Thursday, November 17, 2005

A wonderful surprise

that we hadn't meant to visit but we saw a sign and said "hey let's go check it out!"

As we were headed out of Karlovy Vary on our way home Bill spotted the sign for this castle and since it was only 5 km off our highway we had nothing to lose. Situated almost on an island where the river almost encircles it, the only way you can enter the town is by a single bridge and this is how people have been entering the village since the 1200s. In the middle ages Loket was referred to as "the key to the Kingdom of Bohemia". We toured the castle and learned about how Czech King Charles IV had spent time here as a little child, even being imprisoned in the dungeon for 2 months by his father King John of Luxemburg (now that's one serious "time out"!) Even so Loket was a favorite of his as an adult and the legend has it that while hunting for deer in the forests he and his dogs discovered the hot springs that are Karlovy Vary today. The little village and the castle are so picturesque and beautiful, we were all happy we happened upon it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

AHA! We visited Praha too!

(aka Prague, but the Czech's call it Praha)

Since 1993 Prague has been the capital of the Czech Republic and I can't imagine a more fitting city for them to have chosen for this honor. Prague has long been an important city rich in cultural, religious, and political arenas. There are innumberable museums, churches, bridges, theatres and other amazing buildings. We could have easily and happily spent several days exploring and enjoying. Our first and last stop was the famous St. Charles bridge. All the statues and the view from there coupled with the musicians and stalls selling all sorts of things along it's span make it a fascinating place to begin (and end!) our day. The next place we headed for was to the castle complex up on top of the hill, but on our way we couldn't resist stopping at the Church of St. Nicholas, an amazing baroque style church. From there we began our climb, ending up at the top just as the guards were getting ready to change in front of the palace. Once inside the castle walls we came to the massive gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. I can't say enough about it. I love so many things about gothic churches, the flying buttresses, the stained glass windows, the vaulted ceilings, the gargoyles, the organ. Just amazing. After visiting the cathedral we went around behind it to visit "The Golden Lane". It is a quaint little street that the homes along it were originally built for the castle guards. In the 17th century goldsmiths lived in the houses and this is where it got it's name. Now the houses have been restored and mostly house shops and studios. The upper stories are connected and contain an exhibit about armor and weapons. The highlight for Jeffrey was the crossbow shooting range at one end. Unfortunately the attendent had to take a break and Colin didn't get to try his hand at it. Once we were finished there we hiked back down to the river and beyond to see the Old Town square and the Astronomical Clock and other sites that are there. It was beginning to get dark as we got there, so we had to start making our way back to the car (after we made our obligatory souvenoir stops!). Our route took us past the St. Charles Bridge again and it was so beautiful in the dark with the lights reflecting off the water that we had to go across and back just one more time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Czech us out...

we spent the weekend in the Czech Republic!

The pictures above we took in Karlovy Vary where we rented an apartment for Friday and Saturday nights. Karlovy Vary is also known as Karlsbad and has been a famous spa town ever since the discovery of the mineral springs in the middle of the 14th century. Twelve of the springs are used commercially and are located in several picturesque colonnades where tourists gather around and drink from special cups. We enjoyed strolling and looking at all the different types of architecture in the different spa hotels, churchs, pavilions and other buildings. Our favorite one was the Russian Orthodox church of St. Peter and Paul. It is built in the Byzantine style and filled with beautiful icons. It is so unlike the other churches and cathedrals we have visited, looking like something from a Disney movie or something. We tasted the local favorite "oplatky" wafers and watched the ladies working busily to keep up with the demand. Ours were fresh out of the press that they use to make them, but most they were making were being boxed up to be sold in bulk quantities.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fall is in the air

and November means two long weekends!

We like to make the most of our European adventure, so when we get a long weekend we try to take advantage of it and get out and go see places that are a bit more farflung than we can reach in a day trip. This weekend is Veteran's Day and both the boys and Bill have time from school and work so off we go!! We are renting a car and getting up bright and early tomorrow morning to go to Prague. We also will be visiting Karlovy Vary (or Karlsbad is it is sometimes called.) Lots of people who are stationed here in Germany take shopping trips to these places in search of crystal and pottery bargains. We may pick up a souvenior or two, but our main focus is to see as much as we can and also to take LOTS of pictures. Each of us has a camera and we aren't afraid to use them! It is fun and interesting when we get home to see a place from all our different points of view. And now that I have this blog started you can enjoy our experience as well. See you Monday!!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Quirks? naaah not me! :)

quirk Audio pronunciation of "quirk" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kw�rk)
  1. A peculiarity of behavior; an idiosyncrasy: “Every man had his own quirks and twists” (Harriet Beecher Stowe).
  2. An unpredictable or unaccountable act or event; a vagary: a quirk of fate.
  3. A sudden sharp turn or twist.
  4. An equivocation; a quibble.
  5. Architecture. A lengthwise groove on a molding between the convex upper part and the soffit.

[Origin unknown.]
quirki·ly adv.
quirki·ness n.
quirky adj.

One very cool part of Scrap That Moment is the challenges. There are scrapbooking challenges, journaling challenges, card challenges and new this month...Blog Challenges! The challenge this week is to list some of our quirks. I guess it would have been easier to ask folks around me what THEY think my quirks are, cuz I think I am a pretty low maintanance easy going person and coming up with at least 5 quirks was indeed a challenge. (for me...maybe I should interview Bill and see what HE says my quirks are! LOL) So without any further ado.....some of my quirks:

1. I love cheese! But not American Processed know...the yellow orange slices that are really NOT cheese at all. Ewwww. I can't stand it, it's not cheese, I don't know how they can get away with calling it cheese! Oh, but there is one good use for it, and that I will eat and enjoy...Toasted Cheese sandwiches MUST be made with American Processed Cheese. Yeah..I know...I'm weird.

2. I can't stand the feel of raw meat on my hands. Making a meatloaf or forming meatballs or hamburgers or cutting up a chicken is TORTURE to me! Just that greasy slimy sticky (insert shudder here) feeling takes me over the edge!! I won't buy a whole chicken, I just can't deal with it. Hamburger patties come already made and so do meatballs! Since my guys love meatloaf I will endure it for them...if that's not love I don' t know what is!

3. I can't sleep on my back. It just feels WRONG. This makes sleeping on an airplane or in a car very difficult so I have to get by the window so I can twist around and lean over onto it and trick myself into thinking I am on my side.

4. I am a packrat. There...I said it...isn't admitting it the first step to dealing with a problem? I just love stuff...all kinds of stuff. I save papers, receipts, notes, email, books, scrapbooks stuff (but of course!), cards. Sometimes we try to clean and I try to bring things under control...but it is so hard...cuz I LIKE my stuff, I don't know what I'll do with it...but someday I might NEEED it!

5. I can't wear fingernail polish. I know this makes no physiological sense, but I swear my fingernails can't BREATHE under nail polish. Yes....I can feel them suffocating under it, it is a tight uncomfortable incredibly stressful feeling. I guess my toenails are different, I can wear polish on them just fine.

Wow....reading this makes me sound really really odd!! comments from the peanut gallery!!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Who is this Didi Roche anyway?

And why did she create a blog?

If you ask my boys and husband...scrapbooking is my obsession, and they would be right. I love to take pictures, but now that I have been bitten by the scrapbooking bug I take pictures keeping in mind that I will want to use them on a scrapbook page. This isn't a bad thing because I must say my photography has definately improved since I have been doing this. I am not the only one who noticed great friend Lynette Daniel did too. She runs Scrap That Moment one of the BEST scrapbook sites on the internet. She started out with a site called Scrappy Chick (which is presently under renovation) and she invited me to be one of her photographers..yep, she had a design team AND a team of photographers...COOL! When she started Scrap That Moment she asked me to join her design team. I still can't believe I am a part of that amazing group of scrapbook artists!! Since so many folks are creating blogs, Lynette is updating our special design team pages to include a link to our blog and I decided to join in the fun. Bear with me as I learn!

Monday, November 07, 2005

We Never Close!!

Living in a different country an ocean away from the rest of our families was such a great opportunity that it really wasn't a tough decision at all to go ahead and move over here. We had lived in Germany before when Colin was born and always said it was too bad that the boys were too young to remember living here. Living here this time they are the perfect age to hopefully remember it forever. We also have told our friends and relatives that if our living here makes it possible for them to visit Europe then don't hesitate to give us a call. There is always room for more in our home and we enjoy taking people out and about and sharing our corner of Germany with them. Thus the title of my blog..."The Roche Motel" and this post title "We never close"!