Archive | June, 2012

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Cat Tales: June 2012

Posted on 30 June 2012 by brett

Reflecting on Life on the Road....Golan Heights, Israel

Reflecting on Life on the Road….Golan Heights, Israel

Jordan and Israel provided more religion than we’ve experienced our entire lives. Well, you get the drift. So, Turkey was postponed once again in an effort to rejuvenate the religious theme in August. Geographically, it worked better to visit Istanbul after spending time with Neda & Jeff in Bulgaria. The downside of this plan is that Turkey is super hot in August!

June turned into our most ambitious month in terms of the number of places visited. We toured most of Israel, the Baltic Region,Vienna, Austria and finally the countryside in Eastern Czech Republic. In the end, June yielded 14 cities in 30 days. Phew!! Continue Reading

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Olomouc, Historical Capital of Moravia

Posted on 28 June 2012 by brett

Olomouc Views

Sweeping Views of Olomouc from atop St. Moritz Church Tower

Olomouc (Olomouts) is quite a lovely small college town (100,000 people) in Northern Moravia, Eastern Czech Republic. We visited from Mikulov Wine Country on our way to see Pearl Jam in Prague Continue Reading

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Mikulov… An Eccentric Czech Wine Country Experience

Posted on 27 June 2012 by christie

Mikulov Town Square

Does this place really exist?…Mikulov Town Square

When in Central/Eastern Europe…….. every town, city and country is extremely close and only a train ride away. Consequently, we struggled with where to go after Vienna. Should we hop on a one hour train east to Bratislava, Slovakia or perhaps travel west to Salzburg, Austria where “The Sound of Music” was set? In the wee hours of the morning, we decided on a quiet countryside setting in the Moravian wine country of the Czech Republic (CZ). While the Moravian Region is off the tourist radar, it’s known nationally as the best wine producing region in CZ. As it’s only a 1.5 hour train ride north of Vienna, it was a no brainer for our first stop in CZ….. before having to get to Prague by June 30th for Pearl Jam. Continue Reading

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Vienna… City of Arts, Music and Big Dreams!

Posted on 24 June 2012 by christie

Our time in Tallinn, Estonia was great, however the days turned dreary and cold. The seven  day weather forecast didn’t look hopeful, so we made a last minute decision to fly to Vienna, Austria and spend the last week of June with sunny skies. We’re scheduled to be in Prague by June 30th for the Pearl Jam show, therefore Austria was the perfect spot to make our way north into Czech Republic. We had planned on exploring more of Estonia, especially the beaches. Now that we’ve made some good friends, we’ll have to go back again someday. 

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Air Baltic Travel

Blue Skies on Air Baltic Travel

Neither of us had known much about Vienna other than it’s a city of arts, music and love. We had no idea the scale and size of Vienna with it’s 23 districts. We were shocked at its extensive metro line and the amount of time it takes you to get from place to place. The hotel prices were astronomical unless you stay far outside of the city. Luckily we booked from the airport 2 hours before regular check-in time and found a “deal” for $60, but the second night price for the same room, in a hostel!, was $150.

We stayed at the MEININGER Hotel Wien Downtown Sissi, which happened to be in the old Jewish quarter. The place felt very sterile and full of young kids. They wanted to charge us for every little thing, such as Internet 2 Euro/hour and check out 10am unless you pay 6 Euro extra for later check-out. We were shocked at the contrast with other cities we’ve visited. Continue Reading

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“Reval” in Old Tallinn, Estonia

Posted on 23 June 2012 by christie

Tallinn Old City

Tallinn Old City

And boy did we have our years’ worth of festivities! The hype was enormous leading up to the most popular day of the year, Midsummer’s Eve. Estonians celebrate the summer solstice (white nights) on June 23rd when the day never ends. The tradition is especially important there because the majority of people are Atheist. The holiday is pre-Christian (Pagan) and entails bonfires lit to protect against evil spirits set free when the sun turns southward. The idea is to pick midsummer plants with magical healing powers, then jump the bonfires for prosperity. Only Christmas and New Years’ Eve rival this day in popularity. We didn’t plan very well, unknowing that most people leave Tallinn to celebrate with their families in the countryside.

Tallinn has this interesting mix of high-tech industry with old world architecture and Pagan tradition. We tirelessly walked its winding cobblestone streets to find Gothic decorations, iron street lamps and 13th/16th century Medieval doodads. The town is very quaint and surrounded by well preserved city walls with guard towers. Estonians take pride in that they were never “invaded”. Most tourists flock immediately to the enormous churches all with their own fairytale story. We call Tallinn, “Medieval Legoland”…. colorful and imaginative. Continue Reading

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