Sunday, September 25, 2005

Czech it out

Czech 1-2, Czech 1-2 - is this country on? Frank and I rented a Puegot 206 in Munich and drove to the Czech Republic on Wednesday. We fit both of our large suitcases in the car and I was the initial driver across Germany, where we stopped in a beautiful town - Regansburg and ate lunch on the Danube River. I had my first Weiss Weiner - and my last. I was later told that the Weiss Wiener is not supposed to be eaten after noon, and it was 2 p.m. when I ate it. hmmm...still doesn't change my experience or my willingness to give it another shot.

We were stopped at our first Czech point at the border, where we were required to show both passports, the International Driving Permit, and the papers for the car. We passed the initial test, and pulled over to buy a toll pass for $11 US. One of the first things that I noticed is that the businesses changed immediately upon entering this country. First two businesses - Shell gasoline 32 Kc p/liter or $7 p/gallon, and a McDonalds. There was more of an American influence in Czech than in Germany. There was an IKEA, and a few other large quantity stores just outside of the Prague city limits. The owner of the house we stayed at shopped there, as we later found out.

We arrived in Prague just before sun down. It was a truly foreign experience to drive in a city where you don't know quite where you are going, how the street signs are going to look, or where they are located (on the side of the building? how come not on every building? why are there red signs and blue signs?) Frank navigated us through the city, careful not to cross the Vlatva River, as we knew that much about where we were staying. We missed the turn for our street, so in obvious driving situation, we took the next left. Well, that left happened to take us nearly 1.5 miles out of the way, way up the hill, near the castle, and we both had to find a bathroom on top of it all. We pulled over and discovered that we had to drive in a large circle, around the outside of the castle's perimeter to get back to where we were going. Oh, did I mention that it was after work traffic?

About 40 minutes later, having driven 3 miles, I pulled over in the first parking spot I found, which was sort of near where we were staying. We lugged our 50 pound suitcases for a half mile up hill over cobblestone to the House of the Big Boot (Dum e Velty Boty). This was a perfect house to stay at. The owners were very welcoming and provided us with plenty of information to get around town.

So, we were off to a good start. We cleaned up and went to a very nice dinner on the river. After dinner, we moved the car back to the front of the House, which is near the U.S. Embassay, German Embassy, and Irish Embassy. So we encountered another Czech point. They searched under the carriage with a mirror, had us open the hood and the trunk. We passed and were on our way.

Next morning, we went for a run up the hill through a park. Just at the top of the hill, in the middle of the gardens, there were two soldiers holding AK-47 rifles. Whoa. That'll stop any runner in their tracks. We assumed they were still guarding the embassies. The gardens were amazing - so many roses, a replica of the Eiffel Tower, and an amazing view of the City - the land of 1000 spires. It really lives up to its name.

That day we walked probably 5 miles or so, in addition to the run that we took in the morning. We Czeched so many amazing things out. It is truly an easy City to get around, so beautiful, old, historical and many things to do.

Czech you later with more stuff.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Country Road....

How is it that every German knows every lyric in John Denver's "Take me home, country roads?" It seems that not only are the Oompa bands providing many songs for us to join in, but the American influence provided a sense of home on the other side of the world. 7 liters of bier, 6 rowdy adults, 5 large pretzels, 4 hours in the Hippodrome tent, 3 days since I landed, 2 days at Oktoberfest, and 1 good ol' time. It's truly amazing that there are people from all over the world, and yet I mostly hear English spoken. We spent two days at Oktoberfest, one was planned, the other was to "just check it out for a bit." 8 hours later...we came GOOOOOD.

Melanie and her friend, Monika, dressed in tradtional dirndls. That was the dress of choice for most women. And yes, the men wore some form of lederhosen. To describe what we saw would not do the celebration justice. Oh, right, the Oktoberfest is the celebration of Ludwig and his wife, in the 1800's. Since beer came before Ludwig in Munich, it's tough to tell if the celebration was just a necessity, or a compliment to the bride and groom. Anyhow, we enjoyed two days worth of a good party.

Today is Monday, and nearly 12:00 a.m. We took the train for two hours southwest in Bavaria to the Castle Tour. The weather whipped our bodies with a reminder that it is going to be a cold winter. We were all in layers, upon layers. I bought a traditional Bavarian hat, in red, with feathers to keep me warm.

Tonight ended with a traditional Bavarian meal - which by most European standards, consists of some form of pounded meat, potato with cream sauce, and possible some cheese. It's been very delicious. And of course, a bier.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Leisel und Franc reisen zu Europa

Lisa and Frank travel to Europe this week for an 11-day adventure in Germany and Czech-Republic. There will be new postings here every few days, so be sure to check back for the latest story.

Frank's flight info:
Thursday, 9/15
United 224 to DC
United 902 to Munich
arrives Friday, 9/16 - 8:00 a.m.

Lisa's flight info:
Friday, 9/16
United 906 to Munich
Arrives Saturday, 9/17 - 9:50 a.m.

Staying with Melanie and Todd 9/17 through 9/21, at which point Frank and Lisa rent a car to drive to Prague. Staying at the House of the Big Boot in Prague through Saturday, 9/24. Driving back to Munich until departure.

Frank and Lisa Return on 9/27.
Frank: United 8785 to DC; United 225 to Oakland
Lisa: United 907 to SFO

Auf Wiedersehen
Wir denken an Sie

Cowboy Up?

It came to my attention at the Rodeo on the River in Isleton, that one must Cowboy Up, or else. In rodeo terms, it means to "suck it up, or else..." In light of this particular cowboy, with the neckbrace and wrapped arm, I stop to wonder if this man embodied all that was "cowboy up."

Rodeo on the River
Isleton, CA (where?)

It was a day that one was proud to be an American, reminded of the fallen soldier, or Golden State Saint, and the wonders of a red state.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Moustache Ride

In light of my upcoming second adventure to Europe, I was informed of the coincidental trip of Beard Team USA. They will be competing in the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Berlin, but kicking off their trip in Munich. Captain of the Beard Team USA graciously invited me and my other hair-on-head-only crowd to join them for beers at Oktoberfest on 9/26. A fierce competitor in the freestyle, full beard division, is Heinz Christophel, who I challenge to drink a beer without dousing the style. Conversation won't be a challenge, as leftovers are always a hot topic.