Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slanted sun September

A quick post in between sneezes.

We didn't venture out of Prague this weekend but we did keep up our walking. Despite its slant, if the sun shines, we want to be out enjoying its efforts.

At the end of September, linden leaves cover the sidewalks [1], but there are still leaves in the massive ash trees that branch above the smaller trees [2].

Caroline and James get all dressed up to go out [3 & center]. After some discussion, C agrees to narrow her bow choice down to one - bow and wearer [6]. James may, or may not, have been relieved.

A gratuitous graffiti picture, recently discovered [4]. And glass bottles in a neighborhood bar [5].

As always, you can click on the picture to see a bigger image. And did you know that the Czech word for sneeze is kýchat ? Oddly apt. Kerchoo!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Czech Paradise

I've recently picked up a book called 77 výletů s dětmi po Čechách, or 77 trips with children around Czechia, and it is full of hikes, bike rides and stroller walks through the country. Last week friends of ours organized a hike in Český ráj along one of the trails mentioned in the book, and we tagged along to try it out.

We'd been in the area before (Český ráj is an hour from Prague, perfect for weekend trips) but never with a stroller. Thanks to the well chosen path, we missed the many stairs and steep paths around the rocks that make Český ráj famous, and the stroller survived the trip with no problem. The kids swarmed around us and then divided; some dragged behind and some wandered into the woods. (It's more fun to pretend to be Shrek and the princess when you're climbing over rocks and hiding behind big trees than when you're strolling up a path full of grownups.) We kept our eyes out for mushrooms, but only found chicken of the woods, and a few beautiful Amanita muscaria.

For anyone wanting to try out the trail, drive north on the E45 to Turnov, and turn onto 442 towards Sedmihorky. Take the first right after the Sedmihorky train station, and drive up the road to Sedmihorky Lazne, where you can park and find the many trails leading into the hills. We hiked to Valdstejn that day, about a 6 km hike there and back.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vinobrani 09

September is Vinobrani time. It's the new wine season when wine festivals across the country feature stands stacked with liters of burčak or stormy wine - the grape's cider. Wine festivals seem almost always to include fun fairs too, and costumed reenactors [4&6], booths full of handmade toys and gingerbread valentines [3].

Last weekend we drove to Roudnice nad Labem to check out the Lobkowiczs' vinobrani celebrations and visit some friends. The weather was beautiful, just right for a vinobrani day, and the children loved running from booth to booth trying out the wooden swords and shields (C added a shield to her collection), and begging for the very many choices of candy and helium balloons.

Roudnice is built around the chateau [1], which stands just above the Labe river. The Lobkowicz family is gradually restoring the chateau now, and it has the air of a decayed beauty with a well built roof promising better days ahead. We arrived early, before twelve and burčak time, but not too early for sausages [5], or for several rides on the merry go round [center].

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Grade!

Caroline is an official first grader, since the first of September. She's very proud of her new role, and is enjoying all the trappings of being a prvňáčka, from the art suitcase (seriously loaded down with art supplies, I look forward to seeing the results) to the special backpack shaped like a briefcase, which every prvňáčka, or first grader, proudly sports.

C's first day of first grade was more ceremony than study. Her Czech family, our babysitters, arrived early that day, and we all walked together to her new school. It felt like a festival day, with groups of families and new students calling out to each other as they passed on the sidewalk, heading to their classes. Once arrived, C found a spot near her friends, oohed and ahhed over her new books, and tried to pay attention to her teacher in the midst of a frenzy of picture snapping and occasional sob (mostly from the parents, the children were quite brave!). The kids took turns introducing themselves, the teacher read her opening remarks, and an hour later school was over for the day.

Each day for the rest of the week C's school added another hour to the first graders' schedule, working up to four hours a day. Caroline told us that mostly they were learning to behave, but that they'd also learned to talk Martian - spelling out words just the same way any self respecting Martian might demand to be taken to 'your lea-der". The first word they spelled was, predictably, Mama. The second? Praha.