Can you believe we're in the CZ in 2 1/2 hours from Munich? We can't. It takes us longer to get to the cabin in Mazama. Twice as long, in winter. The locals think we're a little crazy with this tolerance for driving "that long," but really, when you're on the autobahn, driving nearly as fast as you can stand it through fields of dandelions, um.... it's not that hard to do. :) And Cesky Krumlov is in Bohemia, so for a weekend, we were truly Bohemian. Cool!
We were surprised at how interesting this 36 hour jaunt was.
The contrast of bleak and beautiful, old and new, eastern / western stood out in so many ways, like how we past several typically "Eastern Block" looking factories that have been converted into solar power plants. And then we were driving through gorgeous countryside and suddenly see some exposed ladies looking for business along the highway, and a farm with a big neon "Amor" sign on the side. All this surrounded by soft, unmanicured fields of grass and wildflowers. So surreal! I actually made Eric turn around so I could take a quick picture (he sped up a bit so no one would get excited and think we were bidness...)
So back to more G-rated discussion- Cesky Krumlov is a very old, beautiful town, with many of the buildings dating to the 1300's. The most striking thing was how totally 2-dimensional the buildings are on the surface, but then they have bricks and gargoyles and facades painted on them. So different! The detail was incredible and really contrasted against how smooth and flat really the surfaces were- afterall, the buildings were "canvases." The castle was amazing- covered in painted on brick and figures and surrounded by archway corridors, old stone walkways and even had a moat- with bears in it! Real live bears. Apparently this started in the 1600's and has continued to this day (although they're really an attraction now-- not trained to eat castle-stormers, but I'm sure they could)
Cesky Krumlov also had an amazing playground- along the river Vltava- where the kids played on a climbing wall built into the old city wall while we sat for a few hours enjoying original "Budweiser" beers and soaking it all in.
Here's the Best of Cesky Krumlov slideshow
So we rested up and did our weekday thing, then it was off again, this time Northbound to Oslo, Norway. I've been waiting for this trip since I was 15, and got really into Edvard Munch. :) (The Munch Museum is in Oslo).
This was a fantastic time to go really- to visit our friend Johanne, get to the Munch Museum (finally) AND over the REAL Syttende Mai - how perfect! (For people who don't live in Ballard, Seattle's proud Norwegian roots run deep in Ballard, and to celebrate the NO independence day, there is a fine 17th of May celebration right through our hood in Ballard.)
We got in Friday, hung out and and dinner with Johanne and Arne, and geared up for a big weekend. Saturday was my Munch day- we hit the museum when it opened and I got my fill of all of his angst by going through twice (once with kids, once without). We haven't done a museum yet on this trip with the kids, and it was pretty fun watching their reactions and listening to them talk about the paintings. Miles had a "big spill with his juice" in "Death of Marat." Vivian thought the "melting people" were sort of funny. We also walked through the botanical gardens and then had a really nice dinner out with Johanne and Arne again.
Oslo is, as everyone says, a lot like Seattle! Lots of green, cherry trees in bloom everywhere, set by the waterfront, a strip of cool places to eat along the water. However- it is light about 21 hours a day now! We had some trauma getting the kids to understand that even though it looked like 5pm, it was 11pm! ACK! Vivian ended up in the windowless bathroom on the floor and we managed to stack blankets up against the skylight in Miles' room. WHY a skylight in Norway? No clue. :) This (along with the insane cost of everything and strict regulations on alcohol sales) makes people wiggy, and/or tired, and/or grumpy, and very bingy with their drinks. Judging by the noise and crazy people in the street at 4AM, it must all be disorienting, even if you live there.
Side story- I might add that I had a strange "Scruples" experience. Mom should probably not read this part. Early Sat morning while walking to get coffee, saw some paper fluttering around, stepped on it, and realized I had 3000 KR in my hand (worth abt 450 dollars...). A man was walking by and I asked if he lost it- "no- it's your lucky day!" he says, and walked away. I walked up and down the block, but there was no one in sight, and everything was closed. I went into the one store that was opening up. No one there lost it. --- um what would you do? Arne thought it could be drug money because no one carries that much cash, I was near a park and it was all folded up. Eric had an easier time accepting this "gift" and I figured as long as I spent it all and paid it back to Oslo, it would be ok.... ? Thankfully, this helped a lot with what was a VERY expensive city. A beer was 8 euro, and our dinner for 4 adults and 2 kids was $300, so that pretty much blew our jackpot wad.
Sunday was the parade! The Oslo parade includes all the schools and their bands, so I think every kid in town was in the parade in their traditional dress. SO cute.... We said hi to King Harald and Queen Sonja - they waved to us and several thousand people from their palace balcony. Vivian was pretty excited to see the fluttering of a real prince and princess. Then we enjoyed our best meal--- Arne's a fantastic head chef and with sous-chef J, they put together a stuffed trout, locks, potato and green salads, and gelato. yum. A fantastic, lazy and filling afternoon with friends. :)