Thursday, 29 September 2016

Flying Zell am See

We spent the past two days in Zell am See, Austria. Excellent flights. Andrew did two each day; I only did one on the first day as the wind had picked up later in the afternoon and Nick figured rotor hazard would be higher, both of which were more than I was comfortable with.

We're with a group of 10 people including Nick (our fearless leader) and one non-flying spouse. It's a good group with various experience levels so I'm sure I'll learn lots from others as the days go on. Andrew and a couple of the other pilots had particularly good first flights here and headed cross country; Andrew turned around and got back to the LZ, one went further and didn't quite make it back to LZ and the third got about 40 km up the valley. It was quite easy for them to find somewhere to land.

So far we haven't had much time to spare between two flights per day, waiting for gondolas, gondola rides, waiting for pick up (Nick has to get down the gondola again and then drive to the LZ) and having a quick bite to eat so this post will mostly just be photos. And mostly in illogical order since then were taken over multiple flights.
The view from one of the launch points. It was a bit nerve wracking (for me, at least!) thinking about getting around all the buildings and ski lift lines before you could get higher and out to clearer terrain. It all worked out fine.
In the air and looking back at launch.
The LZ right in the middle of the photo. If you look close you can see a blue wing laid out where someone has just landed.
Andrew coming in for landing.
At launch on  the "other side" of the peak. Steven taking off; Andrew waiting to go next. From here you had to make a quick left and get around to the front side and toward the LZ.
Andrew making the left turn to get out in front.
Arriving at launch. Nick pointing out various options.
Looking back towards Zell am See and the lake on the right.
Gorgeous view of the mountains across the valley.
Up valley where pilots can go cross country and find a place to land.
Train stop at the LZ.
A couple tandem pilots in the air.
Another view of the LZ.
We were done early enough one day that we caught the last boat ride of the day around the lake. More great views!

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)