SC has never been so popular in the Czech Republic

Trip Start Apr 27, 2011
Trip End Aug 09, 2011

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Moravia,
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All of the international students were invited to attend a weekend excursion to South Moravia from Sunday, July 3 through Tuesday, July 5.  The previous evening, we took advantage of the Saturday night before we were set to leave and went to a night club.  It was called the Retro club and it was free entrance but they jacked up the prices of drinks =/.  Nevertheless, we all had a great time.  While I only really hang out with the French people, we get along very well with the other Americans, the Russians, etc.

Sunday (July 3)
I only had about 2 hours of sleep (and there were others that arrived in the dorms even later than I did) so waking up at 6:30a.m. wasn't a very pleasant experience for me.  We all dragged ourselves to the bus waiting outside and immediately fell asleep with iPods drowning out any extra noise.  We stopped by a beautiful church on Zelena Hora known as The Holy Shrine of St. John of Nepomuk.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was built in the shape of a five-pointed star.  It had various symbolic references throughout the interior of the church but unfortunately none of us were able to fully appreciate its value because it was SO cold.  It must have been 30 degrees outside and it was raining cats and dogs to make things worse.  Everyone was huddled together, bundled up and shivering as we were waiting for the church to open.  After that, we continued our journey to a restaurant where we had a typical Czech meal.  I thought it was okay but my French companions found it disgusting.  This is one thing I find a little frustrating about them- they aren't very willing to try anything new.  As I mentioned earlier, they are very loyal to their French brand names and to their French style foods and do not find other foods or flavors very appealing.  The entire lunch, they were picking at their food and complaining which made it awkward for me because I was gobbling my meal down.  Ah well. 

We arrived in Mikulov at the hotel in the early afternoon and got situated in our hotel room (which was lovely in comparison to our dorm rooms).  The beds actually had decent mattresses, you could smell the sheets and know they were clean, and the shower was clean and bright.  I stayed in a room with Nathalie (my roommate back in Prague) and Emilie (the other French girl that sometimes hangs out with us).  We took a nap before having to leave again for wine tasting!  It was a cute place not far away from our hotel (however we took a bus because it was still freezing and raining hard outside) and the staff was very pleasant.  We sat at a table that had cheese and bread laid out for us as well as some mint water (to clean our pallet in between wines).  We tried a total of nine different wines- ranging from white to rose to red- and I found each one of them very good.  After the wine tasting over, they let us go back and have as many glasses of our favorites as we wanted- BIG MISTAKE.  Two hours later, we were all still sitting around and people were beginning to "feel good" (not me because I was still exhausted from the evening before).  Because the Fourth of July was coming up, the French people decided to contribute in the celebrations and began yelling (not singing) America's national anthem.  After that, they started to sing France's National Anthem (their independence day is on July 14 or something like that).  As we were leaving the wine cellar, my professor (who was drunk as well) and the owners of the wine cellar began singing the Czech national anthem.  It was really pretty crazy.  I would like to note that Olivier (the French guy that hated me at the beginning of the program) talked to me a lot as we were enjoying the wine.  It could have been because he really likes wine and was really a bit tipsy but let's not go there.  He even went as far as translating to me what the other French people were saying!  However, I'm having trouble deciding if he is gay or not.  Below is a list of why he may/may not be gay.
1) The other French guys keep making gay jokes about him (but it could be because they are boys and that's what they do).
2) Olivier asked me to go to a gay bar with him.
3) He keeps telling me that this waiter is cute, or that stranger is good looking and I should go talk to him
4) He goes with me to the dressing room and tells me if it looks good or not
Not Gay:
1) The other French guys do not seem bothered by him and treat him normally (it could be because the French aren't as homophobic as people from the states seem to be.. which, if this is the case, I greatly admire).
2) Olivier talks about girls also
3) He doesn't act gay
I have a terrible gay-dar but anyways.  I told him I'd go with him to a gay bar because I've never been before.  We are currently trying to get a group together.. we'll see how that goes. 

Back to the story: we finished our wine tasting and went back to the bus.. everyone was very drunk and I have included a video of Olivier (the one with glasses) and Stephan singing American music on the bus.  Olivier began chanting "Jessica from South Carolina" over and over again and soon the entire bus joined in.  I didn't know exactly what I was supposed to do so I just sank down in my seat and turned beet-red.  It was quite an entertaining ride back to the hotel.

Monday (July 4)
The next morning we woke up, had breakfast, and met up at the bus to go take a boat trip.  We didn't know where we were going at the time, but I found out it was to a nearby town called Lednice.  The boat trip was great; we all just sat around with our cameras out waiting for some cool scenery to snap photos of.  When none came (it was basically just trees and water, with the occasional fisherman in the bushes) then we all started getting creative and took photos of our shoes, of people when they weren't looking, the sky, etc.  When we finally arrived to Lednice an hour and a half later, we started to hike towards the Minaret that the town was famous for.  We had no idea where we were going; we just picked a direction and started walking.  And walking.  And walking.  My classmates and I must have been walking for two hours, seeing nothing but swamplands while trying to avoid being run over by the many cyclists taking over the pathways.  Finally, we saw the top of a very tall monument that we took as being the building we were trying to get to.  We all broke into a run... and then the people in the front stopped suddenly.  It must have been a bit comic watching us all run into each other but we soon realized why: there was a river that was blocking our pathway.  And there was NO way to get around it.  We asked some nearby hikers that spoke English and they said that we would have to go ALL the way back to our starting point and take a second pathway.  As we were learning this, our professor emerged from out of no where (he wasn't with us as we made our way to the Minaret) and began to shout in Czech at the captain of a boat making its way down the river.. who basically said the same thing as the hikers.  Disappointed, we followed our professor to a cafe where we had lunch.  Our professor told us to meet at a parking lot that was close by in an hour so after we finished lunch we attempted to find the parking lot.  This was a failure also.  We walked out to a main road and had no idea which direction to go.  The Americans went one way and the French went the other.. I followed the French (and it's a good thing I did because it turned out they were right!) but it took us a bit longer to get everyone back together so we could return to our hotel room.  We finally arrived an hour after we were supposed to.  A little sidenote: while I was opening my computer to check my email, a bunch of ants crawled out of my keyboard.  I have no idea how they got there; I eat over the computer but no more than everyone else does and I always clean it!  For an hour, I was trying to figure out how to get rid of the little buggers.  I think I've gotten all of them out now, but for those of you who contributed your input on facebook (pour gasoline, pretend I am in Vietnam and eat them, call GIGN, etc.) no.  No help!! 

That evening, a few people came to our door and invited us to go to a restaurant and then out bowling with them.  We had nothing else to do (Mikulov is a very small town) so we agreed and gallivanted out with the rest of the group.  We arrived at the bowling alley/restaurant and immediately filed downstairs to eat supper.  You can imagine: 30 some-odd college kids waltzing into a room; we definitely turned heads.  The waiters were very accommodating though and we got our food fairly quickly (it was an Italian place so I had a pizza).  After eating, we went upstairs where the bowling alley was.  I am not much of a bowler so I shared a name with Emilie and we ended up winning in the team we were in!  We aren't quite sure how it happened, but the bowling lanes were messed up so most of the time when we only hit 6 pins, the rest were pushed over and it kept saying we had strikes.  ;-)  Everyone ended up having a great time at the bowling alley.  The alcohol kept flowing and Jean-Pierre (A.K.A. JP) connected in his iPhone so we were listening to great music while having a lot of fun.  After our bowling was over, the owner told us all he would keep the alley open for us and we could stay as late as we wanted.  We took advantage of this, bought more alcohol, and then turned the bowling lanes into a dance floor.  The first song of our makeshift dance club?  Cotton Eyed-Joe of course.  Ah it was such a good time!  So much better than being pushed around in a smoky, cramped club.  I left a little past 1am because I was tired and my roommates were exhausted as well.  I later found out that the rest of the crew climbed up to the Holy Hill to catch a view of the city lights.

Sunday (July 5)
That morning, we had some down time after breakfast before we had to get on the bus so Nathalie, Emilie, Florent, Anna, and basically the rest of the French people walked with us to the Liechtenstein Castle that was close to our hotel in Mikulov.  It gave great views of the surrounding area and at one look-out point, we could even see into Vienna.  We all walked around a bit soaking up the sites and then climbed up a tower (because we could).  I accidentally whacked my head against one of the low arches (whoops) but other than that, it was a fun self-guided tour.  We got done and then went down to a nearby Cafe.  There, I tried a Vienna-style cappuccino which was simply divine!  After that, we got on the bus and made our way home.  There were some really spectacular views as we were driving out of Moravia- for example, there were TONS of sunflower fields.  It was so beautiful!  Also, we passed by some mountain that's really old (our professor said it was the oldest in the world but I'm not positive about that).  We arrived back to the dorms a little past six and it was nice to come back to our bedroom, even though it was a definite downgrade from where we stayed in Mikulov.
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