Trip to See Derek/Olomouc Czech Republic – Day One/Two

First of all; on this trip I did not write any notes as I traveled.  Also the editing of photos was completed when I was back in Canada, not at the end of each day which is my usual method of operation.  I arrived in Wein Austria about 5:00pm Saturday afternoon.  Found Derek waiting for me after about a 5 minute search of the airport.  We picked up some groceries in the airport and I had a sausage on a bun.  The Austrians make great sausage!  Headed to Olomouc which was about a 3 hour drive.  Headed out for a quick tour of the old town and then off for some dinner and beers.

Town Square in Olomouc

 

 

Full Size Eve (Art Gallery Olomouc)

 

This image in the art gallery shows that the town square has not changed much.

 

 

 

My mom had chairs like these, except these were from a 1930s design.

 

 

 

 

Beer Spa!  Not only are we drinking it but we are also soaking in it!

 

Entrance to the Spa

 

A popular local favorite:  Mixed dark and light beer.

 

 

Smoked Pig Knuckle:  Yum

The next day was Sunday so we continued with the local tour visiting three churches and an art gallery.  Interesting to see the modern design work (with lots of bau house influence) form the 1930s.  Lots of things where happening here (in design and art) before the Germans rolled in the late 30s.  Two of the churches were conducting mass so we only saw them briefly.  I will have to return for pictures on another day.  The weather was overcast and cold, (high around 0C).  Setup an appointment for  a beer spa, (one of the highlights of the trip).  You spent 40 minutes in hot tub (with water, oil and beer) then another 30 minutes in sauna then 30 minutes napping.  The spa also included a couple of beers!  When out for pig knuckle and more cheap beers!

Off to Bratislava

Since my plane leaves early Saturday, Derek and I are heading to Bratislava for the night so that the morning drive is much shorter.  We got up a little later then usual and had a more relaxed morning before heading south.  Derek had looked into the Venus of Dolni Vestonice which is a small female clay figure that was created some 29,000 years ago.  We got to the small town of Dolni Vestonice to discover that things are pretty much closed for the winter.  After a very quick stop we headed a long the lake towards Pavlov.  We stopped shortly after leaving town when we came across the location of the Venus find.  A plaque described the 1925 find and other subsequent finds.  Everything is now covered up and its back to the farmers field.  Much like the Viking finds in New Foundland.  We continued through Pavlov (again with a very quick stop) and headed to the first of two Lichtenstein castles.  The first was in the town of Mikulov.  The land was given to the Lichtenstein family in 1250.  The town is very small and probably was only there to serve the castle.  After a little searching Derek and I would a open restaurant to have lunch.  I had the schnitzel and Derek goulash.  It is quite surprising to see such a large castle that was only rarely used by the family.  Again because of winter most of the town was closed.  So we definitely did not have to fight the crowds.  After a look around the outside of the castle we headed to Mikulov’s twin in the town of Lednice.  This again is a Lichtenstein castle.  It is in much better condition then the previous castle.  The Lednice castle was quite spectacular.  Even in the early spring the gardens are impressive.  There is a large variety of trees, many of them very old.  They are numbered for identification.     Some of the largest oak trees I have ever seen where on this property.  Attached to the castle was a very large and operational greenhouse.  It was open so Derek and I went for a tour.  Inside the greenhouse was a tropical paradise,  (see pictures).

By now it was getting late so we headed to Bratislava.  Just before the boarder Derek and I ran into a large traffic jam consisting mostly of large 18 wheelers.  It took us over an hour to cross the boarder.  We later found out that it was some dispute between truckers at the Hungarian boarders that caused our backup.  Once we checked into our hotel in Bratislava we headed by foot into town.  Derek lived in Bratislava for a little while so I thought he new his was around town.  We tried to find a number of restaurants but got quickly lost.  After quite a bit of walking out in the cold we decided to stop for a quick beer.    We found a small quaint place down a side street that was perfect for a couple of cold ones.  I used my tablet to do some restaurant searching and found one that was highly rated.  Derek said that he could find the place.  He did not disappoint.  The place was very large and very busy.  Wow.  I had pork ribs and Derek duck.  Both were excellent.  The beer was great as usual.  After dinner we headed back for an early trip to Wein.  Thanks again Derek for being a perfect host.

Back in Olomouc

Derek was back at work so I decided to do some shopping. I spent most of the morning looking for earrings for Audrey and clothes for the kids. I also looked for new boots for me since the ones I brought were starting to collapse, ( I eventually left them behind). No luck for boots or kids clothes, but I did get Audrey some earrings. I also went grocery shopping and picked up some chicken for dinner, (Earlier this week Derek picked up a rabbet but I did not know how to cook it). I also pickup up for Derek a steel cup to help him make lattes. After some lunch in the apartment, I headed out with my ereader and went to a local cafe for coffee and crepes. Made small talk with a female professor from the local university.  Later I cooked up some Indian curry with the chicken for dinner. Derek and I were enjoying beers at the apartment when we heard loud crowd noise coming from outside. To me it sounded like fan noise so I looked up on the net for the local soccer team. Sure enough Olomouc was playing a rival city. Olomouc was currently in third place in the standing on division I soccer. After about an hour or so, I suggested to check to see if the game was on TV. Sure enough it was. We caught the last 10 minutes of the game. Olomouc won to move them into 2nd. Tomorrow we head to Slovakia. From there Derek will take me back to the airport on Saturday. We booked a hotel room at the Abba in Bratislava.

Derek and I head to KraKow Poland

After reading various posts the previous night, Derek and I decided to change our original destination from the Salt mines in Poland to Krakow centre. We only had the one day there and driving would take up 5 hours or so. We got up reasonably early thanks to the bells again. I cooked us amulets and we also had some yoghurt  The drive was mostly high speed hi way, but just after the Polish border there was a section of construction that slowed are progress. We got into town (thanks to my tablet maps) and parked just outside of the old part of town. We walked into the main square and quickly scanned the area.

At the centre is a large building which has been used as a market for many years. Most of the sale items here are touristy now. We still walked the length of the market to check things out. By this time it was around noon so decided to find a place for lunch. We eventually found a place that was off on a side street and set back quite a ways. We entered the nicely furnished restaurant to find no one. Eventually the waiter showed up. The restaurant served regional food which is largely influenced by the Slavs, Pols and Ukraines. The turned out to be one of our best meals of the week. I had some excellent bean and sausage soup, lamb with cabbage and of-course porgies. All was excellent. We were the only ones in the restaurant. Part way through our meal a old women showed up and starting talking to the waiter in Polish. She was very animated so I could sort of figure out what she was talking about. It was a very funny scene. I asked the waiter after and he confirmed the story that she said that the restaurant was nicely decorated, but since it was positioned so far back from the street no one would find it. After lunch Derek and I headed back to the main square to see St. Mary’s Church. Simple Wow! Took many pictures but again suffered from low light levels. After a lengthy stay we walked the streets heading to the Jewish sector. Derek wanted to checkout a number of art galaries. One was particular interesting. We entered to find all of the art created looked like it had been done by a 5 year old. A old man and women were running the shop. We kept a straight face, but as soon as we left the gallery we broke out in hysterics. We headed back to our cars and headed for home. I cooked some sausages for dinner since we already had a big meal at lunch. We were running low on eggs so I decided to head over to the local grocery store to pick up some things  Everything was closed (it was 9:30 by this time).

Prague – Day Trip

Up again early, (thoughs darn bells) with Derek taking me to the train station.  I was taking the high speed train to Prague for the day.  The trip is about 3 hours long.  The day was again very cold with highs of -3C.  I waited at the train track for about 15 minutes before the train arrived.  Your ticket has pre-assigned seating, and I was not sure how to read ticket.  I was looking for cabin 5 but they where all numbered 2?  I this saw that the doors had a LCD display with the cabin numbers.  My seat was occupied by a old Chinese women.    I showed here my ticket and so she moved over to the other side.  I was then required to move all her bags to her overhead bin.  As it turned out the train never really filled up so I could have probably sat anywhere.

Once in Prague I headed to the Alphonse Mucha museum.  He was an Art Nouveau artist.  I loved his work.  You can check out some of this stuff at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphonse_Mucha.  By the time I got to the museum I was frozen!  I was in no rush to get back out in to the cold.  After a lengthy visit at the museum I meandered to the old town square.  There is an Astronomical Clock on the side of the town hall. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working. I then headed over to Charles bridge.  The Charles Bridge is a famous historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague. Its construction started in 1357 under King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century.  More details can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bridge.  Skipping lunch I headed over the river (it was now snowing!) towards the palace.  Again fighting cold I had a quick stop at a watch tower for some pictures.  I finally arrived a the palace and after buying a ticket entered the Saint Vitus Cathedral.  This cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and is the biggest and most important church in the country. It containing the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors.  As usual I did not have a tripod and was not allowed to lean on anything for support.  I may have to invest in a camera that can take quality high ISO pictures.  I then checked out the local palace prison.  Fairly ordinary.  By now I was completely frozen, (these large gothic churches don’t beleave in heating!  Go figure).  I decided to take Derek’s advice and take the subway to the train station.  Headed there to discover I had about 1 1/2 hours to kill.  I headed back out of the train station and eventually found a cafe.  Had some coffee and sweat while browsing on my tablet.  Back at the station a young gipsy women approached me for money.  I gave here a handful of loose change.  The trip home was again very efficient, (we moved at 160kph).  You can use your tablet to monitor your progress and even see out through the on board camera.  Really cool.  I even was able to text with Kyle via steam.  Derek picked me up at the station in Olomouc.  We again headed out for dinner although not sure where.

Olomouc Day 3

Derek heading to work by 7:30am so I cleaned up from breakfast and headed out to explore Olomouc some more.  After picking up some money at the banking machine I headed over to O2 to see if I could get my newly unlocked phone to work properly.  After a long wait in line the women at O2 supposedly fixed my internet and texting abilities.  I also asked about tethering but she could not get it to work.  So she gave me the address of the Nokia guys.  It was across town so I headed there on foot.  The Nokia guys got no where with it, ( I am sure that this Nokia will not allow me to tether).  I headed back to the apartment to pick-up my camera.

The three churches that we briefly saw on Sunday where my next destinations.  The first was St.Maurice Church.  This gothic church was started in 1412 and complete in the 16th century.  In 1745 a large pipe organ was installed by Michael Engler, (the largest in central Europe).  The second was  the Saint Wenceslas Cathedral which was begun in a Romanesque style and was consecrated in 1131. Extensive Gothic modifications were made in 13th and 14th centurys.  The Czech king Wenceslaus III of Bohemia was murdered in a nearby house.  The third was St.Michael Church which is in the baroque style. Only a small portion remains from the original 13th century Gothic building. Adjacent to the church is a Dominican monastery.  Derek’s apartment overlooks this monastery.  The bells ring daily at 7:00am which are so loud that you can not sleep through there noise.  Derek arrived home around 5:00pm, but forgot to lock-up his work place so we immediately headed out of town to lock-up.  You can see a picture of Derek with one of his machines.  We decided to eat at a place that Derek frequents for lunch.  Not very fancy surrounding, but good Czech home cooking.  I had schnitzel and Derek goulash. We headed home for some more beer sampling.

Trip to See Derek/Olomouc Czech Republic – Day One/Two

First of all; on this trip I did not write any notes as I traveled.  Also the editing of photos was completed when I was back in Canada, not at the end of each day which is my usual method of operation.  I arrived in Wein Austria about 5:00pm Saturday afternoon.  Found Derek waiting for me after about a 5 minute search of the airport.  We picked up some groceries in the airport and I had a sausage on a bun.  The Austrians make great sausage!  Headed to Olomouc which was about a 3 hour drive.  Headed out for a quick tour of the old town and then off for some dinner and beers.

The next day was Sunday so we continued with the local tour visiting three churches and an art gallery.  Interesting to see the modern design work (with lots of bau house influence) form the 1930s.  Lots of things where happening here (in design and art) before the Germans rolled in the late 30s.  Two of the churches were conducting mass so we only saw them briefly.  I will have to return for pictures on another day.  The weather was overcast and cold, (high around 0C).  Setup an appointment for  a beer spa, (one of the highlights of the trip).  You spent 40 minutes in hot tub (with water, oil and beer) then another 30 minutes in sauna then 30 minutes napping.  The spa also included a couple of beers!  When out for pig knuckle and more cheap beers!

 

 

Back from Czech Republic

Just a few pictures to give you a taste.  Great March Break trip to see my brother Derek.  He is currently working in the city of Olomouc.   I have not had time to post any pictures as of yet.  Highlight of the trip was the beer spa!  Also note the mixed beer.  The dark at the bottom and the lighter one on top.  Yummy.  

Sitting in TO airport

Sitting at heirloom bar/cafe enjoying a Sam Adams beer. I am off to Czech via Poland and Austria. Audrey and Kyle saw me off which was very nice. Did not have assigned seating. The travel agent hand not reserved a seat for me. We will see what kind of seating I will get. Looking forward to seeing Derek. The cafe has iPads at every spot. Cool! But they are pretty locked down so you don’t have access to things like the iPads camera.

Sitting in TO airport

Sitting at heirloom bar/cafe enjoying a Sam Adams beer. I am off to Czech via Poland and Austria. Audrey and Kyle saw me off which was very nice. Did not have assigned seating. The travel agent hand not reserved a seat for me. We will see what kind of seating I will get. Looking forward to seeing Derek. The cafe has iPads at every spot. Cool! But they are pretty locked down so you don’t have access to things like the iPads camera.