Posted by: mandaleigh | 28th Nov, 2011

A British Thanksgiving and a Czech Black Friday

Oh that classic day of turkey, football and food comas. It’s a staple of American families on Thanksgiving! This year of course it’s a bit different for me. We decided to do our own American Thanksgiving here in England! And I had the best job of all….GUTTING and cooking that turkey.

1. Cook an American dinner on Thanksgiving.

 

He's so cute

 

The best thing about Thanksgiving in England? You don’t have to battle it out to find a turkey, stores are still open and it’s a holiday that involves excessive eating. As Americans, we really will use any excuse to overeat, and it’s awesome explaining this holiday to people here.

Making a turkey seemed intimidating—people warned it was a tricky business. Honestly I just think people are uncomfortable with the plan of attack–ripping those organs out and tying up the legs like you’re ready for an autopsy. I rather enjoyed it! Once that’s done, you rinse, lather him up with spices and pop him in the oven! Banggg, done. It turned out pretty nice!

 

Our lovely spread

 

There was stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans with almonds, turkey of course, rolls, garlic mashed potatoes and for dessert we had amazing apple crumble! The next night our program threw us a fancy Thanksgiving dinner in a private function room–and dinner was cooked by culinary students! The turkey must have been on steroids—it was massive. We got to dress up, drink wine and be classy.

ASE really goes out of its way to make you feel comfortable here! The staff is so friendly and helpful, you can’t help but feel at home. And nothing says home like exorbitant amounts of food on your plate amongst friends 🙂

 

Last year on Black Friday I was stuck behind a register all day. This year? I was in Prague.

10. Learn snippets of a new language (German and French don’t count)

Me and Natalie in front of the Charles Bridge

It was an impulsive trip (well, we planned it a month ago) to see Prague during Christmastime. And man did we pick the ideal weekend to go! It was freezing but sunny the whole weekend so we got to see the real beauty of the place. Prague Christmas Market was named one of the Best 12 in Europe (Great Britain included, Bath is actually also named one of the best), and we were able to see the official tree-lighting ceremony in Old Town. The tree was trekked from the mountains of the Czech Republic, decked out in gold ornaments and enough lights to rival a KISS concert. Tons of wooden stalls littered the place, selling everything from handmade iron jewelry (you could see the guy in the forge right there) to Obama puppets, combined with the smell of roasting meat and super awesome desserts—trdelnik is my new favorite, which is basically roasted vanilla-coated dough, sprinkled with almonds and rolled in sugar.

Amazing!

 

Carolers were singing church songs in Czech, dancers were demonstrating traditional costumes, and the entire square sparkled with light and life. I haven’t felt this much Christmas spirit since I was probably eight or so! Most vendors spoke English, but my minor exposure to German did help when ordering things! And endless “excuse me’s” and “sorry’s” were obligatory in such a big crowd. There were times when people would just come up to us and ramble on and on in Czech (probably had too much svarak–hot wine), of course you just nod and smile and high-five them. Some things are just universal–including drunk speak. I got some Christmas presents for my family (shh) and ate way too much!

 

Astronomical Clock

Absinthe. For the record it tastes like bitter licorice.

Vltava River

 

The exchange rate definitely helped. We hired a private car to take us from the airport to our hotel for $14 each (550 Kroner total)! It was so fancy, we walked out of the arrivals gate and there was an adorable old Czech man with my name on a sign. However, somehow beer was cheaper than water everywhere we went. We decided to also spring for a hotel and not a hostel which gave us a full breakfast and better security. There’s something actually haunting about the city at night in the quieter parts. Even on a Friday and Saturday night, it’s dead quiet with cold invading your bones. Natalie chalks it up to the Iron Curtain’s lingering presence–I’m inclined to agree. But everyone we met was so friendly and welcoming!

We went on a 4 hour (split up into 2 days) walking tour. For the first part we saw Old Town and the Jewish Quarter, which houses the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe. It’s also insanely crowded, with 12,000 headstones that takes up less than a city block. People are stacked up like Leggos underneath that thing. The second day we saw Prague Castle and Lesser Town–which is where a lot of movies are filmed.

Cute bridge in Lesser Town

View from Prague Castle

 

After a glorious weekend, it was time to go back home to Bath. Getting there was easy, getting back was a bit trickier. Our flight was delayed because they overbooked the plane (yay for planning, huh airlines? lol), luckily we got on. We also had to take a bus from the gate to the plane which was in the middle of the runway, it felt like another private escort but with all of us jammed in there like sardines. No screaming babies on board, thank GOD! When we landed we took the Flyer to the train station and bought tickets for Bath. But hey guess what, no more trains out to Bath for the rest of the night. Thanks for selling me the ticket though, that was nice of you haha Soooo we call a taxi. Half an hour goes by, and no taxi. We call the company and the guy said he was waiting outside of a bar for us…buttt dude we’re at the train station. No matter, we just hailed another taxi and got home just around midnight.

OH! And we saw a guy playing a didgeridoo on the Charles Bridge. We wanted to rave to it. Just being silly Americans of course lol A couple feet down there was a band playing brass, which made it feel like a time warp. I love Praha!

 

 

 

 

 

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