A Travellerspoint blog

September 2015

Czech Republic - Pilsen and surrounds - part 2

semi-overcast 22 °C
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And the adventure continues!

Nadia’s House
After one working-bee day, John took us back to his sister-in-law’ (Nadia Skardova nee Kubaskova) house for lunch. Nadia is absolutely lovely and spoilt the boys with gifts and cooked us a delicious lunch. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of our eating spot. It was a beautiful day and very relaxing for us having lunch and enjoying a beer. Nadia is also an internationally recognised artist and was assistant professor of Art at the University of West Bohemia. I don’t think we really got to understand the full extent of her work. However she certainly loved Cameron’s picture of a train that he drew and agreed to paint a picture of the Pokémon character Charizard which we are looking forward to seeing sometime in future.
It wasn’t all castles and old towns, we did manage to find a pretty cool Dino-Park to entertain the boys. Lachlan had a report to write for his schoolwork and took off taking photos of all sorts of Dinosaurs. The boys even had a chance to undertake some digging for dinosaur fossils in the Dino-park sand pit.
We also found a good park with climbing walls for the boys

Brewery Tour
Pilsen quite obviously is the home of Pilsen beer courtesy of the Pilsener Urquell brewery. We walked around the production area and got to sample the unfiltered beer straight from the barrel. Tan and Ash agreed that the filtered product was far better!
Underground Tour
There is a fairly extensive underground passage network in the old town. This consists of around 7-8 kms of tunnels and we took a tour to have a look around. These tunnels were primarily there for food storage and safe passage during town invasions in earlier centuries.
Tower Climb
There is a 12th century cathedral in Pilsen (as there are in nearly all towns) however this is fairly prominent with a 100 metre spire (a photo of the cathedral is in Part 1). We took a walk to the top of the tower to take some photos of the surrounding city area.
After initially taking a train in the wrong direction, we ended up arriving in Rokycany to visit the Demarcation Line. This is the spot where, on the 7th May 1945, American (travelling East from Normandy) and Russian (travelling West) troops came to a common point during the last days of WWII as they liberated Europe from the Nazis. The Americans agreed with Russia to move no further East than this point. We weren’t quite sure of the exact location of the monument, however we happened to run into very friendly and helpful town police, who happily escorted us to the site. They couldn’t believe we were from Australia and we had a great interaction with them (despite my non-existent and John’s limited Czech language skills).
So after an enjoyable stay in Pilsen, which of course flew by with everything we'd done, we are off to Prague now.......

Posted by tollidaytravels 08:02 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Czech Republic - Pilsen and surrounds - part 1

22 °C
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Czech Republic – Pilsen and surrounds - part 1

Pilsen was our first port of call in the Czech Republic. We booked 3 nights in Pilsen with the aim of catching up with one of Ash’s former work colleagues and good friend, John, but ended up staying 12 nights! We also met John’s wife Sasha and daughter Sharon, all of whom gave us great information, shared some good meals and looked after us while we were there as you will soon see, from the text and photos.
John and his wife Sasha have a house that they bought in a town called Chudenice (pronounced phonetically as Who-din-it-sa) which he is renovating. Ash jumped at the chance to go with him to help and this turned into an all-in family event of renovating in the mornings and sightseeing in the afternoon. We would stop work at lunch time and then head off to a nearby village for some sightseeing. We did some cementing, drain pipe work, water barriers and just general cleaning and it was great to be able to help out. I think we would have been happy to stay longer!

Our first afternoon visit was to a town called Klatovy, where we went for lunch. There is a 350 year old church here and large watch tower which strikes you as soon as you enter the town square. Of interest though, are the Catacombs in the rear basement of the church which exhibit mummified bodies of the devout Jesuits that built the church and did a lot of work in the area. The mummification process occurred naturally due to the clever design characteristics of the air flow passing through that area, basically, the people were left in oak coffins filled with hops and allowed to dry out!
Horskovy Tyn
The following day, John took us to Horsokovy Tyn, another village around an hour from Chudenice. The architecture of the buildings here was amazing and was heavily influenced by Italian designers during the Renaissance period. The castle was present for bishops that resided here hundreds of years ago.
We also got introduced to Tocena – one of John’s favourite treats
Back to Pilsen and as we found out, there was more for us to see than we expected. Here is our accommodation (where we ate an amazing breakfast every morning), buildings in the town square, town cathedral and the town hall.
There is a lot of history in Pilsen, filled with all sorts of conflicts, one of the more recent being World War II. Pilsen was one of the last outer lying areas that the American’s liberated as part of the war. The Patton Museum and ‘Thank You to America’ monuments are there to recognise and thank the American’s for liberating Pilsen from the Nazi’s.
See more on the Demarcation Line in part 2.

Posted by tollidaytravels 07:53 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Germany - Frankfurt, Nuremberg

semi-overcast 17 °C
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Well as mentioned in my last blog, we have arrived in Germany. The plane trip was smooth and uneventful and both boys did exceptionally well at sleeping when they could and managing their jet lag. Better than us!

We arrived into Frankfurt at 6am and made our way to the hostel. It didn’t take us long to notice the change in weather which made us put on our jumpers that had been stored in stuff-bags for the last 7 months.
We found out about a walking tour close to the hostel and decided to join, partly to get to know the place we’d just arrived in, partly to keep ourselves awake! Dom, our guide, initially walked us around the ‘dark’ side of Frankfurt where we were introduced to the drug and prostitution area of Frankfurt directly adjacent to the Frankfurt Central Train Station (and to our hotel, awesome!). We saw and were told about one brothel that turns over about 500 million Euro a year – that’s a lot of …. well …. umm never mind! It was an interesting conversation explaining to Lachlan what he was looking at.

We then moved on to some of the more interesting touristy spots of Frankfurt. Dom was great and showed us a lot of things that you could walk by without noticing.
It was a good way to doing something and stay active while adjusting to a new time zone. But after a hostel-supplied pasta dinner and some brilliant Weiss beer (for Tania and Ashley only!!!), we fell into bed for some much needed rest.

We did some more walking the following day and found a great little street market where we sat down for a great lunch. Cameron lost his first tooth while tucking into a bratwurst sausage (it was very loose) and got Euros from the tooth fairy!! We love the fact that they have open wine bars out on the street here, along with the smallgoods, sausages, bread and cheese you could really make a picnic of it! We also found the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (look for the bull and bear!) and had a great walk along the Main River. Frankfurt offered a lot in one city – a seedy side, the financial district and some traditional buildings all bundled into one. Thank goodness the Tooth Fairy is in Germany!

What a beautiful city. Nuremberg is an old town, surrounded by a wall and four lookout towers. It was heavily bombed during the Second World War but has been restored to its former glory. There is also a beautiful castle which dates back to 1000AD which was great to wander around.
As you can see from the photos there are beautiful buildings and cathedrals everywhere. It was great just to wander around and experience the architecture.
Nuremberg was where Hitler started the Nazi movement and we visited the Documentation Centre (in one section of the Congress Hall) to find out more about it. The Nazi Party Rally Grounds actually covered eleven square kilometres and remain largely incomplete due to construction halting during the War. See the panoramic photos below of the stadium – this was to be another 30 metres higher and have a roof over the top.
The exhibition was titled ‘Fascination and Terror’ and had a fairly detailed account of the rise of Hitler and the National Socialist reign of terror leading up to WW2. (The first photo of the building is in the bottom right hand corner of the scale model in the third photo)
Nuremberg is famous for its castle, its Nazi history, its specialty gingerbread (yum! It was very good), its own style of sausages (little mini ones, basically they look like breakfast sausages), and toys. It started with a toy manufacturer who became famous for designing tin toys, and grew into a huge industry. There’s an international toy convention held there every year, and we also visited a Toy Museum which exhibited toys from hundreds of years ago to present day. Cameron found a Thomas Train setup which he would have spent all afternoon playing on if we’d let him, he really misses his own Thomas trains at home!
There is also the odd interesting street sign around the place too.

The plan was to head to the Czech Republic next, more specifically Pilsen, where a good friend of Ash is living who we wanted to visit. So onto the bus (great bus services here) and over to the Czech Republic!

Posted by tollidaytravels 12:13 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur

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Readers of this blog will notice a big difference between this KL post and our previous instalments for Japan and South Korea! After a flat-out tour over 4 weeks, we came to Kuala Lumpur to slow down, catch up on school work, and position ourselves for the cheap flight we’d booked leaving from KL to Germany.

We spent just under 3 weeks in Kuala Lumpur and found this great apartment to base ourselves. It had a great pool and a kitchen / dining area too. The focus for us was catching up on schoolwork and we managed to get through a bit each day. At the end of the trip we were able to post a fair bit back to the school and a little keepsake box to Mum and Dad, lightening up our travel packs by about 6kg!
While we were there we did get to get out and about a bit, although it felt strange to be in a place like KL and not continually be sightseeing. We went to a birthday party for a 4 year old Iranian girl, Zaharra, whose family was staying in an apartment near us and whose brother, Maheed, had struck up a great friendship with Lachlan, hence the invitation to attend. We enjoyed some traditional Iranian food of meat and rice and great conversation that night.
We visited China Town with a lovely friend called Aisyah, who worked in a café nearby and made Ash his morning coffee for the 3 weeks! We spent a fair bit of time around the main tourist hub of Bukit Bintang where we would go out for dinner and wander around. After a bit of searching, we managed to find our favourite food court in the Pavillion Shopping Centre that we’d discovered the first time we were there and enjoyed some more good meals. There are plenty of fashion stores here as the boys discovered. There was even a Warner Bros store with movie memorabilia and a Batmobile you could ride in.
KL has a great train system and we used it a lot to get around. Here's Cameron making friends with the local girls while waiting for a train.....
This is meant to be the biggest Gumball machine in the world at Berjaya Times Square (Imbi)
Tan and I enjoyed coming back to KL. We felt a little less like tourists and just enjoyed relaxing a bit after a fairly hectic previous 4 weeks.
We were all very excited about heading to Germany and starting our European leg. As I type this, I am looking out of our hostel window onto Kaiserstrasse of Frankfurt with beautiful 5 storey terraced buildings. What a difference! However that will be the subject of our next post.

Posted by tollidaytravels 11:20 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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