Prague: 15th February 2005
Another lovely lazy start this morning. It was quite cold last night and so I am glad that I took my hottie with me. We headed off to Helena’s school where we met another teacher called Veronica who is the Czech language teacher at Riverside. Helena has only 12 children in her class, 6 of whom are on IEP’s almost the same ratio as me but of course there are far fewer children in her class! (the other Year 4 class has only 13 so together that is still 7 children less than min!) They follow the National Curriculum and focus mainly on QCA documents. Resources are limited so she brought lots with her but topic resources are pretty much all there. I just sat looking around and thinking – I could SO be doing this. So much so that I went on the internet at her school to look at the TES website for overseas jobs saying to myself that if there was one in Bucharest that I would apply there and then. Luckily/unluckily there was not. I think at the moment that is the only place I can actually see myself teaching at. The problem that holds me back is of course the house as easy as it would be to rent it I am not keen on the idea at the moment.
Helena seems incredibly happy – and is – she has an instant bond with many people that she has made friends with through the church. Her school is a Christian school, she has Bible Study group with many of the staff which of course I would not have and certainly have no interest in getting in to. After going to her school on the tram and bus to what felt like the end of Prague we then came back in to town. We had gotten a sarnie on the way to school between swapping modes of transport not quite what Helena had tried to order which was quite hilarious but yummie none the less. On the way back in to town we stopped off in a shop called Robertsons which was not too far from school. It stocks typically British Foods and you can make suggestions about what else you would like to see there. It is run by a parent from Helena’s school and she got a couple of things in there before we headed off to find the John Lennon wall. I had quite a lot about it – mainly from Peter when we missed seeing it back in 1998. It is opposite the French Embassy on Kampa Island just by Charles Bridge. It became famous as a political focus for Prague’s youth during communism. Pop music from the west was banned by the communists. Some Czech musicians were even banned for playing it. After Lennon’s murder in 1980 many Czechs saw him as a pacifist hero, his image was painted on this wall along with many of the Beatles lyrics and political graffiti. The Secret Police never managed to keep it clean for long in 1998, it was whitewashed (I am assuming that this was after Pete and the likes saw it) but it was soon covered again with graffiti. It was apparently allowed to remain after the Velvet Revolution in ’89 by the French Ambassador – I suppose that it is a symbol of the time more than anything else. It was fascinating reading the history behind it and I bet that many tourists walk past it without giving it a second glance.
We then had a quick look to see if we could find a restaurant called Kampa Park which is where Helena’s elder brother wants to take her if he comes to visit. Apparently there is a scene from Mission Impossible that it is in or something. I don’t remember films that well! Lots of celebrities visit there so my guide book said (I found it after we were looking for it!) I was SO cold at this stage that I honestly thought I had frost bite in my fingers – a feeling I last had when I was in Lapland with the Gregory’s Husky Mushing. We went and had a coffee in a bid to try and warm up somewhere just up from Charles Bridge. From here we then headed to the Museum of Communism. I am glad that we had the guide book to describe the location as I am not sure if we would have found it otherwise! It was on a street near the bottom of Wenceslas Square in part of an 18th century aristocrat’s palace between a casino and McDonalds. It was put together by an American expat and his Czech partner – so my guide book tells me – which explains the heavy mention of America throughout the museum. It really was fascinating I have to say learning more about the Ceausescu era in Romania. I hadn’t really put the fall of the Berlin Wall in place as being around the same time at all and of course the Velvet Revolution here in Prague which was the days after the 17th of November 1989 demonstration (so called because of their totally non-violent character) was all at the time too. It is extraordinary to think just how much of Europe was ruled by communism for such a great length of time and until what is actually not that long ago. After coming out of the museum we went into a shop called the New Yorker which Helena clearly goes into quite a bit! I got a lovely pink coloured hoody, Mum will go spare at the very thought of me buying ‘yet another’ but a pink one is nice addition to the wardrobe!
We walked up to Wenceslas Square – stupid name really as frankly it is closer to a rectangle than a square! Many protests and gatherings linked to invasion of the Czech Republic and communism happened here mainly led by students throughout the ages. The name Wenceslas is that of the Christmas carol but the absurd thing was that the Wenceslas that they refer to from the 10th century was only the Duke of Bohemia and was never actually a King! From here we headed back to Andel where we were going to have supper before the short walk home. Helena chose the restaurant and I paid to thank her for having me. It was delicious I have to say. I had a steak in a Gorgonzola sauce and we shared a bottle of white wine before heading back to the flat via the supermarket so that I could get some cigarettes. We packed when we got in ready for our early start in the morning.