This summer has been, well, not really very summery. I suppose there are those that go for long lazy days mostly sitting around, but I've never been the type. Generally speaking my summer holidays are jammed packed with travels and visiting friends and family. And when those travels involve going to my sister Julie's there is generally a considerable amount of cooking and outdoor work involved for good measure as well. And naturally, a key ingredient of a quality summer is, SUN! An ingredient that has been missing for a majority of the time, much to my general dispositions disliking.
So when I headed out to visit Kelly in Prague this past weekend I was hoping for both the action and the sun that I had been craving. And gratifyingly, the weekend pulled through in a big way. Kelly, who has been my ESI boss for the past three years, has been home for the summer helping to train up new teachers, and is now back in Czech for a couple of months before relocating back to Washington as she seeks to find what God is calling her to next. I was really thankful to have her back, and to be able to catch up on life and things in general. Kelly has been in Czech for around 13 years, so she has done and seen an awful lot of this place and yet she still managed to come up with a trip that entailed places neither one of us had ever been. Let me just warn you, I have a LOT of pictures, so there is the possibility that this will cover more than one post.
I headed out to Prague on Friday morning and met up with Kelly around 2:30 after she had safely seen the new batch of teachers arrive at the airport and meet their proper school representatives. We thought a lot about those early days that we experienced in this country, and imagined the dazed and excited teachers trying to grasp what they've gotten themselves into for this next year. It is strange to no longer be a part of the organization, to know that my school year is not about to start, and that instead, I will remain in limbo as everyone else continues on, but that is the nature of things, and part of the transient life I live. As much as I like routines I sure do tend to live in such an odd state of flux. I guess that's because I also like new beginnings...
Kelly decided that I should see a new part of Prague, so after dropping off my bags and resting a bit, we headed back out into the lovely summery weather. We headed down to the river and crossed over to walk along the other side. We walked down close to the river and watched the swans floating on the water, and people enjoying the chance to be so freely outside. We passed under a very significant piece of architecture, the early location of a castle in Prague. According to the legends, the bit on the top is thought to be Libuse's bath. She was the young princess who first had a vision of the amazing city that was to be. Really beautiful place. The second picture is how the rocky outcropping looks from the other side of the hill.
We continued on to a sandy restaurant where we had drinks and enjoyed the day that was still warm enough not to need a jacket even after 8 in the evening. It was really nice to catch up with her, and I'm sure you can tell I enjoyed being out in so much lovely fresh and sunny air. After a nice break at the restaurant we hiked back to her house, and soon headed to bed to be prepared for the big event that the next day was going to be.
6:20 (or there abouts) awake, and ready to start the day. Or at least ready to throw myself into the shower for a few minutes. It was a quick one, but I'd had the chance to actually get sweaty the day before and thought it might be a good plan to start this hiking day off fresh. I was RIGHT.
Kelly had booked us tickets for a bus to Orlik. The bus only runs there direct on Saturdays and we wanted to be sure to get seats. It was a good plan. We were on the bus and on our way by 7:40. The ride was quite beautiful, although by the end I was ready to be off the bus. It was only an hour and a half or so, but that was a bit much for my stomach early in the morning. Rather like driving down the river road :) I do much better on that ride when I'm the driver for sure. But I don't think I'd like driving a bus much.
Anyhow, we stopped in the town for coffee (Kelly had only had one cup before we left the house and so a second was due before we could really get into the day. There wasn't much to see in the little village of Orlik, so as soon as we had managed to find a bathroom we headed to the castle.
I've been to quite a few castles in my day, but this one was pretty impressive. We went on the tour and it was a good one. It was Czech so we could only pick up on this and that along the way, but we went into a lot of very nicely done up rooms, and they had doors opened along the way so we could look into places we weren't actually allowed to go in. What was most fascinating about this castle, however, were the views. It's built on rock and surrounded by river and green covered rocky hills. Some interesting facts, originally the castle stood high over a valley through which the Vltava River slowly wended it's way. When the dam was built a short distance away, the level of the water was raised by 40 meters. For those not familiar with the metric system, that's a LOT. So now the castle's foundations sit just barely above the water.
Out of literally every window you could see the spectacular natural view. Being a fabulously beautiful day, there were lots of people out enjoying the calm water. Sailboats, houseboats, and ferries were running here, there and everywhere. All that water action prompted Kelly to suggest that we check ferry times after the tour and see about traveling to a second castle. While not a part of our original plan, we both decided this would be a perfect addition to the day. It cut out a bit of our planned hiking, but it worked out so splendidly that we should have planned it this way to begin with. (I feel like I'm just littering this post with superlative type adjectives, but it was just that great a weekend.)
Before the ferry we had time to do a little walking and take in some of the breathtaking views.
Then we came back in time to buy ice cream, because a sunny summer day demands it, and then we stood in line for our tickets on this lovely little ferry.
And on that note I'll leave you to await the next installment.
Oh, and in case you were curious, the color of the letters really did change. According to a nameless source, and one that wishes not to be discovered, the previous lettering was difficult to read. Something about the way eye sight disintegrates with age of something like that 8) So hopefully the white will be easier to read...