Browsing: Europe

Next Stop Malaga”Home Sweet Home”

November19

When I travel, I am not so interested in feeling like a tourist but a local that happens to “live” in a certain place for a short period of time. Because the three sisters all love to cook, having a well stocked kitchen is ideal. We also needed a place with an elevator and proximity to the main activity area. I was so happy to find an Air BnB apartment that ticked all these boxes and more.

The kitchen had a full sized fridge as well as a cook top, microwave/convection oven as well as a number of small appliances. It did not have a dishwasher but Sister #2 and I were happy to do the dishes when Sister #3 cooked.

The view from the kitchen window was gorgeous and opposite this window was a washer and dryer that we made good use of.

This was the kitchen from the front hallway. The classic kitchen table and chairs provided a lovely space which was closed off from the living room (which we had converted to one of three bedrooms). This way we could let Sister #2 sleep while we early risers could start the day with coffee and a chat around the table.

Later in the day the kitchen was filled with a soft light. I love this picture!

Sister #3’s bedroom was perfect for her as she prefers an open window to ac and this room did not have the former.

I loved the room that I got when the afternoon sun shone in the windows.

As well as my view of Malaga waking up in the morning.

Soon after sunrise, the street below was filled with parents walking the kids to school as well as shopkeepers on their way to open up for the day.

There was plenty of storage so Sister #2 and I shared a closet.

This loveseat folded out to provide a sleeper. So that is where Sister #2 lay her head. It had double doors that shut off noise from the other bedrooms and the AC was uber effective in this room.

Here are wider shots of the living room which was open to another eating area.

We enjoyed a couple of lovely dinners served with the host’s real china in this beautiful dining room. There was even liquor on the side shelf!

Perhaps best of all was the cozy little balcony off of the dining room. It proved to be a quiet space for solo reading or for all three of us to share a Happy Hour.

Kath’s quote: “Peace, comfort, quiet, happiness, I have found away from home.” – Mary Boykin Chesnut

Love-that is all.

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Departure Day Prague

November18

I didn’t take this photo of a sculpture to honour Franz Kafka on our last morning in the square but I couldn’t leave my recounting of Prague without posting it. Fascinating people came from this fascinating place.

We searched for a cafe with tables and chairs in the sun, to have our last coffees and get caught up on life. Sister #2 doesn’t wear sunglasses. She hasn’t learned our secret that they hide the wrinkles for photo opportunities.

We were whiling away the time, when something interesting to us occurred. A gentleman sitting a couple of tables over from us, overheard that we were Canadian and asked us if we followed hockey. I am a big supporter of our hometown team so I replied: “only the Winnipeg Jets”, to which he said “oh you are from Winnipeg. Have you ever heard of Thomas Steen?” Steen, originally from Sweden (where this man was also from) had recently returned to Sweden after living for 40 years in Winnipeg and raising his NHL hockey playing sons in our city. Last night when I was at a Jets game, Thomas Steen was introduced to the adoring crowd as part of a ceremony to celebrate another Scandinavian hockey star-Teemu Selanne. What a coincidence that this connection would occur 1,000 miles away from Winnipeg!

Our final order of business was retracing our steps to order trdelniks from the shop owner above. Sister #3 and I both selected Nutella and were duly impressed by the creamy (not too sweet ice cream) placed into a cylinder cone unlike any ice cream cone we had ever tasted. It was decadent and didn’t fit into our typically nutritious diet but we loved the taste and it was fun to wander down the street for the last time, taking tastes as we walked.

With this last photo it was good-bye Prague but not quite yet.

We still had time to kill before our UBER fetched us so we had one last visit to Pekny bistro for delicious tea with honey, said farewell to our young friend at the apartment front desk and were whisked away, beautiful memories in tact.

Kath’s quote: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” -authour unknown

Love-that is all.

Prague Day 4, Part 2-Dinner at Marina Restaurante

November17

Sister #2 pictured with me here has a very busy job with our federal government doing important work. As a result, she had to leave all the planning of our European trip to Sister #3 and I. We got her to okay all our decisions, but she trusted us to book flights, hotels, the works! Being the lovely and generous person she is, she wanted to thank Sister #3 and I by treating us to an evening out. Our last dinner in Prague seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We spent a little extra time getting ready. You should have seen the number of rejected pics we took before we settled on this one!

We chose to dine at the Marina Restaurante, a lovely Italian place on a boat on the river with a view of the Charles bridge and Prague castle. We knew that it was a touristy choice, but guess what? We were tourists and loved everything the location had to offer!

The setting gave me the opportunity to capture Prague Castle at dusk. I was very pleased with this shot.

Here’s another of a tour boat just about to go under the Charles Bridge. The lights of the bridge and the reflection on the water, made for this lovely capture too. But, to the food!

We started with grilled scallops with pancetta in bisque,

grilled goat cheese with beet and apple salad,

and pumpkin soup with ravioli. As the shallow bowls were served, we took exactly a third and then shifted them in a clockwise manner so the next sister could taste. As I said before, we sisters know how to fairly share.

Sister #3 and I split a pasta selection of citrus linguine Frutti di Mare, dotted with shrimp, mussels and tuna. The latter being a new taste for us. I particularly loved the light citrus embellishment of the pasta.

Sister #2 selected the risotto in cuttle fish ink with shrimp, sun dried tomato and buffalo mozzarella. We were concerned that the cuttle fish ink might have been too fishy for her but that was not the case.

We ended the evening with a coconut cheesecake.

The wine list was skewed towards Italian selections. I chose a fairly affordable glass of red and received the scantiest glass of wine I think I have ever been served in a restaurant. Oh well, when in Rome…

After our order was taken, we didn’t see a whole lot of our server but items from the kitchen were delivered pleasingly hot by a waiter’s assistant. The place was bustling, and it was fun to watch the bartender making conversation with the ladies perched on bar stools. Our server did come by at bill time to take our picture. Since I write this blog, I get to choose the pictures that I post and I am not including that one!

We took an Uber home even though the restaurant was very close to our apartments, where we packed up to be ready for our last hours in Prague.

Kath’s quote: “Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love. – Giada De Laurentiis

Love-that is all.

Prague Day 4, Part 1-The Old Town Square (again)

November16

We were winding down our stay in Prague for still had some lovely sights and eats ahead.

We started the day with one of our last opportunities to connect with our lovely server for the Pekny Restaurant. She was so patient with us when we kept asking for butter for our toast and ketchup for our eggs. We saw her when she was there in the evening and then early the next morning. She was such a hard worker, and we would have loved to have caught her on a break so we could truly get to know her.

In the midst of our strolling and shopping, we stopped for a morning refreshment. We had heard the rumour and could substantiate by that time, that Coca Coola and bottled water were more expensive than draft beer and some house wines. Coffee varied in price too depending upon whether you ordered an American (expresso diluted with water), regular coffee that was sometimes instant Nescafe and a cappuccino or latte as I had selected above.

Sister #2 had some more shopping to do in this lovely square that was so close to our apartment. When the sun was out the weather was glorious. I was usually warm with my black raincoat that had an enormous hood which protected me from spurts of wind or rain, but my sisters who packed lighter than I did were often chilly. Conversely, when we were covering ground in the many airports that we flew in and out of, my coat was a cumbersome burden-I found I couldn’t free up a hand to get onto an escalator and I had a heck of time remembering where everything was when I had to produce a boarding pass or passport. So there you have it-the pros and cons of packing light on a, October European vacation.

I didn’t have many pre-conceived notions of buildings that I didn’t want to miss, with one exception. A tour guide had told us earlier that the last building standing in Europe that hosted the composer Mozart was just down from the square on a side street. I wanted to see it and was so glad I did, but not because of the building itself.

This fascinating sculpture commemorated the premier of Mozart’s Don Giovani in 1787. Canada wasn’t even a country then!

As we strolled back towards Old Town Square, I was surprised to see this North American Institution-Hooters. Good grief. What a shame.

We did another lap around the square and Sister #2 realised that she was hungry. We didn’t want to dine without Sister #3 who was back at the aprtment, so she decided to pick up a Kubasa on a bun that she had been eyeing up. The line was long. She was content with the Czech klobásy, a version of a favourite from home. The Canadian sausage is always pork seasoned with garlic in a natural casing. My Polish/Czech Dad loved it when he was alive!

As I mentioned, our time was winding down and we were certainly going to miss Prague, so each photo of the square became more and more precious.

PS. We had a panini maker in our apartment so Sister #3 made me this delicious ham and gouda sandwich when we got home! Bonus.

Kath’s quote: “Hlad je nejlepší kuchař”. Translation:Hunger is the best cook.” 

Love-that is all.

Prague Day 3-The Best Day of All

November15

On this day Sister #3 stayed back at the apartment and Sister #2 and I headed out for another wander around beautiful Prague.

We noticed an increased Police presence and a crowd accumulating in the square. Students systematically took turns voicing their issues while others, mostly tourists I would imagine, politely listened and supported them with clapping and chanting.

A couple of hours later we came upon the gathering, marching through the streets in an organized and respectful manner. When I thought about the trucker protests back in Canada last winter, I was very impressed by the Czech protest and equally embarrassed about the disorderly protests back home. But this was not the highlight of our day.

If you recognize these unusual photos of life size porcelain livestock affixed to the ceiling, you will know that we could only be one place in Prague-Vinohradsky Parlament Restaurant!

The successful local restaurant was designed with a perfect mix of tradition and modern design. In the large main hall, pigs and cattle look out from the ceiling. In the back rooms there is a greenhouse for herbs and salad. The additional success of the restaurant is its partnership with a local brewery. The open kitchen is both modern and traditional. As I read on their website: “No frothy food to be added, but pleasant portions at a fair price”.

Once we settled in with refreshing beers, we carefully perused the menu. After all, this was likely our one visit to this lovely restaurant. Game and beef dominated the selections but there were a number of vegetarian choices as well.

This dish was beer battered cauliflower which seemed like a resourceful menu item when you were connected to a brewery. It was said to be light and crispy and was enough for a couple of lighter eaters to share.

The chicken and pea risotto was my selection. I have sometimes made easy risotto recipes at home using Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay’s recipes. I like the latter’s concoction the best. In this case though, the peas themselves became the “rice” which made it even heartier and more nutritious. The skin-on chicken breast was a lovely treat as I typically remove the skin, but not in this case! It was crispy and fragrant with herbs and spices.

Sister #3 chose the Venison Goulash where the Vinohradsky Chef also made this version his own. Even though goulash is typically a stew of meat and vegetables, the venison went solo in this case and floated in a paprika gravy. Alongside were sliced bread dumplings which served the purpose of soaking up the deep and delicious gravy.

Sister #2 who is a somewhat less adventurous eater (we didn’t know this until we travelled with her) selected beef in gravy. She too was well pleased.

You might guess that the piece de resistance were the plum dumplings that were singled out for dessert. They certainly brought back a flood of memories of my Polish/Czech Grandma Felicia who made prune dumplings in her little farmhouse in rural Saskatchewan. One of these was a potato dumpling with poppy seeds and the other was a more traditional bread dumpling. Both were satisfying and so delicious.

I must admit though, that by this time I wasn’t really focused on the food anymore. To make a hundred-year story short, we were dining with Czech relatives that we didn’t even know we had until Sister #3 tracked them down on Facebook!

The handsome elderly gentleman really reminded of us of our Poppa and his grandson who was our find on Facebook, resembles our nephews and my own son! If the mannerisms and physical appearance had not been enough to associate them with our Dad’s family, the fact that they were from the precise area in Moravia where he was from, cinched it! We shared gifts, embraces and instantaneous love! That is why this dinner and evening will be forever etched in our most cherished memories.

Kath’s quote: “So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains our measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty. All other pacts of love or fear derive from it and are modeled upon it.”-Haniel Long

Love-that is all.

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