Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Czech Republic – The ultimate A to Z (N-R)

Dobry den!

Here is the fourth blog of my A-Z of thoughts on living in the Czech Republic for the last three years. Enjoy!

N is for…New Year
Honourable mentions: Namesti’s

New Year in Prague was a loud, lovely affair.

Carl and I watching the fireworks from Petrin, which had a great view over the city for the fireworks

It seems as if the whole city buys fireworks and unleashes them on the evening of December 31st to illuminate the darkness and bring in a new year with a bang.

Fireworks in the capital, taken from Petrin

Fireworks in the capital, taken from Petrin

O is for…OpenCard
Honourable mentions: Outdoors, orloj

I’ve mentioned in a previous post how easy it is to live in Prague. A major factor is the public transport. It is amazing.

Expansion is happening all of the time - this metro stop opened on our doorstep soon after arriving, making getting into the centre very easy!

Buses, trams and metros run with brilliant regularity. If we missed the metro to take us halfway to school, another would arrive about two minutes later. If we missed the bus for the second half of our journey, another would be leaving within four minutes.

An old-fashioned tram glides through Wenceslas Square

Getting around the city is also incredibly cheap. Buying an OpenCard allows you unlimited use of the three types of transport for a whole year. In our first year, this cost Kc4,800 – at that time, about £130 or just under $200. In spite of this, a lot of people were abusing the honour system and not buying tickets. The government thus reduced the price to Kc3,600 – a fraction over £100. For the year. Considering how much money is spent on transport in London, even with an Oyster card, will suggest to you how fantastic a deal this is.

The OpenCard - a cheap and vital part of Prague life

The amazing (and mostly modern) public transport is just another reason why living in Prague is so comfortable.

A metro on the charge

P is for…parks
Honourable mentions: Prague, Pivo, Parties

Prague is a very green city. The actual centre of the city is surprisingly small, meaning that the greenery is relatively close to the main attractions.

A park in the botanical gardens

A view in Divoka Sarka

Some of the parks are easily spotted. Looking west across the river, it’s impossible not to see Petrin looming over that side of Prague. Looking north, meanwhile, will show you Letna, sitting atop a steep cliff face. The views from both are breathtaking.

The view of Prague from Petrin

The view of the Vltava from Letna - probably my favourite in all of Prague

Walking through these parks brings a sense of tranquillity and calm. Though many people use these parks, it’s possible to take one turn and feel alone amongst the towering trees. Unless you’re near Letna’s beer garden, of course. On a sunny day it is always packed; the least you would expect with the combination of summer weather, cheap beer and a stunning view.

Walking through Petrin

This small walkway is just under Prague Castle

A lovely park rarely seen by tourists is Divoka Sarka, which was close to both our house and school. Again, like the others, it always has people cycling or running through it, yet you can easily find a peaceful spot.

A lovely view in Divoka Sarka

The leaves are particularly lovely in the autumn

After spending two years living in the steppe where just about any blade of grass was artificial, it’s been great to be able to spend time in natural outdoor environments such as these parks.

The view from the eastern end of Divoka Sarka - the large building is the communist-style Crowne Plaza

Q is for…questions

Apparently, the average teacher gets asked something approaching 400 questions each day. Having taught particularly inquisitive children and encouraged them to ask questions over the last three years, I shudder to think how many questions have been directly my way whilst working for the Prague British School (PBS). A lot of those are probably, “Can I ask you a question?” At least most children I taught no longer say, “Can I go on toilet?” I say most – you can’t change them all.

A shot from our graduation ceremony in 2016

The PBS team - I'll miss them a lot

Working at PBS has been a brilliant, challenging and infinitely rewarding experience. Wonderful children, awesome colleagues and a very supportive leadership team have all come together to make me a much, much better teacher. As you’ll see from the pictures, I’m now happier to dress up more than I ever have been in my life!

Me probably mocking one of my children at graduation

The granny who danced to Gangnam Style in the 2013 Christmas panto

Being at a school like PBS isn’t just about lessons. From leading residential trips to writing and directing shows, there is always something interesting and worthwhile happening on top of the usual daily routine. In addition to enjoying it immensely, getting my PGCE and QTS whilst doing all of this and so much more has made this a very successful time.

A prop from my first Year 6 show about the Simpsons moving to Prague

Looking festive at the Christmas Extravaganza

Job satisfaction is vital in life. I loved just about every day of the three years in Prague and being at PBS was a major reason for that.

Dressing up as our mascot, Mr Whiskers, during our Year 6 show in 2014 

A leaving message from a child I taught in Year 3 and 4 - many more are at home

R is for…running
Honourable mentions: rohlik, rafting

In Astana, my running was confined to a treadmill for many months of the year. A great thing about Prague has been the chance to run outside year-round.

The tangible reward for running 42.195km - a marathon

Whether it be in the parks mentioned previously or getting the reward of a beautiful view from Prague Castle, running in Prague has been a pleasure. Even running in the city is nice, not to mention good agility practice for dodging the tourists and their selfie sticks.

Getting ready to run in Prague city centre at the start of the marathon

My proudest achievement of these three years was completingmy first marathon here in 2014. It was a wonderful experience, painful for a long time during and after but something I can cherish for a lifetime.

My highlight of the marathon was being able to run across the Charles Bridge without the fear of crashing into a tourist

A very happy day to reminisce about

Lots of races are organised in Prague, allowing the opportunity for plenty of competitive running. I also managed to break the 40 minute barrier for 10 kilometres here in Prague’s famous night run in 2015, a feat I’m flabbergasted I achieved considering I’d spent the afternoon eating cake and drinking wine at a school picnic.

Preparing to run in the night 10k

This was at about 8km - I almost threw up shortly after but managed to finish in 39:45

For those who think running on its own is boring, there are other races starting to come to Prague. Earlier this year we did a Spartanrace, involving numerous obstacles which involved other skills (those involving strength just seemed downright unfair to me, possessing pipe cleaners for arms).

Handling the mud and water in the Spartan 

Feeling a little more warrior-like - not much, admittedly - at the finish

A group of us also took part in the Colour Run, a 5km jog around a lovely park during which your Daz-white T-shirt would turn a variety of colours, celebrating the Indian festival of colour: Holi.

The Colour Run isn't to be done as a race...

The goal: to get as much colour on your t-shirt as possible!

They are expensive – I think €50 was the average for those three races listed above – but if you’re running outside, the training is free and the experience is very gratifying. Once you’ve recovered, of course…

Love you all


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