Monday, March 30, 2009

to the castles we go

The winter here has felt so long! So much gray sky. We are ready for spring! The temperatures have finally climbed into the 50's and the birds have begun their sweet, sweet twittering. Just the other day I saw the first flower of the season blooming in the grass. This was a relief, since just a few days ago it was snowing here.

We have finally started to take more trips to see the sights around the country again. Recently we visited two castles, both from the 14th century: Karlštejn and Borotín, the second of which is a ruin, and a fascinating one to be sure. The ruin includes an underground section with vaulted Gothic ceilings.

Can't wait for more trips to come this season.

More pics here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

my ggma

My grandmother celebrated her 81st birthday this month. Yes, we were there: my little family, together with my US-based cousin, who is currently studying in Prague, and a good family friend.

Together, we treated my grandmother to a tasty multiple-course meal in an Italian restaurant where, as it turned out, many a famous person (such as Johnny Depp) has eaten.

My grandmother is pretty much the highlight of our stay in Prague. But that goes without saying. She is one fantastic lady!

Friday, March 06, 2009

veni, vidi....

Honestly, I'm glad February is behind us. As of last year, it is officially my least favorite month of the year. You can imagine why.

But, now on to bigger and better adventures. Yes. We just came back from a trip to London and Dublin. First time for all of us.

In London we met up with Tim's parents, who had just finished their dreamy, around-the-world trip. Oh the places they'd seen! Peru, Eastern Island, Australia, Papua New Guinea and more.... We got to hear the stories fresh and even meet some of their travel compatriots.

Our three days in London were a blast. Almost an arctic blast, that is, because I was freezing the whole time, whether outside or in our hotel room. But, that's beside the point.

We, of course, had the obligatory pub meal of fish and chips and a pint (all but Jonah and me who don't like the flavor of beer). We strolled around Hyde Park and Green Park and across the river Thames. We rode a London taxi, river boat, a double-decker and The Eye of London, all in the same day! We rode across the Tower Bridge, took pics with Big Ben, walked inside the Tower of London complex, watched the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace... So much to see, so little time...

The Eye of London was really something. Space age entertainment, I call it.

The highlight of our time in London was meeting up with my college friend Toufique, who lives in London. He took us, via the tube, to his favorite neighborhood: a crossroads between an artsy, alternative scene with artisan markets and bars, frequented by tattooed, punk and hipster crowds and a Bengali neighborhood full of restaurants, mosques, and other businesses catering (not only) to South Asian clientele. Thanks to Toufique, we got to dine in a little off-the-beaten-path Bengali restaurant. Now that was fun! We finished off our time together with a cup of hot alcoholic cider. Yum! I was sad to say goodbye.

Then on to Dublin. To my dismay, Dublin was even colder than London. Needless to say, I underdressed. Silly me.

In Dublin, we had the kindest hosts one could imagine. Stephen, a native Dubliner, cooked up a storm and shared lots of historical and political tidbits about Ireland. Ann, who was not only taking care of us but also of her one-year-old daughter was patient enough to not kick us to the curb once I started feeling lightheaded thanks to some bug I caught on our trip. In between the feasting and talking and walking around Dublin, I kept asking to be excused to lay down... Pretty soon I felt so out of it that I ceased to be fun around and forgot to even take pictures. Too bad... Jonah had fun with little baby Eilis though. She adored him and tried imitating everything he did.

The last evening another friend I'd met in Portland, Tara, and her husband came over for dinner. That was fun as well.

My favorite thing in Dublin was the National Museum, which houses artifacts from as long as the Stone Age. There we saw a replica of an ancient stone burial structure, dating from about 3700-2500 BC. We also perused the remnants of Iron Age "bog bodies," bodies, whose sacrifice was part of king inauguration rituals thousands of years ago, preserved in Irish bogs. Creepy and immensely fascinating.

I put pics of our trip here. Sorry, not many from Ireland.