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.

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.

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.

 

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!

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.