After arriving in Prague there is one word I would use to describe if: beautiful. It really is a beautiful city. The buildings are so old, and there is so much history behind the city. The architectural detail behind the buildings was amazing. How these buildings were built centuries ago without simple things like cranes still baffles me. We saw some major sites, including the most popular Charles Bridge and Castle. The Castle was truly amazing, it's the largest ancient castle in the world (according to Wikipedia) and was just crazy. The whole city was packed full of tourists and their selfie sticks but it was still amazing, no matter where you walk around you can't help but be amazed with how surreal your surroundings are.
Another bonus is Prague is pretty much the opposite of Switzerland; that is everything is so cheap. They use the Koruna (possibly announced corona) as a currency, and $1 AUD is worth 18 korunas, so when we cashed our money in we felt like we were rich. Food and drinks are so cheap. You can eat out at a nice restaurant with a huge main meal for what works out to be $5-$10AUD each, which is just prices you can't get back home in Australia or in Western Europe.
We all spent Christmas with Gerrard and his family, exchanging gifts, while enjoying some traditional Czech Christmas foods. Fried carp is pretty much a must have at Christmas time there, cause you can't really buy it any other time of the year, as well as some delicious potato salad. An awesome night was had by all and it was great to be taken in by a family for Christmas.
There is also an expression I heard about Prague that 'beer is cheaper than water'. Some quick price comparisons and it's absolutely true. You can buy beer literally everywhere. At some Christmas markets we saw some 500ml bottles of water selling for about $2.5 AUD, and 500ml of beer for about $1.5 AUD. So naturally the Czech people drink a lot of beer and it's by far the best beer I've ever had (sorry to all you Carlton Draught lovers out there).
Overall my Christmas break was awesome, seeing some really good friends who I haven't seen much lately as volleyball has taken us to separate corners of the world. It was great to embrace another culture, and a few evenings we got to hit the night jazz scene as well which was cool. Live performing bands were everywhere and cool to go, watch and hang out in a relaxed atmosphere, and for the most part we had good weather but unfortunately no snow so my first white Christmas still eludes me. My mini vacation week was over, and I'd fly back to Rotterdam before New Years Eve to rejoin my team.
For anyone who is ever in The Netherlands for New Years my best advice is this: watch out, Dutch people go crazy. I got back to town on the 29th Dec, and there were people letting fireworks off everywhere out here in suburbia at all times of day and night. Every 5-10 minutes you just hear a bang of someone letting off some fireworks. This country spends something in the tens of millions of dollars on illegal fireworks and it's ridiculous. Sometimes it sounds like there a flash bang grenades going off. Walking around downtown on New Year's Eve there were people letting off their own fireworks all night like I've never seen or heard before. Usually things get so bad there's usually a handful of fatalities due to firework mishaps so we were warned to be careful if we were out on the streets. But luckily everything was all fine.
Now were back into season mode again. We had practice tournament last weekend against Taurus and Talentteam, two teams we will verse again before seasons end. There was still a bit of rust in these matches coming back from Christmas break but we it's good to be able to get the rust off in practice matches and not league.
Last night it was the first league match of 2015, and a very important game against Inter Rijwisk. As they are in a similar spot on the ladder it was a pretty important home match for us. They are the closest club to us (from The Hague which is only about 30 minutes away) so they brought a lot of supporters who made a lot of noise. And we had our biggest crowd by far of the season including some loud drums going on. It was an awesome atmosphere and a super close game. We would go down in a close 4 sets but can't be to upset because the whole team fought pretty hard the whole match. Luckily next Saturday night it will be another match and another opponent.
And also, as anyone whose read some of my previous posts I've had a few visitors since I've been here. Recently Phil Freere and Mitch Branson spent two nights with us. While Mitch stuck to coaching, Phil got to step in and train with us, so the Australian/GMVA takeover of Holland is still taking effect slowly but as always it's great to see familiar faces/accents and I can't complain when he brings me milo as a gift.
Until next time, keep on keepin' on.