Time is flying!
As I sat down to write this blog I suddenly realized that we have ten days left of our European Adventure! I can hardly believe it. In the days since our last blog we've been from Austria, to the Czech Republic, and on to Germany where we finally settled down for a few nights.
The city of Prague lived up to all of the wonderful things that people had told me before this incredible journey began. Compared to all of the "big" cities that we've been to so far, I think that this one was my favorite. It has just the right amount of "touristy" mixed with just plain culture. It just seemed like nobody was ever in a hurry, it was very clean, and it was very easy to navigate. The city itself is beautifully romantic, old and well-preserved, as it is the only Central European capital to have evaded bombs during the wars of the 20th century. Apart from hotels, just about everything in Prague is cheap. It is quite literally cheaper to drink beer than water, which I used to think was a myth.
From past experiences, Nick and I came to
realize that we know a lot less than we originally thought about the historical aspects of the cities that we were visiting. In return we felt like there were pieces missing in our travel puzzle. This problem was mitigated in Prague. Nick and I caved and brought along our copy of Rick Steves' Europe, even though having the book is just about equal to having AMERICAN TOURIST tattooed on your forehead. I was so glad that we did. We followed Rick's suggested walking tour that took us to the Old Town Square where 27 nobles were beheaded in an incident that ended Czech freedom for a long time. From there we walked to the bohemian Jewish Quarter, along the river to see a great view of the Prague Castle, and finally to a biergarten to cool down and listen to young people laugh and play the guitar. The best way that I can describe it is a European version of Bellingham.
Our final evening in Prague was spent at our hostel. Hostel Elf that we found in Rick's book. There we enjoyed a free barbecue with the hostel employees and guests. After discussing our life stories over sausages and
drinks, I think that I convinced several people to visit Lebam. Imagine that...
Adios Prague...Next stop, Germany!
Tonight is our second night in Germany, and I am loving every minute of it. The first place that we stopped was a touristy walled city, called Rothenburg. We only had four hours to spend in the storybook city, so we made a priority out of seeing the Friese Gift Shop in the main square. My main goal was to take a picture of the shop and buy a trinket or two, so I was pleasantly surprised when all of the Friese family wanted to meet me and hear all about my family in Lebam! The shop, which has been passed down for generations, is now owned by Annaliese Friese and her son Bernie. Bernie was ecstatic, and gave me some stickers of the Friese family crest. He also introduced me to one of his daughters that currently studies art in Toronto, Canada. Even though I may not be related to them at all, they welcomed me as if I were their long-lost cousin. It was a heart-warming moment that I will never forget. Before we left I promised to send
them a picture of the "Washington Friese Family" when I return to the states, and to see if I can dig up any connections between our families.
The area that we are in now is called the Rhine River Valley. It is not unlike the Columbia River Gorge, and it even has a riverside town called Bingen (Bingen, Washington was named after Bingen, Germany). The river itself is lined with old castles, most of which are now expensive hotels. Not surprisingly, the best way to see the Rhine is from a river boat. We fully enjoyed the benefits of taking one of the luxurious (yet cheap) river boat rides from St. Goar to Bacharach in 80 degree weather. We took in the sights from the boat's breezy sun deck, sipping refreshments and loading up on sunscreen.
Tomorrow might get a little tricky. We're on a mission to find a winery that is owned by some of Nick's distant relatives. It's not far from Bingen, but it might prove to be a difficult journey considering that we don't have a car. The plan is to take a boat over to the opposite side of the river, find a bus
station, and hopefully a bus that is going in that direction. I guess we'll see how it all works out in the morning.
Phew, that was a long blog...
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