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Published: March 20th 2010
In 1984 I started Kindergarten, the Soviets boycotted the Olympics and Big Brother was watching (but not in the Diary Room or the communal showers). It was also the last time central Europe had such a cold winter. The snow started mid December, conveniently disappeared for Our Scottish Christmas in France
😞 and returned shortly after. The mercury has rarely popped over zero until this last week, meaning the snow mounds had become ice mounds on every curb and we faced a perilous climb over them to get into the car!
There have been a few things that have helped us get over the freeze, not least of which is the bragging rights we feel we've earned from surviving such a winter! 😉 Although it was easier for some...Just as the frost set in, the girls set off for some summer sun in Australia, leaving me to deal with the cold. 3 glorious weeks of hot temperatures, swimming, berry picking and re-acquainting Dahlia with her long lost relos. Meanwhile, back at the ice ranch I was in the craziest snow.(Steph was totally jealous, since this was one of the reasons we were excited about living in Europe.) But Prague was nothing...I spent a week
touring the far flung corners Poland on research groups. Literally ALL I saw on the train trip from Poland to Krakow was white.
With the girls safely back in Prague we spent a near-record 4 weekends in a row in Prague 😊 before it was my birthday. To celebrate we went on a Swedish sojourn to visit our friends Beau & Kristi and Michelle - all of who had left Prague last summer for the whiter pastures of Jönköping. Jönköping (pronounced yon-shopping) is somewhere is southern Sweden and bloody hard to get to! We flew to Copenhagen then caught a 3.5 hour train north. We had heard there were snow piles 2 metres high there, but we arrived at the end of a 6 degree sunny day so got well and truly slushified walking around. Now what can I tell you about Jönköping? Well, it is on the southern end of a massive Lake Vättern, it is a university town of about 120,000 people, it is next door to Husqvarna (as in those annoying chainsaw ads) and the main department store was having a sale. Other than that, I'm afraid to say we spent most of the weekend inside
hanging out and catching up. Other than seeing our friends, we’ll remember getting caught in a blizzard on the way back home (it was only a highlight because it didn't delay our train enough for us to miss our plane).
And so we begin our countdown to Sydney. For those who haven't heard we are moving back home at Easter, a bundle of mixed feelings...but mostly stress! So much to do in preparation for the move, and work is crazy...plus trying to fit in all those 'lasts' (ie our last visit to the orthopaedic surgeon in Vienna, catching up with all our friends...). But we weren't the only ones hurrying to do things before we left Prague. Steph's dad Rick managed to plan a sudden visit for one last week in Prague before we were gone. Together we ticked off one more place in Czech Republic we were running out of time to visit - Karlovy Vary.
Karlovy Vary (in English it is literally "Charles' Baths") is a spa town in the west, built on hot springs and almost entirely owned by rich Russians (which is one more reason for the Czechs not to like them). Since it's
a spa town nestled in wooded hills I guess it would have been nicer to visit in Summer, but it's rather a long trip from Sydney! Even in the snow it was very pretty; lot's of old buildings built along the canal, with steam vents rising all over the place (you can buy a special mug and fill it up in the mineral water vents you pass as you walk through the town). We also saw the James Bond hotel made famous in the movie Casino Royale. It was kind of fitting to see this just before we left since we saw this movie at the cinema in the same week we found out we were moving to Prague. We were so surprised to read the first subtitle saying 'Prague, Czech Republic' - which turned out to have been shot down the block from my office.
But we will most remember Karlovy Vary for the insane snow we walked through all day. When we thought we had seen the worst of the winter, we had to think again!. To start with, it was hideous bits of ice being flung into our face (so we found a hotel to shelter
Piles of Snow (from our front door)
It turns out digging the car out of a morning is NOT fun!
in and drink hot chocolate). In the afternoon, it was the more fun fluffy kind of snow, but still falling by the bucket-load. Winter's not over yet (and we're heading home just in time for another one)! Oops...
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