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Kelly J. Cooper

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An Opportunity to Plan [Nov. 29th, 2006|02:39 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
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I just found out yesterday, the BF and I are scheduled to go to Prague (that's EDIT: the Prague in the Czech Republic (since Czechoslovakia is no longer relevant and I am an ignorant, albeit Internet-using moose), in case there are others) in March 2007.

This is, of course, subject to the whims of business (i.e. if a conflicting business trip comes up, there's no guarantee we'll be going), but he's made hotel reservations and is going to make flight reservations once we figure out if there's any place else nearby we should go (like Germany or the Netherlands). So the odds are good that we're going.

Seems to me that this is a perfect opportunity to plan.

And you, my LJ community friends, can help me do it.

Please share your suggestions, thoughts, recommendations, friends who've been, etc. All are welcome.

Things I like to do when I travel (in order of preference):
  • Walk (especially going on self-guided walking tours)
  • Eat local food (and people watch)
  • Look at local crafts and jewelry (with occasional purchases)
  • Visit museums (art and history, mainly, with culture a distant third)
  • Stare at nifty architecture (but knowing too much about architecture makes me sleepy)
  • Have one really fancy dinner

Stuff I need to do:
  • Figure out an additional destination (suggestions?)
  • Get Czech language lessons
  • Buy at least one English/Czech dictionary
  • Buy guide books (I bought ONE this evening: Travellers Prague from Thomas Cook Publishing, copyright 2005, because it emphasized walking tours on the back cover)
  • Figure out if I can manage some travel writing and generate articles on Prague
  • Accrue knowledge about the weather (March is still winter in Prague)
  • Get a pair of decent walking boots, bought far enough in advance to break 'em in

    Googling on language instruction:

    • The Boston Berlitz school teaches it (requested information via email; their auto responder says call or stop by)
    • The Boston Language Institute (AKA "Guaranteed Swahili") does not teach Czech
    • Language Trainers (www.languagetrainers.com) teaches Czech in Boston (requested information via email)
    • I found the Local Lingo board (www.locallingo.com) and emailed all three of the tutors listed there for quotes on lessons

    • The Pimsleaur Approach (www.pimsleurapproach.com) offers software for learning Czech at $274
    • Roseeta Language Software doesn't do Czech
    • United States Foreign Service Institute Czech (FAST) Course (www.learn-how-to-speak-czech.com) offers software for $200
    • Before You Know It (www.byki.com) is free and offers Czech; the Deluxe model is $40

    • Schoenhof's (www.schoenhofs.com) has a pile of books, cassettes, and CDs for learning Czech
    • A bunch of discounted courses and books on learning Czech are on eBay

Travel writing:
  • Since our plans could change, is it still a good idea to pitch articles to travel & local magazines? (Requires pondering; comments welcome)
  • What the hell am I going to write about? Who cares about what I have to say?
  • Read the books on travel writing that I bought (when I picked up the travel guide tonight)

Guide books: I'm going to read the one I've got, and if it's not sufficient, then I'll read reviews and flip through the others until I find another one I want.

Czech/English dictionary: Probably get suggestions from tutor(s) or, if I go with language classes, the instructor(s).

And I'll probably work on the rest as the time gets closer.

So... whaddya think?

(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: kjc
2006-11-29 09:46 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Time for a new world map.
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[User Picture]From: rmd
2006-11-29 08:50 am (UTC)
will there be defenestration?
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2006-11-29 09:48 pm (UTC)
Not that I'm planning. They've had enough of those.

Who wants to be famous for chuckin' the opposition out of windows?
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[User Picture]From: istemi
2006-11-29 01:18 pm (UTC)
The Minuteman library network has some Pimsleur Czech materials. One is even out right now - who'da thought?
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2006-11-29 09:48 pm (UTC)
Good point, my dear. Very good point.
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[User Picture]From: missionista
2006-11-29 09:55 pm (UTC)
I was there in 1993, so probably a lot has changed. I really loved a tiny town called Cesky Krumlov. Also, just walking around Prague was a treat. I got completely addicted to the pastry there. As the time gets closer, e-mail me if you have specific questions, and I'll try to answer.

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[User Picture]From: xthread
2006-11-29 10:42 pm (UTC)
Let's see... my experiences in Prague are that I day-tripped there from Berlin when I'd had enough of winter in Germany and could no longer stand it. That said...

All signage anywhere that a tourist might be was printed in at least each of English, Russian, Czech, German, and a Romance language. Most currency accepted, though if you really push it they'll accept it with poor grace (I paid a cab fare with small US notes when we ran out of korun).

The Toy Museum in the castle at the top of the hill Must Be Seen. C'mon, they have dancing bears on their business card and they've been there for years. It's a moral obligation.

Prague has more bridges than Portland and they're considerably older. You should walk across a bunch of them.

Good food was mind-bogglingly easy to find, and mind-bogglingly inexpensive, even in tourist traps, when I was there (a decade ago). Lodging was terrifyingly expensive, that might have been tractable if we'd been able to try to solve the problem in Czech instead of German and English (which were the two languages we had to hand, both of which had 'rich tourist' plastered across them in neon, no matter how scruffy we looked).
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[User Picture]From: metagnat
2006-11-30 04:10 pm (UTC)
Inside the Czech Republic, there are some fun destinations such as Pilsn (home of Pilsner beer) and Karlo Vavary (possible hopless mispelling here) a town with natural hot springs where people have come for centuries to take the waters - not unlike Bath in England.

In my experience, some people, particularly in Prague, spoke English, but even more spoke German, so if you have any german, you might be able to get by - of course, learning the language is a lot more fun and culturally sensitive.

I am so very jealous. Prague is an awesome city and I liked the whole Czech Republic in general a lot.

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