Lately

It seems like forever since I wrote my last post. Too many things have happened that I couldn’t seem to put them in order.

Anyhow, we’ve had several visits this summer and early fall. First off, my husband’s cousin and her son from Moravia to spend a weekend with us.  We brought them to Prague and Kutna Hora, since it has been awhile since they visited these  beautiful cities.

Here’s a picture of us in front of one of the most beautiful churches here in the Czech Republic, the St. Barbora Church in Kutna Hora.

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The weather was not in our favor during their visit but we were still able to snap some beautiful pictures of Prague.  It is breathtaking in any weather.

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My friend Melba and her daughter also spent some time with us.  It was nice for the babies to see each other again.  This time, we contacted some alumni from the university where we had our bachelors and had a mini reunion in a cafe in Prague.

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A couple of weeks ago, My friend Mymy also came for a visit with her son.  She lives in Prague and it was her first long out of town drive since she got her license a year ago.  She also has a toddler who is close to Michaela’s age, so it was nice sharing motherhood experiences with her.

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Lastly, my son has started going to a state primary school and my daughter is turning one pretty soon.  How time flies.

Photo credit:  Jan Strnad (www.atelierkolin.cz)

Photo credit: Jan Strnad (www.atelierkolin.cz)

It seems like only yesterday since we made the significant decision to move here in CZ.  Since then, every year is marked with significant milestones.

 

 

 

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Switzerland in Czech

This is a long overdue  post.  Been busy with other things lately that I haven’t found the time to pen down my thoughts.

Anyhow, I mentioned in a previous post about Decin, one of the beautiful places that we visited this past summer.  It was actually a side trip for our actual destination – Czech Switzerland.

Before we got here, I initially thought that Czech is a boring place since it’s too far away from the sea, and it is relatively small.  But after living here for 3 years now, its diverse topography really impressed me a lot.  What do you know, they actually have miniatures of famous countries all within this small state.

Czech Switzerland is the youngest among CZ’s national parks.  The Elbe river, which separates Czech and Germany splits the park as well.  Hence, it is both called Czech Switzerland and Saxon Switzerland.  It’s romantic name can be credited to Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff, two Swiss painters and teacher that the Dresden Academy in the mid-18th century.  As they were travelling to places close to the Elbe, their painting gained popularity and became the basis for the promotion of the beauties of nature.

Since my daughter is still too young to do any serious hikes, we were only able to visit the parts with easy trails.

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This was the landscape that greeted us on our way to our hotel in Tisa.

We did a short hike on paved road, and everyone enjoyed it immensely.

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Although there was a time when our little man had a temper tantrum.

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But there’s nothing that can’t be fixed by a small joke, a hug and a kiss.  And he’s a happy trooper again.

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The walk was all worthwhile after we saw the view that awaited us.

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Out here you can see the key cities in the region.  Even Mr. Grumpy enjoyed the sight.

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The area that we visited is just a tip of the iceberg.  There are still far more beautiful sights in this national park.  But I’m glad we were able to visit the place, so then we can come back for more.

If you would like to know more about Czech Switzerland, you can visit their site here.

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A quick visit to Děčín

A couple of weeks ago, we visited the town of Děčín, located in the northwest Bohemia.  We were on our way to visit a famous Czech national park and decided to do a quick stop in this beautiful town.

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We were not able to visit the historic castle due to time constraints, so we just simply roamed the town square.

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Like any other Czech town, it is filled with beautiful fountains and beautiful architecture.

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The town is bordered by the Elbe river .    Děčín lies on the right bank, while the German town Bodenbach lies on the left.  It has a very low elevation, one of the lowest in the country.  Thus, it has experienced its own share of natural disasters.

In 2002, a great flood caused catastrophic damage to the town.  Fortunately, most of the historic sites were undamaged and still stands up to this day.

 

 

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A Visit to Panská skála (Lord’s Rock)

On a recent trip to North Bohemia, we had the opportunity to visit one of the country’s most visited geological formation:  Panská skála (Lord’s Rock).

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The Lord’s Rock is a remnant of a basalt hill.  About 30 million years ago, the rocks made up of basalt magma were pushed up  and never went to the surface.  This trapped magma began to cool very slowly, forming the typical jointing which we now observe today.

With quarrying, a lake was also formed, which became an interesting addition to this geological wonder. Now this area is protected, and is developed solely for tourism purposes.

We were very lucky to find it along the way.  My boys didn’t waste the chance to go up the hill.

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And here they are …..  Can you see them?

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The organ-like rock formation is one of the site’s most insteresting features.

My girl and I were again left behind.

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We didn’t mind.  I think this site is better viewed from afar.

Several pictures and further information about this attraction can be found here.

 

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Adventures in Vltava

One of the most popular past times among Czechs is water rafting and canoeing.

A couple of weeks ago, we were with some friends in Kemp Branna, a camp close to the Vltava river.  The main purpose of our trip was water rafting.    It was also the first time for us to go camping with the kids.  Although, we didn’t stay in a tent because my daughter was way too young for this kind of accommodation.  There was an option to stay in a little cottage, so that’s what we opted for.  The camp was quite nice and the facilities were clean and very well-developed.

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The day we arrived, my kids immediately socialized at the camp.

Because my daughter is still a baby, we decided to split the next day’s activity.  The boys went with the rest of the group on a raft, while we girls spent our time travelling in a car or on foot.

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Can you see my boy?  Good I wasn’t there on the boat with them.  I’d be nervous to let him sit on the edge of the boat.  But I was glad he had this experience.  At least he won’t be as wimpy as his mommy.

Anyhow, my daughter and I followed them to Rozmberk where we all had lunch, and I had the opportunity to snap this photo of the castle.

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I didn’t get the chance to go inside, but was happy viewing it from the outside.

Under pristine waters, it looks very serene.

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The rest of the afternoon was a bonding trip for me and my daughter.  We went to the medieval old town, Cesky Krumlov.

Look who’s enjoying the ride.

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We also went to a small park adjacent to the castle where we relaxed a bit…..

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…and we had our first “date” in a coffee shop.  Although I was the only one who had coffee.

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All in all the trip was a great bonding experience for me and my daughter, and for my husband and our son.

Hopefully next time, we will all be in the raft together.

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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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