Tag: Czech

v Praze

Husband arrived in Berlin the day after my program ended so that we could spend a week just enjoying Berlin together. Originally, we’d thought to go to Copenhagen for a couple of days – but a couple of my classmates had tried to talk me into a couple days in Prague during our free weekend. I went back and forth on whether to go or not but ultimately decided that one, I didn’t have the energy for a (to me) frantic in and out trip to Prague and two, I didn’t know how I’d feel about returning so I’d rather have gone with Husband.

SO, when Husband arrived, we decided to hop the bus to Prague for a quick two days. (We took the bus there, which was surprisingly simple, but took the train back… honestly, I love trains, they’re always my favorite way to travel.)

 

Ironically, because it was such a short trip and I let Husband choose a (very nice) boutique hotel that he’d seen in the New York Times, the Boho, we wound up spending all the time there in the one general area I would usually have avoided like the plague! That area would be the Old Town area, which I usually wanted nothing to do with because it’s Tourist central. Though as we walked around, it was fine because I realized that, even when I lived in Prague, I still spent a lot of time walking through this area for one reason or another. Josefov is always beautiful, I always had fantasies of living in a flat above Pařížská (Paris Street) around Christmas time. I spent a great deal of time utilizing the wifi (“wee-fee” in Czech!) and drinking Videnske Kava at Restaurace Jáma on v Jame and a couple of theaters that showed international and indie films there. (Lucerna, of course, and another whose name escapes me at the moment.) I remember seeing “Children of Men” here one evening, by myself, at the theatre off of Vaclávské Námêstí. I accidentally dragged Husband on a ten mile walking trek from Boho up to Letná because I was hell bent on going in a particular direction.

I made sure to go to the Valdštejnská zahrada (Wallenstein Garden) because it was one of my favorite spots in Prague – I often went there, alone, to sit and read, write letters, and watch Summer concerts.

We passed by a Michelin Star restaurant and, because that’s “our thing”, immediately decided to make reservations for lunch the next day, but they weren’t open. So we searched “Michelin Star Prague” and wound up at Alcron, instead. We were NOT disappointed. It’s a tiny, wee little place with completely over the top decor and white glove service and it was magnificent. The one thing I had always said about Prague was that you don’t go for the food or the shopping. I mean, I’m not interested in going anywhere to shop, anyway, but I’m still dubious of Prague’s in that respect. The tasting menu at Alcron was outstanding and from what I’ve been reading, the food situation in Prague has changed drastically since I’ve been gone. So has the coffee situation! I did not have time to hit up the third wave cafes that were on my list, though I did manage to check out one (EMA Espresso Bar). I would have loved to go to the Coffee Room and an old favorite, Cafe Savoy – next time, perhaps. I am, as you know, very, very fussy about coffee. But going back to food – I was surprised to discover I had a massive craving for and needed to introducte husband to nakládaný hermelín (“marinated Camembert”, essentially.) I had forgotten about this delicious treat and realized I need to recreate it at home.

Nakládaný hermelín!

Alcron

Lastly, I was completely blown away by how much Czech I remembered. I wasn’t having lengthy conversations with anyone, but the fact that I was able to speak to the hotel staff and communicate with the restaurant servers in a way that not only was I understood, but they responded to me in Czech was … well, it was really satisfying.  (I had to talk myself down off of a “screw German, I’m going to take a year of Czech at UW!” ledge because I was so excited. And I still think Czech is utterly beautiful to hear.) Though I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since Czech has creeped in A LOT over the past couple years as I’ve been learning Arabic and German.

I would definitely like to go back for a longer stay at some point, there are things I want to experience again and I’ve always felt like Prague & I have unfinished business.

 

Ich spreche Deutsch. Ich verstehe. Wie wunderbar!

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This (to the left) is a screenshot of an email I was sending to myself of things to remember to pick up at the store. For some reason, I still, unconsciously, continue to spell “jogurt” with a ‘j’, Czech style. I do the same with ‘jo’ (instead of ‘yo’).  And now that I’m learning Deutsch, other words spelled with a ‘j’ in place of ‘y’ are creeping up again, too! My phone does not give me the option of using all 4 of my language keyboards at once. Ach, jo.

They say that once you learn two languages, learning more becomes easier and easier. Thus far, it seems to be true. Or at least, the more languages I START to learn, the easier they get! I speak a fair amount of Spanish – I can get along (and have gotten along) quite well in Spanish speaking countries. It’s the language I’ve spent the most time learning which started with a couple years of high school Spanish and then I’ve continued to learn and use over the past couple decades.

Many, many, many years ago I had started learning Italian when I thought I might move to Italy. I’ve picked it back up a few times here and there, and again recently to prepare for my upcoming vacation to Firenze. I’ve learned French off and on more times than I can possibly count – don’t ask me to hold an entire conversation in French but I could manage simple things. I taught myself through Pimsleur, children’s books, movies, podcasts, etc and a short time taking formal French lessons but I was off to the next language before getting anywhere near mastering French. I learned Portuguese briefly (I still poke at it on DuoLingo, Portuguese is one of my favorite languages though I have little use for it.) I’ve learned survival Turkish phrases, Polish survival phrases, taken a beginner Japanese class (I still know the alphabet in proper Japanese characters!) A couple of lifetimes ago I learned a little Russian – I had even gotten proficient with the alphabet – because I’ve always though Russian was interesting. When I was 21, I briefly dated a Russian coworker whose family was delighted to help me practice my rudimentary language skills. And of course, there’s Czech. When I knew I was moving to Prague, I immediately started teaching myself Czech via Pimsleur language tapes, a “living language” course book and a Czech tutor I found in Philadelphia months before I moved. Once in Prague, I got myself another tutor, took lessons, learned by immersion, and was able to practice with Czech friends, a Czech roommate, and a Czech boyfriend.

I’d say Spanish and Czech are my two fallback languages. Any time I start learning a new language (I briefly went through a Swedish phase, a Danish phase, Dutch phase, return-to-French phase, etc) it’s either Spanish or Czech that slips in. I still curse in Czech and have other little Czech language tics as well as Spanish.

Most recently, I’ve begun studying German in earnest. This is not my first go at German – it is another of the languages I fiddled with at some point. I had even considered studying German in Prague and found myself a teacher but ultimately, decided I should focus on Czech at the time. For some reason, I always found German to be difficult. I thought it was odd that I could pick up so many languages rather easily, except for the ones that were considered part of the same language branch as English. When I decided to tackle German again, for real, I was nervous. But I dove in head first, obsessively practicing and learning every single day through Pimsleur, Memrise, books, and now a private German teacher through my university. I need to fulfill a language requirement at UW which I could easily do by testing right out of Spanish 103 (the highest level needed for credit.) But I wanted a reason to focus on and become proficient in another language. I chose German because… well, I chose German because of Latin, of all things. (I’ve wanted to learn Latin for the last couple of decades and decided to take intensive Latin – and potentially study Latin further – at UW. Latin does not fulfill the language requirement so in asking around, several people suggested I take German. So German it is. Latin is next Summer.)

Surprisingly, German has become easy for me. I can only assume that it’s because I’ve got so many languages in my head at this point. Pronunciation has become more than manageable, the grammar makes perfect sense and every word I see or hear just sticks automatically. By the time I had gotten to my formal German teacher, she said I was already ahead of where the 101 class was and that my pronunciation was very good. When she told me to go home and learn numbers 0 through 20, I went through them once on a language app and had them locked down within twenty minutes. (I keep testing myself  – that was weeks ago and I still can easily count far past twenty.) My hope was to be able to communicate well in Berlin but also to be able to test into German 102 when I return. She thinks I’ll be at least testing into 103 by then. *high five*

Over the past couple of months, I’ve begun to really, really love German. I used to think it sounded hysterical but I’ve come to find it quite beautiful to listen to. I’ve gotten so focused on it that I’m already thinking in German (what little I know) and when I wake up in the middle of the night, German words are in my head. I’ve immersed myself as much as I can while in Seattle. I’ve got friends who speak German who send me texts in German and I’ve been starting to re-watch all my old favorite foreign movies from German.

Even when I was younger, even in my teens, I was fascinated with language. People who spoke other languages always seemed so erudite and well traveled and adventurous to me. So I wanted to learn all the languages that I could and hoped to be fluent in at least two others. In the last decade, I’d been content to know a smattering of a million languages but thought I’d never gain fluency beyond Spanish. In the last few months, it feels like that goal is still well within reach. My problem now is once I study German, what’s next…? If I stay focused on German and Europe, Turkish would be a good option. But I’ve also turned my eye (or tongue) towards Asia. It’s so hard to decide… but for now, I have to keep reminding myself to stay focused, no languages but German for the next year!

Štěkej!

This face! Life with dogs is infinitely better and even my formerly non-dog person husband came to this realization within hours of having a dog in the house. We got Moya back in February and she is a beast of a dog. At 10 months she was already significantly larger than male Shepherds that were months older than her.

She’s as sweet as can be for us, but let anyone else just try and get into the house without permission! She’s extraordinarily smart and trains so quickly that even our trainer was surprised. I’ve gotten slack with training but have recently begun working on new commands, particularly barking when we tell her to and NOT barking when we tell her to. (Because yeah, not EVERYONE needs to get barked at when they come to the door.) “Speak, Moya!” doesn’t exactly sound intimidating so she’s learning some Czech (as I brush up on my old Czech speakig skills.) Apropos since the breeder often went to CZ to scope out German Shepherds for his pack. (And in my head, I spell her name “Moja” instead of “Moya”.)