officially, spring has sprung and since easter weekend, we’ve had a handful of gorgeous warm days here in south bohemia with highs above 22ºC! (although you wouldn’t know it by how bare most of the trees here still are!) i’m still not quite used to this continental european “spring”. it seems to come in mid-april, still with bare trees sometimes, and by early june, we are blasted with either heat-wave temperatures (or rain and floods, depending on the year). spring is a blink-and-you-miss-it affair, unlike western washington with our first cherry blossoms blooming in late february!
i’m really trying to get into it this year, though… embrace those mild temperatures before summer comes at us full-force again! the last day of march brought us our first deliciously warm day, and with most of my classes cancelled, i enjoyed a few hours in the sunshine with a book and a can of coconut water on “the island” (sokolský ostrov – the island where the vltava and the malše rivers converge which becomes a sun-worshipper’s wonderland). it was heavenly. there’s just really something to be said for that first warm day of the year where you get to sit in the grass, take off your shoes, and relish in the fact that this half of the earth is waking up again. daisies growing all around. in the middle of a weekday afternoon, this is the actual best. also below, the beginnings of our spring balcony garden!
we quietly celebrated alex’s birthday, which fell on a wednesday this year (womp.), with a from-scratch chocolate cake with sprinkles and cocoa-butter cream frosting. it was surprisingly really easy to make! i can highly recommend this recipe to everyone – perfect birthday cake material! to his great surprise, he returned home that evening with a backpack full of chocolate bars and gifts from his classes as well as the sweetest homemade cards as well as singing the czech “happy birthday song”. my heart melts… he is so loved here! we can barely go out to the supermarket without a child calling out “hello!” to him (or at least some clandestine whispers and stares from the shier ones)
to counter this influx of chocolate and sweets, healthy foods have been the main request around here, lately. i’ve fallen in love with the healthful recipes of gratitude and greens lately and just made the spring equinox bowl – involving rice (black or red; i haven’t been able to stand white rice lately), mushrooms sauteed with garlic, kimchi, roasted radishes (how have i never tried that before?!), and cucumber slices tossed with oil, spices, and herbs. it needed a bit of sauce or vinegar, but it a great “detox dinner” if you’re feeling the need for a health boost. i can’t believe that this was a “make again”, according to alex. (who is this guy now?)
yesterday, the weather wasn’t so wonderful, but it didn’t stop our weekend adventuring which took place just east of tabor, a moderately-sized very historical town in northern south bohemia, visiting the chýnovská cave on a tour! we love our caves, and it was fun to finally see one in the czech republic, even in our “home region” of south bohemia! the surroundings of the chýnov area were so beautiful as well.
after a short pub visit to warm up (we were all wearing our scarves and winter hats… brrrr), our friends suggested a “short” visit to a castle ruin, and we walked uphill for about fifteen minutes before we found it… choustnik castle perched on a small mossy cliff-side. however, the main gates were firmly locked… we had arrived about five minutes after closing time! however, “opening hours” seemed to be a mere suggestion to our friends, who suggested we try to find a way in! i noticed a well-worn trail snaking around the side of the cliff, seeming to point out that many others had tried to sneak in too, so eventually, most of us (that could climb, at least), scaled the small (but steep!) cliff-side and we climbed in the castle through one of the windows! so worth it.
if i only i had a torch to light up one of the dark hidey-holes. castle ruins are much more fun and interesting to me than the stuffy castles with all of their fine rugs and furniture. i’d rather climb up in a rocky window any day!
if you’re in the tabor area, i can highly recommend either of these places of interest. but if you’re not into climbing cliff-sides (below, steeper than it looks), you can just go before 17:00 when it’s open, haha. it did make for a fun adventure, though!
happy weekend. xo