A Semester in Prague: Week 5

This week was a bit more relaxed than the rest. I didn’t make plans to travel over the weekend, and staying in Prague for a nice relaxed weekend sounded like a dream. This travel thing is exhausting, and while I love discovering new places and creating new memories, its also nice to take a step back and spend time in your host city.

The week went by as it always does: Tuesday being my favorite day. This week in our cooking class we made the most delicious sausage and sauerkraut soup, savory potato pancakes, and dessert of all desserts, a mixed-berry streusel. Everything we make in this class has been so easy and quick, despite the fact that we’re cooking for 12. We basically just throw some ingredients in a bow, usually no more than 5, and voilà, a delicious meal and some good conversation to go with it.

On Wednesday, my European Design History class took a little field trip to the nearby Dům U Černé Matky Boží (House of the Black Madonna) which is one of the most famous Czech Cubist buildings in Prague. Inside there is a permanent exhibition displaying the famous works of Czech cubists, ranging from the traditional paintings to furniture sets, ceramic works and glassware. It was interesting to see this movement which was predominately realized on paper take on a three dimensional form. The Czech Republic’s cubist movement is significant because Prague is the only place in the world where you can find the cubist ideology in the architecture of buildings.

After visiting the museum, we went on a quick 5 minute walk to find another cubist piece living on the streets of Prague. This cubist lamp post is tucked away in a quiet corner right off one of the most touristic locations in Prague (Wenceslas Square). This is a was designed by Emil Kralicek and is the only cubist lamp post in the world. Its pretty cool to think that all this cool architecture and design took place in a city I’m now living in. IMG_6394.jpg

The majority of my weekend was spent designing my portfolio website and trying to find all working files of previous projects of mine. My portfolio is almost done, its just a matter of me tweaking a few of my current projects to better reflect what I’m capable of— something I wish I had done right after I got comments and critiques from my professors.

On Saturday, I wandered into the city center and did a bit of window shopping, and just felt out the city while alone. I feel like I’m more able to fall in love with a place when I feel like I a comfortable and belong there. Walking around Prague definitely gave me the feeling that I’m no longer a tourist here and that I understand how the city functions on a deeper level, and that really excites me. Despite my family’s town in Holland, I’ve never felt like a real local in a foreign place and I’m so glad I have this experience to grow from. I was a bit nervous about feeling out of place in Prague and feeling like I didn’t belong but I’m glad I was wrong about my nerves.

On Sunday my friends and I pulled ourselves away from our computers and ventured out to IKEA. We had no real reason to go, but it seemed like a fun outing away from Prague’s center. We left with a few bits and pieces to make our lives more comfortable — kitchen knives and blankets, and somethings that we didn’t need — ziplock bags (IKEA is the only place in Prague that has them) and fake plants. We headed back and got burgers at a small restaurant tucked in the back streets of Prague. It was an American pin-up girl themed restaurant with live music and great burgers.

This chill week has left me well rested for the week ahead. I don’t have any real plans for next weekend, but I’m thinking it might be fun to travel down to Budapest. The week after my school is taking us to Berlin, and then the following weekend is the start of spring break! I’m so stoked for all this travel, but most excited to see my parents over spring break. I’m exited to show them around Prague and experience new parts of Prague with them that I have yet to explore.

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


A Perfectly Magical Winter Break

I’ve been back in school for a week now, and I’m already hardcore missing winter break. It may have something to do with leaving the mountains, or returning to school work, or the fact that it is way to warm in Raleigh to feel at all like winter. I also had quite a long winter break (over a month!) since I didn’t have any final exams (perks of design school) so getting back into the daily grind and constant work work work has been a bit tricky.

So while I should be writing code, learning about shape grammars, and researching inclusive design, I’ll take a minute to share my winter break with all of you.

My whole goal of winter break was to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Since the full effect of cold winter weather hadn’t fully settled in yet, I found myself on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost once a day. Since both my siblings were still in school and I didn’t have my usual hiking buddies, I spent a lot of time alone which was actually super refreshing. I’m the kind of person who actually enjoys spending time by myself so having afternoons on the trails with only my camera and my thoughts was nice after a long grueling semester.

I’m realizing it now as I look through the pictures that I took over break and realized that I didn’t actually take too many photos. I found myself leaving behind my camera on several occasions and just going off for a drive and stumbling upon a trail to explore. It was a challenge to try to get nice shots on my phone, but I made do with what I had available.

Somewhere in the midst of all this hiking and outdoors stuff I managed to drive over to Nashville, Tennessee. My best friend is currently part of Nashville Ballet’s second company, and was performing in the Nutcracker. I haven’t missed one of his Nutcracker performances since we became friends, so the five hour drive surely wasn’t going to stop me now. Looking through my phone, I realized that I have absolutely no photos of Nashville, which sort of upsets me. Ah, oh well. I’ll just make him dress up like the grandfather when he’s home again and get a photo with him. Peyton, you down with that?

I also went exploring with the fam-bam and we all shared some of our favorite hikes with each other. While I enjoy the solitude of an hour on the trails, its nice to share the scenery with other people and discover new places in the process.

We all have a major love for snow skiing, so we made a ski trip a priority on our winter break list. We met up with an old family friend (not in this photograph) and had a fun filled weekend of snow tubing, decorating Christmas cookies (which we’ve been doing since I can remember), kids vs. parents games of Heads Up, and a day of skiing. It was a perfect day of skiing with 50 degree temperatures and sunny blue skies.


Probably the most exciting part of winter break was having the company of my aunt, uncle, and Oma for Christmas. They made a last minute trip to North Carolina to spend the holidays with us. It was such a treat to have them here for a few days. It was Oma’s first time to North Carolina in roughly ten years. It was like a true family Christmas.

During the last few days of my winter break, North Carolina got a mini monster of a snow storm. It started on Friday morning and by the time I woke up on Saturday morning we had a good 6 inches on the ground. On Sunday, the snow still hadn’t melted but I packed my car up and got ready to go back to Raleigh. I had just hit the road to go back to school when I got a text informing me that my first day of classes had been cancelled, so I got one extra day of break. It was a nice little surprise to have one last home cooked meal and a few hours more with the parents.


World Travels || San Francisco 2015: Day 2

Look at that, two posts in two days! I am on a roll here! Hopefully I’ll get one day of my San Francisco vacation on here every day this week. Thats my goal at least.

The second day of my explorations of San Francisco took me to the city to go play at the Exploratorium. When I walked in, I was a bit shocked about how many kids were there. I was glad that I had my two cousins with me as an excuse to why I was there. But, regardless of how many children were there (all their parents seemed to vanish once we got through the doors) I still thought that it was really cool and had a lot of fun (I have got to come up with a better word than “fun”).

About half way through the day, my uncle called and offered to take us all out for lunch while we were in the city. We went to an oyster restaurant and because I am not really a shellfish kind of person, I went with my southern heart and ordered shrimp and grits, and I have no complaints.

After lunch, we went back to the Exploratorium and played with some really cool sciencey/math things that made me think of how amazingly the world works and how we are able to manipulate things to show a certain property of natural laws or the human brain. If I had the choice, I could have stayed there for three days and still had a good time learning about how stuff works.

Then my mother and I headed back to Sausalito and spent a relaxing night with my cousins and aunt and uncle.


Hello again readers!

It’s been a while. Well, since I have been gone, I’ve travelled all the way across the country and back. Yes, that’s right! I went to Arizona with my mom over long weekend! We had such a lovely time and the best part was getting to see my mom again.

Well, on Saturday we woke up bright and early (well, we woke up before the sun, so it wasn’t all that bright) and drove to Innisfree (http://www.innisfreegarden.org/) to watch the sun rise. The garden was open specially for photographers, so I brought my camera and took a few pictures. It was incredibly beautiful, but also bitterly cold. It’s a good think I was somewhat bundled up! Here are a few of the photos that I took.

After that we had breakfast at a small local bakery and then drove to the airport to catch our first flight of two. Our first flight was to Detroit. When we got there it was snowing. Yes, you heard me. SNOWING! It didn’t stick and we still got into the air with no troubles. We had a long flight to Arizona, but the warm weather was refreshing once we got there. It is strange, yet interesting, how diverse the climate are in the United States. We drove two hours to Sedona and almost immediately fell asleep when we got to our hotel. That next morning we woke up and had a very relaxing morning. We went to a beautiful resort hidden away in the red rocks for a cup of coffee for my mom and a smoothie for me. We wandered around the resort and I snapped a few shots of the red rocks. At around 10:30 we went to visit family at their house in Sedona. We went out and wandered in the shops and galleries of Sedona until dinner time. We came back to their house for pizza and ice cream, but I did not make it for the ice cream. I was drifting off to sleep, so my mother took me back to the hotel and we went to bed!

The next morning we woke up bright and early (again, not so bright because it was before the sun had risen) to watch the sun rise from the top of the Vortex. The Vortex was a small rock formation that had a lovely view of the town of Sedona and the famous red rocks. Once the sun had risen we went back to the hotel for breakfast. Then we got all geared up to go to Oak Creek Canyon. No, this is nothing like the Grand Canyon, but it was still beautiful. We drove for about 30 minutes (after getting somewhat lost and having to turn around… then we found out that we had actually been going in the right direction so we turned back around) to the top of huge canyon. It was breathtaking! The sheer cliffs made me feel like I was on top of the world! After we had spent a little while on the canyon taking pictures (and putting makeup on… Mom) we drove back down the mountain and joined our family for marguerites (mine had no alcohol of course) and Mexican. Then we went to some more shops and wandered some more. Once we were worn out from shopping, we headed back to our family’s house and watched Letter’s to Juliet. The wife has not had the pleasure of raising girls, so we spoiled her with a chick flick. When the movie was over, we bid our farewells because we had to wake up early the next morning to catch our flight. We stopped for fro-yo (or yo-fro as my mother likes to say) on the way back to our hotel. Nutella frozen yogurt with nutella in it. Such bliss!

The next morning we woke up and got ready for our flight back to the east coast. It was a busy day of flying and driving. I would just like to take this last little blurb to thank my mother for taking me on this trip and for thanking the Oliphants for having us and everything else they did/are doing for us. Also a big thank you to Diana King for letting us stay in her house in Connecticut and for talking my mother and I to Innisfree. I don’t know if you guys are reading this, but thank you so much for everything!