A triumphant return to our homeland
Trip Start Jul 11, 2011
43Trip End Aug 15, 2011
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A small river forms the boundary between Germany and the Czech Republic and we crossed easily into another European Union country
Lisa’s family traces its roots to this part of the world as well. Her mother’s father had relatives in a small city that is now in northwestern Czech Republic called Kadan. We used this city as the inspiration for Kaden’s name so we had to stop for a visit. Before arriving in the old town center we stopped for groceries and immediately noticed a huge difference in prices from the rest of Europe. Everything was much cheaper and the selection of foods was much greater than during my last visit. I even found a kolach in the bakery. Kolaches are sweet treats of bread dough filled with prunes or poppy seeds that my grandmother would always make.
The old city center was ringed by beautiful buildings and completely devoid of tourists. We had a nice stop here looking at the shops and old-fashioned cobblestone streets and even managed to walk down the narrowest street in the entire Czech Republic!
Our next stop was Prague. As we drove past huge fields of sunflowers it was hard to believe we were approaching a city of 1.2 million. Even at our campsite a few miles from the city center we were unsure of just what the city would look like as we approached from the west and didn’t get an overall view of the skyline. To change things up a bit we arranged for a guide during our stay here in Prague. Not only is the language impenetrable (being of Slavic origin rather than a Romance language) but we figured the kids would have had enough of listening to Mom and Dad by now
Jan led us up a steep hill to a commanding view of the city – just what we had been waiting for. As the church bells pealed the skies cleared and we could see the entire 4 quarters or sections of the city. Jan was a wealth of information about the history of the city, the architecture, and the government but also answered all our questions about how people live, why things are the way they are, and was lots of help with the Czech language. We spent most of the afternoon with Jan winding our way through the castle district (the largest in all of Europe) on quiet streets and alley ways. We stopped at an abbey, the resting place of St. Norbert, and a Benedictine brewery along the way.
Before leaving us, Jan gave us some ideas for dinner spots and told us where to catch the tram back to our campground. We had a wonderful dinner of traditional Czech food (heavy on the pork and dumplings) washed down with fresh Pilsner Urquell. We learned that Czechs have the largest per capita beer consumption rate in the world – nearly 170 liters per person per year! I remember the quality of the beer from my last trip and it has not diminished a bit since then!
After diinner we had a beautiful night walk through Old Town full of large squares full of people on a Saturday night. Vendors were making everything from wurst, to (really huge) smoked hams, to cinnamon-sugary bread rolled on a stick and cooked over an open fire. We sampled a few as we made our way to Wenceslas Square and the tram home. We also walked by beautiful shops full of Bohemian glass, known to be some of the finest in the world. By the time we trudged up the hill to our campsite we were all ready to fall into bed. It was a full (and fantastic) first day in Prague.
The Mettels (Carson)