During our time with the CET program, all of the students participate in two traveling seminars. For our first, we traveled to Kraków, Poland, after visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and the town of Oświęcim on the way. When we arrived at Kraków, we had a tour of the city where I took this picture of the main square, otherwise known as Rynek Główny. It was very lively at the time—filled with flower vendors, dancers, painters, pigeons and more.
While in Kraków, we ate many, many pierogies. I have always really enjoyed them, so we took whatever opportunity we could to eat them. All the different kinds were delicious, but the milk bars in Kraków definitely made some of the best! On our last day, we stopped at Milkbar Tomasza to fill up on more before we left.
Outside of classes, I often try to wander around Prague without a specific destination in mind. During one walk, I discovered they had started putting together some fall and winter themed booths. At this particular booth, they were selling mulled wine, or svařák—a favorite winter drink in Prague and Central Europe as a whole.
Just before the weather got too cold, a couple of us went to Lucerna Rooftop—a fun rooftop café with amazing views of Prague. To get to the roof, we had to take a paternoster lift, which functions as a constantly moving elevator of sorts. Paternoster lifts aren’t very common anymore, so it was cool to be able to see one in person. Both the elevator and the rooftop were completely worth visiting, although I can’t say which was more entertaining for us!
As the sun set on the Lucerna rooftop, the staff turned on string lights and lit candles for everyone still there. It was a wonderful atmosphere and, before leaving, we got to see all of Prague light up as well. The view was practically something out of a painting and I made sure to take one last picture of it before we left for the night.
For an excursion, CET organized a night at the National Theater in Prague for us. This particular performance was the opera The Bartered Bride written by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in 1866. While it was in Czech, the theater provided both Czech and English subtitles for those who needed them. Overall, I thought The Bartered Bride was very fun and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys opera.
During another excursion, this time to the small town of Kutná Hora, we had the opportunity to see several popular Czech attractions, including the Sedlec Ossuary. The Sedlec Ossuary is a chapel under the Church of All Saints decorated with thousands of human bones. Out of respect for the people buried there, visitors are not allowed to take photos, so instead I took pictures of the other beautiful scenery in Kutná Hora. This photo stars three other CET students in front of the distant St. Barbara’s Cathedral.
Another attraction we visited in Kutná Hora were its famous silver mines. Kutná Hora has a long history of silver mining, although the mines are inactive now. However, many of them are preserved for historical purposes, which include the mine we took a tour of. I will admit, the tunnels got very small at times and we were all very lucky to not suffer from much claustrophobia or I’m not sure we would’ve made it through!
For a Czech Art and Architecture class, we visited the Troja Palace on the outskirts of Prague. It is a beautiful baroque palace that was finished in 1679 after many years of careful construction and planning. Both the outside and inside are amazing, but I will say the extensive frescos covering the insides of just about every room caught my attention the most. Almost every room was painted and decorated by a different artist, so each is very unique. This room was originally a chapel for those living in the palace but it also had stunning paintings and sculptures in it as well.
Very recently, we started our second traveling seminar, this time to the town of Mikulov in the Czech Republic and Vienna, Austria. I took this picture in Mikulov on our tour of the town and in the photo the Holy Hill of Mikulov is visible in the distance. On the climb up the hill, stations of the cross are scattered on the path, until you reach the Chapel of St. Sebastian and the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre at the very top.
We decided that we needed to climb the Holy Hill to watch the sunset that evening, so after our historical tour of the city, a few of us hiked all the way to the top. It was 100% worth it for the breathtaking view of the town and valley. Luckily, the sun peaked out from the clouds long enough to give us a beautiful sunset as well!