Monday, June 27, 2016

"Meeting the Mayor"

So today we "met the mayor." Basically, we all (youth ambassadors and the teacher) met at the subway station and then walked over to city hall. There we were invited in by a lady (this is where the confusion begins; I do not know what her job was at all) who brought us up a staircase. We walked down a long hallway which I thought would hold the mayor's office at the end. We walked into an office and shook hands with a man and a woman. We all sat down and the woman who led us in introduced the other woman as the vice senator of schools. They asked us about our favorite sites in Prague so far and what has surprised us about Prague. Then the lady who didn't speak English, the one who worked with schools, gave us presents (mugs and journals that say "wow Prague"). Then she left and the teacher mentioned that she thought the older man who I didn't know who he was but assumed he was the mayor lived in Phoenix. So she asked him and he started talking. He talked about how he left Prague because of the communist regime and had been arrested twice for protesting. He said he was now visiting Prague because he was retired. That's when I realized he probably wasn't the mayor. Then the lady who escorted us in and had been translating for the vice senator of schools came in and said there was a meeting in there soon and we had to leave. So we got up and she escorted us out and pointed to the mayor's office as we left. Then she stood on the steps and talked to the Czech ambassadors and teacher and asked who would do the presentation on Wednesday. I tried (hopelessly) to figure out what presentation but this lady left and no one knew what she was talking about. So we did not meet that mayor. I'm not so sure who we met. But we went to city hall. I think.

Anyway then we went to get pizza and we walked across Charles' Bridge and despite the tourism it was beautiful.

Then we went to the US Embassy. I expected a large, nice building. But instead, there was a small entrance guarded by police. They had us show IDs and checked us off a list of visitors and then we waited. They then had us walk in in pairs of two spaced out by a few minutes. We went through metal detectors and our bags did as well. There were multiple police and we had to give away our IDs and get badges that said "visitor" in their place. Then we waited again, in a small room next to the metal detectors. Next, an escort brought us upstairs with several other people and the room opened into a lovely hallway and staircase with large windows and white walls with portraits of past ambassadors and presidents. They asked us to leave our phones outside as we were led into the ambassador's office. I'm a bit scared to describe the office because there were signs that said "classified space" but it was very nice. The ambassador came out and he can be described as no less than (in Erica's words:) "vibrant." He first recounted how he ended up having so many guests. We were somehow all friends of friends or family: a girl whose aunt is his friend, a mother and daughter whose husband/father is his friend, 4 recent high school grads one of whose sibling knows him, a volleyball player whose friend knows him, and Erica (plus us) whose grandma knew his mom. He told us about how his family left during the communist regime and showed us some old pictures. Then he asked us about ourselves and he really was super kind and welcoming. He told us about his job as an ambassador and led us into the gardens of the embassy. They were incredibly fancy with tons of flowers and fruit trees. The apricots and cherries were ripe and he had us all try them since they have no pesticides and they were sooooooo yummy. We went up to a small building built a few hundred years ago (redone since then however) and there was a great view. We all took pictures and Erica gave him a picture from her grandma of her and the ambassador's mom together and Erica was so proud because it nearly made him cry. After eating more fruit and taking more pictures (they gave us our phones back after we left his office, although we couldn't take pictures of the outside of the building from the embassy gardens), we went on our way and returned home. All in all, the embassy was awesome and Mr. Schapiro was very friendly and welcoming. 


We got home and had some tasty dessert. I don't know what it was but it was kind of like vanilla bean cakes/wafer-type dessert with cream and chocolate. Wendy had tiramisu. Wendy's mom is an amazing cook and it is very impressive. For dinner we had more knedliky with a meat (again, not sure what it was but it tasted like everything bagels) and red cabbage sauerkraut. Another traditional Czech meal. So unlike anything I've ever had. You should try it, it's good. 

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