Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dead people, glorified ketchup, and more waiting.

Saturday morning I woke up to actual blue sky and balmy temperatures so I decided to take the tram to the center of town to look around.  I walked into the Church of St. James to have a look and found that the inside was gorgeous with the morning sunlight.  I would have taken photos, but did not want to disturb anyone.  Just outside the church entrance was the entrance to the Brno Ossuary.  Having never seen a large, historic collection of dead people, I paid the entrance fee and went inside.  The tour was only in Czech but I researched the Ossuary's history online.  Founded in the 17th century (although apparently it holds the remains of people from medieval times before the remains were transferred from the cemetery), the Ossuary holds the remains of 50,000 people and is the second largest in Europe after the Parisian catacombs.  It was closed off for hygiene reasons during the Josephine reforms and not re-discovered until 2001.  I managed to pull some decent photos out of it, although I felt weird as I was taking the photos as these were people who once lived.

While walking through the hallways I heard a young boy, probably about 7 years old stomping around.  I came around the corner quietly until I was just behind him and asked to be excused.  He turned around, turned white and jumped about 3 feet into the air.

I left the Ossuary and walked toward Spilberk Castle and park.  It is one of the highest points in Brno and offers some excellent views.  I definitely want to come back and explore this monument.

Sunday it rained all day.

Monday I finally got the chance to visit Honeywell to meet my co-workers.  It was very exciting to talk about the work I will be doing and to see where I will be working.  I still don't have a work permit, but should learn more within the next couple of days.  For some reason I had a craving for burritos, so I stopped by the grocery store for beef, onions, peppers, seasoning, and beans.  The beef here is not like the beef I would buy in the US; its not as tender and has a different texture.  Tip for buying produce:  buy fresh produce in packages with bar codes, as most grocery stores require you to weigh the produce before you bring it to the checkout.  This eliminates confusion if you don't speak Czech and the lady at the checkout line doesn't speak English.  The sauce (mexico sauce) is little more than ketchup with onions and peppers in it (I'm not really impressed).  I cannot find black beans as I would know them in the states, but black-ish kidney beans worked fine.  The end result was edible.  I noticed that there are more ingredients for asian cooking in the store, so maybe I'll try that next.

Concerning my living situation:  It doesn't feel like a dorm, but more like an apartment where everyone shares a kitchen.  People are generally older and have jobs and keep to themselves mostly.  I have met Olga, a Ukrainian national teaching Ukrainian language classes and Amen (sp?).  I only really see them when they are cooking dinner.  In terms of location it is convenient.  I am near 2 grocery stores, a few restaurants, and the bus/tram station.  

At some point I will need to try eating out.  I have been hesitant as I do not want to be an inconvenience to anyone because of the language barrier.  I want to be able to ask for basic things in Czech, but I'm gonna get tired of cold-cuts and half-assed cooking at some point.  Generally I feel somewhat isolated because I really only talk to the landlord briefly everyday before I leave.  I do think this will not be the case for the majority of my stay; as I get into a rhythm with work and become more comfortable with speaking to people who may or may not understand me,  I won't be as isolated.

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