Monday, 26 September 2016

Three Days in Prague

As soon as we started planning this trip, we put Prague on the agenda. Not only is it a unique city that we've often talked about but my cousin, Sheri, moved here a year ago and this was a great opportunity to visit and reconnect. She and Remy and Pascal were wonderful hosts.
Two hands are required to keep Remy and Pascal happy!
Day 1

Sheri had to work the first couple days we were in Prague (teaching English as a second language) so Andrew and I wandered on our own and did a few of the typical tourist things. We visited Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, walked across the Charles Bridge, saw the result of someone falling in the river (ok, untypical tourist thing), hiked a very round-about route to get to Prague Castle (although we didn't go inside when we saw the horrendously long lineups that have been the result of increased security measures), and simply just walked and walked and walked and enjoyed looking at the amazingly detailed architecture.
Detail on the clock tower in Old Town Square
As we watched this boat from the bridge deck we heard a splash off to the side. A woman had fallen into the water as she tried to step across into a boat. We saw a couple of the staff pulling her out, dripping wet!

Flower boxes off the beaten path 

Imagine all the work involved in hammering in all these small stones to make a city's worth of walkways. Wow!
Below Prague Castle

River and city view from Letna Park
Golden wings

Day 2

We spent all of Day 2 at the Prague Zoo. I'm sure we didn't see everything there was to see. Last year it was rated the 4th best zoo in the entire world and it's easy to understand why. It is huge and has unusually large enclosures for the animals which was great to see. It always bothers us when animals are kept in such tiny places they can barely move.
Not sure what type of bird this was but he and Andrew had a good chat.
Feathers up close
The Canada display -- Bison and Canada Geese!
View from the observation tower at the zoo.
An interesting way to cut steps for a very steep incline to the top of the observation tower.
The famous Przewalski's horses, the only remaining wild horse species not driven to extinction by humans.
Day 3

Sheri joined us for Day 3 and if we thought we'd walked a lot the first two days, we were sadly mistaken! I was amazed my feet weren't sore the following day. We started out at the Saturday morning Farmer's Market situated along the river. It's a great location and the market had a good mixture of vegetable stalls, pastries and other food and drink booths. Apparently, it's never too early for a beer! 

We saw the upside down statue of King Wenceslas riding a dead horse (strange but interesting -- apparently a mocking reference to the more famous statue in the Square named in his honour); the Dancing House jointly designed by Frank Gehry and a Czech architect (but Gehry's influence is obvious); wandered a craft market; came across a photographic display celebrating the 25th anniversary of Czech National Parks; hiked up to the Strahov Monastery and wandered back down via winding park pathways; and took a boat ride on the river which gave us a different perspective of many of the sites. There may have been a couple glasses of beer and wine in there somewhere too! :-) 

We finished off the day with supper out at a nice vegetarian restaurant (one of many delicious meals either made by Sheri or eaten at a restaurant). We were surprised by the number of completely vegetarian restaurants there are in Prague! 
Saturday morning Farmer's Market
Sheri and Andrew during a short stop for coffee/tea and mid-morning snack.
A photo of Andrew and I together. Shocking, I know! (Thanks Sheri)

It's often difficult to get a photo without power or tram lines in it.
Sheri and I thought of our cousin Jill when we saw this series of three portraits. A new idea for all her vegetables!

We came across a display of beautiful photographs of the Czech National Parks; celebrating 25 years. 
We went on a boat tour and got some different views of a few of the sites. 
The Charles Bridge with Prague Castle in the background. Note the wooden "ice breakers" in front of each of the pillars to prevent ice flow from damaging the sandstone.
Another beautiful domed roof.
View of Prague from near the Strahov Monastery (and library and hotel and brewery and vineyards, etc.)

Love this skyline!
Thank you again, Sheri, for a wonderful visit!

Good vegetarian restaurants we ate at:

  • Maitrea (Old Town)
  • Clear Head
  • Green Spirit (nice courtyard - had lunch here)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Packing for Multiple Adventures

Packing for two months, multiple adventures and variable temperatures wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for all the gear! In this case, paragliding, hiking and camping gear. Oh, and let's not forget electronics and all the accompanying cords and gadgetry.

"Regular" clothes and shoes. Pile on the right is travel-day wear, the rest is to be packed. 
Hiking and camping gear
Paragliding gear
Electronics -- bag on the left is GoPro accessories (one can never have too many!), bag on the right is cords etc.
Packed and ready to go!
I was quite careful not to overpack on the clothing. I made sure everything colour coordinated with everything else and most pieces looked good enough to function as reasonably nice but also suitable for hiking/camping/paragliding. The gear is harder to cut down on but most of our stuff, at least for hiking/camping, is pretty light weight. It's possible to get lighter-weight paragliding gear but, for now, we're haven't gone that direction. 

Here's my list. It's for myself for future reference but if it helps anyone else, great! 
  • 2 pr pants (one convertible to shorts) for hiking/camping/paragliding
  • 2 pr black pants (nicer)
  • 2 short sleeve t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve t-shirt
  • 1 long sleeve 1/4 zip shirt
  • 1 good tank top
  • 1 running tank top
  • 4 underwear (Exofficio)
  • 2 sports bras
  • 2 regular bras
  • 2 pr hiking socks
  • 2 pr running socks
  • 1 pr shorts
  • light weight dress
  • black skirt
  • tights
  • grey sweater (nice)
  • black fleece jacket
  • buff x 2
  • jewelry
  • good shoes (light weight flats)
  • minimus running shoes
  • sandals
  • sunglasses

  • travel face cloth
  • small travel towel
  • toiletry kit
  • lip balm
  • sunscreen

  • Marmot Dri-clime jacket
  • Patagonia Alpine Houdini jacket (rain)
  • insulated fall jacket
  • wind/rain pants

  • paraglider
  • wing repair sheet
  • helmet
  • flight deck
  • InReach
  • Flymaster
  • ski gloves (warm for paragliding)
  • sunglasses (different than above)

  • small First Aid kit (including travel meds such as immodium, gravel, pesto-bismal, cold & flu meds, ibuprofen, cough candies)
  • small repair kit
  • small water bottle
  • large water bottle
  • hydration bag

  • hiking boots
  • hiking poles
  • Osprey backpack
  • sleeping bag
  • sleeping pad
  • tent
  • bowl and spoon
  • coffee to-go mug
  • headlamp 
  • toque
  • light gloves
  • handkerchief
  • Aquatabs
  • toilet paper
  • various sized Ziplock bags

  • computer
  • Kindle (loaded with travel guides and many books!)
  • iPhone
  • cords for various electronics
  • converter plugs
  • GoPro & accessories
  • camera
  • Power rock

  • purse
  • daypack
  • passport
  • reading glasses
  • regular glasses
  • travel umbrella

Friday, 19 August 2016

Hiking, Bushwhacking and Strolling in Montana

The day after the paragliding maneuvers course we had a couple hours in the morning to go for a hike  at Missouri Headwaters State Park near Three Forks, MT. Both the park and the city so named because the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers come together here to form the Missouri River.

Beautiful scenery and definitely nothing strenuous about the hiking!

The next day we started in the direction of home but did some internet searches to see what we could find in the way of hiking trails along the way. Kings Hill Pass trail seemed reasonable . . . difficulty rating was "hard" but it was a loop trail and 7.5 miles would make a pleasant half day. Andrew downloaded the trail map from which we've had good luck with in the past.

Several hours later of up and downhill bushwhacking and following very old and overgrown logging trails we'd gone about 6 miles and our route was some vague resemblance of loop back to the car. I'm not convinced there's an actual trail here other than the old logging roads!
Following an old logging road.
Bush whacking.
We were "up there" somewhere before bushwhacking our way back down to the valley and creek.
The following morning, we took a stroll in Riverside Park in Great Falls to get at least a little bit of exercise before seriously hitting the road for home. The "river trail" in Great Falls is almost within arm's reach of the waters' edge and a main road on either side. The park, while beautiful, is on the other side of the road. I know I'm biased but, once again, I'm so thankful for the Meewasin Valley Authority and the foresight that City Councils of years gone by had in protecting Saskatoon's riverbank from development.
This rock wall and arch was built circa 1932. The log cabin in the background was the first permanent structure built in Great Falls in 1884 and this is its third location. 

Beautiful stained glass.
A lovely home for ducks, geese and swans. 
The old and beautifully restored railway station, with its distinctive tower, sits at one end of the park.