Although it didn’t feel real that we were traveling to Europe as we were driving to the airport with my mom, once we pulled out our passports, checked our bags and made it through security, we finally realized we were heading overseas. What an amazing feeling to know that 13 years ago, Karel landed in the U.S. with only a back pack and now I get to travel to Czech with Karel, to reunite with his family and hometown for the first time in over a decade!
Dessert was a carrot cake cobbler which was delicious (if you know me – you know I LOVE carrot cake!). We had plenty of snacks with us but with traveling through the night, we tried to catch a few hours of sleep (3-4) instead of keeping ourselves awake by snacking...but before we knew it, we woke up by another meal of yogurt, a muffin and orange juice. The yogurt was welcomed as I know our tummies do best with 1 serving of yogurt daily (probiotics) but we were a bit “off” seeing that we left NY at 6pm and after 6.5 hours of traveling, it was around 7am “local time” when we landed.
Surprisingly, we felt good but Starbucks coffee in Netherlands helped us out (our first Euro purchase – seeing that we used our credit card, I think that was the most expensive venti coffee we have ever shared). Finding our way through the Netherlands airport was fun and thankfully we were able to get on free Wifi to connect with our family.
After a 70 minute flight, we were both getting really excited and all of a sudden, touchdown in Prague!!
Although Vienna is a bit closer to Karel’s hometown of Znojmo, Karel wanted to fly in an out of Prague so that we could enjoy the drive to his town as see some smaller villages and sights and also spend our last 2 days in Prague. This trip is all about Karel spending time with his family so the focus wasn’t on touring around Europe so we will save that for another trip J
After getting our luggage, getting the rental car and changing our money into Czech Crowns, we headed toward Znojmo for the next 3 hours.
Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy all of it because my body was shutting down so I took a few naps as I was struggling to keep my eyes open and my brain was ready to shut off. I guess after traveling for 16 hours and only getting around 3-4 hours of on and off sleep (airplane sleep, that is), my body was pretty confused.
When we saw the sign for Znojmo, Karel started telling me stories of when he was biking there as a kid and teenager and everything started to come back. No maps, just a memory like it was yesterday that he was in Czech.
The fresh food was waiting and after cleaning up and letting my family know we had arrived, it was time for a meal. Not sure what time zone my body was on but I welcomed a delicious vegetarian meal of sautéed cauliflower, onions and eggs with boiled potatoes. Karel had pork with dumplings and gravy. We were both in Czech heaven and our bellies were happy for this “real” meal. We also enjoyed fresh pastries and a homemade dumpling stuffed with red currants and topped with melted farmers cheese and toasted bread crumbs and we knew this was the perfect start of a great 10 days in Czech.
Around 6:30pm local time, we walked over to Karel’s dad’s flat – about 1 mile away. Karel took me the long way so he could see some familiar sights. Once again, Karel was thrilled to see Karel Sr. (his dad) and so was I. Like father, like son. It didn’t take long for the bike talk to start and for Karel Sr. to show us his “bike room” (in the basement of the apartment building). Karel's friend in Czech got us road bikes from the local bike shop that Karel use to work out and Karel's dad had his Cervelo, which Karel gave to his dad (and shipped it) a few years ago. Karel's dad is 73 and raced until he was around 71. He still rides his bike but not competitively anymore.
Once again, we were entertained with stories and good food, with plenty of Marni-friendly appetizers and some good meats for Karel. We all enjoyed wine and then took an evening walk around 8pm around the town and visited his dad's gym....properly located next to one of the many pub's in Czech.
By 9:30, we were on the verge of exhaustion so we got ourselves ready for bed at his mom’s place (bunk beds – in Karel’s old room) and we were out!