Saturday, May 21, 2011

From Prague to Frankfurt and to our new adventure land!

On May 5 around noon, we were off to Prague. gG was really calm in a car although most of the time he was burried among all the baggages we had to jam into the car. We got to the embassy in Prague and got our visas without any trouble. It was a night and day experience compared to the time I applied for a Czech visa. We submitted our applications a week ago, and both my hubby and I had a visa stamped in our passports!

We drove off to the Prague airport immediately, unloaded gG in a carrier bag, 3 suitcases, a bag containing gG's portable litter box, my backpack, my hubby's briefcases, and two paper bags containing the stuff like gG's food, water, etc. Yes, gG has lots of personal attachments.

While my hubby was returning the rental car, I repacked all 3 suitcases right in the middle of the airport while gG was meowing loudly attracting all kinds of attention from the surrounding people. :)  Since we had to stay in Frankfurt over night before taking off to our final destination, we wanted to pack everything we needed for the next couple of days in one of the suitcases and wanted to check in other suitcases all the way to our final destination. Thank god we had a plenty of time before the flight. I managed to finish the repacking, and gG managed to get a daily exercise by walking around the airport with my hubby (and getting lots of attention from people). ^^;  And, due to the exercise, he decided to go poo poo right before the boarding time, again right in front of everyone. We snapped open the bag containing the litter box, and there he went stinking up the surrounding area.  ^^;

Luckily we got business class tickets, and so did gG (well, he is considered to be the "excess baggage", but we had to pay approx. 1500 CZK for him). The flight was a quick one hour flight, and since we had an empty seat between me and my hubby, gG sat on a business class seat. :)  I think he liked the luxurious treatment he got, and he kept being quiet throughout the flight.  Good boy!

We stayed in Frankfurt one night and next morning we were off to the airport again. By then, gG knew that he was in another mission of travelling to another unknown land (btw, the taxis in Frankfurt were all Benz. Great deal!).

Luckily we were in business class for this leg too (and gG also had one seat for himself, as the business cabin was pretty much empty).  gG slept through most of the way to the destination.

It was past 1am when we got to the baggage claim. Retrieved our baggages and went to the animal quarantine center. The inspector was so nice. He checked all the documents and asked us to open gG's carriage case. So we did, and immediately after he saw gG, he was like "this is the most beautiful cat that I've ever seen!" Ha ha ha :)  Okay, I am being a silly parent here. Anyway, the process was quick, and gG and we were out of the airport very smoothly.

And, we breathed in the first air of our new adventure land!

This post is the last post of this blog. It was a great 1.5 years that I spent in the Czech Republic. I learned quite a bit about the European history, Czech culture, Janáček, and life in Brno. I met one of the greatest people whom I miss greatly. Thank you everyone for reading this blog.

If you are interested in our new adventure, I am starting two new blogs; one in English (Holy Cow! It's India) and one in Japanese (TBD). Please come and check them out when you have time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The last few days in Brno

The last few days in Brno were rather crazy. We got some vaccinations before heading to our next destination of mystery land, coordinated with the airline company so that gG could fly with us as a "special carrier", made several hotel reservations (in Brno and Frankfurt), divided our stuff into five piles: 1) stuff to sea ship, 2) stuff to air ship, 3) stuff to take, 4) stuff to leave, and 5) stuff to throw away, etc, and finally completed the move. Especially because there were items that came with the flat, which we didn't want the movers to accidentally pack and ship, we had to make some effort to separate them.

Anyway, everything including the move went very smoothly (thanks again to our friends who helped us through the move!). On May 4, the flat was empty except for the furniture that belonged to the flat. We spent our last night in a hotel that my hubby used to stay when he was still a consultant as to celebrate the end of our journey in the Czech Republic (boy.... the hotel was rather depressing, though. Not sure how my hubby could tolerate staying there for several months...).

We also celebrated our last meal in Brno at our favorite Japanese restaurant Koishi. Brno is not the best place to get any fresh fish, but Sushi Chef Ebina-san always magically creates wonderfully delicious sushi. I always wonder how he managed to get fresh "neta (stuff on the rice, mainly fish)".  Truely a "pro." And, yes, we were very lucky to have him in Brno!

It was already past 9pm when we got to the restaurant that day as we had to clean up the flat, but he kindly provided us a "omakase" sushi course including a creative fried sushi!  It was truely comforting after the busy couple of days.

People who work at the restaurant also came by and kindly said "good-bye" to us. I will always remember "Koishi" as one of my favorite restaurants in the world.

Next morning, we got up early, left gG in the hotel room, and went back to the flat to do some more cleaning before the owner showed up for the handover. We were done with the handover by 11am. Got back to the hotel to pick up gG and our 3 big suitcases and a bag for the litter box and were off to Prague by noon.

On the way to Prague, we stopped at a small town called Velké Meziříčí.  There I saw an old lady taking a stroll with two boys and a baby in a babycart. Two boys were having fun playing around the monument while the old lady was sitting on the bench watching a baby in a babycart. The weather was warm and sunny, and everything looked so peaceful. And, I realized how much I loved the simple life that most Czech people value. It is not the richest country in the world, but people certainly know how to enjoy life with their family and friends.

In my next post, I am going to write a bit more about our trip to the embassy in Prague and to our destination through Frankfurt.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Windows and Doors in the Czech Republic

Most of the windows here in the Czech Republic open up in two different ways. Maybe this is a European thing. I don't remember ever seeing such windows in the US, so I never knew until a maintenance guy came to fix our window in our previous flat one day after living there for four months or so. He was amused to see my happy reaction when he showed me how the window opens up in two different ways :)

So... typically the window knob is pointing downward. If you turn the knob sideway, the window opens up towards you (this is rather typical). But here is the trick. If you turn the knob upwards, only the top part of the window opens up. This is convenient when you just need to let a little bit of air into your room.

Another thing I noticed in the Czech Republic is that most of the entrance door knobs don't turn. So, once you shut the door, there is no way of turning and opening the door. Something which I still don't understand is that people still lock the door even though there is no way of turning the knob (and thus not being able to opening it up).  Oh also, most of the restaurant entrance doors don't shut by themselves. You are so used to the door shutting itself with a slight push, but not here. You have to make sure you close the door all the way until you hear the click sound :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Everyone loves rohlík

It would be a crime if I leave the Czech Republic without mentioning about "rohlík"!!  Rohlík is everywhere. It is a thin roll stretched to the size of a hot dog. And it is ultra cheap! Most of the stores sell them at CZK 1 (6 cents) each. Almost everyone (I mean literally everyone) leaves the store with a bag full of rohlík, as if the only purpose of the shopping was to get rohlík. It had been a mystery to us how Czech people eat that many rohlík.

Now that we are leaving the Czech Republic, we decided to give another try (yes, we tried once right after we got here, but it was so dry inside and outside and we ended up throwing it away). Guess what!? It was okay (I wouldn't say it was great...sorry). We used rohlík as a hotdog bun. The rohlík we got this time was dry outside but moist inside - a great combination of texture!  If we were staying longer, I am sure we would have discovered more ways to eat rohlík, but it was good to discover the real taste of rohlík before we leave.

Btw, it is entertaining to see the expression on clerk's face when we buy only two rohlíks :-)

Red circle on window

We had to take a quick trip to Prague in order to apply for our visa to our new destination. This time instead of driving, we took a train. Trains are cheap here. To get to Prague, it usually cost CZK 160 (approx. $10) per person. This time we took a special super express train (well... it is still slow I have to say) which cost us an extra CZK 400, but hey the train was newer and there was waitress service inside the train. You can just press a button above your head, and a waiter would come and take your order for coffee, etc.
As we sat in our seats, I noticed a red circle on the window. Hmmm... is it a sticker? Japanese flag(まあ、そんなことはなかろうが...)? What is it?  My hubby who typically knows everything didn't know, either. Then I looked up above the window and found the sign explaining that is the circle you can hit with a hammer to break the window - for an emergency. Pretty advanced! BUT.... where is the hammer? I didn't see any around.