Next morning we drove to Prague airport, dropped off
the car and flew to Amsterdam, Holland. My Aunt and
Uncle fetched us from Schiphol and drove us to their
300 year old farm house in Friesland, which is a province
in the far north of Holland.
have lovingly restored the old house and I was eager
to see what work they have completed since we last
visited 7 years ago.
I mention that this time we are not travelling alone;
Ken is coming with us. That's right, just me and two
blokes. "Lucky woman", I hear you say. Let
me tell you about Ken; he has a very sexy voice and
is a great navigator. This time hubby will have two
people telling him where to go....poor fellow.
you are too shocked perhaps I should point out that
Ken is actually our newly acquired, battery operated,
marital aid; a portable G.P.S. (Global Positioning
System). The voice we have selected on the GPS is
called Ken, Australian Male......"after 800 metres,
turn right, then turn left...." very cool. I
think they should be an obligatory gift to everyone
getting married. I'm sure it would cut the divorce
I will add to this periodically along the way; check
in later to see what's new.
MONDAY, MAY 28, 2007
We are at the airport about to depart Singapore and
I am taking advantage of their generosity and using
the free internet service they provide. I did try
the free foot massage machine, free internet is miles
better. I put both my feet into the foot massage machine
and put it on a gentle relaxing massage setting. It
was neither gentle nor relaxing. It felt like I had
both feet caught in the mangle of the old wringer
which stood by my mum's washing machine as a kid.
flight here was comfortable and on time, we lost no
luggage and even managed to watch a few interesting
movies on the way. One was called "wild hogs"
and was about a bunch of middle aged blokes who, in
an endeavour to alleviate the tedium of their middle
class lives decide to ride motor bikes across the
country; pretty pathetic, hey?
there was the one called "the Number 23"
where this paranoid bloke who reads a book about how
everything adds up to 23, sees parallels to this in
his own life where his name, his address and even
his mobile phone number add up to 23. It got me thinking
and I did a few quick calculations and would you believe
that the sum of my name and wedding anniversary divided
by the length (in centimetres) of my middle toe actually
adds up to ....you guessed it; 23! What a coincidence!
Isn't that freaky?
were also interactive games to play. 36 Nintendo games
and 12 pc games; but alas, no Sudoku....bummer.
However there was one enticing game on the kiddies
Nintendo station....."Super Bonk" ????
I thought I'd better take a look at what kiddies are
playing these days so logged onto discover that I
actually had a choice; I could play Big Bonk, Little
Bonk or Crab Bonk???? Now there's a game I was itching
to play! I waited and waited but try as it may it
could not get it up.
taxi driver who delivered us unscathed from the airport
could talk under water with a mouthful of marbles.
I think he was moonlighting as a tourist information
officer. But sitting south of a north facing driver
with a heavy accent made it all but impossible to
understand half of what he said. Our hotel , he told
us, was in a good location and very popular spot for
people who like to go crabbing. I found this most
peculiar as we were no where near the water. Then
as the conversation continued I worked out what he
actually meant was that it was popular with people
who liked to go clubbing.....quite a different past
then went on to ask if we liked line dancing. Personally,
I can take it or leave it, but given the chance would
prefer to leave it. He told us just near our hotel
they teach line dancing. The image of rows of Singaporeans
in cowboy clobber, thumbs firmly tucked into belt
loops, boot scooting in tight formation to the dulcet
tones of "Achy Breaky Heart", floated across
my mind. It wasn't until we were safely in our hotel
room that the cacophony of loud beating of drums and
clashing of cymbals brought back images of Chinese
New Year and the reality what the taxi driver had
actually said finally sank in. "Lion Dancing"
....not "line dancing". The racket continued
into the early hours of the morning, but lucky for
us the constant drone of the air-conditioning plant
for the whole hotel located right outside our window
drowned it out.
were definitely fortunate to have upgraded from a
standard room to a superior room when our travel agent
had the foresight to ask which we wanted. In reply
to our question as to what we got in a superior room
that we didn't get in a standard room, she replied,
But we are in the middle of Chinatown, a hop, skip
and a jump from absolutely everything and after all
it's all about location, location, location!
We have enjoyed our two hot, too hot and sweaty days
here, showering three or four times a day after having
walked our little legs off. And now we are ready to
FRIDAY, JUNE 1 2007
from Pretty Prague... ....capital of Chilly Czech.
flight from Singapore to Amsterdam was a very loooooooooong
13 hours and uncomfortably crowded. We flew with KLM
this time and found the little luxuries we enjoy on
Singapore Airlines sadly missing. In particular enough
leg room to enable one to sit in their seat without
having the person in the row in front practically
sitting on his lap, the ability to eat your dinner
on the little fold down tray without poking out the
eyes of the people sitting either side of you with
your elbows, tooth brush and tooth paste, and those
cute and comfy little sock/slippers, hand cream and
cologne, a hot, moist cloth face washer and a variety
of other personal hygiene products.
plane was one hour late leaving Singapore when the
battery died and they had to jump start it. After
30 minutes trying, unsuccessfully, I was afraid the
captain was going to ask us all to push the plane
down the runway so he could clutch start it. Once
we managed to get airborne the flight was uneventful.
I even manage to watch a few more movies including
one called "Because I said so", about an
interfering mother. My kids don't know how lucky they
are that I'm not one of those! After a 3 hour layover
we departed for Prague on a Czech Airlines flight
which took a little over 1.5 hours.
slept little more than 3 hours in last 36 we arrived
tired in Prague to a chilly 12 deg. C. But we hit
the ground running and unpacked then headed straight
out to explore our immediate environment. Our apartment
is on the third floor of a 18th century mansion and
consists of a cavernous room 5m x 6m with 4m high
ceilings, an additional sleeping loft just in case
we wish to pick up a couple of homeless people (of
which there appears to be an abundance here), a kitchenette
and a tiny bathroom. The shower recess is a minute
650mm x 650mm. To wash my toes I have to ensure I'm
facing diagonally across the shower recess for fear
of becoming wedged between the opposite walls whilst
becoming intimately acquainted with the taps. But
here again it's all about location, location, location.
are across the road from the National Museum of which
our two tall windows afford magnificent views, and
around the corner is the Wenceslas Square (as in the
Good King) which is not really a square but a very
long rectangle, but I guess Wenceslas Rectangle just
doesn't have the same ring to it.
city is an architects heaven; each and every building
more beautiful than the next. My camera has almost
overheated from excess use. The only thing that detracts
from the beauty is the proliferation of graffiti;
unsightly tags cover even the old renaissance buildings.
These vandals have no conscience.
transportation system here is wonderful with a very
efficient tram and subway network. Brisbane could
definitely learn something from Prague. Another thing
they could learn is that recycled water does not kill.
Both here and in Singapore we have been drinking nothing
but recycled water and nothing has happened to me,
happened to me, happened to me….
Well, maybe I lie; we have also been drinking a bit
of beer. It's half the price of coke and a third the
price of red bull and even cheaper than a soft serve
ice cream from McDonalds; and it does make such a
fine accompaniment to a plate full of steaming hot
goulash and knedlik (dumplings).
have walked our feet off and are now hobbling around
on bony stumps. We've seen the Old Town, the New Town
established in 1348 (In Prague, new is only relative),
the Jewish Town with its incredibly crowded cemetery.
We've visited the castle and witnessed the pomp and
ceremony of the changing of the guards. We've climbed
the astronomical clock tower (well….we actually
took the lift) and spied the old town from dizzying
heights and we have clocked up a multitude of kliks
on our pedometers just meandering though the winding
roads and alleyways each and every one with gorgeous
buildings in different style from gothic, renaissance,
baroque to neo-classical, Art Nouveau and cubist.
old Town Square, Prague
SUNDAY, JUNE 03, 2007
Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…
a nanosecond past after corresponding last, that the
ominous bing of an incoming email message heralded,
what could have been, a major catastrophe in the scheme
of things. As luck would have it we were at an internet
café at that instant, had we not have been
our story may be one of woe.
company we had arranged to rent our car from emailed
to say that the car we were to rent had been involved
in an accident and was no longer available and, to
make matters worse, they had no replacement car for
us. So there we were, after 9:30pm with only one nights
accommodation left in Prague and no car for the next
hastily departed the internet café and rang
our landlady and explained our desperate predicament.
Bless her! As soon as she hang up she proceeded to
ring around to locate us a replacement vehicle; not
an easy fete at 10pm. Less than 20 minutes later she
rang back to say she had not only found us a car but
it was a better model and at a lower price. So our
misfortune turned into a blessing. She had also arrange
a taxi for us the next day to take us to a meeting
place to pick up the car. It was an interesting transaction;
some what clandestine.
taxi deposited us outside, what appeared to be, an
unoccupied office block somewhere in the suburbs of
Prague. In the car park, abandoned cars sat with their
tyres melting into the bitumen. After standing their
in the desolate car pasr for some 5 minutes, wondering
if anyone would turn up, a car pulled in and a women,
who spoke no English, indicated to us that we should
load our luggage into the boot of the car. We were
then herded into the office block and she proceeded
to converse in an animated manner with the security
guard. After what seemed an eternity we were lead
up the elevator to the third floor, down an unlit
corridor and into the office of some unknown person,
and after much gesticulating we signed a contract
we could not read for a woman we could not converse
with and ended up with the key to a car for 27 days.
We have, it would appear, leased a car for a month
and will simply return it 3 days early. From what
we could understand this works out 4000 Czech Crown
cheaper than renting the car for 27 days….go
now our journey could begin. It took a lot longer
to depart Prague that we had first planned. But we
finally made it out onto the open road.
by the car.
this point I must let you know that I've dumped Ken
and taken up with Kobi (an Israeli male). Ken was
simply useless in Eastern Europe I could not get a
route from him. Kobi on the other hand has the best
routes. Occasionally I use an un-named Israeli female
when I want a different route. Horses for courses.
nephew, Arnon, the computer wizard conveniently uploaded
two different GPS programmes for us to use in Eastern
Europe as the Tom Tom GPS software that came ready
installed in our hand held computer only supplied
maps for Australia. i-GO and Destinator come with
different voices and we have decided to use the Hebrew
language voices as they are easier for hubby to understand.
We are using a combination of the two as each has
areas of weakness that the other doesn't. Kobi is
the Male Hebrew i-GO voice and the Destinator program
has left its voices unnamed.
first stop after leaving Prague was Karlstejn Castle
where the Bohemian crown jewels are kept safely squirreled
away in a tower with 3.5m thick walls. From there
we drove straight through to Cesky Krumlov. Our other
planned stops have been postponed till we leave Cesky
Krumlov as we simply ran out of time.
Krumlov is a picturesque Gothic village of chocolate
box beauty, which wraps around the meandering bends
of the Vltava River. It consists of a maze of narrow
winding streets, most of which we have navigated,
sometimes illegally, in an endeavour to locate our
accommodation. All the streets are crowded with attractive,
quaintly decorated buildings all supporting each other
and overshadowed by a huge renaissance castle upon
whose steps resides our pension. As I sit typing this
I can see the fairytale tower of the castle almost
within spitting distance of my window. It is listed
with UNESCO and more importantly in the book "1000
place to see before you die". We are here for
three nights and then head towards Brno. Hopefully
the rain will stop before we leave, for although it
is a stunning place I envisage it will be magical
in the sunshine. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
JUNE 10, 2007
Brno and Bratislava
We departed Cesky Krumlov a few days ago after finally
being granted my wish; a sunny day, and then made
a bee line for Cesky Budejovice….better know
as the home of the world renowned Budweiser Brewery.
I don't think I've watched an American movie where
there hasn't been someone drinking a "Bud".
A medieval city, it's vast town square is ringed with
18th century arcades and delightfully decorative facades.
Suffice to say I have taken a photo or two….thousand.
Next stop, according the map, just 10 km north, was
the impressive chateau at Hluboka nad Vitavou. Unfortunately
Kobi, our GPS, had other ideas and although he is
programmed to take us by the quickest route, we ended
up being directed via the narrowest, winding roads,
through tiny, quaint villages that are too small and
insignificant to appear on any map. It finally took
us 45 minutes to reach the chateau and when we did,
we could see Cesky Budejovice just down the road.
Luckily the view was, as always, picture postcard
perfect. Plenty of green, rolling hills with red rooved
villages nestled in amongst wooded dells with medieval
churches, their steeples reaching toward heaven.
at Hluboka nad Vitavou
there in one thing that is not in short supply here,
it's castles and chateaus. The only problem with trying
to visit them all is that they are inevitably located
at the top of a muscle-aching, steep, no-car-access,
hill. The only available car park is always at the
far end of town making it necessary to run the gauntlet
of the usual tourist traps; the merchandising outlets.
After a few more schleps up hills, they may well loose
their novelty for me.
The most impressive village we have seen to date was
next on our itinerary; the UNESCO listed town (and
castle of course) of Telc (pronounced Telch). It boats,
besides the castle, the most beautiful town square
ringed with Gothic arcades and elegant renaissance
late afternoon we reached our next stop over, Brno.
Our accommodation was in a pension located in the
side of a church, accessible only by driving through
the church parking lot. We found a local beer hall
in which to dine that evening.
am beginning to wonder if the life expectance of the
average Czech ever exceeds 45. For one thing, I don't
think anyone has translated the Surgeon General's
warning into Czech or Slovakian as everyone over the
age of 12 smokes, and everyone feels the urge to light
up strongest when sitting in a crowded venue such
as cafés and restaurants. And secondly their
cuisine is an exercise in cholesterol consumption;
deep fried cheese and greasy sausage and wurst, oily,
fried potato pancakes and doughy dumplings in every
meal; I feel like I'm turning into a dumpling. If
you are lucky, you might get a token lettuce leaf
and quarter of a tomato on the side. Even breakfast
doesn't escape a dose of cholesterol. We ordered fried
eggs and meat and were served not one egg but three
eggs….each, and enough bread rolls to feed a
spent two nights in Brno and visited all the tourist
attractions; including, the ghoulish Capuchin Monastery
where the naturally mummified corpse of monks and
nobility lie in subterranean crypts.
We also visited, of course, the obligatory castle
and while ascending the steep path the sudden peace
and quiet was broken, not only by my audible gasps
for oxygen but also by the piercing wail of an air-raid
siren. We stopped dead in our tracks and unsure whether
we should duck for cover or stand to attention for
a minutes silence. A young couple, equally out of
breath from the climb understood our universal gesture
for "what the heck was that" (shoulders
hunched, eye brows raised, right hand swiftly rotated
in the air, turning palm upward). "Practice is
on the first Wednesday at 12 noon every month",
they informed us. Everyone just carried on as if nothing
was unusual. I'm thinking if anyone would like to
invade Brno, 12 noon on the first Wednesday of any
given month would be a good time, you could just waltz
on in, unhindered. So if anyone was to…..let's
say, plan a missile defence facility in Eastern Europe
they might be well advised to take this fact into
consideration. (Oh, and by the way; Bratislava might
also be a bit risky for the same reason but at midday
on the first Friday of each month)
next morning we were on the road again, destination
- Mikulov, a quaint village in the heart of the wine
growing district. The town map indicated the location
of the Synagogues that proliferated in the town before
WWII, all 12 of them; today only one remains.
From there we motored onto Lednice and its UNESCO
listed chateau and manicured gardens; home of the
Lichtenstein family for over 600 years, but best of
all, Kobi conceded to navigate there directly. Unlike
our next proposed destination, the town of Breclav,
which he first deleted entirely from our itinerary
then, when I'd detected his slight of hand, and reprogrammed
it, he waited until he had directed us onto a motorway,
across the river, through passport control and into
Slovakia before telling us to make a u-turn in another
20 km and go back 35km. We gave up at this point and
were tempted to through him into the fore-mentioned
river. And so we had slipped into Slovakia. We were
destined to do so, but it sort of happened by accident.
the capital of Slovakia was our next stop. We are
staying here for two nights visiting the old town
and …..you guessed it; the castle. My muscles,
wasted by lack of use after the accident, have tripled
in size and my legs now resemble those of an Olympic
has a delightful old town centre full of well preserved
examples of centuries old architectural beauty together
with modern sculptures, while in the outer suburbs
the drab, grey, utilitarian, communist tenements that
once dominated the skyline are being replaced with
more stylish apartment blocks. We drove into town
on our first night there and followed the signs indicating
"Free Parking", and it was indeed free…to
enter; unfortunately it cost us an arm and a leg to
exit, by Slovakian standards; a whopping 180SKK for
two hours (approx $9 AUD equivalent to 9 litres or
19 pints US of beer at the supermarket). Next day
we took the tram 14SKK (70 cents).
The beer is admittedly cheap, and the locals drink
it by the bucket full. We tend to drink a bit of beer
too; at these prices it seems a sin not to, and while
I know you never really buy beer; only rent it, I
am still at odds to understand why, after drinking
one glass full, I need to pee three.
And on that cheery note I sign off for now, as we
have arrived in Vienna and there is sooooooo much
to see here. I'll leave it for another day.
TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007
views in Vienna.........
.............are beyond superlatives. I am gob-smacked,
awe-struck, speechless........well, almost.
before I start, I wish to advise that the z and the
y on this kez board are transposed so it maz be hard
for zou to understand everzthing I tzpe. All other
spelling mistakes I blame on the computer gremlins.
the internet Nazi won't allow me to plug in mz USB
connecter to upload photos....next time.
arrived in Vienna on Saturday 9 June and after 3 days
here have really only scratched the surface of the
wonder that is Vienna.
perambulations have taken us to ornate palaces, stunning
opera houses, awesome museums and some damn fine restaurants.
Our first meal here was at the 'Bier und Weinhaus'
on the corner of our street. I ordered the Wienische
Schnitzel (as one should in Vienna) and I was not
disappointed; it was the size of a dinner plate and
cooked to perfection. Hubby ordered the fried blood
sausage with onion and kartoffel (potatoes), another
artery clogging gastronomical creation. After dinner
we decided to walk off our monstrous meals and discovered
that our neighbourhood is very poor, as I had suspected
by the low price we are paying for our accommodation.
Some of the young ladies who live around the corner
are so poor that they can't afford air-conditioning
and in the 30 deg C heat that we've been experiencing
lately, are forced to sit in the window of their ground
floor apartment, in nothing but their underwear. But
don't worry, they may be poor but they have many friends;
people were coming to see them all night....funny
how they all seem to be men though.
is also numerous sex shops and strip joints on the
main drag. It took me a while but finally I realised
that the shop in the back of the courtyard of our
hotel was not called Fetisch and Smart. There is,
I've just noticed, a gap between the 'sm' and the
'art' and no C in Fetisch. Different strokes for different
Sunday we took a city tour that included a Gala performance
of the Spanish Riding School. It was worth every pfenning,
except they didn't allow photographs to be taken during
the performance so I can' show you the photos I didn't
take .....until we leave Vienna, that is.
really been in my element here; the museums are spectacular.
On Sunday afternoon I visited the Leopold Museum where
they had a fantastic exhibition od Gustav Klimt, Egon
Schiele and best of all, Kolo Moser. Google them and
be prepared to be impressed. They are some of the
greatest names in the Viennese Secession (Art Nouveau
style). I've also visited the Kunst Hall, The Museum
of Modern Kunst and the Kunst House....and no, that's
not a spelling mistake. 'Kunst' is very big in Vienna;
it means 'Arts'. One needs to be very careful with
their spelling around here.
in the Kunst Hall on Sunday the weather took a turn
for the worse; from clear blue skies and temperatures
around 30 deg C, the heavens opened and there was
a torrential downpour, more reminisce of a Brisbane
summer (back in the days when it used to rain, that
Monday I had the pleasure of visiting the Hundertwasser
house and the Kunst Haus Wien. If you haven't heard
of Hundertwasser, google him. It was truly mind blowing.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16, 2007
Balaton to Budapest
En-route to Budapest we sojourned for one night by
the beautiful Lake Balaton in Hungary. The lake is
the colour of milky jade, similar in colour to the
melting ice from the glaciers in New Zealand and at
77 kilometres long, the largest fresh water lake in
Europe outside of Scandinavia.
hosts at the pension where we stayed in Balatonfured
would have to be the most hospitable we have encountered
to date. We were welcomed with a glass or two of our
host's home made white wine from his very own vineyard
and upon departure were presented with a 1.5 litre
bottle of the brew to see us on our way as our hosts,
Stephan and Judit, waved us goodbye till we were out
arrived in Budapest and discovered our accommodation
is in, what looks to be, an old monastery attached
to a church. The rooms must surely have been the monk's
cells. To say they are sparse would be a gross understatement,
but at least we have a pleasant outlook, from our
sole window, over a leafy cloister. I have discovered
bedrock in Budapest; it's what the beds here are made
of. We have had some firm mattresses on this trip
but these take the cake. They are a solid wood base
covered by a wafer thin layer of foam rubber. At least
with walls half a metre thick I was sure our sleep
would not be disturbed by rowdy neighbours. Unfortunately
we had to leave the window open as means of some meagre
ventilation in the steamy 30 deg C heat. At 5am on
the first morning we were woken by an over enthusiastic
couple engaging in the art of Hungarian Horizontal
Folk Dancing. I must be getting old; I can't imagine
one good reason for waking up so early just for THAT.
I wear ear plugs each night now.
city of Budapest is one of either former glory or
glory yet to come. The state of most of the interesting
buildings is some where between 'lovingly restored'
to down right derelict. Most lie south of "in
need of tender loving care". Uninteresting 70's
and 80's constructions aside, there are many varied
architectural styles of note. But after Vienna, everything
pails to insignificance.
have also come across some scenes where the individual
components are not unusually but the sum of the total
doesn't quite add up; like seeing a polar bear in
the desert. We were driving on the outskirts of the
city when we encountered two such scenes. In the first
scene, two young ladies were waiting outside, what
appeared to be, the entrance to a light industrial
zone. Nothing unusual about that, except that they
were wearing skin tight mini skirts and crop tops
and their fake-tan legs reached up to their armpits
and were shod in stilettos. They were heavily made
up and something about their demeanour made me think
they were not factory workers waiting for their husbands
to pick them up after work. In the second scene a
young lady (and I use the term loosely) was in a semi
rural setting, standing by a bus stop wearing nothing
but a bikini, stilettos and a "come hither"
look in her eyes; but she didn't appear to be waiting
for the bus. Something tells me these gals rent out
by the hour; or for lads under 18, by the minute.
But they didn't appear to be doing a roaring trade
what every it be.
We soon depart Budapest for regions north east of
here and in 3 days should be in Poland.
JUNE 24, 2007
...Hot sausage and mustard and the best hot sausage
is kielbasa in Poland. But for soup, the Hungarian
peasant soup can't be beaten. I didn't notice if they
serve peasant in any other way; for instance I saw
no 'fricassee of peasant' nor 'peasant l'Orange' on
the menu, but in soup, the peasants are simply delicious.
I did wonder where they gleaned their stock from (excuse
the pun) till I noticed many peasants taking extreme
risks by riding bicycles and walking, sometimes two
or three abreast along busy and very narrow roads
where there is barely room to cars to drive in each
direction simultaneously, let alone while overtaking
dare-devil peasants; crosses dot the highways and
by-ways; a testament to my theory.
met up with hubby's brothers and their wives 4 day
ago in Krakow - what a cracker of a city, and have
been eating our way across Poland since. Our hotel
in Krakow was a monument to shoddy communist architecture.
Built somewhere in the 60's only the bathrooms have
been renovated since, though the fittings in them
are already falling from the walls. The windows; when
they did close, did not stop the traffic noise from
the busy street below. Nor did the curtains, made
of wafer thin fabric, stop an ounce of sun from penetrating
the room at 4am. I guess that's what eye masks and
ear plugs are for, though hubby thought the noise
of the traffic was nothing compared to the sound of
travel to Warsaw tomorrow and hope to meet up with
my friend Sophia, whom many of you from work will
remember well. In 2 days we part from the in-laws
as we return to Prague before continuing to Holland
and they return to Israel. We have had a great time
together; a load of fun.
JULY 01, 2007
the Phoenix, she has risen from the ashes. After the
war Warsaw was in total ruin but has now been lovingly
restored to her former glory.
first night there I decided to dress up a bit in honour
of my friend, Sophia Kijak and her charming husband,
Robert. I had not worn my good trousers since leaving
Oz and was a tad concerned about their ability to
cover my expanding girth. But I managed to haul them
over my hips and fasten the zipper, albeit with the
aid of a little axel grease and a shoe horn. We were
collected from our hotel and chauffeured to the old
city where we admired the beautiful new, old buildings
and enjoyed Warsaw's gastronomically delights; I can
feel my arteries clogging as we speak. It was so much
easier having someone to translate the menu and make
recommendations. Amongst other things, Sophia recommended
the Farmers Soup .The farmers were much tastier than
the peasants; richer in taste. Our evening with the
Kijaks was very entertaining and one we shall fondly
recall for years to come.
next day we encountered cold, wet weather as we endeavoured
to navigate our way through the maze that is Warsaw's
public transport system. It didn't manage to dampen
our spirits. That night we dined in what was touted
as a traditional Jewish Restaurant in the old city
of Warsaw. The menu did offer such traditional Jewish
fare as Gefilte Fish and herrings but some how I think
the original owners would be turning in their graves
if they saw the number of pork dishes that had some
how sneaked onto the menu. The restaurant, much like
all of Eastern Europe, was full of German tourists.
I don't know about you, but I find it somewhat ironic
that Germans should be coming to Poland to eat in
a Jewish restaurant.
Hubby and me with hubby's brothers and their wives
sandwiched between us.
sadly parted company with hubby's brothers and their
wives the next morning and headed slowly back to Prague.
We were barely out of Warsaw's heavy peak hour traffic
and onto the open road when a light on the dashboard
signalled some ominous warning. Luckily we were within
spitting distance of a VW car yard and the mechanic
there informed us that our break pads were worn and
in need of replacement. A 15 minute job we were assured….one
hour and fifteen minutes later we were finally on
our way again.
spent that night in a city named Wroclaw….or
so we thought. When they developed the Polish language
I think they simply pulled letters out of a hat and
assigned them what ever sound came to mind. For instance
Wroclaw is in fact pronounced Vrotz-wahf. See the
similarity? No; neither do I. I also think they thought
vowels were too expensive as they are used sparingly.
Yet 'z' and 'w' must have been free as they are amongst
the most prolifically used letters. Our three star
hotel in "Vrotz-wahf" looked more like the
local YMCA. I think the only things they provided
to qualify for 3 stars was one of them fancy French
footbaths in the bathroom and soft toilet paper that,
unlike in the rest of the country, didn't resemble
recycled cardboard. But at least the beds were soft
although we needed a step ladder to climb up into
the way into Prague we detoured via the quaint village
of Kutna Hora renown for their macabre talent of interior
decorating using old bones. In the Kostnice Ossuary
chapel everything thing from the chandelier to the
family coat of arms is made from the bones of some
40,000 souls who entrusted their remains unto the
soil in the adjacent cemetery only to be dug up later
and used as decor.
FRIDAY, JULY 06, 2007
to the Twilight Zone
some undetermined hour between dusk and dawn I sat
bolt upright in bed. An eyrie light played across
the ceiling from car headlights filtered through the
"Where the hell are we?"
a sure fire sign that we've been on the road too long.
I fumbled for my glasses so as to see the time on
my wristwatch. 3:30 am. The earplugs firmly wedged
up to my eardrums have blocked out all but the worse
of the traffic noise. Slowly it all comes back to
me. This must be Singapore. We're heading home!
was our last port of embarkation. As we flew into
Brisbane I tried in vain to remember in which country
we spent the most time. The customs declaration form
asks this of me. What a silly question anyway. Do
I include our last night in the Czech Republic? Can
I state Poland and the Czech Republic; I choose the
morning the call of the Currawongs confirmed we are
home. Outside, dawn was breaking even though I had
been awake nearly three hours; (damn that time difference).
It was only 6am. No lengthy twilight zone here in
Oz. The sun rises and it is light, it sets and it
is dark; all within 45 minutes. In Holland, with daylight
saving, it was 10 pm before the sun set and almost
midnight before it was actually dark. Long periods
of dusk are an unknown phenomenon in the regions close
to the tropics.
summer days in the Netherlands are over 16.5 hours
long making them more than twice as long as winter
days, whereas in Brisbane there are little more than
three hours difference. I could never imagine going
to work and coming home again without seeing the sun.
The weather in Brisbane on this, a mid-winters day,
is a pleasant 20°C (68°F) and dipped to a
nippy 12°C last night. Good thing we had the foresight
to change our light weight summer blanket for the
quilt on our bed before we departed in late May. Meanwhile
in Amsterdam today I note that the temperatures are
expected to range from a mild 13°C to a balmy
19°C; and they call that mid-summer?
jokes aside, Holland was fantastic; if for no other
reason than we have a great family over there. On
Sunday the family organised a Bar-be-que dinner. My
aunt and uncle, their three kids and their relative
spouses and 7 grandchildren all converged on the home
of my elder cousin, Akke (Petra), and her husband
Peer in the beautiful university city of Utrecht.
Peer's sister, her spouse and his son brought the
head count up to 20 in the small backyard of their
traditional Dutch three story brick terrace house.
Bountiful food was piled high on our plates and wine
flowed freely. Much merriment was made.
aunt and uncle, their three kids and their relative
spouses and 7 grandchildren
I was reminded of the open-mindedness of the Dutch
society when passing a factory en-route to the airport
on Tuesday; "POT" boldly emblazoned on the
brick facade. I guess that is where all those cafés
in Amsterdam get their stock from.
I am going to sit out in the sunny courtyard and try
to top up my Melatonin levels and hopefully kick start
my body clock back into Australia time. All going
well I think I'll be ready to go back to work on Tuesday………..16
are we off again? I hear you ask. Well, seeing as
how today is 07.07.07 and we have bought our lotto
ticket; I estimate it will be real soon.
before I forget, I must share with you the name of
our taxi driver to the airport in Singapore, Chew
Kok Long. I just knew you'd like that one.