Czech Out Prague!

Straddling the Vltava River in the north-west of the Czech Republic, Prague is the country’s capital city and also the historical capital of what is known as Bohemia. Often referred to as the “city of a hundred spires”, Prague is now one of the most popular tourist destinations for European visitors and for very good … Continue reading “Czech Out Prague!”

Straddling the Vltava River in the north-west of the Czech Republic, Prague is the country’s capital city and also the historical capital of what is known as Bohemia. Often referred to as the “city of a hundred spires”, Prague is now one of the most popular tourist destinations for European visitors and for very good reasons.

Whether young or old, the city has something to offer for everybody. Lovers of history and architecture will be charmed and entranced by the famous Old Town Square and its baroque buildings as well as the Gothic churches and the Astronomical Clock which dates from medieval times. But Prague is not just about history as it is also a vibrant city offering a multitude of bars, cafés, restaurants and a lively night life.

 

Historic Prague

For culture buffs, Prague has plenty to see and do and it would take days to take in everything. There are ten museums dotted throughout the city as well as countless theatres, galleries and historic exhibitions to be seen. Other must-see attractions include:

• Prague Castle. Built in the 9th century and the official residence of the President, Prague Castle houses the Bohemian Crown Jewels and is the world’s largest ancient castle according to the Guinness Book of Records.

• Charles Bridge. Completed at the start of the 15th century, the Charles Bridge connects Prague Castle with the Old Town. With sixteen arches and thirty baroque statues along its 620 metre length, the Charles Bridge also features three towers of which the Old Town Bridge Tower is considered one of the world’s most amazing civil Gothic buildings.

• Old Town Square. Located between the Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square, the Old Town Square is a focal point of the city for both visitors and the city’s inhabitants. Here can be found the Gothic Church of Our Lady with its 80 metre high towers as well as Saint Nicholas Church and the Old Town Hall which houses the medieval astronomical clock.

• Prague Astronomical Clock. Built in 1410, the astronomical clock or Prague Orloj on the Old Town Hall is the third-oldest in the world and the oldest still functioning. A major tourist attraction is the hourly animated display of “the Walk of the Apostles” with moving figures and sculptures.

 

Popular Prague

Due to its central European location, the availability of cheap flights and the low cost of living, Prague is one of the top destinations for short breaks and longer holidays. A nice three-course meal for two can be had for less than £20 and a half-litre of local beer for about £1.20. Nearly half of the Czech Republic’s tourism income is generated in Prague and the city has an abundance of accommodation available at more than reasonable rates. Almost everything to see and do in Prague can be done on foot and choosing a centrally located hotel will save time and money. One of the most popular choices for a short break in Prague is the Boho Hotel which is a short stroll from the Old Town Square and close to several museums as well as the Palladium Mall and opera house. If you are a night owl, the Boho Hotel is also right in the centre of the nightlife scene with numerous bars and clubs in the immediate vicinity.

 

Attractive Prague

A mixture of the old and the new, Prague is one of those cities that people keep coming back to. Whether it’s just a weekend break or a longer stay, Prague has plenty to see and do and however long you stay it is never quite long enough. If you have never been to this lovely city on the banks of the Vltava River now is the time to book your flights and Czech out Prague!

 

Travelling to Prague? Book your Prague airport transfers with Holiday Taxis.

 

Changes on Oahu – Is this still my home island?

It feels incredible to be back on Oahu. I love it, I love this island. It has changed though. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that. In Kailua, I was virtually the only person who was stopping to let people cross the street…in Lanikai I stopped so a mom with a stroller could cross and the lady behind me gave me a loud mainland kind of honk! Another mom with three little keiki whom she was trying to herd gave me a grateful look when I stopped and motioned for her to go safely…the look felt like she was surprised. I’m sure that the aloha spirit still exists here, but it has a much tougher environment to live in than it did even ten years ago. The apartments I looked at yesterday were all incredibly cramped without much in the way of amenities. One had no air conditioning (and a $100 fine for drips from the window), another had no windows in the living room, another had no yard or outdoor space – and each of them were more than the salary I’ve been offered will cover. The landlords were asking for three times the rent as a minimum income…I can’t show that. I will be able to earn it, but I can’t demonstrate it because much of my income will and does come from writing, book sales, and more. A move here means a move to a very serious rat race and not much chance to improve my family’s finances in the near future. I want the job, but I’m not sure that Oahu is where we are meant to be. A woman across from the hotel is screaming like bloody murder at 6 am. Lots of people looking, but not sure if anyone is helping. I will go down and see. Police arrived…so no need for me to go down now. I hope she is alright.

I took an early morning walk through Waikiki. The homeless and the wretched. They are truly hard to ignore and ultimately, really, should not be ignored – but it’s impossible to enjoy this expensive paradise without ignoring them. So, last night, the crazy man yelling “Fuck you. All of you just go away. Just get the fuck out of here.” I felt compassion for him. The drunk young man passed out against a wall outside a bar at 6 am this morning. The haunted looking homeless old lady staring at the rich passers by who do not notice her. The old Chinese man pushing a stolen shopping cart loaded with cardboard. The tents and homeless camps in every available spot on this island. And the cost to live here, the way it drives those who do not have fantastic income and the sense of entitlement it gives to those who do. All of this is reality. This is the reality of Oahu.

I was unable to determine what happened this morning. My guess is someone died or domestic violence, but either way it was horrid. I checked out and the charges were less than I expected, I didn’t get charged extra for my rental car, and airport security was such a breeze that I’m again 3 hours early for a flight I could have come 2 hours later for…and yet, I feel we have a chance right now…a chance to have a better life. I know that. I know that somehow, we have an opportunity to do something wonderful. I don’t want to miss that.

The changes here…Trump Tower is awful. I miss the old International Marketplace and the Honolulu Academy of the Arts which is now called the Honolulu Art Museum – that’s a bad name change for me and the International Marketplace took something authentic and wonderful and turned it into a big expensive mall. I’ll be honest, I hate it. I miss the old Daiea markets in Kailua and near Ward. I miss Island Air, Aloha Airlines, Go Airlines, and the old interisland terminal. Kailua isn’t affordable – actually, nowhere on this island is affordable. People don’t smile as much. I heard few “Howzit”s and not very many “Mahalos” or “Alohas”. No one under 50 wears an aloha shirt unless they are a tourist or at work. The prices are much more insane than I remembered – except for milk and gas. I’m glad I was here when I was here but I’m not sure at all that this is the place I’ve dreamed of. This morning, I was ready to leave Waikiki. I swam in Kailua once, swam in Waikiki twice, took long walks through Waikiki, chanted at the SGI culture center twice, drank a Kailua Monkey from Lanikai juice, ate a Shogun Dunburi from Ninja Sushi, looked at three rental units, drove quite a few miles and frankly, that was probably enough tourism for me.

A group of Tibetan Monks just walked by. One of them looks a lot like the Dalai Lama. A slightly chubby Dalai Lama. Any way about it – that is a very cool thing. That doesn’t happen in Reedsport. Meditating on compassion and the similarity of all living things. The miracle of the idea that each of us is a miracle. We are all miraculous beings made from star material. I wasn’t crazy about my hotel in Waikiki, but the Buddhism book in the drawer was a comfort and a better companion than the TV and the Bible which one usually finds (it was there too). The monks (I think) are going to Maui. I never felt a huge connection to Maui the island. In my mind, it was always the rich people’s island. Maybe I never gave it the chance it deserves.

There was a strange spectacle walking to the gate. A busty woman sitting in a massage chair – lots of jiggling going on. She was one of those middle aged, ruined skin from the sun, white ladies who look like she could be a biker’s lady. Ever so disturbing and almost impossible not to look at.

The Buddhism book in the hotel, had the passage where the Buddha became the Buddha marked and next to it was Dec 8, 2001 in Waikiki. I was in Waikiki then. I was having dreams of sand castles on the beach Christmas muppet specials and trying to find a way forward in my life. And just think, while I was doing that – someone blocks away at the Ambassador hotel was marking that passage. How very strange.

When I was checking in for this flight, there was some confusion, it said there was another Damitio on the flight. That’s odd. I didn’t find out who it was. That’s never happened before unless it was a Damitio I was traveling with.

So I came to the Big Island of Hawai’i to check out a property and potentially buy it. The property was gorgeous and remote but the house – my wife would never forgive me if I moved her into a house that far out and in that state of a mess. So I can’t do it. Big Island is beautiful, but it seems that Oahu is not done with me. I’ve lived in Kailua, Punalu’u, Waikiki, Lanikai, Punchbowl, and Manoa. Now I get to see what Salt Lake is all about. I’m pretty stoked actually. I’m an archaeologist and moving my family to Oahu. Cool. I am filled with gratitude. I am excited about this life, this new adventure that begins now.

When I moved to Oahu the first time, I managed the Polynesian Beach Club Hostel. After taking care of it while my boss was away, she bought me a trip to the Big Island. Hilo was the first place I went in Hawai’i that wasn’t Oahu. This is more balance because here I am again.

Traveling Again…

It’s been years since I took a flight…as I sit in the airport here in Portland – I remember suddenly how droll travel really is. And it’s worse than ever while having improved at the same time. The check-ins, the lines, the airport waiting rooms, the airport food – but – at least in Portland, that is something that appears to have gotten much better. I’ve just ordered breakfast at the Rogue Ales Public House and much to my amazement – a full breakfast is the same price or less than I’m used to paying at Denny’s or any roadside diner and the food is actually of better quality. Because I was thinking of international flights and lines of the past – I checked in way too early….three hours is too much – but the airport is a comfortable place to be. Free wi-fi, restaurants, comfy chairs, plenty of plugs for all my electronic devices….but the waiter has left my breakfast sitting in the window for at least five minutes…but here it comes now…maybe…he seems to be just ignoring it.

The flight itself was alright. But flying Hawaiian Airlines and every other airline has changed in the past ten years. Seats were so cramped that I couldn’t use the armrests on either side without hitting the guys to either side of me and when the lady in front of me put her seat back, I had no choice but to put mine back and I was unable to reach my carry-on bag under her seat for the rest of the flight without using my feet to grab it. There are no longer free in flight movies on this 5-6 hour flight – instead you can buy movies or games on the in seat entertainment console for $7.99 each or watch the Hawaiian Airlines show – which was pretty good but which probably doesn’t change for frequent fliers. Hawaiian is the last American airline that gives a complimentary meal with your expensive ticket – and what a feast…3 grapes and four squares of fruit, a tiny cookie, and an egg and cheese biscuit not unlike those from McDonalds which cost around a dollar. Plus coffee and water and a complimentary cup of juice at the end (the juice that costs $1.50 per 6 pack in Hawaiian grocery stores.

The car rental company did their damnedest to get me to buy extra insurance and the hotel I thought I got a deal on hit me with a $45 per night resort fee (just like Vegas, thanks Vegas) and of course, parking the rental is an extra $25 per day…which in this case isn’t a big deal. Milk and gas seem to no longer be obscenely expensive on Oahu, but all the local favorites that used to be cheap now cost big bucks….strangely bananas are cheaper on the Oregon Coast than in Hawai’i which probably makes sense because there are no banana plantations thriving here…

Cutting the Laptop Cord – Reviewing my iPad Pro 12.7

For the past two weeks, I’ve been pretty happily existing without a desktop or laptop computer. Maybe it’s been longer than that but I had to use the laptop for a few things that I haven’t learned to do yet on my tablet – so let’s just call it two weeks. Not too long ago, I made the decision to do it and I purchased a 12.7 inch iPad Pro with a keyboard and Apple Pencil. It does nearly everything that the laptop did and far more than the last desktop I owned which was long long ago in the dark ages of the internet. I’ve managed to make printing, document creation, anything internet related, and more even easier than they were with my laptop. The tablet is big by tablet standards but perfect by every standard except not fitting in my pocket and I’m fine with it. I needed to use my old laptop to download files and upload files via FTP when I was transferring a site to a new host – I’m sure there was a way to do it with the tablet, but rather than learn the new trick of this, I just pulled my old laptop out of a box and fired it up. Easy peasy eggs and cheesy. One complaint – no USB access to my external hard drive with all of my photos and other documents, videos, and files on it. I thought I’d found a way around this with a camera adaptor, but it didn’t work – it seems getting a Bluetooth external hard drive is the only way to do this. I probably will do that at some point, but don’t particularly want to transfer all of my files right now. And that’s it. Other than that, everything else has been an improvement or a seamless, not noticeable transition, or and improvement. We cut the cable tv cord quite a long time ago and have found Amazon Prime to be a great substitute. I’ve experimented with apps through Prime like CBS but only found PBS Kids to be really worth it and glitch free and the big problem was that it eliminated the need for a passcode so my daughter figured out quickly she could just watch as much as she wanted by going to PBS kids…And of course, the home telephone cord was cut even longer ago. We have smartphones with us all the time, a home phone is only good if you don’t want to have access to phone calls sometimes and in that case you can always leave your phone at home. Interestingly, my iPad is a cellular model, so I could conceivably use it as a phone and ditch the cellphone if I really wanted to – and at some point I may. I don’t think I would go the other way because I like the big screen on it. Apple has just announced a 10 inch model which is probably a nice compromise, but I haven’t regretted getting the 12.7 inch model even a single time since getting it. It’s literally like having a spiral notebook in terms of size and weight and that is a size I can deal with. Battery time is great. Upgrading to the thicker cord and higher rate charger made charging time very reasonable. The Apple keyboard and Apple Pencil are simply marvelous. I love both and already cannot conceive of not having either of them. For a printer, I use a compact Canon all in one with AirPrint and Google Print installed so I don’t need a printer cable and can print from my phone or tablet. Back in October of last year, I funded a kickstarter for something called the Superbook – it was supposed to ship in December but now will supposedly reach me by the end of this month (June) six months late. It uses an android phone as the processor and hard drive so that you essentially upgrade the Superbook when you upgrade your phone. It was supposed to be my next computer – but instead, it was very late and finally I ordered this iPad. I don’t think I will ever regret it, but if the Superbook ever does arrive, I’ll give it a fair try. I don’t think it’s really possible for it to be anywhere as enjoyable or good as my iPad Pro – but maybe we’ll get to give it a try. For what I do on the computer, the iPad Pro is a laptop killer.

Busy Busy Busy Busy and Busy

I have a lot of stuff. It all needs to go away from where we live by the end of the month. My wife has a lot of stuff. Our daughter has a lot of stuffed animals. All of this is keeping me pretty busy. Packing, sorting, pricing (for a total estate liquidation) and more. I’m thankful that I bought a quality trailer, but not so thankful that it started leaking in one of Oregon’s wettest and gravest winters since they started keeping records. And the rain just keeps on coming…that complicates things…but my options are limited so I pack it in the trailer in tubs the best that I can. What else can I do? I am working very hard to figure out exactly where that trailer is going to go and how it is going to get there…moving us is easy, moving the stuff is more problematic. My Vanagon isn’t made to pull anything larger than a utility trailer – so it won’t do. I sold my Jeep Cherokee which is good because it wasn’t really up to the job either. I’m working on selling the Vanagon to raise money for our transition – but much to my surprise – the market for Vanagons seems to have cooled a bit from where it was a few months ago. This particular market seems to have peaked and then gone a bit higher before dropping down and leveling at a still very reasonable price range which is several thousand dollars below the peak. I’ve noticed a huge increase in inventory availability on craigslist in the past month – which means that for the moment – everyone who wants one and can pay for it probably has one. It probably also means that now is a great time to buy a Vanagon or VW but not the best time to sell one. So, Misefrou may come with us when we figure out exactly where we are going. That wouldn’t be a bad thing – but the money would be useful at the moment. Still, I’m doing everything I can and trusting in the universal to bring about the right circumstances. This last week was busy – my daughter had her kindergarten graduation – I was proud as punch as all the kids walked on stage and said what they wanted to be when they grow up “army, jet pilot, mother, vet, basketball player” and then comes my little girl – the smallest girl in the school and she walks up and they have to pull the mic down for her and she says in a clear and confident voice “When I grow up I want to be a paleontologist.” There were audible gasps – I’m guessing that a large number of the adults in the room didn’t know what the word meant, but she did. So proud of my little genius and the math we do every morning, the reading we’ve been working on together for years now, all the fun study we do together and the smart conversations – this was payment in full with interest. Wow. Yesterday I looked at my annual list of goals for this year and was able to put check marks next to many of them or to update with positive progress…things are happening. I am so thankful. So very very thankful. Things are happening. Good things are happening. I’ve become cautious though about counting my chickens before they hatch. There is lots and lots of work to be done still. I’d better get to it.