Traveling Hopefully in Budejovice

 

The backstreets of České Budějovice.

In half a year of living in Vienna in 2008, we were able to take small European vacations in every direction – Ljubljana, Venice, Salzburg, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest.  But we never went to the Czech Republic.  It was right next door and it had Prague!  Ashley had been there in the early 90s so she always lobbied to go someplace that was new to her.  Finally, four years later, she was ready for a revisit, partly because of my lobbying and partly to meet a colleague with common teaching interests.  Ashley’s colleague was not actually in Prague.  He was in České Budějovice, South Bohemia, part way between Vienna and Prague.   A quick Internet search revealed a big and beautiful old town square.  And the town’s name in German is Budweis, as in Budweiser beer.  I needed little convincing to schedule a stop there on the way to Prague. Read more »

Prague: Then and Now

Then (1991): The dusty train station was mostly empty except for a few tourists. I was approached by enterprising Czechoslovakians holding out pictures of rooms to rent, most in private homes.   I rented a room near the old square with a view of the river. It was a bedroom in the apartment of a middle-aged woman.  She was kind, charged a reasonable price, and spoke little English.

Now (2012): The train station in the Czech Republic is loud and bustling. It boasts a Burger King, a giant bookstore, DM, and Read more »

Budweis: The Beer from Here

After over 30 years of being a consumer of beer, I have never been a fan of big American brews. I’ve given them every chance. After learning the fundamentals of beer drinking in high school in Canada, I tried all the kinds of American beer at college in central New York. There are some stories to be told about all of those years, but I’ll leave it that I was not impressed with beer south of the border. I eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest before the microbrew revolution, but didn’t care for Rainier or Olympia. I even tried making beer several times before the kids.

And just last month I was at a major league spring-training baseball game in Read more »

Slovenia and The Camper Van

To celebrate the fall of the ghost, or more specifically the school holiday associated with Pentecost, we decided to travel to Slovenia to gather information for our book about travelling with kids.  We chose Slovenia because Ashley saw some pictures of mountain rivers with shimmering blue-green water and deep caves with colourfully lit stalactites, and there was no convincing her that there was any better place to take a little vacation.  And since these destinations are decidedly un-urban and its springtime, we decided to try renting a camper van to have greater mobility than buses and trains allow while getting us closer to nature.

I had been to Ljubljana back when it was a Yugoslavian provincial
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Heading East

We just got back from a long weekend in Budapest.  We took the kids out of school on Friday, caught an early train across the Hungarian plain, and were standing on the train station steps in Pest before noon. Unfortunately for us, the city transit workers decided to strike, which left us with a city map from the tourist kiosk, the address of the apartment rental agency I got from the internet, and a four-subway-stop walk.  On the way I was impressed by the amount of graffiti and the boldness of the taggers to autograph just about anything.  We by passed two Burger Kings on the way to our first Hungarian meal at an Italian restaurant, choosing the comfort of pizza for hungry and tired kids rather than new culinary discoveries.  Our apartment is only a few hundred meters from the rental agency, on a Read more »

The first trip inside of the trip

Our only goal for the trip was that it had to be to Spain so that the girls could practice their Spanish.  If it was southern Spain, we could take advantage of the slightly warmer February temperatures, but it really didn’t matter.  But then, after a little internet travel agenting, Ashley found a Ryan Air flight for 0.01 euros per person one-way.  It didn’t matter that it left from Bratislava, an hour train ride from Vienna, or arrived in a small city outside of Barcelona, one of the only places in Spain that we’ve been already.  For our budget travel cred, we had to be able to say that we took a vacation for 4 cents – even though after fees and taxes it was more like $100 each. Read more »