5/20/13

Czech trip Day 7 and 8: Happy vegetarian athlete - running, castles, hiking, wine, food, cycling, shopping

I love waking up in the morning, excited to start the day. I find myself this way every day but in Czech, it is an adventure everyday!

The sun rises rather early in Czech and with no AC in the flat, we often wake up to the birds chirping outside of the open windows and the sun as our alarm clock. Regardless if we sleep to 8 or 5am, it all looks the same. We woke up around 6am which was usual for us and after our morning cup of fabulous coffee, along with some trigger point therapy (rolling on the ball) and active stretching/dynamic warming up, we were off for a 6-mile tour around Znojmo. I guess this was a workout as we were running but with Karel as my amazing tour guide, it was hard to think of this as a workout but instead, the best way to sight-see in a new country. Despite doing a morning run of around 2-4 miles every day since arriving to Czech, we had yet to cover the same route twice in Znojmo. Similar paths but always something new to see. I just couldn't take my eyes off the sights as Karel had me running on a trail, in a forest, on paths, by gardens, on cobblestones. Each place was familiar to Karel, new to me. 6 miles later, we were back at home for a yummy breakfast and then we got ourselves ready to officially start the day.

The day prior we had biked to see a castle that Karel was taken me to the next day. Well, today was the day and we were so happy that both Karel's mom and dad would be joining us.

After a 20 minute or so drive down the road, we parked at a parking lot and made a steep walk (about 1/2 mile) to the top of the hill to visit Vranov nad Dyjí which is a chateaux in the South Moravian region of Czech Republic,which lies on the Dyje (Thaya) river, 3 km north from the Austrian border close to Hardegg. We took a tour of the castle and Karel was my translator for the tour. The rooms were magnificent and so much beauty within each part of the castle. We had to put on slippers over our shoes and you could just smell the history.

After our tour, we hiked back down the steep road to the car and then headed back to Karel's mom's house (after dropping off his dad at his home a mile from his mom's) for lunch. A delicious lunch as usual.

After resting for an hour or so, we got ourselves ready to  meet with Karel's best friend and his girlfriend and their doggy (YIPPE) to tour an underground wine cellar and taste award winning wines. This was an amazing experience for me and although it was cold underground with mold everywhere (perfect humidity for wine), the tasting room was cozy and the wine was amazing! Although I do not drink very much (only wine as beer is not to my liking), I really enjoyed sampling all the white wines which were fantastic.

After our tour, we left with a few bottles of wine that were given to us and headed down the road for a hike with an amazing look-out point. One thing I must add is that this trip has been very special for me but it makes things so much better to have locals (including Karel) as my tour guides. Everything has run so smoothly and I feel like I am at home in another country.

The hike was amazing, with vineyards everywhere and a look out point that takes your breath away. Life just gets really good when I am outside as I just love connecting with nature.

After our hike, we had worked up an appetite as it was nearing 6:30pm (sun still shinning). We went back to Karel's mom's house to clean up and then we all met down the road to walk to the restaurant. Not a new trend as all we did in town was walk which was fantastic seeing that we love to use our bodies as much as possible.

As much as I was loving all the new foods that were served to me in Czech, Karel and I both thought it would be fun to check out something special in Czech that would make me extra happy - a vegetarian restaurant! I found Na Věčnosti online from Happycow.net which is a great website to locate vegetarian/vegan/healthy places to eat while traveling. I absolutely love trying new foods and when I have over a dozen selections to choose from on a menu, I am one happy plant strong athlete :)

Karel was also excited as he loves trying new things and will eat anything so it was nice to have some company with Karel's best friend and Girlfriend to join us for a very new experience. You can read more about our vegetarian dining experience with this link: Na Věčnosti.

After dinner, we chatted a bit more and walked around town and nearing 9:45pm, we made our way back to Karel's mom's house for a good night of rest.

The next morning we had a bike ride on the schedule but that was all! We laughed on Day 7 that for Wednesday, it would be our first unplanned, planned day. Every day was filled with something to do so we decided that for our last full day in Znojmo before heading to Prague, we would enjoy ourselves with a bike ride and then shopping around town to buy gifts for our friends and family and of course, lots of chocolate and coffee for us.

We woke up around 7am and although our first day of not running since arriving to Czech, we were both excited to just ride this day. We had a light breakfast to hold us over for our morning ride and then walked a mile to Karel's dad's house to get our bikes. No need to drive when the roads are made for walking.

We got our bikes and biked a mile or so down the road to the bike shop and picked up Karel's friend's who were joining us for a fun ride in Austria. Little did I know, my skills would be tested again on cobblestones in the town and then descending on switchbacks in Austria. Climbing is no thing for me - I just wish I never had to descend! But thankfully, Karel always gives me pointers and he knows my saying "I'd rather be a chicken than a dead duck." He knows I take my time and although hot brakes at times, I am getting much better at my descending with switchbacks. Karel makes it look so easy just flying down the hills/mountains but then again, after riding in his home, I see why he is so good at cycling. When you grow up in Europe, you have no choice but to learn good cycling skills.

Our bike ride was fantastic today. We left around 9:45 from the bike shop and although only around 35 miles, our 2.5 hours of riding and a few short picture stops was amazing. I am just having so much fun on my bike here in Czech - I fell in love with Karel on our bikes and now I am falling in love with another country on my bike. So many priceless memories.

After riding some long climbs and riding in Austria, crossing over to Czech, seeing the Iron Curtain (which brought back a lot of memories for Karel - he recalls when he was first allowed in Austria, he and his buddies couldn't wait to cycle on different roads) and riding in very gusty winds all the way back to town.

After our ride, it was early afternoon so we showered up at his dad's and then grabbed a coffee and a pastry for refueling, stopped by the bike shop to say good bye to his friend and left with more wine and a new local jersey for myself. People are so generous in Czech - we left with way too much alcohol (Karel says that's not a bad thing and thankfully - nothing broke on the way home).

We finally had some lunch and then rested about 45 minutes before heading out to see more sights (walking) and to shop around for some gifts for us and our family/friends. We finished the evening with a delicious meal and then Karel joined a few of his friends for one last beer at the pub. I decided to stay in as I wanted to give Karel a break from translating so he could just enjoy his time with his friends and just speak Czech. I caught up with my mom and Campy on Skype which was a nice way for me to end my evening.

I stayed up until Karel came home around 9pm and then we were off to bed soon after for we were excited and sad to pack up and head to Prague for day 9 and 10. Wow - I can't believe how time flies....only two more days until we have to return to the USA. Thankfully - I get to bring home lots of memories, pictures and an appreciation for a lifestyle that I have grown to love and hope to continue inspire others to live back in the states.