Destination: Valtice and Lednice

On our way back to Czech, my father-in-law took us to two of the most beautiful places in Moravia: Valtice & Lednice.  These places are currently protected as  UNESCO World Heritage sites.  The chateaus in both towns originally belonged to the Lichtenstein family, when they were still ruling the area.

We left our hotel right after breakfast, and the Valtice Colonnade was our first stop.

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This structure was situated atop a small hill in the middle of wine vineyards, home of the famous Valtice wine.

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Since it was getting close to lunch time, we emptied our food bags and had a little picnic under a shaded area.

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Afterwhich, we climbed 89 steps to get to the top of the colonnade.

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It was tiring, but all worth it because of the view from the top – the beautiful Moravian countryside.

During the communist era, this structure also served a less desirable purpose.  It used to be a lookout tower for the national guards, searching for vehicles trying to cross the Austrian border.

But all that is now just a part of history.  This place has now been fully restored, and is one of the important cultural sights in the area.

Next stop was a quick exploration of the town of Valtice.

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We also went to the chateau, the structure whose image can be found on the label of Valtice wine.

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We didn’t get to go to the museum due to time constraints, but we were satisfied just walking through town and viewing the buildings from the outside.

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We then headed out to the Lednice area for lunch.  This place is also notable for having one of the most beautiful chateaus in the area.

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I’m glad we took my in-laws in this trip.  We got to explore not only Vienna but the beautiful Moravian wine country as well.

Next time around, when the kids are a bit older, we hope to go back and stay longer, exploring this beautiful place aboard our bicycles.  But for now, I’ll just have to wait.

 

 

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A Fun Weekend in Vienna

This may not sound very normal to some, but we love travelling with our parents.  On a recent trip to Vienna, we decided to take them along.  This time, since all of us are already familiar with the historical sights, we decided to make it a fun trip involving food and taking the kids to an amusement park.

After having a hearty lunch at Mikulov, we drove to Vienna to get some coffee and a taste of the classic pork knee.

Vienna is famous for its cafes, so it was no wonder that they were all packed when we got there.  Luckily, we found the Gutenberg, a quaint restaurant tucked along a small street in Vienna’s shopping district.  The coffee was good, and so was the sacher torte that I had with it.  And it was too late before I realized that I should have taken a picture.

But anyhow, I think the picture I took from this place was more precious than the food – my children, in such a tender moment.

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We then proceeded to Prater Amusement park, where my son enjoyed the bumper cars with his father.

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And because he was too young to drive his own bump car, he begged to go on more rides where it was totally ok for him to take the wheel.

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Still, that wasn’t enough.  He is crazy about fire trucks, so here he is driving his own.

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The day will never be complete if we don’t get to taste the Viennese pork knee.  So we proceeded to the Schweizerhaus (Swiss house) and beer garden  to grab a mouthful and down it all off with a good glass(es) of beer.

The roasted pork knee is probably one of the unhealthiest food in this planet, but it tastes so good!  It reminded me of a typical Filipino dish, crispy pata.

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Yes, that was my portion.    So now you know why I am still fat.

 

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Destination: Mikulov

This past weekend, we travelled with my husband’s parents to the Southern part of Moravia and Lower Austria (Vienna).

Our first stop was in Mikulov, a beautiful town which used to be ruled by the Lichtenstein family (the noble family whose name is the same as the little country that they still rule to this day)  when this part of the country used to be part of the Austrian empire.

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According to other writers, this part of Moravia used to be Sigmund Freud’s playground.

Sigmund Freud, the famous Austrian neurologist and the founding father of psychoanalysis was born in Příbor, a little town in South Moravia.   That was back during the day when Moravia was still part of the Austrian empire.  It is said that when he is tired of the hustle and bustle in Vienna, he is a frequent visitor of Mikulov.  No wonder, it is just and hour’s drive from Vienna, and very very close to the Austrian border.

Perhaps the most famous and most prominent historical spot in this town is the Chateau.

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This chateau used to be the summer residence of the Lichtenstein noble family.  Later on, it was sold to the Dietrichstein family who occupied this place until 1945.

In fact, another notable monument is the Dietrichstein tomb, where the remains of the family members now lie.

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Inside the chateau grounds, is a beautiful garden which is open to the public all year round.

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Up in the chateau grounds, one can view the whole town.

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In the distance, one can also see another interesting monument, the Svatý kopeček (Holy Hill), where the St. Sebastian chapel can be found.

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We never really went to this place because it sits on a different hill.

It seems like there were a few pilgrims who made their way to the top.  But on the other hand, they may not be pilgrims.  This hill is also home to several rare plants and animal species and has been declared a nature reserve.

Still on a different hill, one can also find the Kozí hrádek (Goat Tower).

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This was a very significant tower for the protection of Mikulov in the 15th century.  It contains a two-storey bombarding tower, which at that time was considered an advanced defense system in the Central European context.  Today, it is has been landscaped and included as a recreational area.

There were still a lot of interesting places that we didn’t get to see due to time constraints.  But with what I saw, I am not wondering why Freud loved this place.

Mikulov offers a wide range or nature activities and for those who appreciate good wine, this town also has a rich viticulture tradition.  The historical monuments I mentioned was just a tip of the iceberg.

I have just added this in my list of favorite places to visit.  Not sure when we can go back, but we definitely will.

If you would like to know more about Mikulov, please click here.

 

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Destination: Javoříčko Caves

During a recent trip to my husband’s hometown in Moravia, we decided to visit one of the more popular caves in the area, the Javoricko caves.  Now you might wonder how we are able to do it with a baby in tow?

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Well, one of us has to be left behind.  This time it was my husband.  Since he is from the area, he has been to the cave several times.  So it was my turn to bring Jakub with me on this exploratory journey.  So off I went with my sister-in-law and her two boys.

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The path to the entrance of the cave will lead you to a memorial honoring those who were killed during the end of the second world war.

As we entered the cave, this was the sight we saw.

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The terrain was composed of several uphill and downhill trails.  We chose the tour that was child-friendly, so all the roads were paved.

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It was interesting to see several rock formations.

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There were stalactites…

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… and stalagmites.

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According to information found on-line, the discovery of these caves started way back in 1938.  In 1950, the search has widened and more and more floors have been found and developed.

Although the hike was quite strenuous for this unfit mama, I really enjoyed the trip.  So did my boy who had to drag his mama along when the going went rough.

Anyhow, if you are ever in Moravia, this is one nature spot that you may not want to miss.

More information about the cave can be found here.

 

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Destination: Bobova Draha, Kutna Hora

This past weekend, we decided to stay local.  We recently learned that our neighboring town, Kutna Hora, has a bobsled area (bobova draha).  So off we went to check it out.

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As it turns out, it wasn’t just a bobsled area.  It is a recreational area where one can also do Zorbing, dirt-bike riding, and rodeo bull riding.  There was also a jumping castle, a trampoline and a small playground for the kids to enjoy.

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I didn’t get to ride the bobsled.  I’m not really a fan of rides that resemble a roller coaster.  However, I had a lot of fun just watching my boys go on the ride.

Here they are patiently awaiting their turn to get on the lift.

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Before they went, my husband explained the rules to Jakub.

 

 

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Then off they went.

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A short wave for mama.

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This is how the lift looked like.  The height is pretty decent.  The whole course is said to be the second longest bobsled course in Europe.

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I wasn’t able to take pictures of the loops because it was on the other side of the hill.  But here is a photo of them in motion as they were going through the course.

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And here’s one more as they were already descending.

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Until finally, the ride was over.

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My husband took Jakub to the playground for a short break, but that only lasted a little while since he wanted more.

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So here they are again, getting ready to ascend and ride the bobsled course once again.

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As for me and Michaela?  Well, we decided to sit it out.  She was mostly sleeping and I was just relaxing.  What better way to spend the weekend.

Anyhow, I hope you had a good one!

For more information about the bobsled ride, please click here.

 

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Destination: Karlovy Vary

Touted as the largest and most beautiful spa town in the heart of Europe, we decided to visit Karlovy Vary during our recent trip in this western part of the Republic.

It was a very short visit and I am now left hanging — wanting to see more.  The place is just so grand.  No wonder it has earned all these accolades.

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The weather was not in our favor during our visit, so we didn’t really get to walk around the town.

But a visit to Karlovy Vary will not be complete if one does not visit the main spring pavilion.

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So here I am with my little boy posing for shot inside the pavilion.

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We also tasted the spring waters, each available in different temperature gradients.

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If you have met my boy you would know that he is very friendly not one afraid of speaking out his mind.  He is a very sociable child and would talk to anybody at anytime.

In here, he is telling the lady to be careful because the water is hot.  Yup, the hottest water temperature was 72C.

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Right outside the pavilion, there were pigeons to chase, so we gave him a little bit of time to run around.

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This he was doing while his mama was busy taking photos of the beautiful architecture surrounding the area.

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After only testing the tip of the iceberg, I know I will really go back to this place.  It is only a few minutes drive from Marianske Lazne, and a trip to both spas is a future event that I am definitely pinning my hopes on.

To know more about this place, you can visit their webpage.

 

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Destination: Marianske Lazne

Between all the visits and my husband’s busy work schedule these past few days, we were able to squeeze in a short trip to Marianske Lazne, one of the most popular spa destinations in this country.

It is located in the Western part of the Czech Republic and is a 2-hour drive from our place.

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This town is made up of romantic colonnades, cozy hotels, and places for varied seasonal sports activities.

The city is quite small, and it is enough to walk through it in one day.    Our main goal was to go to the Krizovy (Cross) spring pavilion.

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It is the main pavilion in the Colonnade where one can taste the spring waters from the 6 different springs in this town.

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There are 6 main springs in Marianske Lazne, all of them with different ionic concentrations and each one believed to cure different illnesses.

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Here you can see my husband enjoying his cup of the spring water.

We then proceeded to walk towards the fountains.  Jakub was having the time of his life running around, jumping and what have you.

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Its tranquil gardens were awe-inspiring and certainly adds to the beauty of the place.

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The architecture of the colonnade itself  is very remarkable.  It speaks volumes of the grandeur of this place.

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Walking around town, the buildings also didn’t fail to impress.  Even regular houses were already quite grand.

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This one even looks like a castle in a fairytale.

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Not sure if this is a house or a hotel.  But either way, in my eyes, the architecture is impressive.

Anyhow, I’m glad we visited this place.    I hope that the next time we come back, it will be for a week of relaxation in this beautiful place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Got Whipped?

I did.  It was Easter this past weekend.

In keeping up with Easter tradition here in Czech, the females in my family were whipped by the males.  It doesn’t matter what age, gender is all that matters.

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Here, my sister-in-law got whipped by her own son.

Even my very young daughter got her share of whipping too.

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Luckily, her Tata kept a watchful eye and held her close for comfort.

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And yes, it may sound way too weird, but the rationale behind the whipping actually makes a lot of sense.

It is done to ward off bad spirits and ensure good health all throughout the year, for the person whipped .   More about this practice can be found in my previous post here.

Meanwhile, when we got home, it was time to eat the choco Easter bunny that Jakub got from our Swiss friends.

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At first, he was a bit hesitant to eat it as he had been attached to it after waiting too long for this moment.

Here he is giving it one last kiss.

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But in the end, his love for chocolate still prevailed.

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Crunch!  Off went the bunny’s tail.

And of course, he wasn’t the only one devouring this tasty treat.  His chocoholic mama “helped him out.”

No wonder somebody escaped from her play gym.

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Anyhow, I hope you had a great Easter weekend!

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Babies Bonding

These past few weeks, I consider myself lucky to  have been visited by good friends.  On my last entry, I mentioned about the Swiss family that visited us.  This past week, our good friends from Innsbruck came by for a visit.

My friend Melba, with her daughter Nat, came and stayed with us for a couple of days.  Nat and Michaela were born a few months apart.  It was the first time they met.

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It was fun seeing the girls bonding with Jakub.

It was also interesting to see them talking to each other in their own little world.

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We got them identical bows, and placed them together in a mat for a photo shoot.

But it was a little bit difficult to get them to stay still and look at the camera.  Something else is always more interesting.

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Until finally….

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…Bam!  We eventually managed to get the coveted shot.

But more than anything else, the visit was more valuable for the mommies.  It was very therapeutic for Melba and I to talk about our experiences in raising kids in a multicultural household, adjusting to life in a foreign land, and most especially about adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom.

We never got the chance to visit a lot of places due to the weather and to the children’s moods, but I had a great time just chatting with Melba and seeing our kids playing together.

At the end of their visit, Nat’s dad and her grandma picked them up.  Obviously, they have been missed.

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Luckily, we managed to get a group shot before they left.

I wish we were closer so a visit like this can be done more often.  But I can’t complain.  At least we get to see each other almost every year.

 

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A Swiss-Filipino Family Came to Town

I didn’t realize that it’s almost been a month since my last post.  Life has been going at full speed and I hardly have time to pen down my thoughts.

Anyhow, we had some guests from Switzerland last week.  It was my friend Mayette, her Swiss husband Thomas, and their very cute daughter, Thomara.

I’ve known Mayette since my university days, and we recently reconnected after knowing that both of us are married to Europeans.

After a long trip to and from Sweden, they decided to swing by Czech Republic.  Jakub had a blast when he got an early Easter bunny, with nothing but the best chocolate – Lindt.

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Their daughter Thomara is only a month older than Michaela, so they are technically batchmates.    It was funny getting the two babies to meet.

Looking eye to eye, they look like they couldn’t believe there’s actually another person the same size as them.

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We finally got them to look at the camera, but were unable to goad them in eliciting a smile.

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There was a little bit of movement, as they got curious about the other.

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But after putting them in the car, they both went down easily.

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My little boy on the other hand, acted like an older brother.

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He was happy to look after the girls while their parents were busy taking pictures.

And here he is happily posing for a photo with our guests.

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We brought them to Kutna Hora and to Prague, but three days was not enough to see everything.

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They did say they were going to come back and we are really looking forward to that.  Otherwise, we will have to visit them in Switzerland.

 

 

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