Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Praha! Or as we know it, Prague

New York Milan ~ Rome I and Rome II ~ Prague ~ Amsterdam ~ Tokyo

What was my favorite place we visited on our big trip you ask? Why, Prague, of course! It is hard to explain why The Engineer and I both loved Prague, but it just had a great vibe. The food was amazing, the beer and wine were super cheap ;-) and it was so pretty. I put both days into one post, but don't worry...there are more pictures than words :)

We arrived in the late evening and stopped by the dancing house just cuz we could ;-) I remember thinking it was cool when it was built in the mid 90's...I didn't ever think I would really get to go see it in person!

We ate dinner at a place right around the corner from our apartment (apartment tour at the end of the post if you are interested) that the owner recommended to us and it was the best meal of the trip, hands down. The restaurant was called Deminka and served the original Pilsner beer.

(Wild Boar with Potato Dumplings) 

It was at this time that we realized how inexpensive Prague was...$2 beer and $1.50 wine?? Keep. It. Coming. It was so good and I ate way too much. At least we walked everywhere right?

The next morning we passed through Wenceslas Square on our way to Old Town Square and got distracted by Paul Bakery.

It is a local chain that we stopped by more than once because the coffee and pastries were so good!

In Old Town Square we ran right into the Astronomical Clock.  It is apparently the oldest working one left and according to legend if it is neglected the city will suffer. The skeleton above the clock keeps tabs on its working order.

We enjoyed street performs in all the public touristy areas (particularity the abundance of live bands here) and hot wine and grog :) Well, at lease I liked my hot wine, The Engineer said the grog was terrible so we shared the wine.We also ate dinner the last night from the street vendors in old town square because we were so full we couldn't handle another massive meal from another restaurant in Prague.

In our wanderings we came across a pedestrian passage that was so narrow that it required a traffic signal for people to pass one way at a time! We also had to give in and try trdelnik because it was everywhere. Trdelnik is a sweet pastry that is made by wrapping dough around a large dowel and grilled over hot coals. Pretty yummy :)

We headed toward the river to see it in the daylight and had a great view of the older portion of the city in front of Prague Castle.

We meandered our way across one of the many bridges over the Vltava River and went into Letenské Park so we could get a good view from the hills.

The above picture with all the bridges might be one of my favorites. Its too bad we didn't see the sun in Prague because blue sky would have been beautiful.

On day two The Engineer woke me up with coffee to enjoy on our balcony.

Our apartment was just off the beaten path on a cozy street with some quiet local activity. Completely perfect. After coffee we headed back across the river to spend our day up at Prague Castle.

The 'castle' isn't quite a traditional castle. While it is walled, it is more a community of old palace residences, churches/basilicas, and small businesses. We went through the royal palace and I took a few pictures before I realized that was against the rules. Whoops. But because I broke the rules I can share the crazy impressive stone ceiling.

We went through St. George's Basilica (you were allowed to take pictures in there).

The frescos on the ceiling and walls are definitely showing their age which is pretty cool. They were just starting to restore all of these when we were there.

After that we made our way down the Golden Lane. It is a street of many tiny colorful houses, some of which are built right into the castle walls. Many tradesmen (and women) worked and lived out of these little homes even up to the 1950s.

We ended our castle tour with St. Vitus Cathedral (the focal point of Prague Castle). It was added onto several times and the detail is stunning.

When we left the castle area we landed on this gem.

Oh yes, we did. We really just went for the sake of going to a Starbucks overseas. We passed a lot of them in our travels, but this was the one and only one we stopped at...we stuck to the local places the rest of the time ;-) In the background on the hill is Petrin Tower which looks a lot like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We had planned on going up there but the weather both days wasn't exactly cooperating so we took a pass. We were already on a hill with a similar view so we saved it for next time.

Just outside the Starbucks was one of the knights from Monty Python, I swear!

We made our way back down the hill to find food again!

Restaurant U Glaubicu caught our attention because it was busy (for the odd late lunch we were eating yet again). The food and service were great as per usual in Praha.

I miss Prague the most and will definitely go back!

For those that are interested, here is a tour of our awesome apartment that happened to be one of the cheapest places we stayed.

When you walked in you were greeted by the front entry hall. There was a washer in the cabinets on the right. This enabled us to wash all our clothes while we were here; an essential cheat in our one backpack and one backpack only per person plan.

If you looked up...

There was a huge window which we soon found out was the shower!

Through the entry was was the living room and kitchen with a table under the stairs. 

Upstairs was a loft with the bed and a bathroom.

And if you looked over the ledge from the bath tub you looked down on the entry way!

I guess you had better be careful in you were expecting company. 

Thanks for reading! I'll have a short Amsterdam recap up soon. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

A little of life lately.

The Engineer and I are itching to get a new project at the house going. It has been a while since we have done any serious work or projects. We took a little time off after we got the sod down in the back yard and in November we took our crazy awesome trip around the world <3 When we got back we spent December with friends and family enjoying the holiday season.

But it's 'bout to be 2015 people. I still have some more trip recaps for you, but lets be real, its time for some work on the house.

Unfortunately...we had to start with some fixes. Grump. Welcome to a 1950's house I guess haha. On the list:

1. Our well for the sprinkler system is on the fritz. Excuse me, our newly installed well is on the fritz. We believe the (brand new) check valve is getting clogged and needs to be cleaned out. That means we have to dig up the well and the entire drop pipe to get to said check valve. Thankfully this time around it is PVC and not galvanized so it will be easier once we just bite the bullet and dig it out. In the meantime we can prime the well by hand and run the sprinklers or use a little spray fan that attaches to the hose to water the lawn.

2. We called in our home warranty (we had a one year one included when we bought the house...and thank goodness because it has been beyond worth it) to fix some components on our stove. The range is gas and when the repair man was trying to figure out what was wrong, it seemed that something was loosened and that gas was leaking after the burners were turned off. He had to order parts so we had several days to wait for him to come back and re install those parts. Since we didn't want our house filling with propane for days, we turned our gas off. No burners for a few days is no big deal but our problem was that there is not an independent shut off for the stove. We had to turn everything off and deal with no hot water too! Eek! At least it made us go to the gym to shower :-D

3. Once we got the stove fixed we turned our gas back on but the water was taking a long time to heat up. We figured it would be fine in the morning buuutt it was not. The pilot light on the water heater was re-lit and you could hear the burner working, but we were not getting hot water anywhere. Sigh. The Engineer went down into our crawl space to inspect and I directly quote, "Oh this is really bad. This is really really bad."


Apparently we had a geyser of hot water under our house. To top that, it was coming from the one and only spot in the crawl space that is inaccessible. Really? You had to be right there huh? I guess all The Engineer could see was water gushing through a little grate in the concrete block wall down there. To top that topping, we found this on December 24th...they day before Christmas...the day before my parents were coming to stay with us...and two days before we were hosting a late Christmas dinner for both our families. Classic.

Luckily, unlike the stove, there is an independent shut off for the hot water heater so we just cut the water and gas to it and still had the range. We dealt with no hot water via boiling water in the microwave and hand washing lots of holiday dishes (dishwasher is hooked to the hot water so that was out of commission too). The dishwasher does double as a nice drying rack though!

Thanks to a great suggestion from my dad, our temporary fix has been to cap off the hot water line before the leak which gives us hot water to the kitchen and one bathroom. We contemplated re-piping the whole house since we have a lot of old galvanized pipe. Since it is so old we don't want to keep putting band aids on it. For now, we are just going to bypass the leaking area entirely and run new pipe to the laundry room and second bathroom. When we get another leak somewhere else we will re-pipe that area.

Hopefully we will finish these few tasks quickly so we can get to some fun new stuff!! Do we get any credit for decorating the house for Christmas? I think we should :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

...Speak Romanian?

New York Milan ~ Rome I and Rome II ~ Prague ~ Amsterdam ~ Tokyo

On day two in Rome (you can catch day one here), we headed over the Vatican. St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica were mostly as I remembered them. We were there on a Thursday so they were busy putting away all the chairs from mass the morning before (seems like a monumental weekly task so me...not only are there a bazillion chairs to set up and take down weekly, they do such a good job that they use a string to make sure the rows are straight).

Inside the basilica was the only place we were allowed to take pictures.

We then headed over to the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel which do not allow pictures so you can consult Google if you want to imagine :)

After that we took the afternoon to wonder. We didn't have any other big activity planned because it would take up the rest of our day as opposed to walking around and taking in the city, which is something we love to do. We passed Sant' Angelo Castle which is right on the Tevere River.

As was this quaint row of street vendors. 

We made our way back to our apartment (which was very centrally located...we walked absolutely everywhere in Rome and only took a bus to and from the train station when we were arriving and leaving) and had a really late pizza lunch (a habit of ours apparently) on Piazza Navona. 

Because the sun set pretty early we made the most of our time by revisiting some places to get see them lit at night. 

Our last task was to enjoy some cannolis and cappuccinos. <3 So. Yummy.

While our stay in Rome was short we really enjoyed it, but were super excited to get to Prague. For good reason too because it was awesome! Stay tuned.