Saturday, November 27, 2010


Well, "they" were right; Prague really is a gorgeous, intriguing and amazing city.
Since Zev had some time off over Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to head somewhere that was local and where we had never been to before. Prague was the perfect choice. Only five hours from home, door to door, the journey here on Thanksgiving day meant that we arrived in Prague in the afternoon, just before sunset. We had booked an apartment online and were very pleased with the quality and value of this clean and modern apartment in the heart of Prague. The area is lovely, not far from the famous Charles Bridge, with lots of great pubs and restaurants in the quaint neighborhood. The apartments themselves are gorgeous from the outside; think Paris, with high ceilings and intricate marble work on the outside. They are all in good condition too.
The next day, we had breakfast at the Starbucks in Old Town Prague and then went and joined a free walking tour of Prague run by "Sandemans." I had read about this free walking tour online through tripadvisor, and I must admit I was a little skeptical, thinking that nothing can be free and imagining that the guide would pressure us for tips the entire time.
Well, the trip turned out to be well worth it, with the guide mentioning tips at the end of a very informative and interesting 3 hour tour of Prague. Our guide's name was Karel, and he is a native Czech who studied abroad in England and was very passionate about his city. We started the tour at the infamous "Astronomical Clock" which you see above and ended it overlooking the beautiful Prague Castle (which is really spectacular when lit up at night).
Prague is super easy to get around on foot. The city is mostly cobblestoned streets along streets filled with stores, restaurants, pubs and of course private apartments.
During our walking tour, Karel pointed out some interesting facets about Prague's history, including the story of some guy a long time ago who tried to steal some jewelry off the statue of the Virgin Mary in a church. According to the legend, the Virgin Mary "came alive" and grabbed his arm. As the statue was considered sacred, the church officials decided to cut off the thief's arm at the elbow in order to release him. Anyway, Karel took us into the church to show us the arm which is all black and dangling off the roof. Oh yes my friend, it was dangling there.  
Just goes to show; you got to watch where you "hang out".
Korel also took us to the Franz Kafka statue which is based on one of the famous authors dreams and is located on the outskirts of the Jewish Quarter, also a "must-see" in Prague. Franz Kafka is actuall buried in the Jewish historic cemetery.
Zev and I had coffee after the tour in the "Franz Kafka" cafe to warm up a little bit.
 The Prague Christmas Markets started this weekend, which helped to distract us from the cold!
Isn't this city pretty!? This is the night view of Prague Castle.
The Old Town square. It looks like a fairytale scene to me.
If you are a romantic, this city is for you.
If you like dark beer, sausages, pumpkin dumplings or hearty goulash, Prague is also the place for you. German beer is great; Czech beer is excellent. So what did we do for dinner last night? We went to an underground, former brewery and ate pork knees with some of the most delicious dark beer I have ever tasted. The pork knee was quite tasty!
This is what the pork knee looked like when it came out...
And after...
 Today we were blessed with beautiful blue skies.
We decided to explore more of the Old Town as well as the Castle distict, on the left side of the river.
It was neat to cross the famous Charles Bridge, which was packed with tourists.
It was pretty cold, I must say!!
The view from the top of the hill was quite amazing. We watched the changing of the guards at the castle.
We even tried to get inside the church. But we were unsuccessful, unfortunately. It kind of went something like this:
Zev: Hi I'd like to have a look inside
Czech guard with a stern look (no smile): It's closed to tourists.
Zev: Oh, but we just wanted to....
Czech guard with a sterm look (no smile): I said it's CLOSED to tourists. Closed!
Zev: I guess it's closed......
We enjoyed a lovely Czech dinner tonight at a local restaurant, off the "touristy track" near our apartment. Our bellies are full and Zev's eyes are glazing over. So I think it's night night time.
Hope you had a lovely and warm weekend! Not long until Christmas now. Take care and love those nearest and dearest to you.
Zev and Fi xoxo

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Turkducken

Last night we had dinner with friends at the same restaurant where we had all done our Maultaschen course, back in April!
We had booked way in advance for a table during the "Goose Season" which for some reason Zev and I thought meant "Turkducken". I was seriously imaging what a full turkey coming out of the kitchen, stuffed with duck would look like.
When we arrived, we realized that it is actually "Gans" or Goose season in this part of Germany, where all the restaurants are serving goose and duck along with other regional specialities for about a month.
The restaurant was packed; apparently it was a good thing we made reservations 7 months in advanced! The funny thing is that Bevin was pregnant at the time of our Maultaschen course but hadn´t started sharing the good news yet. She and Jeff are expecting their first child the day after Christmas. We are so excited for them and can´t wait to meet their Christmas surprise.
We hope you have a wonderful and warm week! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and there are so many things to be thankful for! God bless,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The 11th Hour

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the Armistice that ended World War I was signed.

Veterans Day is a Federal holiday in the United States and is observed in many countries including Australia. It is not a public holiday in Australia, but I remember having a moment of silence at 11am on November 11th in school and reading the poem "Flanders Fields". We do however celebrate ANZAC Day on April 25th, in honor of our militay Veterans. We also wear red poppies as a symbol of this event.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

The poppies referred to in the poem grew in profusion in Flanders in the disturbed earth of the battlefields and cemeteries where war casualties were buried and thus became a symbol of Veterans Day/Remembrance Day. The poem is often part of Veterans Day/Remembrance Day solemnities in Allied countries which contributed troops to World War I, particularly in countries of the British Empire that did so. (Wikipedia).

There is a high probability that if you are reading this blog, you know a Veteran. Zev is a Veteran, as am I, my brother Mario, and our cousins Jessie and Pat. Zev and I once had the honor of living next door to a World War II Veteran, Al Johnson.
Happy Veterans Day.

Monday, November 08, 2010

People who helped us along the way....

I am still on my "being thankful" frame of mind and I hope that I am able to give thanks to everyone I am thankful for! This is the month of Thanksgiving after all.
Last night, Zev and I had dinner with my previous German teachers, Ulla and Sonja and their husbands. I love these ladies. I have taken a few different German course since 2009, and these two teachers are by far the best. They are not only awesome German language teachers but simply outstanding teachers. They both have an incredible patience (to constantly repeat grammatical rules and concepts until you "get it") and just provide encouragement in the sometimes (oftentimes) frustrating task of learning a foreign language. German is not an easy language to learn and students from all around the world (who usually speak at least English) admit that. Nonetheless, Sonja and Ulla helped me pass the "big test" I took to get into university, but above all, have continued to provide support and encouragement and are like family to us now. They both also have a fondness for America (and hence Zev is spoilt rotten when he visits.)
Case in point- two desserts last night- German apple cake after our cheesecake.
I am always grateful to this guy. And above all, the Big Guy "upstairs". On a different note, I sprained my ankle running yesterday. Thankfully, Dr. Zev was able to swiftly Rest (running ahead to get the car and then plonking me on the coach when we got home), Ice, Compress and Elevate my foot. Although I have a golf ball on the side of my ankle and am having a hard time finding cute shoes to wear to school today, I am actually thankful for the circumstances. It could have been a worse injury and I am grateful that I can still walk on my foot.

On that note, I better start walking towards my bus to catch it. Have a wonderful week!
1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Dione's Baby Shower

Dione and Peter are from Canada, and Peter works with Zev. They are a lovely couple who recently got married and have a really neat story. Dione is having her first baby in January!
Zev made a DELICIOUS cheesecake- from scratch! The girls loved it!
Although it is starting to get cold here, it was nice to see the fall leaves falling outside. I am still not sick of those Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I love them.
It was a perfect day to have homemade Hot Mulled Apple Cider.
We are blessed to have such good friends in all the places we get posted to. The military really is one big family.
Have a lovely week!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Thank You

Today is Allerheiligen or "All Saints Day" here in Germany and thus all the shops and businesses are closed. It is such a gorgeous fall day here too. The autumn colors are in full bloom and as it is so beautiful, I decided to go on a nice long run through the woods. The view was serene and simply awesome. It is what I imagine that Zev's home town of Canandaigua must look like right now, with the beautiful reds and yellows and oranges. I didn't take a picture, but the picture below could well have been taken right here in Germany.
As I was running, I was reflecting on some lessons that I have learnt in recent days, and thinking about the sermon series that Pastor Packer has been delivering in church these past few weeks. The central theme for me seems to be about being grateful and giving thanks. You may be like me and give thanks to God in prayer or mention that you are grateful for certain things. I realized that I don't give thanks to people as often as I should, and I felt compelled to write about it right here, right now, as I still sit in my running clothes and cool down from my run. I know that a lot of our family and friends read this blog, and I am happy that you like to keep up with our lives. So for those family and friend members out there, please know that we love each one of you and are grateful for you and what you mean to our lives. Dave, Judy, Deven, Lauren, Dave, Will, Emily, Maria, Howard, Mario, Gabby, Ali, Marco, Isabella, Mario and Ceci, please know that we love you and pray for you and are grateful for you. All our other family and friends, you know who you are. You are each so special and wonderful.

Happy Fall, y'all.