Interim Update

We’ve been a bit busy during the WUOC week but the team has made a couple of posts during the week on the Orienteering NZ website. Tomorrow is the relay and then we travel to Berlin on Sunday. We should have some more time to update you once we arrive in Germany. For now here are some links to the team posts.

Opening Ceremony and Sprint Relay

Long, Sprint and Middle

Team after the Sprint

Team after the Sprint

 

Jourdan & Celia at the Sprint event center

Jourdan & Celia at the Sprint event center

 

Jourdan finishing the sprint

Jourdan finishing the sprint

 

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Arrival and Training Week in Olomouc

On the 3rd of August we packed up our things at the hostel, had breakfast and got taxis for the short trip to the train station. Maybe a bit lazy but the thought of walking through the heat with our packs was not the slightest bit appealing.

Found our train and reserved seats and settled in for the easy 2 hour air conditioned, food car fed trip to Olomouc. The organization here has been great, we were the first team to arrive and were met at the train station by the organizer and his wife who drove us across the city to the university where we have two cells on the ground floor. Good we don’t have to climb stairs but a bummer we can’t leave our Windows wide open to get the breeze all day and at night. They have quite a cool window system here which allows them to be swung open horizontally or lent open vertically. Hopefully that makes sense.

We get lunch and dinner fed to us at the local restaurant. Which is ok but we don’t have much choice and English is limited. We have so someone there to translate though. Our Czech is limited to saying hello, please and thank you, but we really haven’t got thank you down. We went to the massive supermarket/hypermarket to get our full of fruit and snacks, a tent and picnic blanket.

Pimping in Olomouc

Pimping in Olomouc

 

Czech views

Czech views

Monday the 4th we had a free morning where everyone chilled out, lunch and then got on a bus for about half an hour to go to a middle distance training.

Tuesday was also make distance trading in the morning at a different map. In the afternoon we went into town for a look see. We went and had a look at Olomouc’s astronomical clock, got yummy huge gelatos and iced coffee. We then walked around what must be the old town looking at the buildings and churches, unfortunately we were under dressed to go into the churches past the front reception area so we will have to go back with more demure clothing on.

 

Olomouc town

Olomouc town

Candy coloured buildings

Candy coloured buildings

Feeding our faces with Gelato

Feeding our faces with Gelato

Gelato!

Gelato!

Miniature of the City

Miniature of the City

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Considering the Astronomical Clock

Olomouc Astronomical Clock

Olomouc Astronomical Clock

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In the square in Olomouc

In the square in Olomouc

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Really pretty ceilings in this one :)

Really pretty ceilings in this one 🙂

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This guy

This guy

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Sweet as drain covers

Sweet as drain covers

Looking into one of the many churches we were too indecent to enter

Looking into one of the many churches we were too indecent to enter

Touristing

Touristing

The Pie Institute

The Pie Institute

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Wednesday the 6th was long distance training and our bus took a rather interesting route to it, pretty sure we got a little lost for a bit.

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Snake!

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Swimming snake!

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There was a little pond with frogs and fish and snakes (ick!) We got back reasonably late from that one and didn’t have time to into town.

 

Filling up on fruit and vege

Filling up on fruit and vege

Ran out of toilet paper

Ran out of toilet paper

Fluffy dog, the main attraction on the way to dinner

Fluffy dog, the main attraction on the way to dinner

On Thursday we went to Borzou Castle for sprint relay training. There was a permanent orienteering course at the castle which we did. After training we had a go (many many goes) at the luge / down hill mini cars. Pretty fun, definitely would not get OSH approval at home with no sides and no helmets. Going off the sides of the track was not so nice with stinging nettles. Celia was fastest with 59.3s down the track.

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Lime and Berry Beer - the closest thing to cider outside of Prague

Lime and Berry Beer – the closest thing to cider outside of Prague

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Tourdan strikes again

Tourdan strikes again

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Cups on posts, because why not?

Cups on posts, because why not?

 

After luging we walked past the castle into the small village to have lunch. It was really very hot but they still served us soup for starter and then schnitzel. So we found some ice creams and a place to cool down. We got dropped into central Olomouc on the way back so we could get more gelato and go to the supermarket.

Kutna Hora and Sedlec Ossuary

On the 2nd of August we walked into the old town square with Greta and Tessa via the market to get delicious cherries, grapes and berries for our day trip to Kutna Hora.

At 11 o’clock we met up with our tour guide Bianca from Romania, she wished she could tell us something amazing about herself but sadly there was nothing to tell – this seems to be a bit of a tour guide joke as the girl at the riding school in Vienna said something similar.

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Synagogue on the walk to the train station in Prague

We walked with a rather large group to the main train station where we boarded a regional train that was to take about an hour. The train stopped often in the middle of nowhere and I think we finally got off it at about 1.30. When we boarded the train the whole group spread out to find seats, assured by Bianca that it would be fine when the ticket collector came. We ended up a couple of rail cars away from most people rather dubious about how ok it would be when the guy came. Sure enough he came and it wasn’t ok, the only English he spoke was “ticket”, we had to go find Bianca and so ended up standing for most of the journey.

We got off at a little station and got on a little yellow train – the bumblebee. From the bumblebee we walked through the small village Sedlec to the bone chapel, the Sedlec Ossuary.

Inside the Sedlec Ossuary

Inside the Sedlec Ossuary

The area was settled in 1142 by monks as the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia. The monks found silver around 1200. The story went that a hard working monk lay down for a rest one day and beside him appeared rods of silver, magical! That caused a silver rush in the area and the monastery became rich. Rich enough to send an envoy to the holy land. The envoy collected earth from the holy land and sprinkled it around the monastery when he got back. They then declared the monastery land holy land. This meant that everyone that knew about it wanted to be buried there. Sick people would travel to the gates so that when they died they would be buried in the holy land of the monastery and their sins would be forgiven. The monks took it a step further and said that your remains would breakdown in 3 days, which was a appealing as it reduced the chance of someone breaking into your grave, stealing your bits and then dumping the rest of you somewhere. So lots and lots of people were buried in this small area.

During the 1400’s in the Hussite Wars one side trapped the other side in the silver mines until they all died from injuries or starved to death. All these bodies were buried there also.

Later on the bubonic plague took out thousands who were also buried in the area.

Around 1400 a church was built and in order to lay the foundations they had to exhume a lot of bodies. The bones of these bodies were cleaned and arranged decoratively into the bone chapel below the chapel, which is what partly what we went to see. 40-60,000 bodies were used in the construction which was completed for the last time in 1870. The info made it sound like the bones had been arranged more than once. The chapel was not for devil worship, from photos we could see that there used to be pews in the bone chapel.

 

Crest of the family who commissioned the decoration of the Ossuary

Crest of the family who commissioned the decoration of the Ossuary

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Chandelier made of every bone in the human body

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From there we got vans into Kutna Hora and St Barbaras cathedral which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

St Barbara Catherdral

St Barbara Catherdral

Construction of the cathedral started around 1300 and was slowly constructed over a few hundred years until they realized they didn’t have the funds to finish it and so walled one end off for a while with a wooden wall. No idea how everything inside didn’t get wet and snowed before they walled it up. The paintings on the wall and painted shields of the contributing houses on the ceiling were really lovely. Some were faded lower down by the humidity in the region but still I find much more preferable to the heavy wood and gold of lots of the other decorations. A shorter version of the planned cathedral was eventually completed in 1905.

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Crests on ceiling

Crests on ceiling

Painted walls from around 1300

Painted walls from around 1300

Painted ceilings inside St Barbara

Painted ceilings inside St Barbara

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We had lunch at a restaurant looking over Kutna Hora and back up to St Barbaras, then wandered down through the town.

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Looking back up at St Barbara Cathedral

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There was another cathedral, god only knows why they need two so close together, called St James. This one looked to be in need of repair and had a tower that was never completed as the earth was not stable enough and they realized that completing the tower would compromise the rest of the building. We also went to the Italian court in Kutna Hora, I it was named so because of the Italian minters they brought in to mint the silver as they were apparently the best. That reminds me that there was a painting in st Barbara which depicted the punishment of the time, you served as the person who held the silver to be minted for the minter to hit with his hammer. You had to serve for a month and in the process had most of your fingers crushed.

Statue of King Wencelas - actually a replica of the one next to it which was the repaired original. I am a fool and took a picture of the fake :(

Statue of King Wencelas – actually a replica of the one next to it which was the repaired original. I am a fool and took a picture of the fake 😦

From there we walked back to the bumblebee train, raced across the next train station to get our train back to Prague – only to wait 15-20 min for it. Rode the hot train back into Prague, luckily with much less stopping in the middle of nowhere and then went on search of dinner.

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Train station in “Czech middle of nowhere”

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One very tired Jourdan on the train back to Prague – too tired to keep his eyes open to read his book

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Awesome ceiling in the main train station in Prague

We had maybe our best dinner so far at a place that had live music and beer, we were a bit early for the live music but the much needed vegetables in our duck salad hit the spot.

Czeching out Prague

On the 31st we got an early bus from Vienna to Prague. The bus took about 5 hours (around the same as the train) and was quite cheap at ~16 EU. The bus was well equipped with comfy seats and TV’s at each seat.

Upon arrival in Prague we made our way to our Hotel where we would stay for a night before meeting up with Greta and Laura. We booked the Hotel/B&B through airbnb where the rate was about half that advertised on their website. The receptionist was very helpful supplying us with maps, advising us on places to go and making a much need espresso. After putting our bags in our room we headed into town to explore.

We headed into town around 3pm and planned to get our bearings and have a look around rather than trying to see anything specific. We walked back to the train station and got it one stop into the old town and started our wander. We went to Wencelas Square, which was really more of a road in front of a big building with nice gardens down the middle. That is Wencelas like Old Kind Wencelas in the Christmas carol.

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Horse statue in Wencelas Square – they are pretty into their men on horse statues

Got a street sausage which are massive and reasonably tasty in the “Prague Sausage” flavor – not a clue what was in it. Then we wandered down into the narrow streets, there are zillions of tourists everywhere. We went to the old town square and saw the astronomical clock and Tyn church, headed past the market where they sell these rather annoying puppets that cackle when you make noise, and of course the noise of one cackling sets of the others – I don’t know how the stall people stand it all day every day!

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Pretty Building on Old Town Square

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Astronomical Clock – we saw it go off at noon which was pretty cool – figures moved past windows that opened, the golden chicken moved and there was a trumpeter at the top

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On our way to the Charles Bridge there was a gypsy with a massive yellow snake around her neck – have since seen a few more people with snakes, tourists must pay them to hold the snake and have photos.

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Snake gypsy lady

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Charles Bridge

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Gate House on Charles Bridge

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Down by the river was really nice, we stood outside the largest night club in Europe which kindly provided us with Wi-Fi to get hold of Rachel and Greta.

We went over the Charles Bridge which is lined with statues and a few lucky plaques which are shiny and clean from people rubbing. There were also lots of portrait painters and caricature artists painting rather favorable portraits of people on the bridge. Some were actually quite good. I was surprised by the number of famous people that must have crossed the bridge, like Harry Potter, Emma Watson, Avril Lavigne etc, all the artists had been lucky enough to draw them at some time (lol). There was also lots of market like touristy stuff on in stalls – as there seems to be everywhere, the number of shops selling coloured glasses and sparkly things is clock like (astronomical).

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Jazz band on Charles Bridge with a guy playing with whisks!

Walking along by the river on the way up to the meet Greta and Rachel at the Chechuv most was quite nice. We met them and went up the stairs to the beer gardens. There was a metronome at the top and quite a good view of the city. We had beer, cider and pizza in the beer gardens which were nice and cool and then walked back through town quite late. Completely exhausted really.

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View from near beer gardens

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The first was Celia’s birthday! YAY! We got up rather late and had breakfast at the hotel, there were a few interesting things to try, pasta with a sweet sauce and cinnamon on top (a little strange for breakfast but quite yum), chocolate muesli, an apple and custard slice, and strange meaty things. We checked out and traipsed with our packs in the heat down to the subway and back to the bus station where the hostel we stayed for the remainder of our time in Prague with the rest of the NZ’ers. We somewhat hesitantly left our bags including most of our money and laptop in the bag storage across from the hostel until we could check in and headed off for more touristing.

We headed straight for a café we had seen the day before as it most resembled a NZ café and picked it as our best chance of good coffee, delightfully the coffee was good! They added another 4 kiwis to their tally of international visitors they keep, there were a lot of different nationalities on the board which is not surprising as there are so many different faces and languages spoken on the streets.

 

Post coffee we headed over Charles Bridge and up to the caste. It was quite a long way up and gave great views of the city. We got even better views after paying to go up the South Tower. The climb up the tight spiral staircase was mildly nauseating.

P8010073 flat

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Cathedral in the Castle grounds

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View from the top of the South Tower

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The castle grounds were lovely with flowers, trees and pretty doors. There was an automatic lawnmower for one of the walled lawns, just like the automatic vacuum cleaners it turned when it hit a wall and went off in a random direction.

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Guard at the Castle – it was very hot

Kind of a funny thing to have out in the grounds of a castle. It was interesting to read about the history of the castle and how it developed and got built up through the ages. Also interesting is the attitude of people through the ages, our attitude now towards old things seems to generally be preservation, whereas many buildings have been renovated and updated to the style of the times in previous centuries.

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Things infront of every park on one street

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Nice park and river in the middle of the city

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Same park river and bridge!

We found a restaurant to have lunch (at like 3.30 but we’ll till call it lunch) in the old town, it was pretty good pizza, pasta risotto and salad. When it came to paying we may have had an oopsy – as he put the bill on the table he said something like “the service is not included” which confused us a bit, so we got our cash out to the amount on the bill, tucked it into the bill folder and left somewhat quickly before he came back and we found out if we actually needed to tip on top of the bill. Tipping is rather irritating, I guess we will get used to it in the US, but we expect it over there, whereas up until now we haven’t been asked to tip here.

First gelato was post lunch – DELICIOUS!

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Gelato!!

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Mmmmmm

Headed back to the hostel, checked in, chilled out, had a shower, got dressed and then headed out for dinner. I dressed in my fluoro orange dress for the occasion. Earlier in the day I had seen people eating a Czech dish of duck, red cabbage, dumplings and sauce that I wanted to try out. Unfortunately the only option for that on the menu was half a duck… I went for it anyway – it was literally a cooked duck chopped in half lengthwise. Enormous. It was ok, a bit dry and not enough sauce, but now I’ve tried it. They offered us some lemony spirit shot, which we tried without knowing how much it cost – oops, it added a wee bit to the bill.

All in all a pretty good birthday away from home. It didn’t feel so much like a birthday as there was so much going on that it wasn’t the focal point of the day like it is on a normal day, but a most enjoyable day czeching out Prague none the less!

Wien Day 3 – Decorated Buildings

Our last day in Wien got off to a cruisy start, Jourdan went for a run around the city while I snoozed and coughed up some phlem (blegh).

Today Tourdahn was unleashed – running shoes on, camera at the ready and map in hand

Tourdahn

Tourdahn

We headed off to the train mid morning and went to the Schönbrunn Palace and gardens. The gardens are expansive and full of tree lined lanes, fountains, sculptures, flowers and squirrels – which resulted in running up and down under the trees after them trying to get a good picture. In total we wandered about 5km around the gardens and probably only saw a small part. There is also a zoo in the gardens but we decided not to go into it. We didn’t go into the palace either, it was full of tourists and like everything fairly costly to get in. A glance though the window did show a very extravagantly decorated room – as one would expect.

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

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Tree trimmer platform

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The palace and garden directly infront

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Facing the palace at the end of the gardens and lakes is the pool house

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This was mildly interesting – the trees were pruned on the outside of the lanes so that they grew all their leaves towards the inside of the lane making it a pretty wall of leaves

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Around 2pm we left the palace and took the underground back into town to get lunch, and then more coffee and cake – NOM NOM NOM!

Celia's cake - strawberry cream

Celia’s cake – strawberry cream

Jourdan's cake - half gone

Jourdan’s cake – half gone

We then headed off using our Vienna for Aliens guide – courtesy of Greta and Rachel – to find some buildings apparently worth a viewing. The plan had been to use the city bikes, but they don’t come with helmets and having to regsiter and what not did not appeal so we walked.

Quite interesting the decreasing decoration on the buildings along the street

Quite interesting the decreasing decoration on the buildings along the street

Street art in a park

Street art in a park

Naptimes at the traffic lights

Naptimes at the traffic lights

The bulidings were indeed quite interesting, a little piece of home actually! They were designed by the same guy that did the funky looking toilets in Kawakawa. Friedensreich Hunderwasser deisgned the quirky buildings, which have few (if any maybe) straight lines). We visited both the Kunthaus and the Hundertwasserhaus. A map showed his work to be all over Austria.

Hudertwasserhaus

Hudertwasserhaus

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At Kunsthaus

At Kunsthaus

Kunsthaus

Kunsthaus

We came back walking along the river / beach?? I don’t know, the sand on the concrete riverside, beach chairs and people fishing confused me. We are guessing that you have to pay to use the beach/river thing – seems crazy.

"Beach" on the river

“Beach” on the river

Swimming pool on the river

Swimming pool on the river

Dinner same as last night at the apartment – pasta, pesto, pork, salad – been putting more effort into day sightseeing than imaginative dinners.

Its raining and thudery now, hopefully it clears up for the morning. Tomorrow we have an early bus to Prague, should get there a bit after midday.

Tired feet make for a lack of fashion

Tired feet make for a lack of fashion

Bye Tokyo

Waiting at our gate at Narita for our flight to Frankfurt.

Stayed at the Narita Tobu hotel last night which was reasonably nice, there were buttons on the toilet to wash your bum!! Hilarious! Had yum Japanese for dinner instead of the pizza, burgers, Chinese and Indian on the menu.

It’s really really really humid.

They served Kapitit ice cream as the mid flight snack yesterday ) love AirNZ 😀