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LIVING HISTORY IN PRAGUE

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Last weekend we witnessed the Battle of Vitkov Hill in Zizkov, Prague. Actually the battle took place on July 14, 1420, but each year it is reenacted at the location of the original battle, where today stands a monument to this victory.

The battle was between the followers of Jan Huss (Hussites) and the Catholic Crusaders led by Emperor Sigismund.  During the five years prior to this day, the Hussite War (see my post from July 4th in reference to this war) had raged between the Hussites and the Catholics for the lands in Bohemia and Moravia (current Czech Republic). The Hussites had been winning control over more cities in Bohemia including Prague.

During the month of June, 1420, the Crusader knights battled to regain control of Prague by holding a siege against the city. The Hussites under command of Jan Zizka held the high ground, building a fort on the peak of Vitkov Hill east of the town of Prague. On July 14th the Crusaders, with an army numbering in the thousands, tried to take …

SHOPPING SPREE

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We moved into our new apartment recently and are now in the process of getting settled. We needed to add some furniture since a single woman previously lived in it. Last week we made the trip to our local Ikea store to purchase the articles.

We spent 42,799 korunas on our four hour shopping trip that day. How many of you ever spent that much in one store? Of course,  I should mention that when this was converted to US dollars, it was only $1870.  That doesn't sound like so much since we had to purchase two wardrobes and two recliner chairs plus other smaller pieces of furniture.

As you can figure out, the Czech koruna isn't worth too much compared to the dollar. One dollar is equal to about 23 korunas. The easy way I figure out the cost of articles here is that 250 Kc is about the same as $10. So when we get two beers for 100 Kc, the beer only is about $2.00 each in a pub. Not bad at all.

Since korunas aren't worth much, there is no coin worth less than a koruna - so no ce…

THERE'S NO JULY 4TH CELEBRATION HERE

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I'm sure it's unnecessary to say that there weren't any fireworks or celebrating here in Prague today. I will admit that we did have an Independence Day party with some other American friends for the 4th, but the rest of the city worked as usual.

However, they may have it better in the long run since they have two holidays in July -- the 5th and the 6th. Interestingly enough, instead of political holidays, both of the holidays have religious history  behind them. On July 5th they celebrate St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day and the next day is Jan Hus Day. Since Czech Republic is known for it's atheism, we were surprised to find out that these days were national holidays.

Cyril and Methodius, brothers from Thessolonica in Greece, lived during the 800s. They were sent to Moravia as Byzantine Christian theologians to spread Christianity to the Slavs. Through their important missionary work in the area that is now the Czech Republic, they have received the title of "Apo…

WHAT WAS THAT NAME AGAIN?

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This week brings a big change for us. We are moving from our temporary apartment to our permanent flat across the city. That means packing everything we brought plus the extra food, etc we've accumulated since we arrived. At least, we don't have to get it into the six suitcases this time. But however many boxes and bags, we need to move this all ourselves by Friday morning.

We are moving from a street called U Libenskeho pivovaru. When we first saw that name our first reaction was WHAT? How do you begin a name with the letter U all by itself. And why is the name so long?

After we were here for a couple weeks, we found out that the letter U by itself is a preposition meaning "on, at, near". The area of Prague that we live in now is called Liben. Finally, we learned that the all important word beer is "pivo". So the name of our current street means "Near a brewery in Liben".

We are moving into an apartment on Bubenecska. Bubenecska is located in the …

Take a Ride with Me

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Today I'm going to take you for a "virtual" ride on a Metro in Prague. The train system is mostly underground as it transports people around the city on three different lines - Green, Yellow, and Red - which intersect in a couple places in the downtown region. I'll take you on one of these trains - or at least describe this experience:

Train stations are all configured differently. In most cases, you walk down a set of stairs to access the underground tunnels, a cool breeze from below brushing past your face. You might see hallways that access the escalators going down to the platforms below. Other stations are blocks long with stores located  below ground to purchase groceries, clothes, etc. Of course, the ever present coffee shops are there for the early commuters.

I can't imagine that too many people shop at these stores. Everyone scurries past on the way down to the trains. I never have ventured into any of the stores to see if they are more expensive than reg…

IT'S THE SHEETS

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This is what our bed looked like when we arrived in our temporary apartment. It's clearly two twin beds next to each other and next to a wall. But what was with the large pillows? And what were the large "blankets" lying on top? And what were the gray things on the top of the beds?

All of these questions flew through my mind as our landlords were showing us around. During the quick tour, our landlady showed me where there were sheets up in the cupboard in case we preferred sheets. Preferred sheets? Of course, a bed has to have sheets.

After they left, I started checking out the bed. The gray material was almost the texture of terrycloth - but it was clearly not a towel. Well, it didn't seem right to sleep on that material no matter what, so I searched out the sheets. When I pulled them out, I found an off-white soft almost flannel fitted sheet. Two fitted sheets, but no flat sheets in sight. Since I couldn't possibly sleep on the gray cloth coverings, I pulled o…

DOING LAUNDRY IS ALWAYS THE SAME - OR IS IT

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Thankfully, we have a washing machine in our apartment. I was thrilled to hear that. I must say that it's quite tiny, though. It sits below the cabinet in our bathroom as you can see in the picture.

Because of it's size, I need to do laundry almost every day. One load consisted of our two bath towels. It seems ridiculous, but the washer was full with just the two towels.
The first time I tried to wash a load, I couldn't figure out how it worked. I mean how hard can it be to use a wash machine. I've been using them for more than 40 years.

On the day we moved in, the landlord tried to explain it to me in his clipped English, but I just waived him off and said I'd figure it out. When it came right down to doing it, however, it was a different matter.

The dial looked much more complicated than I'd ever seen. The strange thing to me was that the red numbers in the display window had 137 in it. I wasn't sure what that meant - temperature of the water? speed of t…