Friday, August 22, 2008

Pictures, finally!

I have finally uploaded photos from our family trip!
To see images about our adventures in Vienna, including visiting the fan area for the Euro Cup games, taking a carriage ride around the royal palace, shopping and eating downtown, and visiting the music museum, plus lots more, click here!
To look at our pictures from Rome--where we toured the Forum, Palatine Hill, St. Peters, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and much more (by bus and on foot)--click here.  
And to see our pictures from Barcelona (a new city for me, and definitely one of my favorites!) click here.  This city was so much fun, from the wacky street artists, outdoor pet stores, and gorgeous flower stands on La Rambla to the surreal buildings by Antoni Gaudi--there was too much to do in just 3 days!
Probably the most interesting of Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia, a modern day cathedral that has been under construction since 1882 and is scheduled to be finished by 2026, 100 years after Gaudi's death.  This cathedral really is breathtaking, and it was fun to visit a non-traditional cathedral (it didn't look like all the others!).  Hopefully I can visit Barcelona again to see it after it is completed with all of its 18 towers.  
Along with all of Gaudi's works throughout the city, I also loved the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van Der Rohe.  This building was a great example of modern simplicity at its best and certainly justifies the statement 'less is more.'  

Barcelona was definitely the warmest city we visited in Europe, but we ran out of time to visit the beach.  There was so much to see and do here, I would love to go back one day.  Perhaps I'll visit the city of Girona and see all of the Salvador Dali museums...  It was a great end to two weeks of fun and traveling.  I think everyone had a good time!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Visit from Home

I am back in Prague after a visit from my family and traveling with them to Vienna, Rome, and Barcelona!  The trips were wonderful, and I'm glad I got to share the experience with them.  I think they enjoyed the trips just as much as I did.  I'll update more later with pictures and a little about each trip, but in the meantime I'm going to enjoy my last few days in the Czech Republic before I head home on Thursday.   

I can't believe my time here is almost over...this semester has been such an amazing experience.  I've met so many cool people, seen so many beautiful cities, and learned a lot about the world.  I do miss home, however, and I'm ready to go back.  See you all soon!

Things I'll Miss:
1.  Cheap public transportation ($45 for 3 months of unlimited transportation...can't beat that).
2.  Fresh flower stands everywhere.
3.  Hearing different languages everywhere I go.
4.  Beautiful cities with great (old and new) architecture.
5.  Traveling to a different country each weekend.
6.  Friends from all around the world that I met in Prague.
7.  Cultures that really care about not being wasteful, recycling, conserving energy, etc.
8.  Visiting countries with such rich history.
9.  Learning firsthand about so many interesting cultures, traditions, lifestyles, etc.
10.  Not having any real responsibilities--just being able to enjoy where ever I am at the moment.

Things I'm Looking Forward To:
2.  Free refills (and free water).
3.  Air conditioning.
4.  English.
5.  Cheap(er) food.
6.  Seeing friends and family.
7.  Eating something other than potatoes and bread.
8.  Convenience.
9.  Being able to read signs, menus, food packages, product labels, etc.
10.  Enjoying what's left of my last summer vacation at home!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Life in Prague

Since schoolwork has been winding down recently and the weather in Prague is finally getting nice, I have had some time to really enjoy this city I've been living in for the past several months--and I love it.  There are so many streets to explore, so many parks to have picnics and see great views of the city, so many restaurants to try, so many theaters and concert halls to visit--I don't know if I'll be able to fit it all in before it's time to leave.
One of my favorite areas within Prague is Mala Strana.  There are tons of interesting little shops, small parks, and cute little cafes in this area.  It seems a little calmer than Old Town right across the river, and it's a nice place to just wander around.  During our first couple weeks here, I found an awesome new and used bookstore in this area in which I bought the book I'm currently reading, Atlas Shrugged.  The entrance to the famous Charles Bridge is in the heart of Mala Strana.  In fact, there are two ways to access the bridge from this side of the river: the end of the bridge and the staircase, on which a few action scenes of Mission Impossible were filmed.  Nearby, tucked in a courtyard, I found an interesting modern fountain of two men peeing.  I heard that you can text your name to a certain number and these statues will write it in the water.  
Not far from the Charles Bridge is Kampa Island and another one of the coolest parts of Mala Strana: the Lennon Wall.  Since the 1980's, people have been painting John Lennon and Beatles-inspired graffiti on this once-ordinary historical wall.  People are constantly adding to the wall, and the original portrait of John Lennon has long since been covered up, but you can still find pictures and postcards of what it originally looked like.  In the late 80's, the wall caused an uprising of hundreds of students against security police on the Charles Bridge.  Their movement later became known as Lennonism; today, the wall represents youth ideals such as peace, hope, and love.
Another one of my favorite places to visit lately has been Petrin Hill.  On Petrin Hill stands a lookout tower which strongly resembles the Eiffel Tower.  I have yet to climb its 299 steps, but I hear there are some great views of the city.  There are several places in the park with great views, and since the park is so big, the views are all very different.
Here is the view from the funicular ride up to the top of the park.  I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I just love all of the orange roofs and colorful buildings.  It's such a contrast from most of the cities in Europe, and I think this is one of the unique characteristics that makes the city so beautiful.  
From further down the river in the park, there are some good views of the newer parts of Prague, including the Dancing House by Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry.
Petrin Park also stretches over to reach Prague Castle, so there are also some unique views of the castle that you can't see anywhere else in the city.  Petrin Park has so many different areas, from the grassy parts which are great for a picnic, to the restaurants, to the areas great for reading, to the hiking and biking trails, and the hidden surprises tucked into the hillsides, like abandoned houses and secret buildings--it would take days to see the entire park.   
Besides just wandering around the city and enjoying the parks last week, we also went to see a soccer game!  We headed over to Sparta Stadium to see the Czech Republic play Scotland.  There are several Scottish students studying here at CVUT, so they invited us to come, and we ended up sitting in the Scottish fan section.  It was pretty funny to see and hear their cheering methods with many of them decked out in kilts or Scottish flag capes and all singing Scottish songs and selections from The Sound of Music--especially in comparison to the extremely reserved (and silent) Czech fans.  The game itself wasn't too exciting; nothing really happened until the last 10 minutes.  But, in the end the Czech Republic won 3:1, and our Scottish friends were not too happy.  

I've posted a few more pictures of Prague from the last few days, so click here to check them out!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Color & Composition

My final class, Color & Composition, was an art class in which we could do a project of our choice as long as it had something to do with Prague.  For my project, I decided to keep a sketchbook of the many important and interesting sights in the city.  Not only did I enjoy drawing all of these images, but I am also glad I will have a sketchbook that will remind me of my time here in Prague that captures a much different essence than any of my photos ever will.  Here are just a few of my favorites: 
Tyn Church in Old Town Square
St. Nicholas Cathedral in Mala Strana
Municipal House
Prague Castle

And with that, I'm done with all of my classes!  I got my last grade this morning and turned in my grade card this afternoon.  It feels really good to be done.  Now I'll have a little time to explore Prague some more before my next family is coming to visit!  

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Creative Detail

In my Creative Detail (aka 'doodling') class, we had to sketch with the intention of eventually refining those doodles into architectural details (door designs, windows designs, grills, etc) or jewelry designs.  Here are a couple of my designs during the sketch phase:

Figure Drawing

One of my favorite classes this semester was figure drawing.  It was such a stress-free class because all we had to do was show up every Tuesday night and draw for a few hours (no homework!).  While it got frustrating at times, I loved this class because I could work on my drawing skills, and I really saw improvement over the course of the semester.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Computer Graphics

In my Computer Graphics class, we learned more about the programs in the Adobe Suite: Illustrator, In Design, and Photoshop.  Here are a couple examples of my projects from the semester:
My final poster for our class exhibition (made in Illustrator) which is also the home page to my digital portfolio (created in In Design).
A composition made in Photoshop that merges two images together (the tunnel is in Glasgow, Scotland, and I took the photo of the bike in Vienna, Austria).