5/10/13

Czech trip Day 2: First “official” day in Czech


 

After one of the best sleeps ever, we both woke up to the sun shining, birds chirping and cars driving (window’s open – no AC, but the most perfect weather!). I figured it had to be well past 9am but Karel told me “it gets bright here early, it’s only 6am”.

Wheww….the day wasn’t wasted!

After we took our time with our morning coffee (always nice to slow down in life), we got ourselves ready for a run around Czech. Well, fast moving feet but a few stops for pictures. Karel shared stories with me here and there and we both enjoyed the ups and downs of running around the town, but primarily on running trails and bike paths. The terrain is absolutely beautiful and the weather was perfect (around 60 degrees). We saw gardens, the hospital and several schools. All bringing back memories for Karel.

After 3.5 miles, we made it back to his mom’s and sure enough, Karel’s mom was already cooking us breakfast.

After showering in the bath tub, I got myself ready and enjoyed another delicious homecooked meal. Scrambled eggs with fresh chives, tomatoes and potatoes, served with a fresh roll and unsalted butter. Oh, and more coffee.

Breakfast hit the spot and I finally started to feel like I was on European time. Afterward, we picked up Karel’s dad (who doesn’t have a car) and with his mom, we all went to two commentary’s so Karel  could see his grandma and sister, who both passed away in the past 13 years while he was in the US and was unable to come back for their funerals. It was a happy but sad time as Karel never thought this day would come he would be back in Czech with his family. He misses the many years that he could have spent with his family but he knows that immigrating to the US was the right thing for him and I feel lucky that I can share all these experiences with him. Life is best enjoyed when it is shared with those who you love.

It was sad for Karel to see his sister’s grave, who passed away in 2001 (one year after Karel came to the US) when she was only 35 years old (a condition/illness that caused her brain to swell) and Karel was 24 years old and he said that he really appreciates the times that he can share with his family now as they are in their 70’s and getting older and he really loves being with them after being away for all these years.

 

After the cemetery visits, we needed to lighten the mood so it was time for a grocery store trip….MARNI in HAPPY LAND!


I was picture crazy with all the fresh foods and endless amount of beer and bread (two staples here in Czech) but both Karel and I wanted to try everything! He was telling me lots of stories of foods when he was younger “Oh, I use to LOVE this, and that, and that”….and I loved it!

I absolutely love being in a new country and living like a local so although no peanut butter in the Czech grocery stores and plenty of cereals, I refuse to eat “American” food. Although there are many similar items in Czech, I only want fresh, local and/or new foods. I welcome it all!! Well, I will save the meat for Karel as he is loving it all! I can't wait to talk about the European lifestyle in more detail but I will need to save that for another blog when I return.


After our grocery trip, it was nearing 12 pm local time and Karel said that lunch time is the “big” meal of the day where everyone comes together at a certain time to eat together. People don’t just eat when they feel like it but instead, come together at meal time and stop what they are doing. Love it!

Lunch was sautéed spinach with onions and garlic, stuffed inside homemade crepes. The texture of the spinach made me a little concerned but after one bite, I was yumming my way through lunch. Delicious! Dessert was chocolate, a fresh sliced orange and a crepe stuffed with homemade apricot jam. The great thing is that neither Karel and I feel stuffed and we don’t stop moving.

After lunch, we got our stuff ready and we headed over to Karel’s dad’s place for Karel to get our bikes ready for our first bike ride in Czech. Although Karel rode with his dad in 2008 when they came for our wedding, Karel said that his dad has been so excited to ride bikes with Karel here in Czech. Karel’s dad is 73 and doesn’t ride a lot anymore but still loves any opportunity to be on a bike and surrounds himself with cycling friends, likes to still work on bikes and often visits the local bike shop where Karel use to work while growing up. Yep – like father, like son. Karel Sr. showed me some of his trophies and awards from some of his Master’s races in the past few years, just smiling with pride.

Karel had to assemble his bike and “fit” my bike based on my measurements from my road bike at home (what a bonus being married to a bike mechanic, nonetheless, one from Europe) and about an hour later, Karel told me that one of his best childhood friends, Honza, was going to ride with us.

Around 3:30pm we headed out for a very casual ride…..nice and steady for Karel’s dad (who did amazing!), and conversational for Karel and Honza who chatted the entire time. As usual, Karel is most comfortable on or around bikes and I could just tell he was loving riding on his old training routes.

The ride was absolutely beautiful…I just couldn’t help but take pictures the entire way. Goats, horses, green terrain, bumpy roads, small towns….It was absolutely priceless. There were a few small climbs on the rolling terrain but other than that, the windy roads made for the most pleasant 25 mile, 2 hour ride and I just loved that I could share this with Karel, his friend and his dad. Again – super impressed with Karel’s dad…I’m happy that Karel has good riding genes in his family as I hope we can live the active lifestyle that we love so much, when we are in our 70’s and onward.

After a quick shower at Karel’s dad’s place, we headed back to his mom’s place and prepared our own dinner. Because lunch is the main meal of the day (which seems appropriate since we don’t do a lot of activity after dinner and in Czech much of the town “shuts down” around 6-7 for business’s), we decided we would keep dinner a bit simple since Karel’s mom has been cooking for us since we got here (but she loves it and refuses to let us make anything – she is happy when she is cooking and taking care of us). Karel’s mom was actually at her garden down the road when we came home so we decided to do a salad and a variety of bread for dinner w/ fresh cheeses and Karel had a little leftover pork with his dinner.

After dinner, we had a light dessert of fruit and homemade pastry and cookie and then we walked around downtown, historic Czech for around 90 minutes until it was too dark to see anything. I knew Czech was pretty from the pictures on the Internet and in books but I just couldn’t believe my eyes as Karel was taking me on the roads which he walked to school every day and again, sharing lots of stories with me of when he was growing up. To be honest, traveling with Karel has been the best blessing ever because there is something so very special to be with someone who can share memories with you as you both make memories together.


After our walk, I was ready for bed. Nearing 10pm local time, I couldn’t wait to go to bed to see what tomorrow would bring.
Pictures to come soon......

 

Czech trip Day 3: Cycling, pastries and Austria