After a great time at our first official work exchange in South Bohemia, we set out to experience Prague. We stayed at Arpacay Hostel and had quite a range of roommates in our five-bed dorm. Prague is a small city and the big sights to see can be done in just a couple of days. For us it was nice to have extra time to wander around, relax, and of course visit the cinema for two English language movies.
Prague is awesome. Easter egg colored houses line charming cobble stone streets. The city is alive and rich with history. Good Czech food and good Czech beer are cheap. The castles, cathedrals, and winding Vltava River makes the Prague look like a movie set. We really really liked Prague.
We visited Charles Bridge first and made our way to the Old Town Square. Currently, there is construction on the bridge, which did detract some from its romantic appeal. I’ve never seen so many tourists in my life. Cameras flashing constantly, numerous foreign languages spoken, and maps being discussed in great detail made it so we fit right in. The Prague Castle was great but it was St. Vitus Cathedral that really blew us away. The architectural detail and sheer size were just stunning. It’s also the largest and (considered) the most important church in the country.
With bread rolls and salami packed in our bag, some of the best time we had in Prague was simply wandering the streets, repeating to each other “Look at that! Look at that!” Without planning, we stumbled upon on of our favorite places: Vyšehrad: a fortress built in the 10th century and home to Czech royalty.
On our way to the airport as we were leaving, we encountered a fun and strange mix of folk on the metro. At times it was hard to tell who had been up all night partying (this was at 3:30am in the morning) and who was headed to an early morning job. We have made it to Paris now (I’ll save the details for later, but so far…WOW) and are settled into our apartment with Megan. More to come. Love to all.
A blog post has been long overdue. I suppose it still is, considering this isn’t much of a post. However, we have prepared some visual stimuli to tide you over.
It’s about 8pm on Sunday night and we go through our usual phase of what-should-we-do. Tonight, the options are: watch a movie, watch the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal Match, read books, or just go to sleep. Next thing you know, a ripped version of Zombieland is playing on Dylan’s laptop (don’t judge). After the movie is over, we spend entirely too long loading live feeds of the hockey game over the internet. Luckily, our resilience was (not) for naught. Jenna slept through the third (final) period and awoke to see the US tie Canada 2-2 with 24 seconds left in the game, leading to overtime. Awesome. Time for a sandwich. We went downstairs to get a snack and are startled when we see that Nic is still up. She’s vigorously washing her hands after getting scratched when the feisty orange cat (George) caught a bat. A quick Google query instructed her to wash thoroughly for 15 minutes and bring the bat to a vet to see if it’s rabid. So we head to the kitchen and make lambwiches (did I mention Mike made an awesome roast dinner this evening?) and while lambwich assembly is in full swing, Dylan decides to run upstairs and grab the laptop so we don’t miss any exictment. He comes back with bad news. Turns out in hockey, overtime is sudden death (why the full 20 minutes on the clock?), Canada has scored and thus won, and all hockey-pa-looza comes to a close. Luckily, we still have lambwiches. We wash them down with delicious mléko it’s the most amazing thing ever. Upstairs, Pavouk (cat with the luxurious fur) is waiting at our door, to enter and hang out with us. Dylan plays with him for awhile and he tolerates a lot. Pavouk is basically the next Maru.
Strange things happen after midnight in the Czech Republic.
Between Tábor, Lipno, and Český Krumlov, our first weekend in the Czech Republic was busy and fun. We began by heading to the nearby city of Tábor on Friday night where Nic and Mike have a flat (Nic teaches English there). After taking showers at the flat (much needed, since the pipes at the house are frozen!) we went to a restaurant called Two Cats for a proper Czech meal. Traditional garlic soup with smoked meat and cheese, Camembert spread with cherries, meat and dumplings, all washed down with good beer. Dylan thinks he’s found his soul food.
Saturday started all too early with a wake-up call from Keith, a Canadian friend of Mike and Nic. The five of us (plus Bun Bun, of course) traveled to Lipno nad Vltavou, a small town in the Šumava Range bordering Austria and the Czech Republic, for some skiing, skating, and snow play. Dylan chose downhill skiing with Keith and Mike while Jenna and Nic tried out the cross country trails. In case you are wondering, red seems to be the 2010 ‘in’ color for snowboard attire, you can get away with matching pants and jacket, and if you have a panda hat as well as the courage to sport it…you will be the talk of the mountain. After a full day on the mountain, we drove to the charming village of Český Krumlov and checked into the equally charming Hostel 99. Sunday involved exploring this UNESCO site, which looks a lot like a movie set and reminds Jenna of the winter jigsaw puzzles she did as a kid. The whole village is set around the winding river Vltava with cobblestone streets leading to tiny shops and cafes. We walked around the Český Krumlov Castle (the only thing open in the off-season) and got lost in the old-town vibe.
Three more weekends in the Czech Republic…where should we go next?
A week already in the Czech Republic. Hard to believe. Here’s what we have been up to:
We met Nic and Mike and Bunbury (their Rodesian Ridgeback puppy) when they picked us up from the station where our bus broke down. Luckily, the second Czech we asked allowed us to borrow their cell phone. Upon arriving at the house, we were informed that it was a holiday, Shrove Tuesday, and as per the English tradition we would be having pancakes with lemon and sugar for dinner. A delicious new idea.
Mike and Nic have taken on quite a project here in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. They have adopted an old country home and are slowly but surely restoring it with sustainability in mind. (Pictured are the barns next to the house. You can go to the Flickr page for more photos of the house and the area.) This place is gorgeous in the winter and we can only imagine how great it looks in the spring. Our cold weather projects have included chopping and stacking wood, attempted snow removal from the roof, furniture restoration, and general upkeep of a large house, large property, and medium-sized dog. Dylan and I have also taken to preparing Czechfast (as we like to call it) in the AM.
Our radar for current events is easily turned off in the peacefulness of the countryside, however we have heard of this event (called the Olympics, or something) that’s taking place in Canada right now. You may have heard of it. There’s this one sport, ice hockey, that’s fairly popular in these parts. At 6am last Thursday, the Czechs were playing their bitter rivals, none other than the Slovaks. So, in good Czech spirit, the four of us traveled to nearby Cernovice to a 24-hour pub to watch the game. Luckily, the Czechs took the win, justifying our early wake up call and beer-drinking occasion.
Only a few short days remain for our Tunisia visit (actually, as far as I tell, the length of these days will be the same as any other). We’ve been communicating with the couple we will stay with near the town of Černovice in the Czech Republic. Our home for the next month will be at the New Mill, or Nový Mlýn, a sustainability project in South Bohemia. It sounds like the winter has been incredibly hard for them and circumstances may be a bit different than we were expecting. Nonetheless, we are excited and looking forward to the next leg of our journey.