Wine Cellar Retreat, Czech Republic

 

My school organized an overnight wine tasting event at a vineyard or cellar as they’re more commonly called here. It was at Milanuv Sklep (Milan’s Cellar) in a village called Moravský Žižkov.

 

Some of us arrived early and walked around the village. We drank in the view of the retiring sun, which looked spectacular with its rays painting the sky a pink that my camera lens couldn’t capture. 

 

 

The others arrived and our food was laid out. As hungry as teachers on a Friday after a day of teaching, we devoured platters of cheeses, meats, salads and breads. The owner had smoked the meat just a couple of days before, in preparation for our arrival and it was done to perfection. 

the first round of food

 

The vigneron or as he called himself, the winer*, [Teehee- as a Trini this made me chuckle every.single.time] began telling us about his wines, the region and his friends who are professional winers. Teehee. 

Milan, doing his work.


 

We had 11 different kinds to sample and they came in generous sample sizes. By number 6 it was time for a break and we merrily migrated south for a tour of the cellar. Most of the shelves were empty as they tend to sell out quickly around late autumn.

the line up

 

Milan also let us have our pick of a bottle from one of his fellow winers/competitors. Though his wine was great, that bottle ended up being the favourite of a few of us. Oops 🙂

    

Mr. Winer and Mrs. Winer

 

After his breakdown of the remaining wines, we were invited to finish all the bottles we’d tasted. All 12 of them. Later, we headed outside for some stargazing. The lack of light pollution in the village meant we had a lovely, clear display. Then it was time for us to retire. We returned and headed just upstairs to our rooms. It was the perfect set up. 

 

super comfy beds


In the morning, some went for a walk, some slept in 😉 Breakfast was had, wine was bought and we were on our way. It was an excellent first experience overnighting at a wine cellar. I hope I get to repeat it before I leave the Czech Republic. 

 

 

~~~The Wandering Pier

 

Cost: 700 CZK each (£20/€25/$28) included our accommodation, the food and the wine we tasted. 

*to wine (v) – Trini vernacular. Rhythmic rotation and gyration of one’s waist/hips usually to Soca music. A winer (n) is someone who wines and usually does it well 😉 

Eat Bunny Chow in Durban

We arrived in Durban, the place in which the books said bunny chow was a must. I still had no clue what it was. The words amused my tongue and ideas danced around my brain. A quick google search would of course resolve everything, but I liked the idea of not knowing. So, I would follow the clear instructions given in the guidebooks – find it and eat it. 


  


That damp day in Durban, my mum and I made our way to Victoria Market. There, in a shop where we bought some lovely paintings and souvenirs, I asked the shop owner where I should have bunny chow. Without hesitation she said at The Oriental. The best and only place we should have it. 


  


We found ourselves on public transportation for the first time in the country. Yay, food adventures! 🙂 Upon alighting the bus we dashed through the rain. Wet streets and wet feet took us to what I was surprised to find was the food court of a shopping mall. Really


  


Lots of people were milling around the spot we needed to go to. That relieved me. By the time of ordering we knew what the bewitchingly named bunny chow was. Your chosen portion size of a bread loaf, hollowed out and filled with delicious curry. The hollowed bit was served on the side and used for dipping. We ordered quarter loaves. My mum got mutton and I went for the beef. The taste explosion was worth the wait. Worth the hunt. Worth the enigmatic anticipation. 


  


The spices married perfectly, the meat was tender and the way the bread soaked up the curry was as though these two were always meant to be together. I still have daydreams about this meal. If you’re ever in Durban, it is hands down a must! 


Have you ever tried it? Have you ever made it? What did you think? 

~~~The Wandering Pier

What the heck is a Michelada? 

“You’ve never had a michelada?!…” my friend Shirley exclaimed, as we walked toward El Mercado in downtown San Antonio. “We’re gonna get you one now!” Her immediate mission was to fix this lifelong mishap. 





If you’re a beer drinker, this one’s for you. If you like tomato juice, you’re in. I drink beer, however I don’t like tomato juice. Obviously I didn’t let that stop me from trying it. Here, these two punchy flavours team up to make a spicy, yet refreshing beer cocktail. 



The lady behind the counter concocted the mix with a seamless, automatic ease. I’m certain she could do it with her eyes closed. In went beer, lime, clamato (tomato juice, spices and clam broth) and some other spices. When she was done, it was all poured into a large, salt and chilli rimmed plastic cup. As the tangy, spicy mix flooded my taste buds, I pondered whether I liked it or not. 





To answer a yes or no question, my answer would be no, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t to my taste. I must mention however that it’s a flavour I could probably get used to, just like I did with beer, which I now love. 





So now San Antonio is punctuated in my memory by the Alamo, the River Walk, the Texas Folklife Festival and the place where I lost my michelada virginity. Thanks, Shirley Shirls! 



If you’re in town, give it a try. Your new favourite drink might be waiting for you.  


Have you had it before? Did you like it? 



~~~The Wandering Pier

Quick Tip: Souvenir Shopping in Krakow

It’s no secret that in the heart of touristy areas anywhere in the world, prices spike. Going further afield usually pays off and you either save some money or it stretches further.

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Cloth Hall in the Main Square, Old Town District, Krakow

However I’ve found when travelling, that shops selling souvenir goodies are a bit of an anomaly. Their concentration in particular areas often result in competitive prices and room for haggling, meaning you can come up trumps without having to go searching far.

This was not my experience in Krakow. In the Old Town area where I stayed, all of the shops seemed to have the same price. I checked many of the shops I passed during my time there and the prices were identical. If some were more than others, then I’d have had the chance to haggle and maybe get a good bargain. But with everyone fixed on the same prices there seemed no room for manoeuvre.

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Some of my souvenir haul

On my last day, I took a stroll down to the end of the Old Town district to see the Wawel Castle. My plan was to check that out, pick up some gifts and then make my departure from Poland. Just before getting to the castle, I passed a few souvenir shops and thought out of curiosity, I’d pop into those on the way back. I had already resigned to buying from the shops I saw earlier anyway, so it couldn’t hurt.

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Wawel Castle

When I went in to have a look, the prices were a whole lot cheaper. Shot glasses were 4-6zł (£0.88/$1.35) compared to 10zł (£1.75/$2.70) each and I got a deal of buy 5 get the 6th free 🙂 Fridge magnets started from 4-8zł compared to 10-20zł. And little, cute notebooks were 10zł instead of 15zł. I was very pleased with myself and I just had to share. So when you’re in Krakow, save your złoty for your walk down to Wawel Castle. You can get two tourist treats with the cherry of a bargain on top!

~~~The Wandering Pier

Petřín Tower, Prague

While my friend was visiting from London we went to Prague for a couple of nights. On the last evening we were there, we decided to check out the views of the city from Petřín Tower.

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Petřín Lookout Tower (Petřínská rozhledna) was built in 1891 for the Prague Exhibition Jubilee. It was inspired by the Eiffel Tower, but it is only 63.5m high to the Eiffel’s 301m. However, because it is sitting atop the Petřín Hill’s 318m, the tower is actually higher than the Eiffel Tower.

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We arrived to get the funicular to the top around 5pm. Unfortunately, this was too late to go into the tower. We decided to go to the top anyway to see the tower by night and catch any views of the city that we could along the way.

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There was indeed a lovely view of Prague on the way up and being a fan of city lights at night, I was glad we went. I wished the ride was longer. When we got to the top, we strolled around the frozen garden. Kids from the area ran around in the dark getting in their last few minutes of outdoor fun for the day. We made our way over to the tower.

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I was struck by its prettiness as we approached. The lights call you from a distance and exude an air of romance. I think it would be a perfect place for a date! I’ve never been to Paris, but I imagined the feeling of awe and romance to be ten fold standing at the feet of Eiffel Tower.

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We went inside for a gander, but shortly after entry staff walked around ushering people out so that they could close up. I’ll definitely be going back so that I can climb the 299 stairs to the top and admire the beautiful city that is Prague, from above. Stay tuned for an update 🙂

~~~The Wandering Pier

Museum free days around Krakow

Mosquito Hostel's Blog

 

 

Free admission on Monday

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The crypt of the Church of St. Adalbert- Archaeology Museum Main Market Square 

Free admission on Monday:  10.00 – 16.00

 

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Pharmacy “Under the Eagle”- History Museum 

The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto – permanent exhibition 

Plac Bohaterów Getta 18

Tel: 12 656-56-25 

Free admission on Monday:  10.00 – 14.00

 

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Schindler’s Factory – Museum of History 

Krakow – Nazi Occupation 1939-1945 – permanent exhibition 

ul. Linden

 Tel: 12 257-10-17 

Free admission on Monday:  10.00 – 14.00 (Closed on the first Monday of the month)

 

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Rynek Underground- History Museum 

On the trail of Cracow’s European identity – tourist route 

Rynek Główny 1

Tel: 12 426-50-60

Free admission on Monday: 10.00 – 20.00

 

 

Old Synagogue – History Museum 

History and Culture of the Jews – the permanent exhibition

 ul. Wide 24 

Tel: 12 422-09-62 

Free admission on Monday: 10.00 – 14.00

 

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Wawel…

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My Ice Skating Jumbie

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Every year without fail, the winter season

rolls in and the notion of ice skating rears

it’s charming head. Without much persuasion,

I jump at the chance. Every. Time.

Almost immediately, visions of me gliding along on the ice come to mind. Hands clasped behind my back, I move as elegantly as a swan on a tranquil pond. Right foot, left foot, wheeeee! Where these visions come from, I don’t know. In fact, I’m sure at times I believe them to be memories.

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The day of sweet reckoning arrives and I return to the icy trap, feeling excited and giddy with butterflies in my stomach. Time to shine.

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I would say around here is the point where reality then swiftly descends. The first issue I face is the skates. Even before I make it to the ice and take my first tentative steps onto the alluring slippery hell, my feet start aching. No matter what size or style of skate I try (apart from that one time at Somerset House in London. You guys rock!).

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This time was no different. I got on the ice and almost immediately I feel my feet get enveloped and then crushed by Satan’s Kung Fu Grip. I persevere. After a couple rounds I decide to go change skates. Still no relief. Again, I join the mob at the skate rental booth to change my skates’ style. My irritation with the lack of queuing grows. I miss England. Why can’t the world queue?

ouch ouch ouch ouch
ouch ouch ouch ouch

Armed, err…  footed with new skates I challenge the ice to defeat me once more. It does. I make my way around a couple more times. No pleasure, no joy. Just concentration and wavering endurance. Satan’s grip loosens, I presume as he turns his attention to a new victim. He already knows my time is near.

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Monika outlasted me :)
Monika outlasted me 🙂

I regret not making my way down the skating paths that branch off of the main rink. I’ve never been anywhere that was set up like that. However at the time, I feared if I went down that way I’d end up having to be airlifted out of Rathausplatz.

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Rathaus and the observation tower

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I’ll probably give it a go a couple more times back in the Czech Republic before the season is over. If not, I’m certain my jumbie and I will be back for more next year.

~~~The Wandering Pier