Shopping Carts & Castle Keys

Trip Start Feb 01, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where to start?! I've been writing in my journal every night with all the amusing & sometimes frustrating things that have happened in just the past week. Even with some of the 'culture shock' experiences, it's been a blast. I went to coffee with a couple girls I met through Nick, he & I ventured to the zoo with another couple, we had Vietnamese pho for dinner one night ($10 total for us for pho, spring rolls, 2 beers and a tea - not bad!), and watched a free showing of 'Taxi Driver' at the American coffee shop.

Now, where to start with the stories??...Let's see...Sunday I was temporarily locked in an indoor/outdoor bathroom at the Prague Zoo, so that was fun. The locks on several bathroom doors have given me a bit of trouble, but this one stuck, which definitely caused me to freak out a little. It was maybe 30 degrees outside, nothing was heated, I was the only one in there, and it was on this end of the zoo that didn't have any people around. Guess the first thing I missed? My cell phone. I couldn't just call someone to let me out - I'd have to actually wait until they found me! Or start hollering out...which almost seemed worse to me.

Finally, I sort of threw myself against the door and it opened, thank God! I just thought this was the funniest thing...I have the guts to move here with little to no knowledge of the European cultures, but I get locked in a bathroom and am convinced no one will find me. Doors in general are tricky here. Some interior doors have what people here refer to as 'castle keys.' The are huge and ornate and just look like they should open a massive castle door. These aren't as bad to lock/unlock, but the front door at Nick's flat took me a good four times before getting the hang of unlocking it. Oh & another fun tidbit is a lot of the door handles here are level with my shoulder, so I feel like a midgit trying to open/close doors. Plus, some of the doors to shops/restaurants don't automatically close. There have been a couple times that I just forget to check to see that the door closed behind me and next thing I know some Czech person is yelling at me... then of course look at me like I'm the biggest idiot in the world.

I've ventured out on my own a few times to go grocery shopping or to a bikram yoga class. Never tried bikram before, but I love it! It's no-joke though...90 minutes in a 110-degree, smelly room with an instructor calling out the poses (postures here) in a militant fashion. But, something new & fun to try and at $5 a class...why not?

As for the grocery shopping, it's a battlezone! Nick & I have braved the five-story Tesco store a couple times now. It's basically a Target with clothes that aren't as cute. The first floor is a grocery store that resembles a game of dodgeball. The carts' wheels turn 360 degrees (four-wheel push?) and if there is any logic and/or etiquette for the angry Czech people manuevering throughout the store, I certainly haven't figured it out. It's really tough to stay optimistic when you a.) don't really know if you're buying sour cream, heavy cream or some foreign curd substance, b.) have people reach around you and push into your cart as they hurry by you, and c.) don't see most of the products you're familiar with. Then, you're supposed to frantically throw your items on the shortest conveyor belt EVER, avoid the glares from the check-out lady because you put an avocado in the plastic bag and she has to open it to scan the sticker, frantically throw your items back into the cart, pay (with money you still don't really understand/recognize), then move up against this skinny counter to bag your items. Keep in mind, people are still rushing by and knocking into you. It's madness!

Speaking of money...frugal is the name of the game here. We elected not to buy $2 kitchen counter cleaner because, in Nick's words, 'we haven't used it in a year and no one's died yet!' We re-use all Ziploc bags (something I should have always done, but was lazy) and instead of buying a new mop for $5 to replace the one here with a broken handle, we bought packing tape for $1 to fix it. I did, however, insist we buy paper napkins...the boys still argue their jeans are napkins, but I splurged and spent the $0.25 for some.

Needless-to-say, I'm enjoying my Prague initiation and continuously learning to appreciate things & people like never before. If you get the chance, enjoy some cheddar cheese or maybe frozen yogurt for me!
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