BLAST OFF: Czech Republic (Paint Day and Beyond)

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September 17th 2009
Published: October 7th 2009
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2nd half of Czech Republic

Czech Republic Paint Day and Beyond
9/8 - 9/17 (CR start 9/1)

The last blog left off after the Day of Silence and before the Day of Paint. So, one night while we were all hanging out, the boys told us how they had been planning on painting the kitchen for a long time. At the moment it was just a pale yellow color with fun drawings the boys had made here and there. But they wanted a full make over for it, and had been hoping we could do it when we arrived. This was wonderfully exciting for us! So, on Wednesday the 8th we decided to dedicate ourselves to painting. Luckily their friend Caleb’s mother in law owned a paint shop in the square, so we were able to get a deal on the paint! Once we picked out our colors we dove right in.

Oh, but first I want to mention that Caleb’s wife owned a perfume shop in town as well, and Phoenix really wanted to get some perfume while we were traveling. So every day for the next three or four days we would go down to the shop and try on new perfumes, smelling them all day to see which one was best throughout. That was really a fun process too.

Ok, so back to painting. We picked out a blue, orange, and a red - having a plan to do rustic looking walls and a sky for the ceiling. We already had some white paint to make clouds with too. We started with the blue sky and went from there, totally evolving into something new with each stroke. After the cloudy sky we moved to the walls, which turned into a wonderful art project. On the wall closest to Chris’ room, a beautiful Burning Man Angel was created by Chris, splendid spongy texture by Phoenix, and mountains by me. Within one day the whole kitchen was transformed, and the boys totally loved it.

The next day, September 9th, was a special day for Phoenix and I…besides the fact that it was 9/9/09, but more about that some other time. It was a relaxing day and we met a bunch of friends at a Castle in town for some beer. There is this super yummy local Cheb dark beer called Master with ridiculously high alcohol content. And as usual to the Czech it was super cheap. All beer in the Europe seems ridiculously cheap, and the Czech is the cheapest of all. A beer from the store is less than a dollar and from a restaurant is around a dollar or two at the most. This was great to explore all the different types of beers that the areas pride themselves on. One fact that is pretty interesting is that Budweiser is actually a Czech recipe and name, but the American Budweiser stole the recipe. Eventually the Czech company found out, proved it, and now the US Bud has to pay huge amounts of money each year to the Czech company. Also in the agreement, the Czech company produced more beer, which is like 20 times better than US Bud, and they now call it Budvar.

Anyway, I really like how people Cheers when they drink in Europe. Every country is pretty intentional with how they cheers. In America we all kind of just knock our glasses together and say cheers, potentially giving a toast. In Europe, especially the Czech it’s super important that you look the person in the eyes as you cheers them and you can only cheers
Let the painting beginLet the painting beginLet the painting begin

Pavel the sky master
one at a time. Also, you aren’t supposed to cross over or under another person’s arms while klinking - just wait your turn and then cheers the person down the table. I like it a lot, much more intimate and intentional.

The rest of the castle drinking night was spent playing music and singing for a while. Then eventually Phoenix insisted we go get some of the fried cheese we have heard so much about. The fast food in Europe is much more awesome. Sure they have McDonalds and Burger King, which is sad to see (and which they charge money for condiments, but are much fancier and like little restaurants). But the fast food market is run by Donner Kebab stands having a huge piece of lamb rotating on a spit, which they shave of fresh and put with super yummy sauces. And in the Czech there are these little fried cheese and such stands. Picture this yummy treat, a huge block of Mozzarella type cheese, fried and put on a bun like a burger. Wow! It is SO good! They also have some unique pizza things with ketchup and cheese, which is tasty too. So we walked to this place late at night and filled up on super greasy, fun, Czech fast food.

The next day we got the opportunity to go on a biking tour, led by Caleb, around the area. They boys have a friend named Henry that owned a hotel in the area. You wouldn’t expect it too look at Henry, who would prefer to just work in the gardens. But his hotel has bikes for rent and he let us borrow some, and we all went biking through the country to check out some more Castles. It was great. Such beautiful land and still we are blessed with wonderful weather on our trip. One castle we went to, Vildstejn I believe had some pigs and funny looking chickens, and a renaissance style restaurant inside. We went in to experience some traditional Czech dining and the five of us (Phoenix, Chris, Henry, Caleb, and I) got three huge plates: roasted pig knee, duck, and beef tar tar (raw meat). Of course with Pilsner Urquel, the boys favorite beer. The food was all so incredibly delicious, including the raw beef which you mix a raw egg in with, scrape raw garlic on some toast and then spread the meat goop on. The garlic acts as a bacteria killer for all the raw stuff. But just to be sure, when we finished eating we all had a shot of super-strong Slivovice - a famous liquor in the Czech that is made from plums and is ridiculously strong. We figured that would annihilate any rogue bacteria in our tummies. The whole meal cost 1200 Czech crowns, which is about $70 (€48), really not too bad for as much as we had. Oh, and in the Czech prices are rounded up to either a whole crown or maybe half a crown. It would be silly to have other types of cents being that it would be worth so very little. And as with everywhere in Europe, sales tax is included in the price tag, no hidden fee you have to calculate when you are buying things.

After the castle we headed back home, but stopped in at a butterfly house. Henry knew the owners, so we got to go in for free! It was a cute little set up, with pinned butterflies of all kinds downstairs, and an upper floor where all different kinds of butterflies fluttered around. I really loved the sound of their wings. That was a neat little treat to have.

Friday, the 11th, we got to finally have the bonfire and jam that we wanted to have on the full moon. One of their friends’ family has a cute little weekend house, common for the locals, which was outside of the main part of town. We met up with a few wonderful friends of the boys from Karlovy Vary; finding them through manifestation and release instead of stress and searching for them. Then we all headed toward the weekend house, a long but beautiful walk. It was so wonderful to be outside in the night air, and to be able to bring music to the environment. I am SO glad we brought my guitar and her drum with us. They may be big and a lot extra to carry, but it was so worth it. There were a few other American girls that were at the cottage, who are in the area as English teachers and work with Chris and Caleb. After sharing stories with them and playing with Mambo, Kuba’s very amazing dog, we started the music going around the little bonfire. Daniella, one of the Karlovy Varians joined right in with her Kazoo! That was perfect. And the whole rest of the night we jammed. It was wonderful.

The next day the Karlovy Vary friends escorted us to their home town. We took a train there, which costs less for the more people you purchase a ticket for at once. And we got to ride in one of those private rooms. So, Karlovy Vary is known for its incredible natural healing springs. At least 7 of the hundreds of springs have been proven to have healing properties because of the minerals the water soaks up after layer upon layer of different types of earth and stone. All of the Czech has springs, but Karlovy Vary seems to be at the center of this, and so has many huge Spas throughout the city. Additionally, it has around 15 springs that are constantly flowing from beautiful pickets throughout the city and are free for you to drink.

Before we explored this though, Daniella and Jonas took us to a tea house - slash- hooka lounge. We had really tasty tea and sat around chatting over a delicious peppermint flavored
Hapy ChrisHapy ChrisHapy Chris

He created the burning man angel, Dani did the mountains, and Phoenix the texturing
hooka. Our friends had to leave though, which left Chris, Phoenix and I to explore the rest of the town on our own. We picked up a bottle of Bechorovka, another famous liquor of the area which concludes our “must try” local alcohols. It was super fun to wander around the beautiful city as the sun got lower and lower. The buildings are incredible of course - full of history, and specifically created with Spa-worth elegance. We eventually found our way to the springs and started our mission to taste all of them, all the while collecting a bit of each in our Bechorovka bottle to bring home to Pavel. Most of the springs were warm to hot, ranging from 55 to 65* Celsius (131 to 149* F), so we had to use the cap of the bottle as a little cooling cup. The water was very mineral tasting, which means it tasted a lot like metal or iron but it’s very good for you.

One of the springs is called Pramen Svoboda, which means Freedom Spring, and I was able to get an awesome etching of the sign. During that time, as I was crouched on the ground etching over the marble plaque, I was suddenly surrounded by a ton of Chinese tourists! It was so wonderful! They went all around me to get to the spring, some watching me, some taking pictures near me…which I hope I was in, because I would look up and smile just in case. Haha! When we finished our mission to get all the springs we could possibly find, we had to make our way to the train station - catching the very last train of the evening at 10:22pm.

You would think that had concluded the night, but no. Pavel and Caleb met us at the train station and after a quick walk to the house to drop our bags - we went to the nearest little bar and danced, danced danced. The bouncers were dressed in camies for some reason, and as we walked down the stairs to the music we just walked directly to the dance floor and cut loose. I think our “unique” style of dressing and dancing was quite entertaining for the locals, haha! But once we opened up the dance can, more dug in and grooved to the American beats. Seriously, most of the music
Pavel's watermelon breakPavel's watermelon breakPavel's watermelon break

With a prayer behind him
I’ve heard in Europe is American which is both entertaining and disappointing at the same time. I want to hear some awesome Czech music! But we’ve been assured; there just isn’t that much happening with European music, at least at the rate that things are in America. Anyway, after an hour or so we all headed home, pooped.

The next day, Sunday, was another Day of Silence. We definitely managed to remain verbally silent the whole day, but this time around it seemed more like a day of Sign Language Silence. Chris and I still remember a good deal of Sign Language from when we learned in High School, so we communicated a lot throughout the day like that. So, my mind wasn’t quite silent but my mouth was - also an interesting and valuable experience though! And it made me really excited to learn more Sign Language when I get home, Phoenix too. After some silent shopping, Phoenix made some delicious apple pie for us all to enjoy. Yum! And we were going to take the second pie over to Pavel’s parents’ house for dinner the next day.

It was great to hang out with Pavel’s family the next day, as we talked about philosophy and life. They told us a lot about life in communism, as Pavel so kindly translated back and forth since they only speak Czech. His dad was telling us how he was never able to explore spirituality when he was younger, because communism didn’t allow for it. But he feels young and excited to start exploring it now, even if he is older. He’s asking himself all the questions that the youth usually does and is coming to some wonderful answers! His mom expressed how her main philosophy in life is to feel, and specifically to feel what her family needs, and then to fulfill those needs. A true mommy through and through! So, she made us an incredibly yummy dinner with traditional dumplings and chicken with unbelievably delicious cheese gravy. Dumplings here aren’t what American’s (or me anyway) would consider dumplings - meat wrapped in some kind of pastry or noodle. But a fluffy, almost bready type of things, made from potatoes or flour. And the sour kraut is SO very good! I never used to like kraut, but I have a new appreciation and love for it for sure. Then we ate Phoenix’ apple pie (with blueberries and peaches) for desert, which was mouth wateringly tasty of course.

Our last mission that needed to be completed for the Czech, was to spend some time in Praha (Prague). We heard so much about the Prague Castle and how beautiful the city is, but we hadn’t yet been able to get there. So Tuesday, the 15th we loaded into Kuba’s van and drove there with Chris, Tomas, Kuba, and us ladies. Tomas’ mother, Jitka Slokov, is actually an anchorwoman for a Czech news channel, so we got to go to the TV station and watch her a little bit before she came to meet us at the door. It was pretty cool to see her on the TV being formal and official…and then she was suddenly right in front of us cooing over Tomas like mommies do. Haha! She was super nice and was excited for us to stay at her place tonight.

That day and the next were spent exploring the city. Luckily Tomas is really familiar with the layout of the town and the public transportation system, so he was our guide. We wanted to take the tour of the Prague Castle, but it was too late in the day, so instead we walked around the Cathedral. That is truly the more beautiful of the two. The Castle surrounds the Cathedral and I think that’s what most people think of when they imagine the Prague Castle. It’s huge and has bewildering stained glass windows, with separated areas around the edges and looks like they may be the VIP Boxes for people to attend the masses. Haha! Really a magnificent Cathedral.

We also walked over the Charles Bridge, which was wonderfully lit up at night. All the building there is beautiful of course. I would have to say that Prague is the most beautiful big city I’ve ever experienced. We also wanted to see the Dali exhibit near the center of town, but it was too late for that as well, unfortunately. Eventually we were tired enough and hopped on a train back to Cheb on the 16th , all the while pretending we were late and running to catch it. I really like the train set up, with the personal boxes for groups of people to sit in. It was fun to have a few drinks and put our heads out the windows to take in the fresh Czech night air (watching out for poles of course).

The next day was our day to leave the Czech (for now). We were going to hitch to Leipzig, Germany our next destination, but it just so happened that Pavel had the opportunity to make a drop off of cookies near there! So we got a comfy ride there with our wonderful friend. We also got to help him make the cookie drop, which was fun unloading the van. Afterwards, he dropped us off at Julie and Andreas’ house following a significant amount of confused driving through Leipzig area. But we found it and said goodbye to one friend to be embraced by more.

Truly blessed!

If I could sum up the Czech Republic in a few words: Cheap (Alkaline) Beer, Gypsies, Mineral Water Springs, Spas and Oplatky, Paint Day, English Advertisement, American Styles and Music, Post Communistic Living.

Additional photos below
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The post communist streets!The post communist streets!
The post communist streets!

Juuuuust kidding. Road construction

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