A Travellerspoint blog

Krenovice

sunny 33 °C
View Europe 2018 on Ktepting's travel map.

Jan parents, Edita and Jiri were so welcoming and between broken English and German and hand signals we were able to communicate beautifully. In fact, Lucia and Sam were playing together without being able to communicate. Edita worked so hard to prepare for us by baking, making lunch and putting the guest suite together. They have a long narrow property that has room for chickens, a garden, an impromptu golf course, fruit trees and a music studio at the end far end. The golf game used inverted walking canes and tennis ball, Sam seems to have some affinity for the game, but Noah needs to work on his touch. The alcohol flowed, we chatted, laughed and enjoyed cooling evening.
We were so surprised to discover that Napoleon’s most famous battle was fought a stone’s throw away from Krenovic. The next morning, we toured the memorial dedicated to the fallen of the Battle of Austerlitz, drove through the fields and walked around the palace Napoleon slept in prior to the battle. History requires so much context and trying to explain who Napoleon was and his impact on Europe for Noah and Samuel in such a time period was challenging. However, I think they got the point and seem to be interested in learning more about him.
In the Austerlitz Edita showed us her apartment building. I can’t believe it that when she bought she was urged to tear it down and rebuild. She refused to and chose to restore the three-hundred-year-old building. I couldn’t imagine tearing down a three-hundred-year-old building in Vancouver. To cap of our visit, we were invited out to lunch.
If it hadn’t been for our connection with Jan’s parents, we would never have visited this part of the Czech Republic. Again, I am reminded by the history present in the most innocuous of places. I can imagine staying for week exploring the area by bicycle.

Posted by Ktepting 02:07 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Prague

sunny 33 °C
View Europe 2018 on Ktepting's travel map.

After a wonderful few days in Coburg and Bayreuth, visiting family and seeing the sights we said goodbye to Johanna and started the drive to Prague. As Navigator, I try to find interesting routes and stops along the way rather than simply taking the motorway. I stumbled upon a suggestion to visit the town of Loket in Czech Republic and decided it was worth a stop. We
Parked and walked up into the town (in many big cities they have Old Town and New Town – in Loket it is all one and the same Old Town). There was a fabulous 12th century castle we visited and even encountered a rainstorm, complete with thunder and lightning. The town is surrounded on three sides by the Ohře River and the castle is situated on top of a massive rock, an ideal location with a built-in moat and lookout.

We then carried on to Prague and arrived quite late. We got into our hotel room and headed out for dinner. We had a wonderful typical Czech dinner in a restaurant close to our hotel in Mala Strana. The food was delicious; the waiters were very friendly and the beer…. cheaper than water! We returned to our beautiful hotel room and everyone had a good sleep.

In the morning, we enjoyed a wonderful buffet breakfast included with the hotel then set off to start exploring the city. We started with Mala Strana – “Lesser Town” where our hotel was. We went into St. Nicholas Cathedral (one of 2 in Prague – the other one is in Old Town). It is a beautiful old church with a tall dome and intricate paintings on the ceilings. We then crossed the Charles Bridge and headed to where we were supposed to meet our tour guide – unfortunately, (we discovered the next day) he was running late and we did not wait long enough. We decided to go to the castle on our own anyway. On our way up to the castle we walked through the Saturday market in Mala Strana where we had some street food for lunch, listened to live music and shopped at the market stalls. Even though I know this is a very touristy part of the city it still holds some magic – with all the narrow cobblestoned streets, small shops, and the history that you can feel all around. I also enjoyed hearing all the different languages from people as we passed them on the streets.

The castle is less of a castle than what we were expecting as it is almost a town in and of itself. It is set up on the hill with stunning views of the river and city below. There are numerous buildings – some museums and some government buildings still in use today. We overheard a tour guide (later we discovered he was leading the tour we were supposed to be on) suggesting a particular ticket package for the castle – we took his advice and started with St. George’s Basilica, built in the 10th century. The Basilica is a prime example of the journey many of these old buildings have taken. Built originally in the early 900’s and used as a burial ground for nobility. Then in later 900’s became a mediaeval convent. In 1142 there was a siege on the castle and the basilica sustained fire damage – it was rebuilt in Romanesque style. Then again another restoration in the 17th century in the Baroque fashion. As you walk around and through these buildings we are becoming more adept at recognizing the different time periods in which they were constructed. One of the highlights of the afternoon was walking through the Golden Lane in the castle. This is a narrow street where they have preserved and set up many of the shops and trade quarters. In the evening, we walked up the hill and then up the 299 steps to the top of Petrin Tower. If you include the height of the hill the tower is the same height as the Eiffel Tower. We were happy we did this at night when it was cooler and the views of all the lights below was absolutely stunning.
Our last full day in Prague we went on a free walking tour – well two actually because we did the one we had wanted to do the day before also. Our tour guide was fun, knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour. She brought us through the Jewish Quarter, the Old Town, across the Charles Bridge and up to the castle. Unfortunately, we do not have good luck with clocks as the Astronomical Clock was covered in scaffolding and so we did not see it (much like Big Ben). There was even a guy on our tour from Burnaby! Small world. Prague was everything I wanted it to me and more! I can’t wait to return! We all made sure to touch the right side of the statue of St John of Nepomuk which guarantees we will return to Prague someday.

Posted by Ktepting 02:04 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

Plankenfels, Pottenstein and Stammtisch Oh My!

sunny 30 °C
View Europe 2018 on Ktepting's travel map.

Visiting Germany has given us the opportunity show Noah and Samuel where their Omi and Opa lived when they were young as well as connect with relatives they have only heard about or met once or twice. On our way to Burg (castle) Pottenstein we drove through the village of Plankenfels where my mother (Gundy) live for four or five years. Tante Lorle who lived there as well told us that the Schloss (Palace or Manor house) was still there as was the house they moved to after renting a room in Schloss Plankefels. We found the Schloss and were able to show Noah and Sam where the one room they rented was. According to Tante Lorle they moved to a house at the edge of the village in which they rented two rooms, unfortunately we weren’t able to identify it. Seeing the Schloss helps Noah and Samuel put some of Omi’s stories into context. I am not sure how much of an impact it made on them, but time will tell.
Schloss Plankenfels

Schloss Plankenfels


The second stop of the day was at Burg Pottenstein. As far as I can remember I have visited this castle every time I have come to Germany. Pottenstein perched high on a cliff overlooking the river and road has captured my imagination despite being a small and non-traditional looking castle. It was time to introduce this castle to my family. Kathryn enjoyed learning about the story of Saint Elisabeth, Noah and Samuel enjoyed learning about the armour, weapons and defenses and I enjoyed showing the Castle. The view from there is stunning.
Burg Pottenstein 1

Burg Pottenstein 1

Burg Pottenstein 2

Burg Pottenstein 2

Pottenstein 3

Pottenstein 3

Burg Pottenstein 4

Burg Pottenstein 4

Burg Pottenstein 5

Burg Pottenstein 5

Burg Pottenstein 6

Burg Pottenstein 6

Burg Pottenstein 7

Burg Pottenstein 7


The third stop was a return to Bayreuth to have dinner with Tante Lorle and Onkel Helmut at their stammtisch. This is a weekly informal gathering of a group of their friends at their local pub, usually at the same table. We sat at a different table so we could visit with each other and we had a great time together. Of course, we met both the owner and the manager of the pub and somehow we drifted briefly into US politics. The pub is at the foot of a small hill on which the Festspielhas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayreuth_Festspielhaus) is located. The Festspieldhas was designed with Wagner’s Operas in mind. At the intermission, a large crowd suddenly appeared, ordered their drinks and dinner. Within forty-five minutes the crowd vanished up the hill. Unfortunately, Achim wasn’t able to make it because he was feeling rather ill. Both my Tante and Onkel are warming, caring and enthusiastic people and we feel a little more connected with them.

Posted by Ktepting 14:19 Archived in Germany Tagged pottenstein bayreuth plankefels Comments (0)

Coburg Part 1

sunny 30 °C

Our time in Coburg was wonderful. We were able spend quality time with Iris, Johanna and Dirk while visiting and exploring together.
We arrived late on 22nd and we were wonderfully welcomed by Iris, she had our beds prepared and graciously gave us her room despite our protestations that we would sleep anywhere. Iris has a large garden and has brought many plants including vines into her house, which clearly reflects her love of all plants, flowers, trees and vegetables. We had so many delicious tomatoes and cucumbers from her garden which reminded me so much of my father’s garden, except twice as big. While we were in Coburg, Iris was going to fly for Vancouver to hike the West Coast Trail, so she left on Wednesday. Johanna (Iris’ daughter) came to Coburg and stayed until we left. Dirk (Iris’ son) made a special trip from Frieburg to see us. Both arrived on Tuesday.
On Monday Iris had to go to work and after sharing breakfast together we drove to Bayreuth to visit Tante Lorle and Onkel Helmut. Although we arrived later than expected, we weren’t late for lunch. Tante Siglinde Onkel Gilbert’s ex-wife) joined us for lunch which was delightful surprise because I hadn’t seen her for twenty or more years. She brought along a wonderful assortment of photos from when we were young. We had a great time together talking and laughing. Although the sky was threatening rain when we arrived at the restaurant for lunch we sat outside ignoring the occasional rain drop because it was so warm.
Lunch with Tante Lorle, Onkel Helmut and Tante Siglinde

Lunch with Tante Lorle, Onkel Helmut and Tante Siglinde

Testing the lift - Noah

Testing the lift - Noah

Testing the lift - Noah

Testing the lift - Noah


However, we were driven to the shelter of the canopy and shortly after driven inside because the rain came down so hard that it was raining through the awning.
Thunder and Buckets of Rain

Thunder and Buckets of Rain


Noah and Sam discovered the pond was full of carp and goldfish that keep following them around almost like ducks at the pond expecting food. Well that was what was happening and they found the fish food. Once they tossed the food off the small wharf the fish went berserk chasing down food.
The Fish are following us

The Fish are following us

Feeding the Fish

Feeding the Fish


Reconnecting with Tantle Lorle and Onkel Helmut was easy and natural. Kathryn was able to connect with her limited German with their limited English and the universal language of hand gestures. However, it is sad to see that both are so limited in their mobility at the moment, but Onkel Helmut is still able to drive which allows them some freedom. Both are determined to find ways to adjust and continue enjoying life. We returned to Tante Lorle and Onkel Helmut’s apartment after lunch for a nice visit and to look at some more old photos. I was very touched when Tante Lorle and Onkel Helmut gave me a pocket watch that was my Opa Willi’s, in fact it was a gift that they had given him many very ago.
Achim (my cousin) joined us between appointments and I was so thrilled that we were able to connect briefly.
On Tuesday, we slept in a little and had a late breakfast. Johanna came to spend time with us and explore Coburg. Each city we visit seems to have such depth to its’ history. I had forgot that Queen Victoria’s husband was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Johanna suggested that Queen Victoria enjoyed Coburg so much she would have referred to lived here rather than in England if wasn’t for Royal duties. Samuel had learned about half-timbered houses so Johanna led us to the oldest one in Coburg which is approximately 750 years old.
Entrance Gate into Coburg

Entrance Gate into Coburg

Entrance Gate into the city other side

Entrance Gate into the city other side

Oldest half-timbered house in Coburg

Oldest half-timbered house in Coburg


Us in Coburg

Us in Coburg


Historical Coburg

Historical Coburg

Coburg Fortress from the city

Coburg Fortress from the city


Lunch of bratwurst from a street vendor and small walk around the historic core and then we visited the Coburg Fortress. What an impressive Fortress, it imposing and powerful. Like all Castles and Fortresses that have been actively used for 800 years its’ design and function has changed over time. However, you can see how the fortress has changed, for example its defences changed to defend against cannon fire and to field cannons as a main defence. We toured the museum and we underestimated how big it was so we missed out on seeing some of the displays that Sam really wanted to see, Artillery! That evening Iris prepared a wonderful BBQ dinner and we spent the evening with Iris, Johanna, Dirk, Hermann (Iris’ boyfriend) and Irene (Iris’ sister).
Coburg Fortress

Coburg Fortress


Storming the Castle 1

Storming the Castle 1

Storming the Castle 2

Storming the Castle 2


Tournament Armour Room

Tournament Armour Room

Room in Coburg Fortress

Room in Coburg Fortress

Coburg Fortress side view

Coburg Fortress side view


Wednesday was great change of pace, we went to a wildlife park, generally celebrating the Wildlife of Bavaria. Dirk and Johanna joined us and we had a great day. It was mostly in the shade too which was a nice break from the extreme heat we have been experiencing. Samuel was brave enough to allow a deer to eat out of his hand. At one point Noah was surrounded by goats who were eager for the treats he had for them. Iris left for Vancouver and we will meet her again when we are back in Vancouver.
Boar in Wildlife Park

Boar in Wildlife Park

Deer in Wildlife Park

Deer in Wildlife Park

Feeding Deer

Feeding Deer


Hungary Goats

Hungary Goats

Saying Hello to Guinea Pigs

Saying Hello to Guinea Pigs

Observing Elk

Observing Elk

Posted by Ktepting 13:39 Archived in Germany Tagged coburg Comments (0)

The Drive from Regensburg to Coburg

sunny 28 °C
View Europe 2018 on Ktepting's travel map.

Before our drive we enjoyed our final nutritious breakfast in Regensburg with Kati and Henry.
Pudding for Breakfast!

Pudding for Breakfast!


Kathryn has done a brilliant job of navigating and preparing interesting routes for us to travel along. We were able to take our time on the drive and wind our way along the back roads. We all prefer this type of driving because there is so much more to see and we get a glimpse into the area that the Autobahn wouldn’t provide. However, there is a certain charm when driving at a 170km per hour. The major highways also provide more opportunities for Kathryn to read Harry Potter aloud to us. This way I am seeing the books through new eyes and a decade later. The Fränkische Schweiz has always been a favorite part of Germany, in part due to the stories told about it from my Aunts and Uncles and in part from positive memories of previous visits (exploring castles, Celtic settlement sites and hunting for fossils).
The Burg Pottenstein (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pottenstein_Castle) has always been a favorite castle of mine and I have visited it very time I have been to Germany. I am determined that we will visit it this trip as well. We arrive at Burg Pottenstein, an hour before closing and we couldn’t find how to drive up. So, we resolved to visit the castle later and to spend some time exploring the town and having a picnic dinner.
Flowers in the Village of Pottenstein

Flowers in the Village of Pottenstein

Old Mill in Pottenstein Village

Old Mill in Pottenstein Village

Wier in Pottenstein Village

Wier in Pottenstein Village


Burg Pottenstein 2

Burg Pottenstein 2


Part of the inpromtu adventure was walking part of Saint Elizabeth’s way up to a view point of the Castle. The area was once an ocean, uplifting and erosion has created steep crag’s, deep valleys and thousands of postcards. On our little walk, we found small caves, the castle, and goats grazing on the hill.
Small Caves

Small Caves

Grazing Goats

Grazing Goats

Crag's around Pottenstein

Crag's around Pottenstein

Looking down on the road

Looking down on the road

Castle Viewpoint

Castle Viewpoint

Burg Pottenstein

Burg Pottenstein

Grazing Goats at the Singing Hut

Grazing Goats at the Singing Hut

Looking down into Pottenstein Village

Looking down into Pottenstein Village

Posted by Ktepting 10:04 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 14) Page [1] 2 3 »