Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Ostrava Saga Pt. II

Halt. Have you read The Ostrava Saga Pt. I yet? If not, I would recommend reading it first. Don't worry, I won't come out of the woodwork and hit you over the head with a frying pan if you don''s just not the way the saga was intended to be read. Feel free to keep reading. There's no need to put a lock on the door of your pots and pans ;)

The Ostrava Saga Pt. II: Hello Ostrava!

Wow, where do I begin? By now, we've (btw, whenever I say we/we've/our, I mean my team) been here in Ostrava for just over a week. We arrived on Friday, August 20th around 8pm Central European Time. The 6-hour time difference from home didn't prove to be too terrible the first day, but by our second day here, I was really feeling the jet lag. There's nothing like being tired all the time. Yuck. Glad that's over. Thankfully, our time here has been really low-key so far.

Here are some highlights:

*Ostrava City Hall has a viewing tower, so we paid a small fee to see an incredible view of the city. I was silly enough to forget my camera, so here are some pictures (courtesy of my lovely teammate, Shelly McMullen) of the tower itself and some of the views:

Just think, this is only a speck of Ostrava! There is so much more to show you...I just need to think of the best way to do that. Uploading pictures on here isn't really the best option, so I am open to suggestions.

*We went to our first Czech restaurant. It was located in the lower level of a museum, and the 5 of us were literally the only ones there (besides the waitress and the chef, of course). Delicious food. They even had an English menu, which was definitely helpful, though we felt a bit guilty for using it. Since then, though, we've been to three other Czech food establishments and successfully ordered food using a Czech menu.

*I had my very first IKEA experience. We needed a dresser for the flat, so we took the tram (one of the three forms of public transportation here in Ostrava) and visited IKEA. My teammates were extremely ambitious, as they decided it would be no problem to simply transport the dresser back to our flat (aka apartment). Yeah...the dresser weighed 72 lbs. What a day.

*We've been grocery shopping numerous times already (since we have to carry our purchases back to the flat, we can only buy so much). There is a mall near our flat that includes a large TESCO, which is like a Walmart. Shopping there is pretty easy thanks to the fact that we don't usually need to know the Czech word for each item. The deli counter is really the only exception, and even then, the ladies there can usually tell that we're new at this and are therefore pretty patient with us.

*4 of us went to the Cine Star (a movie theatre in the mall by our flat) and saw Inception. Wow. Now there's a movie that will make you think. I'd wanted to see it for awhile, but hadn't had the chance. It showed in English, but with Czech subtitles. Here are some interesting things to note about the movie theatre experience here:
1) When you purchase a ticket, you're actually reserving a particular seat.
2) Therefore, unlike Americans, Czechs don't arrive early to pick their seats. In fact, they don't arrive early at all. When we first entered the theatre, I was worried that we were in the wrong theatre because there were so few people and I knew that most of the seats were already reserved. However, they all showed up during the previews.
3) There's a bar in the lobby of the theatre, but you can't take drinks past the ticket-rippers and into the actual viewing rooms. Not that I tried. Just an observation...
4) There are select seats in the theatre for couples. I was lucky enough to find this out as my seat was right next to a "loveseat." Literally, it's two seats put together. Thankfully, the couple sitting next to me actually wanted to watch the movie.

*We all bought a 3-month transportation pass, which makes for extremely convenient travel via the bus, trolley-bus, and tram here in Ostrava. Yes, we take public transportation to get pretty much everywhere except the Futurum mall (where the TESCO is located, along with lots of shops and a large food court--perfect for when we aren't feeling ambitious in the kitchen) and church.

*Church! We've been to church twice already, and we all love it. It's a Czech Brethren church, and it also happens to be where most of the Fishnet (our school) teachers attend. Hello community :) What's more, we get to listen to the message in English via a large set of headphones as someone in the back translates for us. Yes, we sit in the front and look obviously American because of this. Worship is not translated though, so we all attempt to sing the hymns in Czech. This proves to be very entertaining. I quite enjoy it. It's a great way to practice my Czech pronunciation, even if I have no clue what I'm saying.

Now, you are probably all curious about our flat. Drumroll please. Here's the outside of the building:

We're on the 7th floor (it's really the 6th...but Europeans do things differently). Our flat is right above the orange line, and that's our own balcony. We have lots of windows, so there's plenty of natural light. We love it. Our views are amazing. Plus, there are no window panes, so we get a clear, unobstructed view :) It's a hassle to put pictures on here, so I'll take a video of the flat and give you a nice little tour sometime soon.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a tiny snippet of Ostrava. It's a pretty cool city, and once it stops raining (it's been gray and rainy here for about 5 days), I'll go exploring and take lots of pictures :)
Next up is The Ostrava Saga Pt. III, which will be about our school and what ministry will look like here. Stay tuned!