I’m Back!

It has been almost a year since my last entry and now that I am trying to write again, I honestly don’t know where to start.  It was a very eventful summer that I barely had time to pen down my thoughts.

Anyhow, I guess one of the major highlights of this year is the camaraderie I formed with some moms who are in the same situation as I am.  That is, married to a Czech man and raising children in a Filipino-Czech household.  After all, this is what this blog is all about — me sharing my experiences as a Filipino mom in the Czech Republic.

It was also very interesting that our children are almost the same age, so we were able to go out and have fun and the kids were able to play together.

We did two major trips this summer.  The first one was in Cesky Krumlov.

Photo courtesy of Raquel M.
Photo courtesy of Raquel M.

It was a very hot day the day we went, so we weren’t really able to walk around a lot.  But despite that, we still managed to have fun.  It was a 3-day, 2-night trip so we were really able to bond and get to know each other.  So did the kids.

It was no wonder that we decided to repeat it again in Doksy.  Doksy is a town located in one of the biggest man-made lakes in Czech, Macha Lake.  The lake was named after the famous Czech poet and avid hiker, Karel Hynek Macha.  Macha was believed to have walked through the area where he found inspiration for some of his poetry.

But for us Filipinos, it was a taste of the sea.  As you may already know, Czech is geographically located in Central Europe and really far from the sea.  The lake provided a a quasi-beach for us, and it was great to feel like we were in the Philippines again.

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While my little daughter was very clingy, her older brother blended right in.  He immediately raided the first beach structure that he saw.

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It was not a very bright day that day, so most of us decided not to take a dip in the beach but just enjoy the sights, the air and the stories.

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The next day, we decided to take a touristic trip around town aboard one of its trolley cars.  With Czechs being on the conservative side, it was very unusual to see a large group of foreign-looking foreigners in this part of the Republic.  Thus, we were not able to escape from the stares of those we met along the way.

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It was another fun trip that not only the moms enjoyed, but the kids as well.

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Personally, I was happy that my kids bonded with the other Fil-Czech kids.  Finally, it is a group that they  belong to.  They are Filipinos, but not only partially so. They are also Czechs, but only partially so.  If it ever came to a point where they would see themselves as different from the Czech kids around them, it should provide comfort for them to know that there are others like them.  And it’s fun to be different.

Helloween, your typical halloween with a Czech twist

A month ago, I got a flier from our mailbox regarding a “helloween” celebration in our community.  I was excited and curious at the same time, since it sounded like a typical western halloween celebration, save for the fact that it wasn’t going to be celebrated on Oct 31, but a couple of days earlier.  Whatever the reason for calling it so and picking out the date, it was one event that I was glad my family participated in.

As I have mentioned in previous entries, we live in a small community just outside of the city and close to the woods.   Aside from its idyllic location, what I love most about this place is the atmosphere and the friendliness of our neighbors.  We are the only multi-cultural household in this area, but that didn’t seem to make a difference in how we are treated by our neighbors.

Now back to the “helloween” celebration.

The event was held in one of the unoccupied vacant lots.  Everyone brought their own food to share.  I managed to whip up some chocolate cupcakes sans the halloween design.  But who cares, it’s edible, right.

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There was also hot red wine for those who were chilly.  This is a typical autumn and winter drink here in Czech.  I remember when we used to go skiing in California, my ex-boyfriend (now husband) is always left with the task of making this drink  for the group.

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And of course, halloween-themed treats …  In my opinion, this is the best of them all.

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The event started with pumpkin-carving where kids eagerly carved their own pumpkins with the help of their parents.

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Then there were games for everyone to participate in.  My Michaela was way too young to participate in any of these, but she was all happy watching it.

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When darkness crept in, we lighted the pumpkins and displayed them in a single line on the side of the street.

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Here is my son proudly posing with the pumpkin that him and his father carved.

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We were blessed with perfect weather that day.  It was not too hot nor was it too cold.  And there was no rain!

The event was culminated with a short walk in the woods with the young kids.  That means us because both our children fall into the young and gullible category.  It was like going into a haunted house except that it was open-air.  The organizers prepared a short trail where the older kids and some parents dressed up as ghosts, monsters, and whatever “i-will-scare-your-wits-off ” costume you can think of and tried to scare the younger ones.  At the very end, a pumpkin full of candies awaited the braver ones.  Fortunately, none of our kids got scared.  But it was a very interesting walk for them — and for us.

There was no “trick or treat.”  But I didn’t miss it that much.  Because  I’ve never really been to a “trick or treat.”  I was already way too old for it when I moved to the States.   Back in the Philippines where I grew up, the practice was not customary.   It is the same over here in the Czech Republic.  Even though adults and children love to dress up and scare each other during halloween, they haven’t gotten around the practice of doing a “trick or treat.”  Albeit, there is a street in Prague where the “trick or treat” is being practiced.  But it is where most American expats live, and they have managed to keep the tradition alive.

Anyhow, my little community’s helloween celebration was enough for me.  I’m glad that my children got to experience this western tradition with a Czech twist.

So how was your halloween?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.