Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to lock your entrance door from inside

One morning after I sent my hubby out to work, I went back to bed :) Well, I was tired still from all the work and energy I put in to the move. Yeah yeah. Anyway, I am a light sleeper and any noise would wake me up. This time, I woke up as I thought I heard some foot steps approaching our bedroom. At first I thought maybe I was dreaming, but then I realized it was real! I jumped up and semi screamed "Oh my gosh." I wasn't scared as the foot steps were the forthcoming ones and not the sneaking kind (strange?). I only saw a part of his cloth, but he said in broken Enligsh "oh... sorry" and left. Later I found out it was a maintenance person who used to come in freely when my hubby was away.

I would have locked the entrance door from inside so that no one could come in, but I couldn't find any obvious extra locks. After the incident, I looked again carefully and I found out there was a small key hole - exactly the same key hole that you see on the outer side of the door. So one day while my hubby was at work, I stick my key into the hole and locked it. But guess what? Hubby could open it from outside when he returned.

Today, I had a chance to talk with the realtor lady. I asked "btw, is there any way that you can lock the door from inside so that no one can open it from outside?" And the lady answered properly like all Czech people would and said "yes, there is, certainly." I waited, and she waited. I said, "ah..., I found this little key hole here, but even when I locked it from inside, my hubby could open it from outside," and then she said, "did you leave the key in?" And I said "pardon?" as I didn't quite understand what she meant at first. Then I figured out that I had to leave the key in after locking it from inside. Ha-! Learn new things everyday!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laundry fun

When I was in the States, I never did our laundry everyday. I would do it twice a week. Of course I had to run a couple of loads for different types of cycles, but it was just so easy. You just toss your clothes, towels, or whatever you want to wash in a washing machine, and once they are washed, you just toss them into the dryer, and DONE!

Not here. Firstly the washing machine is small. It can probably hold 1/4 of what US machine can hold. And, there is no dryer. I heard some people uses dryer here, too, but I also heard it consumes huge amount of electricity. Not having a dryer made me realize that I have to do the laundry everyday and come up with a creative way to dry our clothes in a snowy winter weather.

The washing machine we got looks like a German machine. The first time my hubby tried to use it while he was living by himself here, he could not figure out how to open it. I would understand it now that I saw it. It does look like a solid box without any openings. He called me and we did web search as the apartment didn't come with the English manual. Then after an intensive research (^^), we figured it out that you had to press the orange button on the lower right hand corner of the front panel (haha). I am glad that my hubby didn't force it open :)

So, I knew how to open it when I got here, but I was rather amuzed that the machine had another lid underneath it. And, when I opened the second lid, I found another lid!! Three layered!

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So, we figured out how to do the laundry, but now we had to figure out how to dry things. I had some experience in the past, as Japanese households don't typically have dryers either. So, I decided to hang shirts on the hangers and hang them. Ideally I would like to dry them outside, but as you know we have been having snow, so that would not work. And, as for the towels, socks, and jeans, I decided to use the heated towel racks which were installed in each bathrooms. It seems that most Czech households have these things. You can adjust the temperature as well. Very convenient!

The problem is the sheets. I can only wash one at a time, as the only solution I came up with was to hang on the cardboard tube that our carpet was rolled up with :) - well, that was the only thing we had that was long enough. I would put it between the shower door and the bathroom door and hang the sheet over it. So, I can only wash one at a time. It is a hassle, which I am planning to come up with another solution soon!

Another thing I realized was, if you just use only the laundry detergent and dry on the towel rack, your clothes end up being VERY rough. The solution to that is to use the softner and set the temperature lower to dry them slowely. It worked fine. Ironing would probably would help, too, but I don't want to spend any more time than I already am spending to worry about the laundry, so I would stick with the softner for now :)

Just like that... life here is harder, but I have to say it has been fun! And once the sun season is here, I will definitely dry our clothes outside. I would love the sunny smell.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

gG protesting against my hubby's biz trip

I was preparing to pack for my hubby's biz trip to Dublin, and gG sensed something when I pulled out the suit case.  He knew someone was leaving again.  He didn't like that at all.  Next time I noticed, he was on my hubby's clothes which I laid out on our bed.  Great way to protest, gG!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Corn Head Cabbage!

IMG_5271We were wondering where to park and where to go for Tofu. We drove further into the premises, and we found a couple of grocery stores on the right hand side. We parked nearby and walked into a couple of stores. To be honest, the first store smelled pretty bad. Inside was dark, and the food didn't look too fresh. So, I went in to the next one, which looked more decent. I bought 1 Tofu and 1 bottle of fish sauce. I don't think the store clerk was happy. I beleive those stores are for the business owners and they expect you to buy lots of volumes.

IMG_5280I have been having cravings for certain types of food ever since I got here. Okay... it only has been a couple of weeks, but once you know you cannot get them anywhere, your cravings increase - I swear. What I was craving for was Tofu and Moyashi (bean sprouts).

I could never find them in any regular grocery stores here. I searched on the web where I may be able to get them, and there it was!! In the site called Brno Now, I found the information I needed. There was a Vietnamese market. Thanks to Brno Now!


IMG_5270Since we had a car over the weekend, we drove to the market, which is about 10 mins drive from the city center. The place was like a "Little Saigon." There were lots of cars parked outside the market. The first thing you notice when you drive into the gate is a bunch of clothing stores. They looked like wholesale stores than retail stores.
IMG_5267Then I saw a guy coming from the corridor to the store, so we traced back to the corridor which led to a raw of stores and restaurants on both side. We went into one and ordered random stuff and got those:
They tasted good and we were happy, but the price was high for Czech standard.

IMG_5269We saw another grocery store, which looked the best. We bought a bag of herbs and moyashi (bean sprouts). Finally!
There I found this interesting looking cabbage - I mean it is a bunch of corn head cabbages! Hip stuff.

First time driving around Brno city!

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So, our additional air shipment that we made in Paso Robles finally came, but it was such a hassle as the post office sent us a certified mail for each box to make sure that we have a proof of us being the receiver of the box. We sent four boxes from Paso Robles, and we finally got two sent to us... well, "sent to us" here in Czech Republic doesn't mean that we get our boxes delivered to our door. It means, they were sent to the nearest post office. The mailman was supposed to deliver the boxes, but we never got them delivered. Instead, he/she left a sheet of paper saying that the boxes are at such and such location and that we should come and get them.

So, we rented a car and drove aruond the city for the first time. Well, I didn't, but my hubby did. Of course here in Europe, most of the cars are stick shift in default. I have driven a manual transmission for a while back in Japan, so I didn't mind driving, but I let my hubby take a lead on it.

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Renting a car here in Brno is not that easy, either. Unless you reserve a car 24 hrs in advance, you seem to be out of luck. But, we found one of the hotels right near the main station deals with Hertz, and we managed to rent a car in 30 mins!

The particular post office that our boxes were held was supposed to be open until 1pm on Saturday. We finally got our car at 12:30pm, so my hubby just rushed to the post office, but of course we drove past it the first time. We went around and finally got there around 12:55pm! We managed to get the boxes. Although they were semi-torned, everything we packed were there.

Czech takes so much time to get the paper work straighten out, but they do make sure everything is intact. I like that!

Now that we got our package, gG got more food that he used to eat in the US, and we got more personal goods, which we appreciate. Slowly getting comfortable here. We just need to get the remaining two boxes we sent!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First Fish (Salmon) we cooked in Brno - Jan 23, 2010


It has been a challenge to find fresh fish here in Brno. But, I found this salmon sold in a pouched bag in TESCO near IKEA. I broiled it and served with Quinoa (mixed with sauteed onion, mushrooms, and pine nuts) and some green salad. Salads are challenge here, too.  There aren't too many variety of leaves.  In the States, you can get all kinds of greens, but here it is limited.  I miss greens!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fried Cheese


This thing is pretty popular here in Czech Republic.  You can find this on the menu in almost all bars.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

After the LOOONG first week at work and at home

This is after our dinner on January 15th, 2010. Both my hubby and gG were totally zoned out. Okay, I would understand my hubby being tired. He had to jump right into work after all the move and travel and shopping, but gG??? He was so comfortably numb right next to my hubby. I think he misses hanging out with us on the couch like we used to do in LA. Here, since we don't have a TV or radio or anything in the living room yet, we mainly hang out in our office. gG obviously doesn't like that. Hopefully we will get more entertainment stuff lined up in our living room sooooon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Burnt MacBook


Looks like a baked marshmallow stuck to my MacBook, doesn't it?   Oh rats!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tram ride to anywhere in Brno!


IMG_5107There are trams all over the city of Brno, and you can get to almost anywhere by using trams and if not with the combination of busses and trams.


In order to ride trams, you need to have a ticket. Tickets are typically sold at the tabacco store which you can basically find at least one in each block. 10 min ride ticket is 14CZK (which is about .70USD). But I suppose the price differs based on the zone you ride in. I am not too familiar with that yet. But you have to realize the ticket is just so beautiful with all the colors.

If you are using a ticket to ride a tram, you have to get a stamp once you get on. There is a yellow box right next to each door. You just stick in the ticket (arrow facing in). I heard that if you stick it backward, it would not be valid. I also heard that there were undercover inspectors once in a while to catch a "criminal" who would ride free or illegally (meaning no ticket with correct stamp).
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And, the locals typically go for a tram pass which I also got after being here for three days and knowing that I will be here for the next how many more months you can guess!

Tram pass is much easier. You have to take your picture and all that, but you can get a pass for a month up to a year. I got one for 3 months. Now I can just ride trams at anytime to anywhere that I want.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nesting

So, we decided to go with IKEA to buy furniture, as that was the only one we knew then. Later we found out there were some more furniture stores in the big mall called Olympia located outside of Brno Center. But, hey, we needed something right away.

The downside of the IKEA furniture is that you have to build them by yourselves. Of course in my case, by myself as my hubby was at work.

The first furniture I tacked was the easiest ones. Bar stools :) It was just so easy to build. It only took 5 mins each.

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I used to play with LEGO, so I like these things. I gained some confidence after building the stools, so I decided to tackle a huge one - sofa! Well, this was a challenge, as each piece was so big and heavy. Thanks for my weight training sessions :) It took more than 2 hours, but I managed to put it together.

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Then, I went into my office and tried to build our desks, chairs, and a chest of drawers. Chairs were easier, but I didn't have any strength left after building the sofa, and I just couldn't snap certain pieces together so I gave up. I also had to give up on the desks, as the only screwdriver that I brought from the US was too small for that. I built a chest of drawers, but somehow the top drawer got stuck and couldn't pull back out :(

Next weekend, my hubby got us a new set of screwdrivers and completed the desks and chairs. I could also fix the top drawer of our chest of drawers. Yay! We got our office - still basic, but functional enough!

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Woke up and realizing we were in Brno!

We had a good night sleep. I woke up and for a moment I didn't know where I was. I was laying on a semi-stiff bed and looking up at the ceiling and realizing that we did come all the way from Los Angeles to Paso Robles to San Francisco to Frankfurt to Vienna and finally to Brno. It was a long trip for sure.

The rooms were VERY messy. We didn't have any energy to organize but barely to unpack six of our baggages the previous night.

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We knew that we had to go shopping for furniture, etc, over the weekend before my hubby has to go back to work. In the meantime, gG was VERY interested in the white sparkling stuff on the balcony floor, so we let him out doubting he would even step outside. But I guess he became more adventurous throughtout the trip. He did step outside and walked to the end of the balcony. Sniffing the snow and feeling its chillness seemed to amuze him quite a bit.

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Since we didn't have any coffee or tea, we got ready quickly and went out for a cup of coffee for my hubby and a cup of tea for myself. The snow has accumulated about 30cm, and it was truely great to walk through all that snow!! Am I just having a stupid tourist mentality here? Well, but born in a warm place like Shizuoka (Japan) and having lived in a warm place like LA for so long, it was actually intriguing to see the whole town covered in snow. Beautiful!

Back to furniture... since we know that we are not going to be living here forever, we decided to shop at IKEA for the furniture that we would need immediately such as sofa, stools for the bar counter, etc. Before heading to IKEA, we strolled around our new neighborhood. There is a great Tea (čaj) and Coffee (káva) shop. The store must carry at least 300 different kinds of tea and coffee. Everything was labeled in Czech, and the owner didn't speak English, so I just tried Enligsh saying "mint" čaj. And, it worked! So, that was the first shopping that I did in Brno after our arrival.

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After successfully acquiring my favorite tea, we went down to the central station area. There are two big stores. One is called TESCO, which is more like a K-Mart or Walmart. Then there is a shopping mall called Vańkovka (ń pronounces as "ny"), which has all kinds of stores and restaurants as well as a grocery store. We went in to grab a lunch before we head to IKEA, which is about 15 mins ride by bus from the mall.

The grocery store was also neat. The shopping carts are all tied up with chain that has a key on the edge. In order to unlock the key and pull a cart out for use, you have to insert a coin in a slot. It seems like you can put any coin as far as it fits. Then, once you are done shopping, you return the cart and insert the key into the slot, and you would get your coin back. I thought the system was pretty neat but inconvenient in some cases. At one store we recently went in, all the carts were securely tied right behind the entrance (no exit just entrance). So we got the cart, and we shopped, but then when it came to the time to return a cart, we had to again go into the store entrance and return the cart and went through the store just to get out of the store... :-(

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IKEA was just like other IKEAs. Their system works globally, which is amazing. We got our sofa that can be made into a bed, stools for our bar counter, a couple of small items to make our life going here in Brno. Got a good start!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Finally to the Moravian Land

The flight from SFO to FRA was rather comfortable. My hubby being a 1K on United helped us for sure. gG had to stay in a carriage bag most of the time, but we were allowed to let him out once in a while, and he was mostly very calm IF he was on my lap. Consequently, I could not take a nap but I was so happy that he was okay.
We had about 3 hrs of wait for the next flight (flight to Vienna). gG seemed to be wondering where the heck he ended up being. He must have never experienced such a long trip and landed in a strange place with lots of white stuff on the ground. The flight to Vienna was rather harsh for him, as we had to be squeezed underneath the seat in economy class. He did his trademark screaming during the flight, but he recovered from the tramatic experience once we landed. He was certainly much tougher than I thought he would be.

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Thanks to my hubby's company. There was a car waiting for us at the Vienna airport! It made a HUGE difference. Without a car, we would have had to take a cab to a train station and have taken a train. Not to mention that we had 6 suitcases and gG, so it was definitely a great thing for us to have a car taking us right in front of our apartment.

My hubby got an apartment in mid Nov on the street called Kopečná. You might be thinking how it is pronounced. č is pronounced as "ch" in English, and á is pronounced as lengthened a. So, our street would be ponounced as "Kopechnaa." The apartment is fairly new and modern looking. It is located slightly off the city center, but if you walk less than 5 mins, you are in the city center.

And, the trams are going all over the city, so you can go anywhere basically without a car. I loved that part about this town when I visited here for a short time back in Oct.

IMG_5057Anyway, the apartment my hubby supposedly lived for about a month before joining us in LA for holidays was almost completely empty! I knew he had no furniture except a bed, but I never imagined the level of emptiness. How can a person live like this for a month! He must had been lonely here. Luckily now we got three of us, and plus all three of us were extremely tired that night. We could not had been happier just to have a warm shelter and a bed. We arrived around 5pm in a heavy snow, went out for a quick shopping and used the outside natural frig to cool off our wine and a beer :) And we were off to bed for a loooong and comfortable sleep that night.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hasta Luego to California - Jan 5th and 6th, 2010

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After spending almost two full weeks organizing and cleaning our household items in our big old house, we managed to ship what we'll need in Czech Republic, sold what we can sell, and stored all the remaining stuff that our tenants would not need in our house.

It was indeed a chaotic process as Bob didn't get back until Dec 25th, and we had only one day to prepare for a yard sale on Dec 27th.

We managed to make it, though! We had good sales despite the bad timing for the yard sale. And then on Dec 29th, the movers came and packed all our stuff to be shipped. We had to identify which ones to be shipped of course, and we were so not prepared. However, we made that through as well.

IMG_4955After the shipping items were gone, the house felt very empty. I had almost no utensils to cook, but we had four people (+ gG) in our household and I had to cook by cutting veggies with an eating knife, etc! I felt like I was camping.

Then, the last move happend on Jan 4th. We moved everything out of the house except the furniture our tenants wated us to leave. Half went into our garage and the rest went into the outside storage house. Whew! We made it.


Seeing our house being empty gave me a relization of us moving out of the country finally.

It was sad to see gG trying to go back into the house several times even after we put him in a car to drive up north.

We left our beloved house and neighborhood around 5pm on January 5th. Originally we wanted to leave around 1pm to avoid the traffic to relax over a glass of wine in Paso Robles, but we didn't make it. The last min cleaning took more than we anticipated. Thanks to Aura for helping us cleaning the house!

IMG_4963Finally we were on the road, but we were all tired from days after days of cleaning and packing for sure. By the time we got to Paso Robles hotel, it was close to 10pm.

Since we knew we won't be having a chance to taste wine the next morning before we take off to Santa Cruz, we asked the hotel clerk to see if we can have a glass of wine. They kindly opened up the wine store they had at the hotel, and they even gave us a couple of free glasses of wine and sold us a bottle of wine, which we managed to finish amongst three of us that night. I guess we needed good tasting wine to really calm our nerves :)

The wine was reasonablly priced and tasted wonderful!

IMG_4983Next morning, we woke up late, packed our stuff again (including gG's litter box on the back seat), and left for Paso Robles downtown to send the last four boxes via US Postal Service. The van we were driving felt much lighter after unloading the boxes for sure. gG was happy that he now got more space to relax and be away from his litter box.

We strolled around downtown Paso Robles before taking off to Santa Cruz. It was such a beautiful day, and we surely wished we had one extra day to enjoy more wine and the cute town of Paso Robles. We shall go back there some time again!

IMG_4989The drive up to Santa Cruz was just gourgeous. The sky was infinitely wide and blue, and there weren't too many cars on the road! We enjoyed the drive for sure.

I have never been to Santa Cruz, so having an opportunity to visit the school Ko-chan went before taking off to Czech Republic was a pure joy. I loved the town! It had a very earthy feel to it, and most of all it was a cute little town surrounded by the ocean and mountains and full of young energy.

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After spending more hours than we expected in the beautiful town of Santa Cruz, we drove further up to SFO area. Got into the hotel around 7pm. We were again very tired, so we just ordered a room service and ate some random last supper in the US. gG was doing very well the whole time, and I was very proud of him. He was so relaxed even in the hotel rooms, but I could tell that he started to realize this trip was not just a regular trip and that he would not go back to our home in LA soon. Poor gG.... I was so worried about the long flight from SFO to FRA the next day, but I also believed he was tough enough to make it through just fine.
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