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Showing posts from 2017

The Gorgeous City Lights of Prague

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A couple weeks ago, we ventured out on the town after dark. The city teamed with people as much in the evening as during the day. Enjoy the view!

We walked into the square in Old Town where there is music playing almost constantly by one street vendor or another. On the evening we visited, a rock band was performing. Maybe that was the reason for the crowd.








The towers of the Tyn Church were lit up in the background. The spires, reaching up into the sky, can't be seen very well in this photo. It's been said that they inspired Walt Disney's rendition of the castle in Disney World.













Also, near Old Town Square is the astronomical clock. Every hour when it chimes, it puts on a show for all who are watching. The twelve apostles march out of one door near the top of the clock and go into the other door before the rooster chimes the hour.


This is the tower that watches over the Charles Bridge - a main attraction for tourists to Prague. This tower was built in the 14th Century by …

Potraviny - Is that Italian?

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Since I've been talking about food for the past couple weeks, I thought I'd share my grocery shopping experience with you.

First of all, remember that we don't have a car, so all the food we purchase has to be carried home with us. To help us out, we bought some "wheels" to lug the heavy groceries home. Meet "Gimli", our grocery cart. We ordered it while we were in Germany in July. The unique three-wheel contraption on the back helps us to "walk" the groceries up the thirty steps to our flat without having to lift it.

Gimli and I walk to the store at least once a week to purchase all the heavy/bulky items to bring home. The other days, I take a couple bags to bring home the purchased items.

It's the custom here to the grocery store on a daily basis. I don't go every day, but at least four or five times a week. These trips are necessary to purchase bread every day since it's made here without preservatives of any kind. That's h…

Adventures in Cooking in Prague

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Since I described my spicy experiences in Prague last week, I thought I'd continue by explaining about my cooking adventure a while ago.

We'd been here for a couple months and had been eating potatoes, vegetables and meat for dinner way too often. Of course, that was mainly because we were in the Air B&B apartment for six weeks where I had very little kitchen equipment. I had to make very simple meals due to lack of utensils, spices, and baking dishes.

After we moved to our permanent apartment, I could start cooking again. When we had some left over chicken in the refrigerator, I decided I wanted to make a casserole to use it up. So I became adventurous and found a recipe for a Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole on the Campbell's.com website. I was excited to try the new dish.

After looking at the list of ingredients, I was ready to take on this challenge. I knew that I could get rice, cheese to grate, and frozen vegetables. Also, the recipe was published in the states…

The Spicy Story

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Now that we are settled in our apartment and things are falling into a routine here in Prague, I'm starting to get braver about cooking in my kitchen. I haven't quite figured out the spices yet, however.


First of all the spices are purchased in packets (i.e. taco mix) instead of bottles like we're familiar with in the states. I have not, as yet, figured out how to organize these packets into some semblance of order in my drawer. They all lay together in a row, but finding the one I want is time consuming.

Reading the labels, which are in the Czech language, is also a challenge. The pictures on the packages are a huge help. If the package has a picture of an onion on it, the obvious conclusion is that I have onion powder in my hand.

One of the missionary wives who was here in the early 1990s, shortly after CZ freedom, said that none of the labels had pictures - only Czech words. I can't imagine shopping without the pictures on the packages. I guess she carried a diction…

Postcard from Latvia

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Last week we attended a conference near Riga, Latvia. Here are some of the interesting sites we saw.








Many of the old buildings had distinctive shapes to them and, surprisingly, many windows. I figured that the cold winters would require architects to minimize the windows.




Modern buildings were uniquely built also, in a very boxy style. 



 Our conference was in the resort town of Jumala  on the Baltic Sea. The beach-side resort building was old and a bit dilapidated, but from this distance it is very picturesque.



Several people commented on how much the Latvians loved flowers. There were manicured flowers even along the highways.









St. Peter's was built in the 1200s. Riga was the first city to become Lutheran in 1522, shortly after the Reformation began.





Recycling - European Style

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Every two or three blocks, bins like these can be seen on street corners. Of course, these are the recycle bins used in Prague. The blue one is for paper-"papir". Yellow is for plastics-"plasty". White and green are for glass-"sklo". Clear glass goes in the white bin and colored glass in green one. The orange ones are for beverage containers-"tetrapak".

Thousands of these bins have been distributed throughout the city in the last fifteen years to cut down on trash. It has done a fantastic job since Czech Republic is the fifth country overall in Europe for recycling.

We've noted some interesting things about the recycling here. Paper and cardboard can both be put in the blue bin. Even large cartons can be put in after being cut up. The plastic bin is for any kind of packaging or wrapper that isn't paper including plastic from a package of paper towels, etc. The orange bins are for cartons used for milk, orange juice, etc. All milk and jui…

AIR "CONDITIONING"

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It's been hot here lately. I guess that's no surprise. After all, it's August. The reality of no air conditioners is finally hitting home. When temperatures get to 93 degrees during the day and cool off to 70 degrees at night, we long for an air conditioner.

But we are faced with the fact that our only air conditioners are the windows we have to open, or shut, at will. As you can see in the picture, we have the "old fashioned" kind of windows in our new apartment. It's actually two windows that need to be opened to get any fresh air to come in.

Many European windows have the kind that either open on the side, or tilt in, leaving a small space open on the top. Our building hasn't been upgraded to that type yet. But of course, we have no screens on any of our windows (to make things more interesting).

When the thermometer is reading 85 or more outside, it's really not advisable to open the windows. So during the days when the temperature soars, we leave …

ROAD CONSTRUCTION - THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY

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Since we took a stroll along the cobbled streets of Old Town last week, I thought that you might be interested in knowing about cobblestones in newer parts of town. To be sure, most streets and roads are not cobbled at all today. They are paved like in the US.

However, in the tourist or higher rent areas, roads are still cobbled today - many of them in a decorative pattern. As you can see from the picture of my husband standing in front of a statue, the people who laid the cobbles wanted you to know that it was in 1882.

The question that crossed my mind was how, or who cobbled these streets to look so beautiful. A couple weeks ago when I was walking to our friends house, I received the answer to both questions. So, even if this cobbled street was laid in 1882, the same process is still used today by very hard working Czechs.



As I walked down the street, I saw that it was filled with cobbles lying about. It was obvious that the cobble laying process was going on.


I wanted to show you t…

STREETS OF OLD TOWN PRAGUE

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The streets of Europe seem to have a story to tell by themselves. In Prague, the oldest parts of the city have the narrowest streets. Of course, that's not much of a surprise. They weren't built for car and truck traffic hundreds of years ago.

Some streets are hardly wide enough for a car to pass through. In the area close to our church, a pedestrian has to back up against the wall of the building when a truck drives down the street. Of course, most of the time pedestrians occupy the center of those streets.


One thing is certain about the old streets in central Prague. They are all made of cobblestones. Some of the cobbled streets must be hundreds of years old. When I take a look at them, I'm sure I'm walking on ancient history. The stones are laid out with either small gravel or dirt between them. As you can see, grass sometimes grows between the stones since these narrow streets don't see much vehicular traffic. I'm sure that the roads have been repaired in …

LIVING HISTORY IN PRAGUE

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Last weekend we witnessed the Battle of Vitkov Hill in Zizkov, Prague. Actually the battle took place on July 14, 1420, but each year it is reenacted at the location of the original battle, where today stands a monument to this victory.

The battle was between the followers of Jan Huss (Hussites) and the Catholic Crusaders led by Emperor Sigismund.  During the five years prior to this day, the Hussite War (see my post from July 4th in reference to this war) had raged between the Hussites and the Catholics for the lands in Bohemia and Moravia (current Czech Republic). The Hussites had been winning control over more cities in Bohemia including Prague.

During the month of June, 1420, the Crusader knights battled to regain control of Prague by holding a siege against the city. The Hussites under command of Jan Zizka held the high ground, building a fort on the peak of Vitkov Hill east of the town of Prague. On July 14th the Crusaders, with an army numbering in the thousands, tried to take …

SHOPPING SPREE

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We moved into our new apartment recently and are now in the process of getting settled. We needed to add some furniture since a single woman previously lived in it. Last week we made the trip to our local Ikea store to purchase the articles.

We spent 42,799 korunas on our four hour shopping trip that day. How many of you ever spent that much in one store? Of course,  I should mention that when this was converted to US dollars, it was only $1870.  That doesn't sound like so much since we had to purchase two wardrobes and two recliner chairs plus other smaller pieces of furniture.

As you can figure out, the Czech koruna isn't worth too much compared to the dollar. One dollar is equal to about 23 korunas. The easy way I figure out the cost of articles here is that 250 Kc is about the same as $10. So when we get two beers for 100 Kc, the beer only is about $2.00 each in a pub. Not bad at all.

Since korunas aren't worth much, there is no coin worth less than a koruna - so no ce…

THERE'S NO JULY 4TH CELEBRATION HERE

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I'm sure it's unnecessary to say that there weren't any fireworks or celebrating here in Prague today. I will admit that we did have an Independence Day party with some other American friends for the 4th, but the rest of the city worked as usual.

However, they may have it better in the long run since they have two holidays in July -- the 5th and the 6th. Interestingly enough, instead of political holidays, both of the holidays have religious history  behind them. On July 5th they celebrate St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day and the next day is Jan Hus Day. Since Czech Republic is known for it's atheism, we were surprised to find out that these days were national holidays.

Cyril and Methodius, brothers from Thessolonica in Greece, lived during the 800s. They were sent to Moravia as Byzantine Christian theologians to spread Christianity to the Slavs. Through their important missionary work in the area that is now the Czech Republic, they have received the title of "Apo…