26 December 2009

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year

Dear Readers,

I'm off to Phuket and Phi Phi Islands today. I have been slacking alot this year, but when i return, i will fill up the rest of my European excapade - Venice and Paris, Macau, HongKong and most definitely the sights of beautiful beaches and people of Thailand.

Here's wishing all of you a blessed New Year!
Happy Holidays!

04 September 2009

The 14-hour ride to Prague

When writing these travelogues, i get another chance to reflect on the times and places i've traveled to. Whilst it is a huge challenge to accurately describe the adventures that we've had, I attempt at my very best to put my thoughts into words, so it remains something we can always look back and smile at.

Our journey to Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, was breathtaking! A 14-hour ride from Amsterdam saw us passing through the gorgeous snow-covered peaks and sleepy towns in Germany. I can literally sit and gaze out the window for hours.

We were bunk mates with a Korean, whose name i am unable to recall. He is the epitome of a traveller. His travel buddy pulled out from the trip at the very last minute but he chose to continue his european excapade, covering a new place as and when he's soaked up enough from one. No time restriction, no money constraints, just plain free-and-easy. One day, i say =)

We found this perfect little apartment called Hotel Apartments Wenceslas Square on Vodickova Road. For 50 euro per night, we had a homely unit which will most definitely remind you of colleage days, a fully-equipped kitchen and only walking distance away from the main attractions.

And our intensive walkaton begins.

.Food first.

This restaurant is directly opposite our apartment and serves the BOMB of a pancake, blue cheese + gorgonzola cheese topped with bacon. The other mouth-watering dish we ordered is chicken fillet with basmati rice + more of the blue and gorgonzola goodness. I cannot emphasize how much i enjoyed my creamy rice. mmMMmm.

And now, off to the Old Town Square...

The Powder Tower was built in 1475 and said to be one of the original 13 city entrances to the Old Town. It is said to have gotten its name because it used to house gunpowders.

The Old Town is probably one of my favourite area in Prague. This is the core of Prague's historical centre and is the place where many cultural and political events took place.
The main attraction for most people here is definitely medieval Astronomical Clock, which also has a chronometer and zodiac below it.

As it nears the hour, literally hundreds of people would shuffle and gather infront of the clock waiting for the procession of the 12 apostles. At the strike of the hour, the clock starts to chime bringing even more ambience to the already lively town. Then you will notice two doors above the astronomical dial open. First one out is St.Paul who holds a sword in one hand and a book in another, followed by the rest of the apostles who make their appearance one at a time. There's a legend that the town council gouged out the eyes of the clock-maker after the completion to prevent him from ever producing anything as grand for another city. And he, the only one who understood the mechanics of the clock damaged it before he died. But ofcourse, the real history of this clock is not half as exciting.

Dont be expecting a magical display but instead be ready to be marveled by the square's amazing architecture every step you take.

As we look around us, we realized that the square is circled by cafes, restaurants and shops. And what i really enjoyed here is the many lanes that surrounds it. With Boon's 'amazing' sense of direction, we had quite an adventure weaving our way through the maze.

The Havel Market is one of the oldest markets in the city, dating back to 1232. If you're looking for souvenirs, this is the place to be. You will be able to find anything you could possibly want to buy for anyone back home, under one roof... horrid looking witch puppets, paintings, Czech crystals, wooden toys, Czech honey... and dont ask me why, but we ended up buying these Russian dolls on Karlova street.

The black light theatre is probably something you will want to check out although unfortunately we didnt have time to fit it in. It is unique and said to be invented in Prague. It features a mixture of mime, ballet, modern dance, puppets and light effects that Jess raves about.

This is Wenceslas Square, where we stayed. It actually resembles a shorter version of Champs Elysees in Paris. Around this area, you will find sausage fests on almost every corner.

A 180 view of Old Town Square. I absolutely love the look and feel of this place at night.

25 August 2009

Cesky Krumlov's State Castle

The state castle of Cesky Krumlov is about 15minutes walk away from the town hall centre. This castle is by far the most picturesque and colourful castle i've seen. It is grounded on top of a 'peninsula' which has been sculpted by the Vltava river. Once you walked towards the Castle Park, you will come across a splendid view of a part of the town.

There are hair-raising tales and legends of the castle grounds that i'm glad i do not know of, and come to think of it, i really wouldnt have the guts to walk that side of town at night.

Breathtaking view from the castle grounds

In 1992, the entire castle complex was included in the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage monuments.

.Resident bears.

Once we've entered the castle complex, i went berserk. I was deliriously happy from the pure sight of SNOW! even after a few snowball attacks.

Coming into my late late twenties, i've finally had the chance to build a snowman. It's a he, and he's a hunk.


23 August 2009

Food in Cesky Krumlov

All things quiet except for the clopping of our shoes on the cobbled streets, we stumbled upon this quaint restaurant called Svejk, at Latran.

Josef Svejk is a character of a novel, The Good Soldier Svejk, by Jaroslav Hasek. It is a novel inspired by the author's participation in the 91st Infantry Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I. It is said that this novel depicts comical episodes of anti-war messages; illustrating the pointlessness and futility of conflict in which fifteen million people died.

Fully ignorant of what history rested on this restaurant then, we were more interested with the menu. We loved the potato with mushrooms and bacon so much, we actually attempted our own version when we returned home.

Another interesting and popular dessert in Czech is Trdelnik, which we didnt have room left in our tummy to try. It's a sweet pastry made from rolled dough, wrapped around a wooden stick, baked over open fire and topped with sugar and walnut mix.

10 August 2009

Cesky Krumlov

Here's a whimsical town we covered in our Europe stint: Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic.

We had a boo-boo moment traveling to this town. On arrival in Amsterdam at the beginning of our trip, we purchased what we thought were bus tickets to Cesky. And much to our horror when we arrived at the bus station, we were told the tickets we have on hand are train tickets. The stress is utterly damning esp. when you're luggin' a giant suitcase in the snow. Alas, we bought tickets from a blind guy ... just in time.

As we got closer to the town, it got whiter and whiter..
Cesky Krumlov is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. When we were choosing among the many places in Europe, Boonboon set his mind on Cesky when i told him it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amazingly, it was also ranked 16th of the top 100 historic destination around the world in 2008.

Also, "UNESCO rated it so highly that it featured second in importance on their World Heritage list behind Venice, and with good reason. Cesky Krumlov was badly damaged by the floods a few years ago, but it is now largely back to its best. This sleepy town curls around the Vltava river in a swish of churches, old town houses and a picture-postcard-perfect castle, which hangs high above the scene."

This place is one of the highlights of our trip. The architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through 17th centuries, mostly in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. It is so so beautiful, and unbelievably magical. It looks like a town out of a cartoony fairytale. You just have to see for yourself =)

The town was very deserted except for a handful of tourists, probably due to the fact that it's winter or simply because it happened to be a Sunday! Most shops were closed, but it's quite an experience browsing their shop fronts. Their door flaps and window sills are all decorated to wow the young at heart.

By night, the town is extremely spooky and almost pitch black, barely lit up by old-fashioned street lamps every few metres.

.The brave ones on a ghost trail tour.

I would definitely recommend making a stop at Cesky Krumlov for a day, if it is in the path of your destinations. And especially during winter. =)
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