Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Devoting 5 Minutes a Day to Happiness

This is taken from the Daily Om. I thought it was a really good example of taking ownership for our own lives. Namaste

Devoting time each day for happiness will change your day and change your brain chemistry.

It can be so easy to get caught up in the rigors of modern life that we tend to forget that happiness need not come with stipulations. Happiness becomes something we must schedule and strive for—a hard-won emotion—and then only when we have no worries to occupy our thoughts. In reality, overwhelming joy is not the exclusive province of those with unlimited time and no troubles to speak of. Many of the happiest people on earth are also those coping with the most serious challenges. They have learned to make time for those simple yet superb pleasures that can be enjoyed quickly and easily. Cultivating a happy heart takes no more than five minutes. The resultant delight will be neither complex nor complicated, but it will be profound and will serve as a reminder that there is always a reason to smile.

So much that is ecstasy-inducing can be accomplished in five minutes. Alone, we can enjoy an aromatic cup of our favorite tea, take a stroll through the garden we have created, write about the day's events in a journal, doodle while daydreaming, or breathe deeply while we listen to the silence around us. In the company of a good friend or treasured relative, we can share a few silly jokes, enjoy a waltz around the room, play a fast-paced hand of cards, or reconnect through lighthearted conversation. The key is to first identify what makes us dizzyingly happy. If we do only what we believe should bring us contentment, our five minutes will not be particularly satisfying. When we allow ourselves the freedom to do whatever brings us pleasure, five minutes out of 14 wakeful hours can brighten our lives immeasurably.

It is often when we have the least free time or energy to devote to joy that we need to unwind and enjoy ourselves the most. Making happiness a priority will help you find five minutes every day to indulge in the things that inspire elation within you. Eventually, your happiness breaks will become an established part of your routine. If you start by pursuing activities you already enjoy and then gradually think up new and different ways to fill your daily five minutes of happiness, you will never be without something to smile about.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Top Ten Things We Love About Prague

The Top Ten Things we Love about Prague!

10. We loved the Anna Hotel....not so much of a high rating for comfort...the beds..not so comfortable, but the internet was super good and free, breakfast every morning was good and free and the location was great!

9. The neighborhood laundry mat: You have to understand that Brad obsesses about laundry any time we go on a trip and so Amanda and I were so happy that this little laundry mat was just around the corner from our hotel. Apparently it is one of two in the whole city. It had a cute little seating lounge complete with drinks and a guest book to sign and free internet. Brad was cozey in his little den while he waited for the laundry.
8. Neighborhood Grocery every half a block: There are a serious amount of stores in Prague, every inch is covered in stores of some kind and bakeries. I don't know how they can all make a living. We loved our little corner store that has fresh baked bread and pastries in the morning and lots of bottles of water.....you know you can't drink the water any where in Europe...I don't know why, I just do what I'm told. LOL!

7. The Food We ate at some fabulous restaurants that served czhek fare and it was delicious. Mostly pork, cabbage, dumplings and gravies. I didn't think we would be wanting to eat Pizza in Prague but we have had seriously some of the best pizza here.....and we've been to Italy so we know what we're talking about.

6. The Bone House One of the most macabre things we have ever witnessed but also the most interesting was the Bone House in Kutna Hora.....some serious bones there!`
5. Loved that Czheks are very understanding about us not knowing their language. They all tried to speak a little english, we on the other hand could speak zero czhek. Maybe by the next trip?

4. Our tour guide Renata Blazkova. Very pleasant, really knew her stuff and took us on three very well planned and enjoyable tours. We would definitely recommend her as a tour guide and we also would suggest a guide if you have never been to Prague. It was helpful to be able to ask questions and she is very knowledgeable.

3. Swan Lake at the Statni Opera House: We loved the production of Swan Lake that we saw in Prague. It was a beautiful theater and we got to sit in box seats, a real treat! We loved it!

2. The Transportation System: We were amazed at how easy getting around Prague was. They not only have a really good underground metro system, but also a Tram system that is above ground and great for sight seeing. We got every where fast and easy. Even Amanda and I could figure it out!
Drum roll please.....................................and the number one thing we loved about Prague:

1. The Ice Cream Sundaes at the Grand Cafe in the Old Town Square: We thought we had tasted good ice cream before but nothing has topped the gelato sundaes with bananas and whipped cream. So amazingly good we went there twice in one day. The gelato was out of this world good!

So there you have it, all the things we loved about our first visit to the Czhek Republic. It was a fantastic trip and we would definitely come here again! Thank you Prague for our first taste of your wonderful culture. We will savor it for many days to come!

Day 9: Castle Day

Friday, our last full day in Prague. We met our tour guide Renata again, this time for a tour of the castle of Prague. If you ever need a tour guide in Prague we highly recommend her, she is just full of information and her english is very good and I think anyone who can withstand the constant barrage of questions that Brad throws and still keep smiling deserves a medal. She was great! She let us know a whole bunch of history about the castle and the monastery there. We had a very well planned day of exploring and shopping and then she left us in the Old Town Square once again. We decided to have some more of that wonderful ice cream at the Grand Cafe on the square. So we sort of had a backwards lunch because this guy really wanted us to go upstairs and have coffee and so we went and ordered ice cream. And it was really delicious so we were glad we did but we wanted to find another hot dog stand for lunch so we headed to Wenceslas Square and found a really good hot dog stand, but on the way we got side tracked by a market and I had to have the little basket of mixed berries and some nougat and so by the time we got to the hot dog, we had had dessert, then fruit, then the actually lunch, so it was a backwards lunch....oh and not to forget the bracelet pastry we had on the way....it was warm....mmmmmm!
So as we have been saying all week.....this is how we roll on vacation.....it sort of all revolves around touring and food......and by the last day it is sort of revolving just around the food. I won't even tell you about the rest of the day because it involved a very good dinner, a very bad show, and lots more good food.....let's just say we had ice cream three times today! It was all good and.....that is how we roll! So tomorrow we will pack up and roll ourselves out of Prague!

Day 8: A Free Day.....a lazy day!

Thursday, was a free day and we took full advantage by sleeping in and being lazy all morning. We decided to go and ride the tram and see where it would take us. Prague not only has a wonderful underground metro, it also has a really nice tram system that operates above ground and makes it ideal for sight seeing. We headed down to the tram stop, about 1 1/2 blocks from our hotel and made sure to stop in on a local bakery to sample some of the local fare. It was wonderful and fresh....yum! We boarded the tram and went all the way to one end. Got off and got back on to ride back the other direction. We made stops along the way where ever we wanted to. You just get on and off as needed. We stopped at a large grocery store out in the subarbs of town. Brad wanted to compare prices and we decided to stock up on treats to bring home. We got back on and headed back through town and out the other side. It was fun to see everything. Then we went back and stopped at a major shopping area. That is where I found my favorite french bakery, Paul's, and so I had to get a raspberry tart and a croissant. We found Amanda a pair of shoes because she had brought high heels and discovered they don't work very well on the subway. They were very inexpensive, about $8.00. We decided to try a hot dog which seems to be very popular here and even though I hate hot dogs these are super tastey, better than anything we have in the states. The buns are french bread and the mustard is wonderful. Even Amanda liked it and we both hate hot dogs. We headed back to the hotel for a nap and later we went to the Black Light Show. It was good, a little staged but the dancing was good.
Had to hurry back to the hotel to catch up on the British elections and had to google and find out who won the Snooker World Championships. Amanda and Brad got hooked on those while we were in France. Ha, Ha....it was a good day!

Day 7: Heading out in to the Country Side to Kutna Hora

Wednesday, we again met our tour guide but this time she had arranged for a car to take us outside of Prague to a town called Kutna Hora. We stopped first at the House of Bones and even though Ranata kept telling us there were lots of bones I was flabbergasted when we walked in. It is housed in an ornate looking chapel from the outside but when you walk in it is really the house of bones. Bones everywhere, put into artistic little piles, making plaques on the walls, even the chandieler is made of bones. It was simply overwhelming how many bones in this place. They are human bones taken from people that were found buried around the town from ancient wars and also from times of plagues when many people died at once. She said the Catholic church used these bones as a warning to people to say you better repent and to remind people that we are nothing and that we need God. We rejoined our driver and headed to a beautiful cathedral in Kutna Hora, a really nice example of flying buttress contstruction. We enjoyed a tour of the church and then a short walk into the main part of town. We did a tour of the ancient mint that was there, this was a mining town and so it became the mint and minted coins by hand. Very interesting. We had the funniest tour guide there, you have to have them take you through and you could tell his english wasn't that good and he had memorized his english script and he kept talking right at me and Brad as if we were the only ones there. Then at one point he asked me where I was from and I said Utah and he smiled and said I know that place and then named some other western states. Then he pointed to a picture of one of the mayors of their town and said who is that and Brad said Teddy Roosevelt because it looked just like him. He laughed and said yes, it is our mayor but he looks like your president. It was funny because you could tell he was looking for some Americans so he could pull that joke! After the tour we had some lunch at a very good italian place and then headed back to Prague. It was a nice relaxing day and easy on Brad's foot for once. For dinner we went to the same restaurant that we had tried on the first night and it was very good, we all liked it alot. Tonight we are just hanging out and catching up on the internet and posting pictures and writing blogs. It is nice to have free internet so we can stay in touch!

Day 6: We begin our Tour of Prague in the Jewish Quarter

Tuesday we met our guide Renata at our hotel. A very pleasant Czhec native who is a tour guide here. We spent a pleasant morning with her walking through the old Jewish Quarter of town and listening to a very interesting history of the German occupation here. I was very moved by some of the things that we saw and heard here. In one of the synagogues is a memorial to all of the Jews who were put to death during this time. The names were written on the walls and there were so many, more than 70,000 it took up all of the walls. In another part of the museum there were children's drawings saved by a woman who was an art teacher and encouraged the children to express themselves through drawing. She was eventually put to death as were most of the Jews but the pictures survived, hidden in a suitcase until after the war. These drawings depicted things like life in the camp, life before they came to camp etc. One that really struck me was a picture of a dinner table with many empty chairs. As people were taken from the camp they didn't come back and were taken to places like Auschwitz and Dakou to be killed. The kids would see them leave and not return. As I viewed all of this I was very grateful for this woman who did what she could in very dire circimstances, what a difference she made in those children's lives and then to be able to reach out and touch the world after her death with this memorial. Inspiring!

We ended our tour in the Old Town Square our tour guide left us for the day. We had lunch in the square and some yummy gelato and spent some time shopping and wandering around. We found a chocolate shop and watch them making candy by hand. Lots and lots of handicrafts to look at and buy. We saw the Powder Tower, a tower where they used to store the gun powder. So many interesting buldings. Things are so old here, it is amazing. After we went back to the hotel for a nap we headed off to go to Swan Lake at the Statni Opera House. Brad had booked us box tickets and it was wonderful. Really fun and the ballet was beautiful. I have not seen much ballet but this was so much fun to watch and really well done. We sidled home in the rain very happy and content.....it was a good day!

Day 5: Traveling to Prague -- Not Amanda's best day!

Sunday night was NOT a good night on this trip. Amanda caught the bug that Brad had and she spent the entire night and much of the next morning throwing up. Oh it was soooo sad! I tried all of the mothering things I could possibly think of and Brad gave her a blessing but I finally had to just drag her bedding into the bathroom and tell her to lay down when she could. This was about 5 am and then Brad and I tried to get some sleep. We had to fly out that morning, Monday to Prague and we were very worried that she wouldn't be able to get on the flight. Finally about 11 am she settled down a little and some how we all limped out of the hotel at 12Noon and headed for the airport. It was not a good day but somehow we all made it to Prague and due to Brad's good planning found our hotel quickly and put Amanda back to bed, after finding her some sprite and crackers. Luckily whatever this bug was, it seemed to dissappear quickly which we were very grateful for. Thankfully I did not come down with it. Brad and I ventured out enough to try a local restaurant and see what Chzek food is all about. It is quite heavy, lots of meat and potatoes, sauages and sauerkraut, cabbage and heavy sauces. The restaurant we went to was quite good, and the food is not expensive at all. After dinner we headed back and all went to sleep early to shake off our bad night. So glad Amanda is feeling better!

Day 4: Palace du Versailles

Amanda so excited to see Versailles!

Our tour guide, we'll just call him Pierre, he was very french and so funny....and I don't think he was trying to be!

Today was Sunday and it was our day to go to Versailles. We took a tour there and we really enjoyed the Fountains. Brad & I had been there before but did not get to see the fountains. The gardens are amazing and spectacular on their own but when you add water and music to the fountains it is out of this world! Amanda and I ran around trying to see all of it, which was impossible in the time alloted us, but we did get to see most of it. Brad took his time due to his disability and he decided not to go on the palace tour which gave him more time in the garden and seeing the fountains. He really enjoyed it! Amanda and I went on the Palace tour and we had a very french tour guide, he was a little hard to understand but he was entertaining! From there we tried to find someplace fun for dinner and settle on a little cafe in the quaint part of town called Les Halles. Well, okay Amanda just said it was the Gay part of town....it was a little seedy I must admit. Our restaurant was located right next door to a very packed Men's Gay Bar......oh, suhweet! The food was good although Amanda ordered a pasta dish and it came with a raw egg in the middle, something carbonara. It was tastey though. We found a Super Marche to get a few things like water and fruit and then wound our way home through this very interesting part of town....stopping to sample the gelato and of course a crepe! On the train home we visited with a gentleman from South Carolina and then of course spent the 20 minutes waiting for the bus that was parked outside but for some reason does not move for 20 minutes after the train arrives.....so irritating! All in all a good day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 3 in Paris: Notre Dame & The Tower de Eiffel

Saturday was a little eventful as Brad awoke with some version of the stomache flu. He tried to say it was just something he ate but we think he had some kind of bug. We ended up lazying around the hotel until about 2pm when the maid became persistant that she wanted to clean our room so up and out we went, back to Paris. We headed to Notre Dame Cathedral and to our favorite part of town. It contains some of the cultural quarters of the city. After we enjoyed seeing the flying buttresses of Notre Dame we went into the most interesting part of Paris, where a lot of the students hang out and it is just buzzing with good food and all kinds of culture. We stopped at my favorite bakery but sadly they had no Tarte aux fambroise (raspberry tart) so we moved on. We stopped at a little restaurant and had some delicious food. I had the crepe complete which was a crepe with ham, scrambled egg and cheese. It was amazing. Then Amanda and I found a little crepe place and she tasted her first Crepe aux Paris! I tested out the amazing gelato there and we were both highly satisfied! The little man was so cute he added a little half scoop and an extra spoon for Amanda! Merci Beaucoup! It was yummy! Poor Brad not only was still struggling with his sprained ankle but now wasn't feeling good on top of it all. Sad! He was a trooper though, that's one thing you can say for Brad, he never whines! We had a chance to walk the the Luxemburg Park and Gardens. A pretty amazing park here in Paris. Amanda and I had a great time touring through the gardens. The tulips were all in bloom. The large pond had little sail boats you could rent and sail, guiding them with sticks across the pond. There was a large playground all fenced in for the children and pony rides. Next stop was the Eiffel Tower and we had reserved tickets. Brad again had opted to stay on the ground so off me and Amanda went to the specatular view at the top of the tower. Even the elevator ride is fun! We met another Mom & daughter from New Jersey and spent some time chatting with them in line. They were coming to celebrate the daughter's birthday and to drink champagne at the top of the tower. We had to get in line a second time to go all the way to the top! The view is amazing and Amanda loved it. She had to memorize a map of Paris for her french class so she could tell me where things were....sort of. It was a great day of exploring in Paris.....too bad there was no Raspberry Tart.....mmmmm maybe tomorrow! Bon Nuit!

Day 2 in Paris: Museum Day

A Tart Aux Frambois a day is all I ask of Paris! YuM!

On Friday we slept in a little then we got up and after a wonderful (free) breakfast at the hotel, we headed into Paris for our museum day! I just have to say how good breakfast was, I had 3, count them, 3 croissants with breakfast, with butter and jam, they were soooo good! One of the reasons why I love France! We started at the D'Orsay Museum, one of my favorites. lots of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre Renoir, Rodin & Denis just to name a few. I have to say that my favorite painting this time was the Vincent Van Gogh, Portrait de l'artise, a self portrait. I have seen this painting many times in print but never in real life and I have to say it made all the difference. It is beautiful and colorful and full of texture as all of his paintings are. I was mesmorized by it and had to have a second look before we left. I was dissapointed to find that Starry, Starry Night is still on loan, it is normally housed at the D'orsee but everytime I have been it is out on loan....rats! I really want to see that painting some day! Amanda enjoyed finding all the paintings she had studied in school, one of her favorites was a Renoir, Bal du moulin de la Galette and we both loved the water lilies (Nympheas bleus) by Monet which was beautiful and very large and full of color, Amanda noticed that the edges of the painting appeared unfinished and they let that show when they framed it. Also Amanda liked Dejunier by Monet, a large painting and mounted in two pieces. Brad with his bad foot had decided to enjoy the afternoon outside resting on a bench while we did the museum. He had explored a little and pointed out a bakery and a chocolate shop that we should visit. So much good food! Next we headed into the Jewish Quater to enjoy lunch in a little Jewish Deli that Brad and I had discovered two visits ago and now we go there everytime for lunch. They do a wonderful Falafel Sandwich and shwarma. We enjoyed our lunch and then we made our way to the Louvre. We knew that it was half price after 5pm but there was also a sign saying "-26 ans libre" meaning 26 years and younger are free. It made me laugh, but it was true! So we both got into the Louvre fro 6 euros. Brad again opted to wait outside in a food court as he is not up to all the walking.....he is not much for museums anyway so it was fine with him. Amanda and I dashed to see the Mona Lisa, which is always sort of anti-climatic because it is so small and it is covered with plastic so it is hard to really enjoy it....but you have to say that you saw it. We then tracked down a painting Amanda wanted to see "The Raft of the Medusa by Gericault". She had studied it in school but couldn't remember the whole story, we will google it when we can. We then saw the Venus de Milo which is beautiful! Lots of other wonderful things, it is hard to take it all in when you are a place like that but we did our best. Then we rejoined Brad, we were all very tired at this point and safely and without incident this time made our way back to our hotel. We had moved to the Marriott for our next few nights.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Day by Day in Paris and Prague: Amanda Goes to Paris

We arrived in Paris on Thursday morning (4/29/10). After an uneventful direct flight from SLC airport to Charles Degul Airport. The flight was about 10 hours and surprisingly Amanda and I slept about 4 hours. So we arrived about 11am Paris time and checked into our hotel. We stayed the first night at the Hilton located near the airport and right next to the train station, which made it very convenient. Poor Brad with his sprained ankle, he took two severe spills on the uneven sidewalks as we left the train station, he had his little rolling scooter and it caught on the sidewalk twice and he was spilled out onto the ground. We checked in to our room and slept for about 3 or 4 hours. Then we headed into Paris to go on our night time tour down the Seine. The boat tour was fun and we saw some of the wonderful sights of Paris all lit up, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, several really beautiful bridges. We finished with a bus tour of night time Paris and ended the tour at the Champs D'Elysee. Amanda and I found some fun pastries to buy and then we decided to head back to the hotel, it was getting quite late. We went down to the subway and waited for our train but it never came. We began to read the small print on the schedule and the best we could decipher in french was that it didn't run past 11pm in the spring. So we sort of panicked and headed up stairs to try to find a bus or a taxi or some other way home. I poked my head out of the train station and was looking for the bus and was approached by a man who acted like he was trying to help me but we were soon surrounded by his friends and we all made a hasty retreat back into the train station. Scarey! We asked an employee and they assured us that our train was running and would be here at 12:15am. We headed back down to the trains and still confused because the schedule was not showing our training. Finally we asked a very nice french man who explained that we needed to take the train to Alnay Sous Bois and at that point board a night time bus which would take us to our destination. What a relief! We finally arrived back at our hotel about 1am, very tired but happy to have made it in one piece. I told Amanda....this is how we roll, we usually have some kind of adventure like that on every trip!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...