Instagramming My Trips

I first want to apologize for not keeping up with this blog. I was busy with school and at the same time, I’ve been super busy at work. People have been asking why I haven’t posted in a while so this is mostly for them. It’s great to know people actually care about what I do even though my blogging hasn’t been consistent. Anyways, on with what I’m want to share with you!

So I finally got into the whole Instagram bandwagon. I’m not a major app user, but why I didn’t download this app in the beginning baffles me. I was totally addicted to it the first night I downloaded it on my phone. I think I uploaded over 30 pictures in one night and realized I should be asleep and not Instagramming. I really love how I can add dimension and character to my photos and re-live my trips. I try to limit my photos to arts things. I personally don’t like it when people instragram photos of everything, but to each their own. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to offend anyone, I just feel that things are less special when everyone else is posting similar pictures. I like taking my time going through my photo albums on my phone and choosing pictures that I think would really benefit form a little editing. Ok, enough jabbering. Let me show you what I’m talking about!

Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia

Darling Harbour – Sydney, Australia

Near the “Three Sisters” – Blue Mountains, Australia

Dawnee and Joe jumping by the steps at The Palace of Versailles.

Looking up the skirt of the Eiffel Tower – Paris, France.

I particularly love how brightening up the picture and putting the “Lo-fi” filter really made the details in the rocks really stand out. It makes my memory of visiting Stonehenge much more vibrant than it actually was.

One of my absolute favorites is this one of Lough Tay in County Wicklow, Ireland. I know it looks heavily edited, but I just love the colors. This is the green you want to see in Ireland!

Sorry for the blurry picture of the Colosseum. I wanted to make it look like an older photo, but the blurriness is distracting. All my other shots of the Colosseum at night were blurry and happened to be the best one.

This is the half-way point of Charles Bridge heading towards Prague Castle.

I know I remind Dawnee about this time over and over again, but I just love it so much! If you want to know what pure excitement looks like, there it is!

Here we are taking one last photo before heading to Hogwarts.

Underneath “The Bean” in Chi Town.

These were taken at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.

Probably the coolest non-thrill ride elevator I’ve been on. Inside the Astronomical Clock in Prague.

Me and Alan just having a crazy time behind Notre Dame.

The picture looks a little creepy, but being there actually wasn’t. This is in Boston and a lot of famous old dudes have decayed there.

I like how there is a sticker in the “O.” I took this before heading to the Tower of London.

Another one of my favorites that deserves framing! You can see how massive the Eiffel Tower is compared to all of the buildings around it. This was taken atop of the Arc De Triomphe.

Another gorgeous shot of magnificent Ireland.

This is the oculus  of the Pantheon. I really like how you can see the different levels of the ceiling. There is a lot of depth to the picture.

This was taken during the tour of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland.

Overlooking Tyn Square from the top of the Clock Tower.

Tower Bridge.

Definitely an amazingly creepy photo of a cemetery in Ireland. The fog hovering through the mountains adds so much mystery of what lies beyond the forest.

ORD to CDG… business class!

Sydney skyline from Taronga Zoo.

The City of A Thousand Spires.

Eye see you London!

What I really like about this picture is the contrast of the people. At the bottom of the steps, people are rushing back and forth while those on the steps just sit back and rest their weary legs.

This is the graffiti wall I passed by in Dublin. It really caught my eye. I see this was as art and not as a desecration of property (even though it probably is). I think it looks quite  cool.

I was trying to go for that Old World feel with the black and white. I think it kind of works.

The fountain in front of the Pantheon.

In front of the Vltava River in Prague.

I just added this one of Versailles because I really think the gold paint looks awesome.

I swear Ireland has some of the most beautiful sceneries I’ve seen throughout my travels. I absolutely love that country and the people.

Walking through the Magic Garden in Philly. This is a must see! It really makes you see trash as art.

Strolling along Millennium Park in Chicago.

Ok so maybe I overloaded you with pictures in this post, but I think you get my point of telling you how much I love Instragramming. I took you along on my travels and shared some of my trips’ highlights. I really hope you enjoyed this post as much as I had writing it.

Maybe my next Instagram post will be of my collection.

So what do you like to Instragram?

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Txoko x4

So yeah, I’m writing about Txoko again. I can’t help it because I always have something different every time I go there.

Mom and I had dinner around 6ish and the restaurant was pretty much empty so you don’t really need to make reservations.

This is the mural by Jeremy Fisch at one of the corners of the restaurant. It’s a bunch of animals at a dinner table eating animals. I think the live animals at the table are in an awkwardly funny situation. Maybe they are cannibals. In all seriousness, though, I think the mural represents what the definition of Txoko is, which is pretty much a club for people who like to eat.

This is a baguette and some olive oil with pepper.

One thing new I saw on the menu was crispy french fries with a garlic-mayonnaise dip.  This fries were perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I really loved how the fries were not oily. Also, there was a little cayenne pepper sprinkled on top which added a kick of spiciness to the fries and dip. I was surprised to see how big the serving was. We only ate about half of it because we wanted to save room for our actual meal, but mom unconsciously kept picking on them and said she just couldn’t stop!

I ordered the mushroom arroz again because it wasn’t on the menu the last time I went here. This time the arroz came with chevre, caramelized fennel, shitake and hen of the woods mushrooms. I love the mushroom arroz so much. It is very rich and thick so I would suggest getting a small order of it. We didn’t finish this one either so we took it home. I had it for dinner the next day and it was just as good, if not better.

My mom ordered the braised lamb shoulder. It again was very tender and juicy. What I was really surprised by was the lamb tongue. I forgot that it was in the dish and I ate it without thinking and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I enjoyed what I had of it, my mom found it to be a little too rich for her.

For my entrée, I had the grilled venison leg. It came with a yam mash and a bed of mushrooms and veggies and, of course, crispy sweetbreads. I really loved this dish. It was a real standout. I usually don’t like yams, but this is the perfect mash. The venison was cooked perfectly. Some might think that it looks a little too rare, but that’s how I like my meat. As for the crispy sweetbreads, I fell in love with them the first time I had them during my last visit to Txoko and I honestly chose this dish just so I can have them. The only thing I would change about this dish is that I would have liked to have more sweetbreads.

 To end the night, I had the coffee pot de creme with milk ice cream and sugar cookies. Get the concept? Coffee with milk and sugar? I thought it was genius. I was a little afraid that the coffee would be too bitter for my liking, but our waitress convinced my otherwise. I went ahead and ordered it and I’m so glad I did. I really wanted the pot de creme because I wanted to see how it would compare to the chocolate pot de creme I had in Philadelphia a few years ago at Morimoto’s restaurant. They were both really good, but I would still prefer the chocolate at Morimoto. This is a very close second, though. It is merely my love for chocolate which defends my decision. As for the cookie, I could only eat one-and-a-half of them because it was too sugary for me. Biting into it was like biting compressed sugar. That caught me off guard because I was expecting a light butter cookie.

Overall, another very successful dinner at Txoko. I really don’t understand why this place is never crowded. Maybe I just don’t go on the right days, but this place really deserves a lot of recognition. This truly one of my favorite restaurants. For some reason, I’m willing to try a lot of new things here that I probably would never try at all. Again, like The House, this place never disappoints and always keeps my tastebuds very happy. As far as restaurants go, great one have consistency. Txoko has it.

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Cafe Imperial

I’m going completely out of order here in reviewing my meals in Prague, but at least I’m trying to review them. Anyways, Cafe Imperial was also very high on my list of places I wanted to eat at because Samantha Brown featured it in her Prague episode of Passport to Europe. While at the restaurant, she wanted to see if the rumors she heard about the donuts in the cafe were true and found out that it was. She stated that a Czech humorist divided people up into three categories: a) those who would look at a bowl of stale donuts and think nothing, b) those who would look at a bowl of donuts and dream about throwing them at someone, and c) those who would lob donuts at anyone in the cafe. Samantha Brown then goes on the claim that she would never think about throwing donuts at anybody, but says she would keep an eye out to make sure no one throws one at her. And of course, a donut come flying by her and she ends up throwing her fresh donut back and ends up hitting some dishes. That was my second favorite part of the episode so I wanted to see if I would have a similar experience as she had.

This is the outside of the restaurant. Sorry it’s blurry. I was walking while I took the picture and didn’t even check to see how it came out. It’s located right next to Hotel Imperial, so finding this place wasn’t hard at all. It was only about 11AM when we got to the restaurant and the only reason why we were there so early was because our room at our hotel, Hotel Kings Court, was not ready yet. As we walked in, I couldn’t help but stare at all of the mosaic tiling that encompassed the interior of the restaurant. We were soon greeted by a hostess who asked in we had made any reservations. We didn’t have any, but that was no problem. They pulled out some English menus and informed some of the staff that we were English-speaking customers so they could properly assist us.

As you can see the restaurant is gorgeous. I really loved just staring at the ceiling while we waited for our food. My personal favorites of the mosaic tiling were the blue and purple flowers on the ceiling. I think they really pop and makes the cafe feel a little more whimsical.

To start, we were given some bread. This was like a combination of a pretzel and a croissant. The dip that came with it was kind of similar to chunky thousand island dressing. We saved some of the bread to dip in our meals.

I ended up ordering the french onion soup just because I was in the mood for some soup. I think it tasted really good, but I would have liked the bread on top to be toasted a little more. Maybe it sat out for a little bit and the bread had some time to soak so it got too soggy. It had a lot of onions in it and I was quickly getting full. I had to pass it on to my mom so she could help me finish it.

As the main courses started arriving, I was shocked to see how big the portions were. My mom ordered the braised lamb shank. It was served on a bed of mashed potatoes and spinach. The meat was so tender it was falling off the bone and you don’t even need a knife to cut into it.

For my main dish I had the braised venison cheeks. Again, they were very tender and easily eaten without a knife. The first few bites were amazing, but then after a while it started getting salty. I still made it through, though. I was able to finish the meat and managed to eat about half of my mashed potatoes.

After the waiter cleared our table, we decided to skip dessert because we were too full and asked for our bill. Paying our bill was different because they swiped out credit card in front of us. The waiters carry a credit card machine with them which I thought was interesting.

Going back to the reference of Samantha Brown’s show, I realized that they had taken out the counter with the display of the stale donuts. They actually don’t have any donuts anymore! I was kind of disappointed with that because I just wanted to see them for myself, but I still had an enjoyable time at the cafe. The restaurant looked more casual on TV, but I was surprised to find out that it is a little more classy than that now. I kind of felt a little underdressed because a lot of people who started walking in were dressed in business clothes. If you get the chance, definitely go. Reservations are recommended because the place does start to fill up.

My ratings:

Food: 4.3 / 5

Service: 3.5 / 5

Atmosphere: 4.7 / 5

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Bellevue

Simply put, Bellevue is an amazing restaurant and it’s Michelin stars are well deserved. I am so glad I found this on TripAdvisor. I would describe Bellevue as Czech fusion food. I guess they serve Czech dishes with either a French or Italian  spin to them.

When we first walked in to the restaurant we were politely greeted by the hostess who asked us if we had made reservations. Since we didn’t, she said it was fine and offered to take our coats into the cloak room then took us straight to a table. Unfortunately the tables by the window were all taken, but we were very happy with our table nonetheless.

Since this was my first dinner in Prague, I was really excited to try different things. Luckily, the restaurant offers a tasting menu. You can choose between 2 -5 courses for a fixed price depending on how many courses you choose. In my case, I went for the 5 course meal for 1590CZK (about $85). Yeah I know it’s pricey for a first dinner in Prague, but just hear me out and keep reading. One thing to note though is that for the stated price, you can order anything on the menu. For example, if you went for a 3 course meal, you can choose one appetizer, one main dish, and one dessert OR you can have two appetizers and one main dish OR two main dishes and one dessert OR even go for three main dishes for all one price. Kind of a sweet deal if you think about it. Anyways, let’s take a look at my dinner shall we?

We were given chips when we were sat and they were some of the best chips I’ve ever had. One of them had some curry powder and another had some mint flavor to it. My mom and I finished them pretty quickly, but were too ashamed to ask for more. As I was looking through the menu, our waiter, Andre, came by to introduce himself and to let us know about the daily specials and to explain some of the items on the menu. We asked him some questions about the prix fixe menu and then asked for a few more minutes to decided on what we wanted. Since my mom and I weren’t starving, we thought that maybe we could share a 5-course meal and picked what we wanted. When Andre came back, we asked him if it was alright for us to share. He told us that it should be per person, but he let it slide and let us do share the courses. He explained that the more courses you order, the smaller the portions get so it becomes more of a tasting menu. In our case, that was all we really needed. So as we made our final decisions, Andre explained how each dish was prepared and I was really impressed by his knowledge of the menu.

A few minutes after ordering some of the other waiters brought us out some amuse bouche, compliments of the chef. What we had was gelatin with diced salted ham. The gelatin was flavored with herbs and some citrus if I remember correctly. It was served on what looks like some tile flooring but I thought it was a really fun presentation. There was so much flavor in such a small dish. I literally finished this in two bites.

Our first appetizer was the Seafood Degustation with included Lobster in Lardo di Colonnata, scallops with barley kuba, and a tiger prawn tempura. Each was so small that we had to cut each one in half just so we could try them all. My personal favorite was the prawn tempura because it was a pretty meaty shrimp and quickly fried. I also really loved the lobster and the sauce they used. It was cooked to perfection and not rubbery at all. The same thing goes for the scallop and the barley that came with it was very tasty and had a nice texture, a little grainy and a little chewy.

The second appetizer we had was the mushroom risotto with mustard on the side. This was also a really good dish. The risotto was al dente and had some springyness. The sauce was creamy and had some garlic in it. Honestly, I can’t really remember what kind of mushrooms were in it, but all I remember is that it was very tasty. I love anything with mushrooms so I this was a must have. I think it came close to being one of the better risottos I’ve had, but nothing beat the one I had in London.

The first main dish we had was the monk fish. We originally ordered the Sea Bass special, but Andre put in the wrong order. After we asked him if we said the wrong thing, he remembered that we did order the sea bass, but he didn’t write down the order. He sincerely apologized for the misunderstanding as offered to take it back. We decided to just keep it because we know that we can have amazing sea bass at The House and that we should go ahead and try monk fish. To me it wasn’t a big deal that our waiter put in the wrong order because he had been so good to us that it was easy to let it slide. The fish was actually really good though. It wasn’t very fishy, which I was afraid of because I never had monk fish before. The fish was flaky and was seared nicely. I like that it was a lighter dish because we still had two more to go.

The second main dish was the traditional Czech duck with red and white cabbage and dumplings. The first thing I noticed was the size of this dish was huge. It turns out that the kitchen ended up giving the full-sized portion instead of the smaller serving for the tasting menu. The duck was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It’s very meaty and doesn’t have all the fat like the roasted ducks have from Chinese restaurants. I know some people don’t like eating duck because it might taste gamey to them, but I love duck so I was a happy camper. The glaze on the bottom was really good and was probably the drippings from the pan (score!). As for the cabbage, I was afraid it was going to be a lot like sauerkraut, but it was actually really light and didn’t taste too pickled. I actually liked the dumpling. It reminds me of stuffing during Thanksgiving, but my mom didn’t really care for it (which means more for me!). I guess she didn’t like the spongy texture, but I really enjoyed it.

For dessert, Andre suggested that we try the semifreddo with zabaglione. We went for it because he described it very well and seemed like the more interesting choices off the dessert menu. When the dish was brought, I realized that it was pretty much vanilla ice cream and chocolate sprinkles. Don’t get me wrong though, it was some very high quality ice cream, but I’m not much of a vanilla kind of guy. Luckily, the chocolate sauce and raspberries brought so much more to the dish. The zabaglione was poured on the dish at our table and was a little warm. So if you try to put a little bit of everything on the spoon, you actually get a great combination of sweet and sour, creamy and crunchy (from the chocolate stick), and warm and cold.

Here are some of the decorations in the restaurant. I love how a lot of the pieces are very modern in a city that looks very traditional on the outside. I think the restaurant has a really classy vibe, but is not in anyway stuffy and uptight. I really enjoyed that the large party next to our table were having a great time and there was a lot of positive energy in the room. If we were to have a coveted table by the window, we would be able to look out and stare at Charles Bridge.

Overall, our first dinner in Prague was amazing. Andre was a fantastic waiter and everyone else who assisted us was fantastic. Many of the waiters worked together and always came to check on us. They were always making sure everything tasted wonderful, had our glasses filled, and cleared our dishes quickly, all with a smile on their face. I also noticed that everyone one who worked at the restaurant were all men except for the hostess. It was just an observation. For the most part, everyone spoke English well, which made everything very easy for us. What was funny was that I thought Andre’s English was so good that I wondered if he was even Czech. I was amazed by the way he was able to describe everything on the menu so fluently. It turns out that he’s originally from New Zealand! His wife is Czech so he moved to Prague. I really think he is a huge asset to Bellevue because of his ability to speak well to international visitors and really knows how to connect with his customers. He is very friendly and professional and is always doing his best for his customers. I talked a little bit about where we came from and how living in Prague is a lot different than in New Zealand. As I was taking a picture of the vase and was going through the pictures, I realized that he is in the shot. He is the one speaking to the guy at the on of the table. So now you can kind of make out who he is and can have him as a waiter when you go and eat at Bellevue.

My ratings:

Food: 4.67 / 5

Service: 6 / 5

Atmosphere: 4.7 / 5

P.S. The bathroom was pretty awesome! After you wash your hands, you can dry them using some fluffy face towels. Also, they provide customers with Q-tips (random, I know!) and hand lotion. I don’t remember the name of the lotion, but it smelled like springtime!

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The Choco Cafe in Prague

This is a quick review on The Choco Cafe in Prague.

Before I left for Prague I did a lot of research on places I wanted to eat at. One of the places that topped my list was The Choco Cafe. I read about how good their hot chocolate was and how cozy the place was. Many people who reviewed the place said that they had gone back several times because they fell in love with it. I just had to check it out for myself after reading all of the good things about it.

We decided to go after visiting Prague Castle and crossing Charles Bridge. Since I was already getting familiar with the area, I found the place pretty easily. It was still really accessible to tourists walking along Karlova Street, but it was done another street where the buildings were more residential.

This is what the outside of the cafe looks like. I find it very cute and very inviting. After walking in, we were greeted and taken to a table right away. Since it was a cafe, I thought I would just order at a counter and wait for my drink like Starbucks, but it was more of a full service cafe. As I looked through the menu, I was amazed to see such a long list of different flavors. If I remember correctly, I think there were three different sections of hot chocolates. The first being the regular and coffee flavored ones where you could also add nuts, followed by fruit flavored hot chocolates, and lastly a section with hot chocolates with alcohol. Also on the menu was a selection of Bruschettas and other pastries and desserts. I was kind of hungry so I ordered the bruschetta with tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, and arugula. I guess I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture of it!

First we have mom’s strawberry hot chocolate. The serving size isn’t big, but I think it’s just enough because there is a whole lot of flavor in that cup. This was very good but it got too sweet too soon. That being said, mom didn’t finish her cup.

I knew I wanted a plain cup of hot chocolate so I went for that but decided to add almonds to it. I personally think I made the better choice by ordering the traditional flavor because the flavor of the chocolate didn’t have to compete with anything else. When the cup came to me, I thought that the whipped cream would be too much, but I actually really enjoyed it! I usually don’t like whipped cream, but this wasn’t too sweet. It was really good at reducing the sweetness of the hot chocolate and the almonds really added a lot of texture to the drink. They had some almonds sprinkled on top, but the mother load of nuts was found at the bottom of the glass. For those of you who may not have had hot chocolate in Europe before, it is not like what we have here in the U.S. Here it’s more watery and a lot of syrup is used. Also, the powdered versions don’t have that bold flavor. In Europe, their hot chocolate is more of a drinking chocolate. It is very thick and dense. Think of it as melted chocolate bars with hot milk. In a lot of places in Prague you can see that the hot chocolate is constantly being mixed so a film doesn’t form on the top.

Halfway through my drink I knew I was getting all chocolated out. That was kind of sad because I also wanted to try some of the desserts, but I had no more room in my stomach.  I highly recommend this place for any chocoholic for their wide variety of flavors as well as wall full of chocolate bars form around the world to buy. This is a nice cozy retreat for anyone who needs a break from the crowds in all of the touristy areas. They have a small play area for kids and free wi-fi for students who are trying to do their schoolwork. Also, it’s an inexpensive place to have a nice snack. A cup of hot chocolate will run you between 55-80 Czech Crowns ($2.50-4.00) depending on what you get. I will definitely come back whenever my journeys bring me back to Prague and to make sure I leave a decent tip this time. I felt so bad because I didn’t have enough small change so I just left the few small crowns that I got from my change.

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Quick Shots of Prague

So for my annual trip I decided to visit Prague with my mom.  Prague has been on the top of my very extensive “Places I Want to Visit” list for it’s beauty and for all of the good things I’ve heard about this place.  In this post I will show you pictures of the sites we visited and not feature the food because they will have their own individual write-ups.  So I hope you enjoy the pictures!

On the first day we were there we just decided to walk around the area and just see whatever catches our attention. We eventually ended up at The Old Town Square where the famous Astronomical Clock is. We saw that people could go to the top of the tower and decided to check it out. After paying for the tickets, we were given instructions on where to go to find the elevators to get to the top. The instructions were on a small piece of paper and while I was reading it, I felt like I was in The Amazing Race and I had just gotten my clue. Anyways, we found the elevator that takes you to the top and I was very surprised to see how cool it looked. It was so cool seeing such modern technology and design in such an old structure. As you may have noticed, the two pictures are the same. I just thought that making a copt in black and white would look cool.

So here we are inside the elevator. It’s actually a glass cylinder with awesome lighting and with a mirror on top. It felt like being inside a time capsule and we were being transported to the past.

These pictures were taken from the top of the tower. I must say, I think these came out great, partly because I had decent lighting and I took my time. My breath was taken away when I first saw Tyn Church from the ground so seeing it from a higher view point was spectacular. I am really glad I went to the top when it was dark because I think the buildings look much more beautiful.

Here is a shot of Charles Bridge at night. Mom and I only walked about half way because we decided that we wanted to see more of it during the day. Plus, after all of the walking, we were starting to get a little hungry. Luckily, one of the restaurants on my list, Bellevue, was close by. After dinner we headed back to our hotel and retired for the night.

The next day we decided to visit Prague Castle. We didn’t get there the usual way that most tourists go because came in through the back. We got here using the Metro and by following the signs to the castle. We ended up climbing a semi-steep stair case and had to stop several times so mom could catch her breath. When we got to the end of the stair case we were treated to a magnificent view of the city.

This is St. Vitus Cathedral which is the biggest attraction in Prague Castle. Unfortunately you have to pay to go inside so we bought a “short visit” ticket which included access to the cathedral as well as three other popular sites on property. I was really impressed by how well-lit St. Vistus is compared to a lot of the other churches I went into in Paris and Rome. This is definitely a mist-see when you come to Prague.

While waiting for the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony, mom and I walked around the front entrance to kill some time. Here she is in front of the castle gates. The gates themselves were really pretty, but not as ornate as the ones at Buckingham Palace in London.

This is one of the coolest building I’ve ever seen. If I remember correctly, this building is part of the National Gallery. The Gallery has several locations and this is one of them. Although we didn’t go inside, we definitely enjoyed the outside. I really love how the bricks look like they are 3D and popping out at you when in reality, it’s flat.

A few minutes before 12PM people started crowding around the gate so I knew the ceremony was going to start soon. There were a lot of people standing outside of the main gate so I was kind of worried we might not get a good view. Then I noticed that the side gate was open and that there weren’t that many people crowding around the inside. So I called my mom to follow me and we went inside and got a decent view of the guards. When Samantha Brown filmed her show here, the guide that was showing her around the castle told her that the uniform that the guards were wearing were designed by the same person where designed the costumes for the movie, Amadeus, which I thought was pretty cool. I must say that the guards to look spiffy. The whole Changing of the Guard was about 15 minutes long and consisted of a band (which was awesome) and a lot of walking back and forth. I wish I knew what they were saying but it was all in Czech.

One of the other places we got to visit with our “short visit” castle ticket was the area called “Golden Road.” It was a cool area where you got to see replicas of old homes of the castle servants as well as a huge display of armor worn by knights along a lengthy corridor on the second floor of the buildings. What really caught my interest was that I saw people shooting crossbows at a target. I was curious to try it so I waited in line for my turn. It cost 50 crowns for three shots. The man in charge instructed me how to aim and fire the arrow and I tried to follow them, but I found it hard to see through the tiny hole. I missed the target on my first two shots, but I finally hit the paper on my last one. I did not take a picture of it because it was too embarrassing. At least now I know I have terrible aim and that if I were left alone in the wilderness with only a gun, I would starve to death because I would have used all of my bullets and not hit a single thing.

When we finished going through the castle, we ended up walking to Charles Bridge. It’s quite a lovely bridge. Even though it is considered low season, there were still plenty of tourists roaming around, but not crowded enough to feel like you might get pick-pocketed at any moment. My favorite part about the bride was taking a slow, leisurely walk while taking in the view of the castle and people watching. This is definitely a must see in Prague and if you miss this your visit here will not be complete.

While walking along Karlova Street, I was looking into some of the little alleyways that branched off the street and I saw this. This was a piece from the art museum next door that featured a lot of young artists. I’m sure this is just all hollow plastic, but I didn’t see any sign with a description about what this is supposed to represent so I kept on walking.

One the third day of our trip we went to the zoo for a little bit (which will be it’s own separate post) and then decided to check out the Natural History Museum. Once we got there, along with some other tourists, we find out that the museum is closed for renovation until 2015! I was a little disappointed because the building itself looks amazing and I really wanted to see the inside. I also wanted to escape the snow so instead of the museum, we decided to take a break from the cold at the nearest McDonald’s. This actually turned out great because I was going to eat at a McDonald’s there anyway because I always like to try McDonald’s in other countries. While inside, we hoped that the snow would lighted up, but the weather had other plans. It actually began to snow a little harder, but it actually wasn’t as bad as we had expected it. Luckily I brought my umbrella and that protected my head because I didn’t have a hood or hat.

The next thing we did was visit the Chocolate Museum. It was a really small museum, but it was very informative. Every 30 minutes they have a demonstration on how they make some of their chocolates and we got to sample them. Next to the museum is, of course, a store where a chocoholic like me can get into a lot of trouble. As a free gift for going to the museum, we were given a free cup of hot chocolate. I know the cup looks really small, but it is filled with thick chocolatey goodness. Their hot chocolate is not like what we have here in the U.S. This is more like drinking chocolate where it seems like you are drinking a cupful of melted chocolate bars mixed with some milk or heavy cream. So really, a small cup is all you need.

The next day, the weather cleared up and we just decided to just take a stroll and just see where our feet take us. We didn’t really have a plan to do anything big so we just took our time and see what we run into. We stumbled across an open market that sold clothing accessories, toys, and art. I was a little disappointed with their offering because many of them were selling the same things. What this does, though, is present us with the opportunity to haggle a little bit. After walking around, we ended up only buying some reprints of some paintings of Prague’s most famous sites.

We followed the road we were on and found that it led us right back to the Old Town Square. Now I had a great reference point of where most of the sites are in the city. Sometimes when you look at a map you kind of overestimate the size of a city, which is exactly what I did here. After walking around a lot, I realized that nothing is ever too far away and that we didn’t really make the most of the 3 day metro pass we bought on our first day.

While at the Square, we decided to watch this band play for a while. I think they were playing some traditional Czech music and I thought they were very good. A lot of people stayed to watch them and a large crowd gathered around them the longer they played. What I loved was that both tourists and locals paid great attention to them and many people started dancing with each other. It was fun watching kids dance with their grandparents and couples dancing together. I really enjoyed watching and listening to them. Also, I loved how the guy is playing a silver clarinet. I used to play the clarinet and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a silver one.

And so I end this post with another picture of Prague Castle. I know this was a very lengthy post, but I think I ended up getting some pretty neat pictures.

Now I understand why so many people love Prague. Not only is it a very beautiful city, but I found the people who I spoke to very friendly. I’m glad I got to experience this city and I definitely want to go back during the summer when the clouds won’t be so gray. If you ever get the chance to visit Prague, don’t hesitate. I highly suggest you take your time  in this city and enjoy every moment of it. One thing to note is that the food scene here is amazing if you’re willing to splurge a little bit and there are some really great restaurants I ate at (all of which will have their own posts).

I hope you enjoyed this post and keep checking back as I will try to start reviewing some of the awesome restaurants I had amazing meals at.

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Bleach Sculpture Arts Ichigo Kurosaki

One of my favorite new additions in my collection is the latest representation of Ichigo Kurosaki from  Square Enix’s statue line, Sculpture Arts.  I know nothing about Bleach, the manga, but I thought this statue looks amazing.  I was lucky enough to purchase this from BigBadToyStore.com (which I had sitting in my “Pile of Loot” for six months) but I chose to get the damaged one (like most of my other statues) because I didn’t want to pay full price.  After reading the description about the damaged parts, I thought it wouldn’t be hard to fix.  I figure most people won’t notice the damage unless I tell them where it is and I get to save about $175.  Most of the damage is from the thin tassel that hangs on his sword and his head fell off.  Luckily it was a clean cut at the bottom of the neck so you could never see the crack.  Personally, I think the phoenix is the highlight of the statue since it pretty much encompasses Ichigo.  It simply looks fantastic.  Why don’t I just let the pictures talk?

I was thoroughly surprised to see that my statue has a really low serial number.  For some reason it made me feel even better knowing that I got it for such a good price and got one of the first ones.

I love the translucence of the phoenix, especially when it’s hit with the right lighting.

I noticed that a little of the paint from his arm bled onto the bandage on his arm.  I think it’s only noticeable when you look at it up close, but it’s still a little disappointing knowing that for the price I paid, I expect the manufacturer to really have tight quality control standards (which I admit Square-Enix really needs to work on).

Anyways, despite not knowing much about the manga or the character, I still really love this statue.  I’m most drawn to the colors of the phoenix it looks great with all of my other statues.  I still need to get the Sculpture Arts of Edward Elric and Alphonse from Fullmetal Alchemist as well as the Lenneth statue from Valkyrie Profile (when I can find a place for them).  I think Square Enix does a great job with this line, but they really need to improve their Play Arts Kai line and fix their quality control issues because their products aren’t cheap, but that could be another post.

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