Since I will be celebrating my 18th birthday in Prague, which is the legal drinking age, she invited me to go clubbing with her and her friends. Despite being in a foreign country, this is an experience which will be somewhat new to me.  I’ve had alcohol before, but it  still seems weird that I will finally be of age to partake in an open and public setting with friends. In fact, after the fall of the communist regime, clubbing in the Czech Republic has evidently been growing more and more popular and the nightlife in the city has exploded. It seems unreal that I will be there to experience it with my own eyes in less then a week.

According to my guide Hanka, Drum and Bass is a very popular type of music for local clubs. Since this genre isn’t very popular in America, I haven’t had much experience with it. But it pretty much just sounds like European Dub-Step. Shout out to YouTube for a quick education in the subject.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTFnisU752g

To thank her she actually asked me to bring her makeup…of all things! I did not realize this, but cosmetics about double the price in large European cities. For some reason they are a lot cheaper in the US. My guess it is might be because of currency change rates and transportation costs.

I have always dreamed  about becoming a travel blogger. Now, this is going to become a reality( at least for two weeks)  I promise to update you with my progress and share my encounters with the unknown.

Take a deep breath

I’ve come to a realization that stress of everyday life is absolutely ridiculous. Nearly every problem we face is nothing in perspective to other problems that could theoretically arise. Sure, we all have ups and downs… but time is usually the best solution to anything. Give something time to settle down, and the sticky situation will untangle its self.  A few months ago I decided to start practicing yoga. Many people claim that it is a “magical solution” for stress which helps you mentally and gets you into shape.  For obvious reasons I was quick to call BS on the whole idea until I was convinced to give it a chance.

I can now say without a doubt that there is something unique to this idea of “a hippy work out,” as refereed to by one of my friends. . Although the lasting effects are not immediate, you feel better surprisingly better even  after your first attempt.  I began practicing yoga because I wanted an excuse to get out of actual homework and distract myself from stress. But after repetition, it made me feel better then  I could have ever hoped for.

I chose tonight to write about it because of an unusual event I encountered. I found a new cool -down pose which I decided to try tonight during  yoga practice. I am completely serious when I say that it brought me the post amazing feeling of mental relaxation and clam. It was almost as if I was sleeping while keeping a purposeful and  steady breathing pattern to maintain mental consciousness.

My problems and sources of stress slipped away into oblivion, and stayed there even after I was done with my practice. In not saying that they completely dissipated, but seemed to become manageable and tiny. Even now, I am writing by blog post and it seems like life is totally chill for the first time in a while.

For a fifteen minuet dedication every night, I not only have managed to restore my sanity, but I also got abs. The benefits of a short daily yoga session are totally worth the little extra work.