Thursday, September 23, 2010


So, then there was Prague!
Prague was beautiful. I'd heard that before, but I was still surprised. There weren't really any areas of town that didn't have gorgeous 4-6 story gothic or renaissance-style buildings on the sides of the comfortably wide streets. (Well, there was the one sketch dark alley way that Kathy led us down, but we'll overlook that moment.) It was, however, amazing that there were no crazy tiny streets, all were plenty wide enough for pedestrians and traffic! The main square was, of course, pedestrian only.
The first day, we did a city tour with our favorite tour group, Free Europe. They have native English speaking guides that do free tours of major cities throughout Europe every day. It was a good introduction to the city in 4 hours.
The three next days, we tried to plan our own activities. For our time at the city castle and cathedral, we rented one audioguide for the four of us and had Kathy's super informative guidebook photocopies, so we passed along information and Cora between us. We went to the lovely Strahov Monastery on a hill, overlooking the city. It had a library, famous for it's floor-to-ceiling shelves of ancient texts. As a nice surprise, the monastery also has had a brewery since the 1400s, and they still brew an excellent dunkel! So, we just had to partake...
Lest you think all we did on this trip was drink beer, we did take a day trip to the nearby Karlstejn Castle, which was lovely and even authentic enough to have defended itself against two sieges! At this point, we discovered that Cora really did not like tours, since the tour guide lady basically asked me to keep our kid quite or leave. Heh...

--> Baby travel note: Even when Cora was only a little grumpy, she was too loud for most indoor tours. City walking tours we could do just fine with her in her Kelty backpack, but if we wanted any chance of being in a museum, castle, etc, we had to bring the baby bjorn and plan on being able to leave the room if she squirmed too much.

We also spent a day in the Jewish quarter and visited a synagogue given to the Jewish residents by the Andalusians in Spain, so it had beautiful, geometric, hand-painted designs covering the interior. (Sadly, no pictures allowed.) We generally did a fair amount of just wandering the streets, which were really scenic everywhere we went.

The only negatives to Prague were that it was not as cheap as we had hoped, and restaurants stop serving dinner around 10pm. We typically tried to go back to the hostel for a late afternoon nap, but that meant we'd nap from like 5-7, then feed Cora, then try to find a place to eat. By 9 or 9:30, restaurants stopped accepting new customers, so several times we found ourselves begging the waiter to take pity on a poor pregnant lady and get the cook to make us a pizza. It generally worked, but we must have looked pretty desperate. Oh, and these conversations took place in English, since obviously I know zero Czech. Prague was touristy enough that English was prevalent.

So, all-in-all, a fabulous destination, and even after 5 nights there, we felt like we'd just barely seen most of the city. But, it was time to move on to Krakow!
The Charles Bridge and Prague Castle at twilight.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A weekend to myself

That's right. This weekend, Chad and Cora are in Texas, and by some fluke, I was not scheduled to work at Starbucks. I had many plans to spend the full 48 hours scrapbooking, but when I went to look at the desk that was heaped with mail, cords for who knows what sort of electronics, and, yes, scrapbook paper, I realized that I could do nothing creative until I'd cleaned the house.

Lame, yes, husband and baby gone, no work, and I clean the house. Well, first I went for a jaunt on the elliptical machine at the Y - since I never have time for that anymore - then, I felt energized for an afternoon of intense cleaning. A mere four hours of vacuuming, washing, drying, Lysoling, scrubbing, and mopping later, and I sat on my couch, beer in hand, admiring my clean handiwork. Okay, I was ready to scrapbook. Oh, wait, I need a little inspiration first. I pulled out my new copy of "clean & simple scrapbooking" by Cathy Zielske and immediately felt the rays of creative energy seeping from the pages.

One paragraph in particular really stopped me: "It seems there is an underground travel agency that preys on new scrapbookers. They sell them advance tickets to a place called Caught Up. Geographically speaking, I have no idea where Caught Up is, but here's what I've managed to piece together. Most scrapbookers who buy their tickets never actually take the trip. And the few who do manage to board that plane to this imaginary land of milk and Hermafix discover the following: a sterile hotel with rooms of completed albums carefully lined up on numerous shelves - and that's it...It's very quiet there. And from what I hear, insanely boring...So if you've already bough that ticket, return it. Be a person who never stops exploring the process. Finish pages and be proud of what you've created. Don't lose joy to the notion that you should be somewhere called Caught Up, and that lots of other people are there, having the time of there lives. Remember these two words - insanely boring. Or at least that's what I've heard."

I'm not really the type of person who takes advice merely because it's handed to me, but I do think this advice is worthwhile, and likely not only for scrapbookers. Many people are looking for the land of Caught Up. Well, I'm attempting to let go of this fantasy land. I'm going to enjoy a quiet moment of scrapbook inspiration with Miss Cathy Zielske and Shiner Bock, then I'm going out to dinner with friends, and maybe later tonight, I'll spend some time just enjoying the presence of my mountain of beautiful scrapbook paper, not rushed to cut it all up and cover it with paste, but eager to begin another journey with it, a journey of Munich and Prague and Krakow. We'll take it a bit at a time.