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Hela

a view of a meandering river from a rock high above
Thoughts

My Country or the World

I have written this post the last spring when traveling abroad was near impossible on my Czech blog. Since then, we didn’t travel through the Czech Republic as much as I would have wanted. We did the almost obligatory “empty Prague sightseeing”, but aside from that, we mostly made trips to nature. That was what our mental health needed. But I’m curious about you – how do you feel about traveling your own country versus going abroad? ~~~ I have to confess that so far I have not had a warm relationship with traveling within Czechia and it has bothered me. I was fully aware of how absurd it is to gush about some monument or place abroad while I find a similar monument at home boring. I wish trips in Czechia created at least a fraction of the enthusiasm traveling abroad did. But you cannot command feelings. While the prospect of traveling abroad fills me with joyful expectations, the sentence ‘we are going on a trip in Czechia’ gets at most an ‘Ok’ reaction. I usually like it but it does not contain that something… Something magical. Maybe it is because I traveled around Czechia during my childhood with […]

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Amsterdam Syndrome
Netherlands

Amsterdam Syndrome

On the last day in Amsterdam, our paths have split again. Partly because Ben, with his mum, was preparing for an early start while I was still recovering from a cold and needed some sleep. Also, partly because, as a chronically independent wanderer, I desired to learn this new city at first on my own. In addition to being a chronically independent wanderer, I am also chronically chaotic and so my becoming closer to Amsterdam was rich in experiences from the very beginning – in fact, from the moment I entered a tram. I looked excitedly from the window at the famous Amsterdam canals. The lady sitting by me noticed my enthusiasm and spoke to me. We managed to go over the beauties of Amsterdam, assets of cities we were from (the lady was from Copenhagen although she lived in Amsterdam), the communist era, rights of sexual minorities, and that I should have a better plan on what I want to see. (Yes, I know. While I am an obsessive collector of information in advance, on the spot, I usually throw half of my plans to the wind, burst somewhere into the streets and lanes, and let whatever catches my […]

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Tulips of many colors
Netherlands

Keukenhof – a Tulip Dream

I had a dream. A dream of spring. A dream of tulip fields in bloom below trees green with newleaves. A dream of a flower haven where you can walk on paths in the midst of beauty which takesyour breath away. A dream of waking spring in the midst of an explosion of color. A dream of myself, alone with magnificent nature. I wanted to visit Keukenhof. And now we are here. In a massive carpark where buses spit out crowds of visitors. An endless queuestretches to the gates and behind them, there is some awful circus music being played. It’s socrowded that you cannot move. Is this what I dreamed about? We quickly slip inside because we cleverly bought tickets in advance on the internet. Due to thecrowds, I feel slightly dazed. This is not my spring dream! This is overcrowded chaos! I feel cheated. Keukenhof. The biggest spring garden in the whole of Europe. In the 15th century, there used to bethe kitchen garden of the Teylingen Castle. The foundation of the park was laid down in 1857 bygarden architects Jan David Zocher and his son Luis Paul Zocher when they designed the currentEnglish style garden. The current […]

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Netherlands

A Doll’s House and Hordes of Black-Eyed Rabbits

Amsterdam, five am, just before daybreak. I have no idea what made me run out here after waking up suddenly. I am standing outside with stockinged feet, listening to the bird song. The whole quarter is still asleep, and the air smells of adventure. We are staying in a doll’s house. It is pieced together from modules that look like several transport containers stuck together. There is a small garden with a wildly blossoming magnolia. In the draw of my bedside table, I was welcomed by a real Amsterdam joint, a little something from the landlords? ‘Our quarter’ seems to be inhabited mainly by Indians. On our walk, we found that nearly every garden has a statue of Buddha. In a local supermarket full of Indian specialties, we bought some flat cakes stuffed with cheese. I don’t know what they are called, but they were truly delicious. The doll’s house is a small hotel. It has three rooms. We rented two of them – one for Ben and me and one for his mum. Have I mentioned yet that we went to the Netherlands with Ben’s mum? It was by a complete coincidence. I desperately wanted to see Keukenhof in […]

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a paper boat next to a big ship in the sunset
Thoughts

You Kill Your Dreams When They Come True

I was standing in the middle of Champs Elysées, thinking, “What am I doing here?” It was a tropical day and the crowds of passer-byes were becoming oppressive. I was thirsty. My chronic pain flared up. And, the worst of it all: I was discovering that Paris was a city, not a dream. There were buildings, and shops, and people, and a road full of car traffic, just like everywhere else… even if at the end of the road stood the Arc de Triomphe. I somehow never imagined cars on Champs Elysées. When I was dreaming of Paris, I never imagined any of this. I had a hazy image in my mind — an impression of the Eiffel Tower, majestic in the springtime; of charming little cafés lining the streets, of flowers and sweet croissants and breathtaking views… of something profoundly enchanted and romantic. More a feeling than a place. Something fleeting. Something beautiful. Somehow, I never imagined it being a real place, something from the ordinary life and not from a fairy tale. And yet, it was. Real, solid, filled with people and noise, and sometimes rubbish and smell, like any other city under the sun. In your dreams, […]

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Tenerife

Saying Goodbye to Tenerife

The end of our stay was suddenly here… But I wouldn’t be me if I did not find a way to make it more exciting. It is enough to, while paying for a taxi, drop your purse with your ID card. With the resignation of an experienced trouble magnet, I concluded that the best solution would be to go with Ben to have a glass of sangria and return home the next day on my passport which I had luckily left in our accommodation. Maybe I got caught in the local culture “Relax, no problem”. And then all what was left was to enjoy the beautiful sunny day, go for the last time to the coastal restaurant, bathe in the lagoons, enjoy the sunset on a beach, which Agatha Christie used to visit … pack and get up at three o’clock in the morning to catch a flight back. Brr! Though the sunrise above the sea at the last look from the plane window before it lift off was gorgeous…

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Tenerife

Sledding under the Palm Trees

In a small coastal town Icod de Los Vinos there supposedly grows the eldest tree on the island, Dracaena draco known as Drago Millenario. According to a legend it is thousand years old, in reality probably ‘only’ about six hundred. In the evening when we were returning from our trip to Anaga, Ben took a wrong turn on one of the local roundabouts, and instead of to Puerto, we were suddenly heading to Icod. I joked that I would like to visit Icod and I was surprised when Ben forthwith took me up on it. It was great – there was some festival on and we saw something which stunned us – children sledding on wooden planks down the road. In subtropics! One of the sharply sloping streets was closed for traffic, children at the top waxed their plank and rode down to a pile of tires. The adults cheered and occasionally also rode. I really wanted to have a plank so I could try it. They did not allow us into the park with the famous Draceana as it was already ten minutes to closing time but the gentleman in the ticket office advised us that we could see […]

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Tenerife

Anaga: Here Take a Deep Breath

The mountain range of Anaga, which is a thousand meters above sea level is a completely different world to the coastline of Tenerife – damp, cold, foggy, lush woodland, and has many spectacular views. Also many serpentines on which you can avoid a car in the opposite direction only at passing spaces. It is both beautiful and stomach-churning. Anaga is lined with miradores – places you can stop and feast your eyes on views of the landscape. At the first one, we couldn’t resist and stopped, although it was starting to rain. Despite the rain, a small, merry group collected there and we were surrounded by cheerful Spanish from all sides. In a van changed into a food stand you can buy all sorts of delicacies. We also couldn’t resist them 🙂 Our journey lead to Cruz del Carmen where several marked trails start. You can find also a mirador, a large but overflowing carpark (we luckily just managed to fit in), a supposedly good but also overflowing restaurant (we didn’t manage to get in) and a stand with refreshments and souvenirs. The stand apart from the usual tourist selection also offered some unusual merchandise: raincoats, anoraks and waterproof trousers… […]

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Tenerife

The Most Beautiful House in Orotava

After we instead of visiting water mills accidentally viewed quaint houses in the top part of Orotava, we then headed to another interesting place: Casa de los Balcones. It is a beautiful old house from the 17th century in the colonial style with a picturesque patio, where you can sit on a bench surrounded by greenery, look into palm tree tops, listen to the gurgling of the fountain and relax. I was only sorry for the birds in cages, who accompanied the sound of falling water with their warbling. All over the patio there are placed curiosities with relation to the history of the Canary Islands – from examples of lace products through richly decorated national costumes of single islands to historical apparatus like a wine press or an old distilling device. The last was used in the house to gain drinkable water. If you can speak English or Spanish, you can rent audio guides at the ticket office with a short explanation of each of the curiosities. For one euro you can also buy a photography permit, which I made thorough use of. Entry to the patio itself is free. The most interesting part of the house was the […]

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Tenerife

Water Mills in Orotava

“Water mills? I want to see them!” enthused Ben over the Tenerife guide. Demonstration of how local water mills – molinos de agua – work, sounded very tempting. For years they had been making flour, called Gofio, from roasted cereals. Historically one of the Canary Islands’ fundamental foods, which is still used to prepare all sorts of stuff – from soups through porridges to desserts. If we wanted to see the water mills in action we would have to hurry, because the opening time should have finished soon. And so we got on our way – more like sprinted out – on our first trip to the valley of Orotava, a little town about half an hour drive from Puerto de la Cruz. The first problem we encountered was that the mills we were looking for were not actually in the valley. We parked in the middle of the town and headed up, up and further up, until, out of breath, we reached nearly the top of the hill from which there was a view of the Orotava houses spreading all the way to the sea. While the view was very nice there was no trace of any water mills […]

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