Monday, November 29, 2010

Final photos for exhibit

Jewish people in Europe during 1930’s to 1940’s were hated by the Nazis for their religious beliefs and either placed in concentration camps or mistreated. Consequently, millions of Jews throughout Europe were either killed or displaced. Nazis targeted ALL Jews regardless of age, socio-economic status, sex, or nationality.

I will never truly grasp why or how the Holocaust occurred. Most importantly, I will never understand how the victims felt during this time and how they managed to survive on daily basis. I visited the Auschwitz complex and it brings sorrow to my heart to know that humans could do that to each other. Words do not express the emotions that went through my mind while walking the halls of the complex. It baffles me that so many Jews walked those halls just 70 years earlier, never to leave the complex again.

My Czech family was taken to Auschwitz, and it is my direct connection to the Holocaust that inspired me to take photographs that commemorate the victims affected by the Nazi regime. These photographs are dedicated to all who suffered under Nazi rule.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seasons of Praha

I live in a desert that has basically one season year round with a little teaser of each other season but here in Prague that is not the case at all. Fall arrived quickly after summer faded and it was gorgeous. Prague is full of trees throughout the city and has many parks. The leaves turned the landscape from green into a yellow, orange, and red painting. Once the city was beautifully colored, the leaves started to litter the ground. The temperature slowly started to drop and the layers started to become a must. The gardens and seasonal sites started closing. Fall in Prague is absolutely amazing and breathtaking.
Once all the leaves have left the trees, the winter came stumbling in and has arrived! The starting of winter was not fun due to the freezing cold weather and anticipation for snow. The way I see it is that if it is going to be this cold, it might as well snow and give us something to look forward too. Well I got my wish on Thanksgiving as I left turkey dinner at one of my professor’s house. Turkey dinner was amazing by the way, with a huge 22 lb turkey, homemade stuffing, salads, mashed potatoes, and lots and lots of other goodies that were brought in the potluck. I have not been to a turkey dinner with the much food before and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it. After leaving the house completely satisfied, snowflakes started falling from the sky. It was not the first snowfall of the season because it only lasted for another few minutes but it was snow and that is all I cared about at the time. The next day was the actual first snow of the season and it was so pretty. I am like a little kid at a candy shop when I think of snow, but I have been told that will quickly change once you live in it. I don’t think it will snow enough in Prague before I leave for me to hate it, but we will see. I will keep up with my snow dances to bring more snow to Prague.
This past weekend was the Prague tree lighting ceremony and starting of the Xmas markets that are scattered all throughout the city, along with xmas trees. Prague knows how to make a winter wonderland. Red stands selling yummy food and snacks, ornaments, Xmas gifts, fruit, and souvenirs have been placed all over the city and bringing with them a wintery vibe. Santa Claus is not taking over all the walls and advertisements, which is seen as an American tradition. It is calmer and warmer here with the decorations. Christmas is still a huge deal here, but not taken over by the major companies for selling purposes but more about the celebration of winter season. I am not really sure how to describe it but winter season varies greatly from winter back home.
I look forward to the snow season to truly begin. Let’s all do the snow dance to bring more snow to Praha!

I Amsterdam

Amsterdam was my last trip with my roomies and one during my program. Again, I went to the city not really knowing what to expect but knowing that I wanted to see Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank House, which I did do both. I was told that there is not much to do in the small city but it was beautiful, and they were right. Our hostel was among the top rated in Europe and was centrally located in the city. This trip parallels Spain in the way of atmosphere, mindset, and city varying my other travels. Being the weekend after Spain, I wanted this trip to be relaxing and knowing that there is not that much to do I knew that could happen. Since we flew into Eindhoven and bussed it to Amsterdam, it was already midday and tiring from all the travels. Being conveniently located amongst shops and busy streets, we just took to the streets to explore the city. The city has many beautiful canals and bridges, along with cobblestone and old buildings that all maintain a similar feel. That was something I noticed about the city is that a lot of the canals, streets, bridges, and buildings all looked the same or resembled one another. I took a lot of pictures because each time that I was blown away by the beauty but most of my pictures look the same because it was basically the same sites being photographed each time. Everyone rides bikes there with lanes dedicated to bicyclists. When crossing the street you would have to look out for cyclists rather than cars, the city was full of bikes. We chickened out of the bikes due to the cold weather and wanting to walk everywhere so we could photograph the sites. As you may have already guessed this was a weekend of coffee shops, food, and wandering the streets aimlessly.
Food was everywhere in this city, I mean every other store and always open. The bakeries were brightly lit and displayed an amazing array of goodies such as Belgium waffles topped with fruit and whipped cream, cookies, and pastries galore. Of course after each meal the bakeries were a must. The food was pretty good and had a lot of variety, which kind of reminded me of America, but it was really expensive.
I was not that impressed with the Van Gogh Museum, which is weird because it came recommended. I am not sure if we missed something but there were only 3 floors of artwork and not too much on display. There was a mix of Van Gogh’s with artist that he was influenced by and influenced by him but they were mixed in together. Not all of his famous works were on display either, but that is understandable because they are all throughout the world. I think the major factor was how crowded it was and took awhile to view each painting. That takes away from the connection with the painting and is pretty distracting from the noise. The Anne Frank house on the other hand was very interesting and really enjoyed it. It was setup at the actual building where she and her family and others were kept in hiding. The front part of the building was her father’s business and the back house was redesigned to hide them. Quotes from the diary were written on the walls and videos of her father and lady that hid them told stories about the hardships and their take on the diary. It was a very informative museum and I seemed to get a lot out of it.
At night we did manage to get to the famous Red Light District seen in movies like Eurotrip. It was clothed women in windows that were actually doors. The windows were actually lit with a red light, but it wasn’t as crazy as I expected. Obviously it is sad to see women selling themselves like that but it seemed somewhat normal. The buildings were the same as the ones throughout the city and everything looked the same, just more window doors basically which I guess is why it seemed normal. The women were clothed and were doing normal things like sitting and talking or on the phone or even eating, not coming out at you or anything. It did not feel unsafe or too gross, but rather another tourist attraction.

Amsterdam was a nice way to end my travels with the roomies. It has led to a calming vibe that has followed me back to Prague. The city of Amsterdam is very beautiful and has an old city charm to it.