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My ninth birthday party!

My ninth birthday party in September 2013

Life is one big adventure! I lived the last three years in Prague with my parents. My dad taught science at an international school. I went to the same school. We got to do a lot of traveling during our school breaks. During our October break we did a home exchange in Munich.

Munich!

Munich!

Dad’s favorite place was the Hoffbrauhaus. Read more about our trip to Munich here:

http://globalnomadfamily.com/2013/10/28/munichs-hofbrauhaus-the-worlds-most-famous-beer-hall/

Hoffbrauhaus!

Hoffbrauhaus!

Mom’s favorite day trip was to Salzburg, Austria, just a two hour train ride away. You can read more about our trip to Salzburg here;

http://globalnomadfamily.com/tag/salzburg/

Recognize this from the Sound of Music?

Recognize this from the Sound of Music?

My favorite place was Legoland!

Amazing!

My parents surprised me with a trip here on our last day.

In December we visited Grandma, Grandpa, and my aunts, uncles and cousins in the US.

Just after a snowball fight with Dad!

Just after a snowball fight with Dad!

In February we did another home exchange in Antalya, Turkey. Dad loved being on the Mediterranean. It was sunny and a little warm, even though it was February!

February!

February!

Mom loved the quaint old town of Kaleici with its 2000 year old Roman port. You can read more about our trip to Kaleici here:

http://globalnomadfamily.com/2014/04/24/the-picturesque-city-of-kaleici-in-antalya-turkey/

The old town of Kaleici.

The old town of Kaleici.

My favorite place was the Aquarium!

This tunnel was so cool!  We could see sharks swim over us!

This tunnel was so cool! We could see sharks swim over us!

My sister Sam came to visit us in March.

It was so fun to show her our city!

It was so fun to show Sam our city!

She loved exploring Prague!

Sam loved exploring Prague!

We went to Rome for our Easter break; another home exchange. Dad liked the Pantheon and St Peter’s Basilica.

The view from the Pantheon.

The view from the Pantheon.

We even got to see the Pope!

We even got to see the Pope right after Easter!

Mom liked walking through the streets and taking lots of photos.

Lots of photos, come ON, MOM!

Lots of photos, come ON, MOM!

I liked exploring the Castel San Angelo and the Colosseum.

Goofing around!

Goofing around!

But this was my true favorite…

Gelato. Simply the best.

Gelato. Simply the best.

May and June were busy! I was in the school musical, The Magic School Bus.  Lots of friends came to stay with us at our flat. I went to Summer Fayre, cub scout meetings, and birthday parties.

In July we sold all our furniture and stuff and moved out of our flat in Prague. Mom was sad, but Dad and I are excited for our new adventure. We get to travel for five months before we arrive in our new city and find a new home. Read more about our last days in Prague here:

http://globalnomadfamily.com/2014/08/02/good-bye-prague/

My room in Prague.

My room in Prague.

Good-bye room!

Good-bye room!

Since leaving Prague we have stayed in 21 different beds in five different countries! We are doing home exchanges, visiting friends and family. For now, home is wherever we are staying the night. Follow along on our travels and you’ll find out where our new home will be!

 

 

 

 

The Bay of Kotor

The Bay of Kotor

We stayed for four days in Herceg-Novi, in Montenegro.  One day we decided to go for a drive around the Bay of Kotor.  Think Norwegian fjords, Hawaiian lush landscape, spectacular bays and crystal clear water…stunning!

We felt as if we were at a lake, because we were surrounded all around by mountains.

We felt as if we were at a lake, because we were surrounded all around by mountains.

We drove along the bay and decided to stop at the entrance of the town of Perast.

Ok, this was the view from the parking lot!!

Ok, this was the view from the public parking lot!!

We walked toward the little town of Perast, and found an area to go for a swim.

The water was clear and wonderful!

The water was clear and wonderful!

We dried off and visited the little town of Perast. It has a long and colorful past, dating back to 3500 BC with evidence of a Neolithic culture found in caves above Perast.  Other archeological finds include evidence from Roman and early Christian periods.

Perast

Perast

This little city has changed hands frequently over the centuries. It was part of the Byzantine empire in the 10th century.

Perast

It was a free city of medieval Serbia in the 1100’s.

perast

Perast enjoyed a brief time of independence between 1395 to 1420.

 

perast

It changed hands from the Venetian Republic of Venice and Hungarian control between the  1400’s and the 1700’s.

perast

Perast was under French occupation in the 1800’s until 1914.

 

perast

It was then ruled by Austria from 1914-1918. Perast became part of Yugoslavia in 1918.

 

Perast

Mussolini annexed the territories around Kotor to Italy in 1941. Perast later became part of Yugoslavia again after WWII.

Perast has been part of Montenegro since its independence in 2006. What a past this little city has!

The modern Perast has a sleepy, relaxed vibe with lots of character.  Perfect for a day trip to include a swim, a boat ride to one of the little islands, and a meal at one of the outdoor cafes!

 

 

 

 

My favorite European city!

My favorite European city!

We left Prague two days ago, after three wonderful years here as expats.  Global Nomad Family is doing what our name says…we are picking up and moving.  For the next five months, we will be traveling…with no home base until January 2015.  Where will we be moving?  Follow along, and you’ll find out!

Leaving Prague has been. really. DIFFICULT.  I have really loved living here.  People save up their money to Prague for a vacation. The city is flooded with tourists year round.  We had the amazing privilege of living in this beautiful city. For example, this is my view as I take the tram to the dentist!

Prague=eye candy

Prague=eye candy

However, most of all, it will be the people and the friendships that I will miss the most. We have been blessed to develop friendships with Czechs and expats who are really fascinating people.

We will miss Riverside School: the teachers, the staff, the students and our fellow parents.  If you are moving to Prague with kids, do yourself and your kids a favor and enroll them in Riverside School.  It’s truly a special place with outstanding teachers and staff, great kids from dozens of different countries, and a wonderful community of parents where all feel welcome.

 

Nate waiting for the bus on his day of school.  I was choking back the tears!  Notice the castle in the background.

Nate waiting for the bus on his last day of school. I was choking back the tears! Notice the castle in the background.

June was an an extremely difficult month for me. It was a month of  good-byes.  The reality of leaving hit hard. I was absolutely dreading June 26th, the last day of school. It’s always a half day, with an end of the year assembly in which each child who is leaving is called up to the front by their teachers; the teachers tell why the child will be missed, and the child is given a class-made good-bye gift.  The moms sit in the back with dark sunglasses on and get all weepy…even when it’s not their child leaving!  Expat kids have to move often due to changes in their parents’ work circumstances, and this ceremony is a really healthy way to give the leaving children closure.  It’s also good for the children who aren’t leaving as it gives them a way to say good-bye to classmates.

However, I’ve always dreaded the day that Nate would be one of those kids up there, being the one said good-bye to.  It was really, really hard for me.  I was also afraid of how Nate would do…would that be the moment he’d realize the finality of the fact that we were leaving, never to return as anything more than visitors? Would he burst into tears like a little boy did last year when he was called up there?

The last day assembly.  This is the moment I had been dreading ever since we made the decision to leave Prague.

The last day assembly. This is the moment I had been dreading ever since we made the decision to leave Prague.

Thankfully, Nate was completely fine!  He sailed through it with smiles, and even spotted me in the back and gave me a big thumbs up!  He is such an amazing kid; so flexible, adaptable, and excited for new adventures.  He’s still at the age where we are his life and he trusts us completely.  Friends haven’t yet usurped the most important place in his heart.  We’ll enjoy that #1 spot for as long as possible!

I’ll also miss our wonderful flat, up on a hill overlooking the city.

We LOVED this view.  We are so gonna miss it!

We LOVED this view out of our bedroom and guest room windows. We are so gonna miss it!

Sunrise, from our window.   That's the Crown Plaza Hotel, built in the 50's during Communist times.

Sunrise, from our window. That’s the Crown Plaza Hotel, built in the 50’s during Communist times.

We initially came on a two year teaching contract.  We arrived with just six suitcases and three carry-ons.  We found this flat on our fourth day of looking, and immediately knew it was the one for us.  It was completely unfurnished, so we had to start from scratch.  As most expat teachers do, we went to Ikea and purchased the least expensive furniture. We didn’t want to invest in “the best” as we didn’t know if we’d be leaving in two years.  It was fun to start over; two years turned into three, and little by little our empty flat became a home.

Lots of good meals and fellowship around that table.

Lots of good meals and fellowship around that table.

We sold or gave away all of our furniture and household goods.  We kept only what would fit into six suitcases and three carry ons.  On June 30th, the movers came to take the remaining furniture to the new home of the teacher who will be replacing Andy. We worked hard to complete our packing and to clean the place to make it ready for the next people who will enjoy the flat on the hill…

Good-bye living room and kitchen!

Good-bye living room and kitchen!

We have had more than a hundred guests during our three years in Prague!  We love hosting people.  We’ve had lots of friends, family, and even people we didn’t know come to stay with us. We gave guests the biggest room with the spectacular view of the city!

Now the blue sofa is in the Riverside Boys' Dormitory!

Now the blue sofa is in the Riverside Boys’ Accomodation!

Better to dance than to cry!

Better to dance than to cry!

This was our room… European beds are always low to the ground, and the duvet sits on top like icing on a cake.

Most of our furniture was purchased by the teacher who will be replacing Andy.

Can we say IKEA?!i

 

Ljudmila helped me clean the flat.  We would have been cleaning 'til the wee hours without her help!

Lijdmila helped me clean the flat. We would have been cleaning ’til the wee hours without her help!

And Nate’s room…

The maps on his wall are from places we visited during our school holidays.  They are the only personal decoration items we are taking to our next living destination!

The maps on his wall are from places we visited during our school holidays. They are the only personal decoration items we are taking to our next living destination!

 

Good-bye, Nate's room!

Good-bye, Nate’s room!

 

July was a very busy month of packing up, selling all of our furniture and household goods, and working on a seemingly endless list of things to do.  It was stressful!  I like unpacking and nesting, but I don’t like packing and moving.  Finally, it was all done on July 30th.  We left it spotlessly clean, thanks to help from Lijdmila…and completely devoid of all evidence of the love, life and laughter that was ours here, in this lovely home.

We were so tired after cleaning and packing all day!  The built in closet was the only place to sit down besides the floor.

We were so tired after cleaning and packing all day! The built in closet was the only place to sit down besides the floor.

Prague will forever be in our memories: our amazing three years in this beautiful city, our precious friends, Riverside School, and our home on top of the hill.  Good-bye, Prague!  You will ALWAYS have a special place in our hearts!

Stay tuned for our upcoming adventures in Slovakia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia…

Enjoying a sunny February day in the old city of Kaleici in Antalya, Turkey

Enjoying a sunny February day in the old city of Kaleici in Antalya, Turkey

We recently spent six lovely days in Antalya, Turkey. It’s located on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Kaleiçi is the historic area of the town.  It started as a Roman town around 150 BC, and was named after it’s founder: Attalos II, King of Pergamon.  It later changed hands to the Byzantines, then the Seljuk Turks, and finally passed to the Ottoman Turks.

What view? Our oblivious 9-year-old:)

What view? Our oblivious 9-year-old:)

King Attalos III bequeathed his kingdom to Rome upon his death in 133 BC, and Antalya became part of the Roman Republic.

The port

The Roman Harbor

Antalya was visited by the Apostle Paul, as recorded in the book of Acts: “From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went down to Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia” (Acts 14:25-26).

This harbor is where he sailed from!

Rows of pirate boats

Rows of  boats, capitalizing on the theme of Pirates of the Caribbean:)

Antalya was a major city in the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Seljuk Turks in the 13th century. It was conquered by the Ottomans in the 14th century.

Lots of souvenir shops, of course!

Lots of shops

Carpet, anyone?

Carpet, anyone?

Kaleiçi is a lovely place to just wander through the winding streets.

Exploring...

Exploring…

The Broken Mınaret Mosque Kesik Minare has changed hands on multiple occasions through the centuries.  It was originally built as a Roman temple in the 2nd century AD.  The Roman Temple was later converted into a Christian church during the Byzantine era in the 7th century. It was converted into a mosque in the 13th century, and the minaret was added. Not long after, it was converted back into a church when Antalya was taken by the crusader king of Cyprus. It was reconverted yet again to a mosque, and has remained a mosque since!

DSC06616

Outside the mosque.

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The Broken Minaret

DSC06607

Interesting courtyard…

DSC06603

Hookah, anyone?

DSC06606

What’s in there?

DSC06594

The equivalent of Prague’s John Lennon Wall?

DSC06599

Taken for his sister Sam and Star Wars fans around the globe:)

DSC06591

Taking it easy….

The modern city of Antalya started growing after World War II. It is located in a lovely location, surrounded by mountains, facing the beautiful Mediterranean Sea with its beautiful beaches.

Now, that's a view!

Now, that’s a view!

I was surprised to find out that Antalya, as the gateway to the Turkish Riviera, is in the top ten of most visited cities of the world!!! It has surpassed Istanbul as a tourist destination. It draws both history buffs and sun-seekers. Most tourists stay in the beach resorts in Konyaalti or Lara.

However, modern Antalya,with its tall buildings and large tourist developments along the coast, didn’t draw me like Kaleiçi did. There are lots of great day trips if you are based in Kaleiçi.  Check out these recommendations from Tripadvisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g297962-s407/Antalya:Turkey:Day.Trips.html

Just before sunset...

Just before sunset…

Avoid all those crowds…visit Antalya between September and May.  April, May, September and October are the best months to find nice weather without so many tourists.  We were there in February and enjoyed weather in the upper 60’s and it even hit 70 for a day.  Sunshine is amazing, especially after a cold winter in Europe!

Beaches, ancient ruins, the Mediterranean, snow capped mountains, sunshine…what’s not to like? Best of all are the friendly Turks and their wonderful cuisine. We’ll definitely be back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of a lovely, sunny day in February!

The end of a lovely, sunny day in February!

Sariyer, Turkey: February 2013

Sariyer, Turkey: February 2013

This was taken on a rainy day last February on one of the stops on the half day Bosphorus cruise with friends.  The harbor was so colorful!

Old Town Square

Old Town Square

This is our third Christmas season in Prague.  There are Christmas markets that spring up all over Prague in December, and the most beautiful one of all is in Old Town Square.  When I first came here, I was used to the US Midwest hibernation…when the temperature plummets, people stay indoors.  I was used to going from the house to the garage to the car to my destination.  It isn’t uncommon for people to circle a parking lot several times to find a spot closer to the mall entrance, or wherever it is we need to go.

During my first winter here in Prague, I was surprised to see how many people walk all over the city, particularly the center and shopping areas.  They go not just to accomplish shopping errands, but also to walk, talk with friends, and enjoy the atmosphere. The cold temperatures don’t seem to deter the crowds; people just bundle up, and walk !!

It’s a whole new way of life here in Prague, and I really enjoy it.  In the US, we had two cars and drove everywhere.  A car is a necessity in the vast majority of US cities, suburbs  and small towns (although I’ve never lived in New York or other cities with good public transport).  Here in Prague we don’t own a car.  We go to school, work, the grocery store, errands…everything…by public transport.  And we love it!  The public transport system is excellent: prompt, easy to figure out and navigate. I often feel like I’m a Disneyland tram, riding through the beautiful streets of Prague!

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I’ll admit, there are days where it is really cold, and I miss the warmth and convenience of having a car.  But we have no desire, nor need, to buy a car.  If needed, taxis (from a reliable company) are quick and inexpensive: 150-300 crowns for a ride across town ( $7-$15).

Old Town Square is always bustling with life throughout the year; it has an especially festive atmosphere when the Christmas markets go up.

Jan Hus presides over the festivities, as always.

Jan Hus presides over the festivities, as always.

For the past three years we always head to the US to spend Christmas with family, so I’ve never experienced what Prague is like right at Christmas.  I’ve heard that there are buckets of fresh carp that appear all over the city as it is part of the Czech traditional Christmas meal.

Early December is always filled with lots of events at my son’s school, Christmas parties, and last minute gift buying. I guess that’s the same regardless of the country! Some day I’d like to go to a Christmas concerts in one of the lovely churches. I’ve also heard that the New Year’s Eve celebrations are wonderful. We often see fireworks out our window throughout the year (we live on  a hill); I can imagine that there must be many spectacular displays of fireworks on New Year’s Eve!

Tomorrow we are off to the US to spend time with family.  We are looking forward to it!  Good-bye, lovely Prague.  See you next year!

 

Stylova Restaurant

Stylowa Restaurant

Nowa Huta was founded in 1949 as a separate town next to Kraków.  It was built on land taken by the Communist government, and was intended to be the ideal “proletarian city”. It was built for Communist propaganda and settled mostly by steel workers. We decided to visit this town when we went to Kraków in February 2012.

What are they looking at??

What are they pointing at??

Plac Centralny, or Central Square was intended to be the center  of the visionary socialist city of Nowa Huta.  We arrived here on public transport, and started looking for street names, so that we could find our way to Stylowa Restaurant.  We squinted to read the street sign from the far end by the tram stop…im Ronalda…Regana….WHAT??!!  We laughed when we realized that Plac Centralny was renamed after President Ronald Reagan!!

How ironic!

How ironic is that??!!

I later learned that there used to be a giant bronze statue of Lenin here, until 1989…when it was removed and later sold to Sweden!

The city plan

Nowa Huta means “New Steelworks”.

Hmmm, I wonder if the Proletaryat Koncert advertised below is organized for the tourists? Perhaps a little capitalistic use of the Communist past?

Advertising

What exactly is a Proletaryat Concert??!!

We found Stylowa Restaurant not far from Plac Centralny.  Apparently it has been here since 1956.  In the communist heydey it was a high class (can I say that of a communist restaurant?) where the elite of Nowa Huta met: the party bigwigs, lawyers, engineers, and professors.

Stylowa  Restaurant has been renovated over the years, but they have tried to keep it like it was in the 1970’s.  Their website boasts: Socialist Realist interior is takeing our guests back to time of “Polish glory of socialism”…typo is theirs, not mine!

Lenin

Lenin

Nowa Huta and Stylowa Restaurant are definitely worth the visit…be sure to visit when you are in Kraków!

http://stylowa-nowahuta.pl/index_eng.html

Château de Chenonceau

It looks like Andy is standing in front of a painted set!

We went to this lovely castle when we were staying in the Loire Valley when our daughter, Samantha, joined us in France in the summer of 2012. The Loire Valley is dotted with beautiful castles, but this was my favorite!

Andy

Andy is standing in front of the Pegasus fountain, where the “Do Re Mi” song was filmed.  Just to the right you can see the arched hedge where Maria and the children ran and sang.

Lazy travelers that we are, we arrived in Salzburg for a day trip from Munich around noon.  Our mantra when traveling is to have as few early mornings as possible! We found a great free iphone app called City Walk Salzburg Lite that helped us decide what we wanted to see in the short time we were there.  We also purchased a Salzburg Card for 23 Euros (11.50 for Nate), which allowed us to use all public transport and covered admissions to all the sights in this lovely city.

pegasus

The Mirabelle Palace was constructed and the gardens were laid in 1606 for the mistress of the Archbishop!!

Next, we walked to Mozart’s Residence, where Mozart lived from the age of 17. It now houses a museum with important family memorabilia; including their library, portraits, and letters written by Mozart’s father. Mozart composed many of his works here!  There’s even some silly stuff…

Young Mozart

Young Mozart…hmmm, looks like a little boy I know:)

Next, we headed to Residenzplatz, where you can find the Residence Palace and Salzburg Cathedral.

church

The Residenzplatz

Later in the movie,  this square and its buildings are covered with Nazi insignia, after Nazi Germany annexed Austria. The story told in the Sound of Music was based on Captain Von Trapp’s strong opposition to the Nazis, and his decision to leave all that he owned and flee with his family to Switzerland.

luxury

Inside the Residence Palace, one of the most important historical buildings in Sazburg.

The Residence Palace started as a small bishop’s palace in 1120, and was enlarged over the centuries. The royal family of Austria and the Hapsburg rulers of Tuscany used it as their residence.

fancy

There is an art gallery where you can see paintings by Rembrandt, Ruben and Brueghel.

In The Sound of Music, Maria and the Von Trapp children ride one of the horse carriages for part of their journey across town, while singing “Do Re Mi.”

horses

Looking out of the window from the Residence Palace.

Next, we went next door to Salzburg Cathedral.

my boys

My boys in front of Salzburg Cathedral.

This stunning baroque cathedral was built in the 17th century on the site of a Celtic settlement and part of the ruins of a Roman city! Excavations under the cathedral have unearthed mosaics and ancient artifacts.

Church

The cathedral was consecrated in 1612.

Church

Mozart was baptized in this cathedral, in a 14th century baptismal font which dated back to the earlier cathedral built on this site .

Next, we took the cable car up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress.

Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress

This fortress is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe!  Construction began in 1077!!  It was built to protect the city during a conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.  It was under siege in 1525 when a group of Protestant peasants unsuccessfully tried to depose Archbishop-Prince Matthaus Lang.

mansion

The fortress is one of Europe’s best preserved castles.

When Napoleon occupied Salzburg, he used the fortress as barracks for his army, a dungeon, and storage depot.

It has an interesting museum of World War i artifacts.

It has an interesting museum of World War I artifacts.

Below is the view from the castle ramparts!

Salzburg!

Beautiful Salzburg!

Next, we walked a little further to see Nonnburg Abbey, where the real Maria Von Trapp was a novice.   It was also where she married Captain Von Trapp (in real life, not in the movie).

Nonnburg Abbey

Nonnburg Nunnery is the oldest functioning convent in the world! It was founded in 713.

The Sound of Music scenes shot here include the opening part where the nuns are going to mass and singing “How do we solve a problem like Maria?” The performance for the song “Maria” was staged in the courtyard of the abbey. Later, the Von Trapp children came to the abbey’s gate to ask Maria to return to their home, but are turned away. The escape scene, with the cars parked outside the Abbey gate, was also shot in the original spot.

The courtyard of the abbey.

The graveyard of the abbey.

Andy and Nate are horsing around in the photo below, while I took photos of the stunning views.  Two days later we watched the Sound of Music together and geeked out when we saw the scenes filmed where we had just been!

My boys

This is right in front of the abbey, where escape scene took place!

We had the place to ourselves as it was getting towards sunset.

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This is the view just behind where the boys are sitting in the photo above.

Next, we walk to St. Peter’s Church, the oldest functioning monastery in Austria. It was founded in 760 by  a Franconian monk! The present church dates back to 1125.

St. Peter Church

Mozart’s sister was buried in the St. Peter Cemetery!

Dusk was close approaching and we had to hurry back to the train station to catch a train back to Munich, which takes two hours.  We hurried down Getreidegasse, the most important shopping street in Salzburg.  Andy was happy that we didn’t have time to shop:)

Tall, medieval baroque houses line the street.  Mozart was born in one of the houses on this street!

It's fun to think that Mozart walked down this street!

It’s fun to think that Mozart walked down this street!

A day trip certainly was NOT enough for this beautiful city.  There are several must-sees that we missed. So, we hope to go back to this lovely city some day! For those of you who have been to Salzburg, what do you recommend?

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