Wednesday, October 27, 2010

sneaky moms are the best.

before you go all bon qui qui on me, i know i promised that i would update you all more frequently than my once a week deal. but. when you receive surprises, like your mom at the airport, you kind of get a bit distracted regarding things that you are supposed to do, like go to czech class (or any class for that matter), enroll in classes, plan your graduation date, clean your room, do your blog, update your business plan... you know, nothing major.

so again, sorry sorry. the good news is that the moms also brought my laptop so we are in business for a better all of the confusion and giddy happiness i also failed to upload anything about our stockholm trip the weekend before last... which will just have to be my next post.

back to the topic at hand... our moms came to visit! yes, our moms! sean and i woke up super early to go pick up cindy from the airport as planned and after she finally found us and we "hi"-d and everything, i heard "hey, what about me?!" and then that "heeeeyyyyy i know that voice" moment spun me around and heavens to betsy hallelujah it was my mom!!! there was obviously a lot of freaking out and bouncing around (all captured on my moms phone - to be posted when i can get it) but sean and i were suprised to the max that not one person in our family had spilled the beans. naturally, by not telling grace or papa butch things usually can stay quiet, but still. it was a noteworthy display of secrecy.

since the moms were so tired they were literally falling asleep mid-sentence on the trams with us, we let them have a nap while sean went to class and i read "the girl who played with fire" because they brought us a delicious supply of new reading material.

unfortunately, we bright newlyweds thought that goulash and pilsner would be a great intro to czech culture, right? right? horribly wrong. thanks to our spicy little friend, both moms were nearly violently sick from monday to friday. great plan, sean and abby, a real winner. when they finally were feeling better, however, i think they finally fell in love with the city and all its quirks, filth, transvestites, and construction.

long story short, we pretty much owned the city of prague for the past 8 days. we showed them all of our favorite places... we already miss them like crazy though...

we had a lot of fun amping up our womanly figures at choco cafe and coffee heaven after almost every meal, eating mountains of potatoes with good friends at atmosphere, sipping wine on the terrace of a french chateau, taking ikea for all it was worth, gawking at crazy people on the tram, and calculating some 30+ miles we walked in the city thanks to my mom's iphone pedometer.

unfortunately i only have sean's camera with me so i don't have a lot of the pictures i took throughout the week, but hopefully my mom will post the other ones that we had!

 the house of mirrors at petrin hill

 our breakfast tradition of ordering 9086544 things at paneria

 final dinner at cowboys below prague castle

 breakfast again

the park at petrin hill

my mom and i also let our creativity shine in a little piece that i would like to present to you in tonight's masterpiece theater segment. after a dramatic retelling of a horrible event that occurred in the household while my mom and i were in prague, we decided to raise awareness and gain support for such a devastating cause by creating a virtual shakespearean drama of sorts for the general public.

and so without further ado...

being able to see them for such a seemingly short period of time is only making it harder to concentrate on trivial things like midterms and grades and europe in general. i'm so upset that we'll be missing thanksgiving and the start of christmas season and everything that goes with it.... sigh. hopefully that time hurries on past... i've become too dependent on my number of lists of things i'm going to eat and do when i get home. they need to become reality because as much as i love prague, it's rough being away from your family, no matter how close you are.

thankfully we have budapest, bruges, italy, krakow, germany, and maybe dublin to ease the pain with a bit of old fashioned distraction. that of course, and blog posting of course.

until next time. when i have time. which will be less than five days. promise.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

wiener schnitzel and edelweiss

sean and i ventured out to austria this past weekend and oh, let me just tell you, those hills are alive. with the sound of music, naturally.
expectations were a little shaky on our way there, but were positively confirmed and even exceeded at the conclusion of our first hour or so there. granted, everything is STUPID expensive compared to prague, but other than the whole arm-and-a-leg thing, vienna was awesome and everyone should get to spend at least one weekend there. as a treat. for being alive.
we took the train for 38 euros/ea.from prague to vienna friday morning, finangled around with the metro, and arrived at hostel ruthensteiner early in the afternoon. this place seemed like a hotel compared to some pretty shady hostels in which we've stayed in the past year or so (..cough.. aqualounge.. cough..). pleasant surprise.

first things first... food, obviously. we dropped by the supermarket BILLA on our way to walk around. for sean, pressed meat that resembled fruitcake with little red and green things stuck everywhere. sick. for me, a normal person sandwich of gouda and salami with coke zero.

after lunch we wandered around vienna in the museum quartier, parliament, the city center, and various gardens. we happend to pass a protest - which we obviously joined until enough police officers joined up - that revolved around freedom to do what you want on sundays/a political candidate that should not be voted for because he's a facist. interesting. moving on, we ended up in the downtown "square" (if it were a square) and watched some woo-big-time-wanna-be-american-white-viennese-male breakdancers. ok, mean. but really. they've seen too much BET. but they were pretty good dancers... just cheesier than cheddar.

we ended the night on, let me just tell you, possibly the best beer i've ever encountered in my life. the guy at the front desk of the hostel recommended a brewery called 7 stern brau ( for good food and great beer. we were obligated to investigate. sean was on a mission to find wiener schnitzel - which he did - and i wanted something hot and normal and not european - which i did (chilli with garlic bread). the real story, however, lies in the perfection of the beers crafted at this brewery. i ordered the wiener helles, a lighter yet full-bodied half liter of deliciosity. sean, however, received the mother of all beers (so far). the rauchbier - dark, smooth, and... smoky? yes, my friends, smoked beer. reviewed as being perfect for after dinner cigars or to be paired with smoked/grilled meat, this beer was the pure embodiment of hopped perfection. it tasted like smoky barbeque beer and brought me back to bryants ( instantaneously. how do i love thee, rauchbier? i literally cannot count the ways.

on to saturday.
since in our prague-living world we obviously never do any long distance walking around the city (lie), we naturally spent the entire day walking the city of vienna. but first, breakfast. apple strudel and a honey/butter roll with espresso did the trick, and we headed along on our merry way to the open air food and flea market downtown. we were originally planning on spending the day in the vienna woods outside the city, but we had not the time and our go-to guy at the front desk said that you could do it if you saved time by cutting through the insane asylum blocking the path to the woods - but not to worry, he assured us, they're crazy people running around everywhere anyway so they won't notice you. though utterly convinced, the market won.

if i had a million dollars, i would have spent it here. first we passed through all of the little cafes that mark the entrance to the mile or so of open booths before we reached the mecca that is the viennese flea market. let me tell you what, grandma waneta would have a fit here and papa butch could sleep for hours.

there were gorgeous vintage leather purses and camera bags and 1000 euro sets of gold and silver tea spoons made with ancient coins and 19th century photographs and jewelry and glasses... and one decanter set that stood above the rest. sean and i both stopped the second we saw it - fate it was, dear friends. the lady selling it told us in broken english that it's a 1930's art deco piece - completely believable because it's like nothing i've seen before and no one else had anything like it. it's in perfect condition, an asymmetrical pale greenish-tiffany blue decanter with a heavy glass top and six matching shot glasses with square bottoms. in otherwords, gorgeous. we bought it. enough said. and you all are invited for a celebratory drink from said decanter upon our arrival. a christmas shot! na zdravi!

our plan was to walk down one side of the market and walk up the opposite on the way back so that we could hit the flea market and the food market in one swiftish/time-consuming motion. on the way back up through the food, we encountered a plethora of sean-approved but abby-hated smells and "delicacies." pig legs, oyster things all stuck together, rotting cheese and the nastiest fish things i've ever seen, huge octopi, and other things that i'd rather not mention. next to the fish stand sean found a guy selling freshly fried fish sandwiches - it took him .3 seconds to decide on his lunch. he loved it and it even looked delicious, but after the riveting display of various animal innards around us, i decided for a more herbivorish-type lunch. it was then, dear friends, that i discovered falafel and hummus and vegetable wraps. <insert heavenly voices> i still have no idea what falafel was (i'll google it now), but it was delicious because it was not a dead thing that i had to smell in the market. p.s., the hummus was fantastic.

after lunch we were exhausted but decided to visit the hapsburg palace/gardens anyway. i was not a happy camper, poor sean, but i went along. sulkingly. the place was gorgeous - 1441 rooms in a building that could beat up any museum, any day, any time. the gardens were incredible though because they were something out of a movie... fountians and sculpted trees to create straight-lined paths, benches everywhere and some of the best people watching available in europe. we eventually found a bench and sean read while i slept, head on his lap, movie scene style, until we realized it was getting cold as cajones and left.

once thawed back at the hostel, we discovered a place via google recommendations called il sestante, supposedly the best italian place in vienna. again, we were obligated to investigate. i had the linguine bolognese because i'm a creature of habit when i'm starving, and sean ordered the "pizza viennese," which the waiter informed us was pizza with meat sausage on top. let me just tell you, vienna sausages do not count as "meat sausages," because sean ordered a hot dog pizza. it smelled like hot dogs, tasted like hot dogs, and was covered with little beanie-weenie sized hot dog slices - not even a five year old would have liked this pizza. it was good without the hot dog parts, though you could still taste them, but the laugh was worth it. dinner was topped off by a trumer pils beer and a starobrno (?) beer, both delightful, and we headed off to the downtown square once again because sean's naive tourist wife thought she could have herself some starbucks to end the evening.

wrong. a: we couldn't find a starbucks downtown though we'd seen like six of them in the past day down there. b: starbucks is freaking six bucks for a tall latte in vienna. no, no, that will not do. the positive part was that on the way we heard a concert cellist play beautifully enough to gather a consistent crowd for hours, a spaniard with a guitar whose fingers were blessed by God, and a crazy man with a set of crystal glasses that owned miss congeniality's talent performance by executing a certain mozart on said glasses. he was special, though also disgustingly talented.

well, friends, i have more to write but i am called to dinner at atmosphere with some good friends, so you'll just have to wait. stomach always wins. i'll be back to post more along with videos and pics tomorrow... ahoj!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

hip-hop-dee-happy buhtday.

today is my cutie little sister emma's 18th birthday... FREAKING EIGHTEENTH. i never thought my sisters would become old. and yet they are. no longer are there performances of "hard day's night," "oh mr. sun," or veggie tales the complete series, but entertainment is never at a loss in our family. so it is today that i wish my ever-entertaining emma-shorthair a goodie birthday with all my heart.

i wish i could be there like crazy to sing her happy birthday and giver her a freaking BALLER present, but since i'm across an ocean and several countries, she will have to settle for a different type of birthday song...

hit it...

happy birthday baby girl. your sister (and brother) love you like mad and are so proud to be related to you :) have the best day of your life and we'll have to have round two when we get back... WOOP WOOP!!!
youda youda best baman.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the sweeping insensitivity

imogen heap has been my soundtrack for the past weekend (due to someone else's playlist and my lack of downloading ability here) - appropriate in all respects for our activities of this previous weekend. i feel like, however, i should sum the week in full. this may in fact end up being a weekly blog until my mac comes with sean's mom two weeks from yesterday....

i will start with tuesday.

for our "buddy system," the organization that coordinates with our program here in prague, there are weekly nation2nation parties at various clubs around the city. each week a new country presents themselves and a bit of their national food, and then everything falls apart and people get drunk, sloppy, and sweaty and make their way home around 4 am. let me tell you, this is not our case. maybe it's being married (though NOT boring) or just a personality quirk, but i am anti drunk-sweaty-people-touching-me. and house music isn't my thing. as such, last tuesday night sean, jill, danielle and i instead went to bar atmosphere - OUR FAVORITE PLACE ON THE PLANET. unfortunately, this is the only picture we have from that night but it perfectly describes one's mood in said bar.

cheap beer, delicious food, and these awesome fried potato slice things with chili and garlic sauce are well worth any effort you could ever encounter in getting here. danielle is beautiful in repping the .5L hoegaarden (fine choice) while i prefer the .5L gambrinus 12 degree. sean prefers to steal their glasses and then pay $2 for one in order to sooth his guilt.
jill introduced us to the ever-intelligent coaster-flipping bar game.. i won't embarass anyone by telling how often we all now practice that when we're waiting on beer.

wednesday was a day full of boring class/.iphone playing followed by a nice dinner date at a small restaurant near the husinecka stop on tram 9 (what else). the garlic/onion/bacon gnocchi was delicious, as was sean's chicken skewer and baked potatoes filled with garlic cream - and gambrinus, duh. it wasn't until we began to look around that we realized the TWELVE FOOT STUFFED BOA CONSTRICTOR behind us.

so ends my patronage to said restaurant.

thursday brought out the big guns in us... our buddy system hosted a wild west themed boat party on the vlatva river - never a good idea to confine 120 people to a boat with cheap alcohol for four hours. i, naturally, came as an indian converted to cowboy clothing due to my cowboy husband.

we had pizza appetizers, a welcome drink of energy drink with a splash of vodka, and weird sandwiches and cat food creamy salad. the food wasn't bad, but the beer was great.
memorable events:

1. pregaming with trivial pursuit cards at the globe

2. jill's sunglasses.

3. co-stealing a blow-up cactus with sam

4. watching the buddy system director literally almost making babies with a random chick for two hours in the middle of everyone.

5. drunk people i've never met "remembering" me and thanking me for things i can't understand.

6. screaming incoherent songs and arguing for shakira to the point of losing my voice for three days.

... and probably more, but this is already going to be a long post - i'll spare you.

friday we tried to go to the staropramen brewery for a tour but it was "closed" for renovations and the front desk lady must have been faking her employee-ship because she had no idea when renovations were to be completed. bummer. but we had lunch across the street and found an army shop where i got a $3 indestructible purse and a caribener for my camel back. not a total loss.

as a sidenote, i know this wasn't friday but i know that at some point during this week sean and i stumbled upon this utopia of humanity called the choco cafe. let me just tell you how fantastic your life could be if you came here every day. this place has this stuff called "spooning chocolate." yes, readers, it is in fact chocolate that you eat with a spoon - the consistency of chocolate syrup, but hot and gourmet and almost holy, with anything you want mixed in. we had the banana strawberry one - fresh fruit mixed in this, mind you. and then my life was complete. oh wait, no that was after the drinking chocolate that would send swiss miss back to her own freaking country. end sidenote.

saturday we visited kutna hora - an old old beautiful town with beautiful churches and expensive beer/food (not really expensive, but come on, when you're used to $1 beer, $2.25 gets a little steep). here we visited the bone church first... back in the golden days there was something about a lot of bones that were there that had been unearthed from a plague (?) and just sat around inside/outside the church until one day one of them thought to adorn the church with said bones to put them to use. end result?

divine intricacy with a side of creepy. well worth the creep, though. there's really not much to say - you kind of have to be there so i'll leave it at that. for more pictures visit my facebook page...

sunday was an emotionally deep day spent at terezin with our friends. a bit of terezin's recent history.

terezin was a concentration camp where thousands of jewish citizens spent their final days. though not as extreme as auschwitz and not technically an extermination camp, the conditions at terezin more than helped keep up the death toll. hundreds of people were confined to incredibly miniscule living quarters and were often forced to share their "lives" with the dead who were left in the rooms with them.

i've always been interested in the holocaust and used to read everything about it that i could get my hands on, but nothing compares to the feeling of walking the streets among memories of those who lived in such true horror.

the air felt too thick to breath and too thin to support life as we wandered the corridors of the camp. my chest was heavy with the thought of those whose footprints had been exactly where my feet walked and those who dreamed they would walk out, as i so easily could have. the simple thought of the damage potential of the power of one group's hate is absolutely unfathomable. i will never forget the musty smells of the once overcrowded wooden bunk beds, the stale air of the confinement cells, or the lifeless existence that filled every pore of anyone who crossed that striped threshold. even the greatest writer could never accurately record terezin. it's far too painful to ever be experienced by mankind again.

i'm a bit nervous to visit auschwitz after terezin. i can look at the pictures, see the bodies and the torture and walk the grounds of murderers, but it is the thoughts that stay and haunt that bother my mind the most. taking those pictures and animating them into real life is unimaginable. i heard someone in an exhibit there say that a friend and her husband went to auschwitz once and will never again consider returning. at the same time i believe it's good to feel these emotions. if they were to simply remain dead after all this time, are we then not capable of desensitizing ourselves to the point of a repeat offense? if others refuse to respect the dead and their memories at such sites, i volunteer myself to do it for them. i will feel the emotions for them. i will be the sin eater, for these are things which should never be forgotten. these people cannot be forgotten. so many of the faces of the victims of terezin looked like someone i knew, someone i was related to, or somone i love. could you imagine your family's faces among those lost? the day still weighs heavily on my mind.

when we returned we continued the days emotions with a viewing of the film "the diving bell and the butterfly," the story of jean-dominique bauby, a man completely paralyzed save for his left eyelid, through which he writes an entire book of his life via blinking with the help of a patient translator. the globe, a bookstore ten minutes from wenceslas square, has a free movie showing every sunday night, of which our friends and we are active participants. the movie tonight, however, mirrored the emotions felt throughout the day today and left me with a sense of deep love for all those around me who i have free access to at any time and on any terms. i felt especially in love with sean after pseudo-feeling the misfortune of those who were separated from their other half indefinitely with one swift motion of a pen. it made me especially miss home as well - i wished that i hadn't made the choice to leave when i could have spent that time surrounded with ones i love. all right, mushy things, but you'd have to have been the places i was to understand the outpouring of emotion. if you weren't, all you'd probably do is vomit.

that about concludes the week, i guess. tomorrow is my sister emma's birthday and i wish so badly that i could be there. it seems that i am always gone on her birthday and i always hate it. a sad face would be too dorky even for me to put in here, but it is literally my face right now. so happy early birthday to her!!!!

it seems like we have so far to go and yet everything is moving so fast. back to imogen.

hide and seek

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"we're really doin it, harry..."

i guess this is the beginning. neither of us has ever had any luck keeping a journal for more than a month or so - naturally, then, we decided to start a blog to document the rest of our lives together as mr. and mrs.

the trickiest part of this blog, it seems to me, is figuring out where to begin. so far in the last six months we've planned a wedding, moved home to kansas, tied the not, moved to the lakehouse, planned a semester in europe, moved out of the lakehouse, moved to croatia, and finally moved to prague. since there is too much to share even for a thousand blog posts, we'll just overview things a bit.

this summer i ("i" being abby) finally married the only person in the world who can put up with me on a consistent basis. the wedding was beautiful and completely designed and dreamed up by sean, myself, and my wonderfully creative mother (grandma waneta was also a lifesaver once she returned from europe, as was cindy with her clear-headed thinking).

a few highlights...

i literally could have asked for nothing better... well, other than sean puking for half out honemoon. mexico no longer tiene mi corazon. we had a fun summer of unpacking wedding gifts, cooking with our new grown-up dishes that are ALL OURS, fishing and reading in the canoe, watching sunsets and stars from the lakehouse roof, and avoiding wild creatures at all costs.

since we obviously didn't have enough on our hands with a wedding, we decided to study abroad in prague this fall until december 22. the architectural engineering program at kstate has a great relationship with czech technical university in prague, so sean was able to take quite a few classes that will help him finish the remainder of his degree. i, on the other hand, have technically finished my advertising degree but am continuing to take classes in marketing at the university of economics VSE here in prague so that i can hopefully add an international relations degree to my diploma next may.

before prague, however, we spent two and a half weeks in croatia with some now very dear friends. sean's great grandfather helped many people come to the united states back in the day by providing jobs at the sambol meat packing plant while sending money to help those back home in ribnik. one of those families was that of joe mihelic - his children and their children were our hosts for our time in that beauitful country.

now we are temporary citizens of prague, one of the most gorgeous places i could ever hope to live in. everything is richly saturated with history - it's impossible to escape it. we've also met a bunch of new friends that have made even simple things like grocery shopping more memorable. the food is just as incredible... goulash, soup, bread, potatoes in every form, italian food from real italians, and beer - oh, beer. i could go on for days about my new-found companionship with kozel, pilsner urquell, gambrinus, and staropramen... sigh. one can't help but be enamored with beer when it is the cheapest form of hydration available. we've already made a list of restaurants we're planning on taking sean's mom to when she visits us in two-ish weeks. potrefena husa, bar atmosphere, u ve... something i can't remember the name, the gardens, choco cafe, the globe, pizza coloseum, and the list goes on forever.

there are, however, a few tough cookies to deal with.
1. the language is impossible to pick up quickly - i still find myself mentally answering in spanish since it's the only non-english language i know.
2. it's incredibly rainy and cold once october hits - especially for those who forgot to pack waterproof shoes.
3. laundry. weird detergent, washers that don't wash, and unhappy ladies who trade your dirty sheets for other dirty sheets - NOTHING feels clean. ever.
4. the showers. they're all detachable heads, but the hook to hang them on is too tall for people like me so shaving is always an adventure.
5. mexican food is in short supply and we all know how i feel about chips, queso, sour cream, guacamole, cheese, etc.

other than that, things have been fantastic :)

we've visited the jewish quarter, the old jewish cemetary, petrin hill, prague castle, karlstejn castle, a million churches, all the squares, and anything that tram 9 takes you to - though we have YET to visit ikea for fear of buying things that are a bit difficult to bring back in a single suitcase. we'll wait til the last week to shop there :)

i apologize for the length of this post, but as you can imagine, a lot has happened. we miss home and can't wait to see everyone again, but we are lucky enough to be here with each other experiencing new things, good or bad. we're a lucky pair, that sean and i, and we plan to document our new life as we know it to record the adventures we never dreamed we'd have.

love, us.