A Semester in Prague: Week 2

My first week in Prague was mostly dedicated to the touristic side of Prague: the unique architecture, the beer culture, and the fascinating history of the city. My second week took us behind the scenes of Prague a bit more and showed us the alternative culture of Prague. We started the week with an “alternative tour” around Prague, showing us more of the up and coming culture, and the life of the younger generations. Since Prague has had a fairly rocky history, it is just now starting to boom with hipsters and a more art centered population. Having a tour guide that was heavily involved with the youth of Prague gave us such a good understanding of the ideas and movements that are emerging from Prague.

We started the tour by seeing the Invader installation on a side street in Prague. This kind of guerrilla art was all over the city. We then made our way to one of the many legal graffiti walls in Prague. The graffiti here was quite beautiful and the juxtaposition between the old historic buildings and the street art below was quite interesting. It was also cool to learn the street rules of graffiti, one of them being that you can’t paint over someone’s work that is better than your own. This way more respected and skilled artist’s work can have a longer lifespan.

We then walked to three very interesting “hipster” spots near our dorm. The first was was an old slaughterhouse that had been converted into a cafe and theater. They kept a lot of the authenticity of the slaughterhouse when the renovated it, and a good deal of the art inside was created from recycled materials. The second spot was a classic American hipster joint. There was coffee, clothing, artwork, and lots of exposed brick. The third spot was a bar, Cross Club, that was created by a bunch of steam punk artists. It was very cool, all recycled materials.

On Tuesday, we went to the theater and watched the movie Anthropoid. The movie highlighted the Operation Anthropoid, the code name for the mission to assassinate the third highest Nazi official (behind Hitler and Himmler), Reinhard Heydrich that took place here in Prague. It was carried out by Josef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, two Czechoslovakian soldiers in exile in Great Britain who parachuted into the city. When the time came to complete the mission, Josef’s machine gun jammed, and Jan’s modified grenade didn’t get a direct hit, although did injure Heydrick. They fled to a nearby church, Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius, where they (and 5 other parachuters) hid in the crypt and took turns on lookout in the balcony. The Nazi troops stormed the church after a long manhunt (I’m really shortening the story) and had a fierce gun battle with the parachuters, who eventually committed suicide to avoid being captured.

After watching the movie, we were able to visit the church where the shootout happened, and stand in the crypt where the parachuters were hiding. It was a very surreal experience to be in a place where so much history had taken place, and amazing that it had been preserved so well. I was silenced at the sight of the bullet holes that are still present around the small window into the crypt. It was a piece of WWII history that I had never learned and to be able to experience it in such a unique and very real way was quite a memory. Its a very interesting story and although rather gruesome, I highly recommend WWII history buffs to give it a watch.


When we exited the church we saw the famous Dancing House building just down the road, so we walked down to see it. Our tour guide from the Alternative Tour was telling us that the Czech people are very proud of any modern architecture that makes its way into the city. Everyone comes to Prague to see the historic architecture, but many people in Prague, especially the younger generation, take pride in their modern architecture because its new and exciting to them.

On Wednesday, we did a spray paint/graffiti/street art workshop with our tour guide from the Alternative Tour. We each got to cut out a stencil, and create our own spray paint masterpiece. It was a lot of fun, but so cold outside where we did it! On Thursday, we all gathered as a group and presented some photos that we took during that week and shared our graffiti with everyone.


On Friday, we made our way to Salzburg, Austria where they filmed the Sound of Music. After quite an adventure of finding the bus station, we loaded up and set off on a 6 hour drive from Prague to Salzburg. I slept for most of the journey, but my waking moments were spent smiling about the completely white landscape (thanks snow!) and the gorgeous Alps. When we arrived we headed out on the town. We stayed in an AirBnB that was only about 15 minutes from the center of the town so we were able to walk to everything. We ended up walking on the main shopping street, popping into cute stores (my favorite being one that sold exclusively hand-decorated egg ornaments) and taking lots of pictures.

The next morning, we woke up fairly early and started planning out our day. We had watched The Sound of Music a few nights before and I was very excited to live out some of my childhood dreams. We made it into the center and just started wandering around. It was snowing off and on throughout the day which only made Salzburg more magical.

Early in our walk around Salzburg, we stumbled upon the Salzburg Cathedral. We weren’t really looking for it, but when we found it, it was absolutely beautiful. The inside was absolutely stunning and beautifully ornate. I lit a candle for my Opa, a tradition that I learned from my Oma and try to keep going whenever I visit a Catholic church. I don’t personally have Catholic beliefs, but the sentimentality of lighting a candle always makes me a bit emotional.

On our way out of the Cathedral, we spotted a tram making its way up to the castle. Since we had given up on the idea of taking a gondola to the top of a nearby mountain, we splurged and took the tram to the castle. The view from the top was absolutely stunning. We were able to see the entire city and on the other side was the Alps. My heart was jumping up for joy at the sight of those mountains and I still think its the best view I’ve ever seen, sorry Roan Mountain.

We stared at the gorgeous view for quite some time before making our way into the castle walls. The castle was preserved as a museum and had a bunch of artifacts from the castle’s history. There were replicas of the grounds, gowns and garments from several time periods, and a whole room dedicated to WWII.

The last part of the day was spent ticking of Sound of Music bucket list items. We walked across the Mozart Bridge, sang the songs along the Salzach river, and jumped on the stairs at Mirabell Gardens. We headed back into the shopping street at the end of the day, and split up to save time. I stopped into a few souvenir shops and found a good collection of postcards for the family and playing cards for the collection.

We headed back to Prague on Sunday in the snowy, cold weather. We left with plenty of time to spare just incase there was a problem with the public transportation. We ended up getting to the bus station an hour early and had to wait out in the snow for the bus to arrive, which I think was a major contributor to my deep cough and stuffy nose. Oh well, it was well worth the sickness.

I’m still planning weekend trips and now that classes have started, I’ll be a bit busier during the week, but so far I’m loving this experience.

P.S. I’ll be updating this blog weekly, but you can follow my day-to-day adventures on Instagram: @aninavdv



Math, movies and drums!

Hello lovelies! Just popping in for a quick week update!

This week was not too different from any other week here at Miss Halls. However, a few minor tweeks made it slightly more enjoyable, than previous weeks. Monday and Tuesday were all-in-all pretty uneventful. Same old same old. Classes till four, swimming till 5:30, dinner, study hall, sleep.

On Wednesday, I had a pretty normal day as well, until 1:30. I signed up to take the American Math Contest and I still can’t decide if it was a mistake or not. After filling in the bubbles for my name, address, school, and all that we were allowed to open our test booklets and begin. I got through about question five with barely any trouble at all. I was thinking “WOW! This is pretty easy!” but nope… All I had to do was flip the page and it was like I was reading Chinese. Now, I would consider myself to be pretty good at math and it is one of my favorite subjects but I will never take that test again. I say congratulations to everyone who felt confident about that test. You will go far in life!

On Thursday we had a few guests come to school, and during the time that I would normally be feeding animals in a foot of snow we watched a movie called Sweet Dreams about a women’s drumming group in Rwanda who decided to open the first ever ice cream shop in Rwanda. It focused a little bit about the genocide, about drumming, and ice cream. It was a brilliant movie that had me close to tears, and laughing. It also got me thinking how fun it must be to be a film maker. Ugh, so many things I want to do with my life! Anyway, after we watched the movie and the co-producer talked to us and answered questions about the movie, we had a drumming instructor come to school and the whole school participated in a huge drumming circle. I was a little skeptical about this but as soon as I was beating on that drum I couldn’t help but smile. Something about making music with your friends and letting frustration out all at the same time is just breath taking.

Friday was my last day of swimming. We had relay races in the pool and the lifeguard looked at us so strangely as we cheered on our team. My team won most of the races except we got disqualified on the first one because there was a bit of confusion with who needed to go and when we could start so one girl started way before she should have. This season has been so great and I have gained so many new friends. Got to love swimming!

Yesterday I went to see Miss Hall’s production of Oliver! and my oh my! It was so good! Good job to all of the actresses! You were truly amazing and I will have the Oliver! songs stuck in my head for the next week or so. I hope that this last performance today is just as great as yesterday’s performance!



This weekend I have been doing practically nothing other than drawing in my sketchbook. I usually don’t get so into it, but this weekend I have been doing it non stop! I probably should probably stop and get some of my homework done. I also don’t really have a choice because every page in my sketchbook is currently full! Because of this wonderful achievement, I will leave some of my favorite sketches and drawings below!

Well, that was the excitement of my week! The countdown begins! Two weeks, and 12 days left until I’ll be back in sunny North Carolina for spring break! It could not get here soon enough!!!!!!!! Hope all of you lovelies are doing great!

Peach out, enjoy luffas, and laugh with the adventure!!!!