Halloween!

It’s Halloween weekend! A pretty exciting time of the year if you are either a child or a college student. Halloween, as we know it today and as seen in pop culture, is something that used to be celebrated mostly in the US, but the holiday has started to make its way abroad. Here’s some background on the holiday.img_1632

All Hallow’s Eve is celebrated on October 31st, and it is the day of the dead. Lots of cultures have a variation of this, in the Czech Republic it’s Dušičky, celebrated in November, or in Mexico there’s Dia del Muertos, it is a holiday during which you remember the dead. It was originally a pagan holiday that carried over and is still celebrated in one way or another today.

The holiday was made up of 3 days: All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. In Europe, it became a somewhat mystical holiday, because it was believed that on the day when fall turned into winter, the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead were very thin. That’s why some of the activities during the three day holiday included scrying, divination, dream interpretation and more other magical festivities. Apple bobbing and bonfires as well as playing tricks are all traditions that are still around today.

Eventually the magical activities were banned by the Church and the holiday, once again, became about honoring and remembering the dead. Families would go visit the graves of their loved ones and pray for their souls.

It wasn’t until late 19th century that the holiday made its way across the Atlantic Ocean to North America. Even though it faced some difficulty finding its place, it soon became popular and was celebrated across the entire country. Halloween is now more popular in North America than in Europe.

Now Halloween lost a lot of the mysticism around it. But it is a fun holiday during which people dress up in costumes and kids go trick-or-treating for candy, walking around neighborhoods in their costumes and getting more hyper as they fill their buckets or bags or pumpkins with candy. It’s the one time of the year that kids are actually encouraged to knock on strangers’ doors and take their candy.

College students take advantage of this holiday and dress up and party. This is the part of the holiday that has carried over to other countries, because who doesn’t love a halloween themed party!

It’s also the prime time to watch horror movies, if you don’t like partying that much. There’s countless horror movies if you like being scared and even more halloween themed kids’ movies that are always fun to watch.

Most popular movies include:

  • img_1579Halloweentown (1998)
  • Hocus Pocus (1993)
  • Poltergeist (1982)
  • Beetlejuice (1988)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  • Little Vampire (2000)
  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Scream (1996)
  • Teen Wolf (1985)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Lots of TV shows also love making Halloween themed episodes, which are good to binge-watch during Halloween and the weeks before!

Whatever you might do, whether it is trick-or-treating, going to a party or doing a movie marathon, have fun this weekend and on Halloween!


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Mikulov: the wine and the hike

imageA couple of weeks back we decided we need to get to know our own country, the Czech Republic, a little more. We had a couple of days to explore, so we decided to go to southern Moravia for two and a half days. First stop was Mikulov.

Mikulov is a small town, but absolutely gorgeous. We spent half a day there but we wished our hotel was in the town, because we loved it so much.

By the time we got to Mikulov, it was well past noon and we were starving after spending the whole morning on the bus and train to get there. So we looked for a restaurant, where we could also enjoy our first glass of wine in the Czech wine country. We walked through the town and chose U Obřího Sudu. They had great food and great wine, so I definitely recommend it!

After food, wine and ice cream, we started our hike up to the Svatý Kopeček. The hill looked extremely daunting from the bottom, but up we went. Along the way there were information boards about the history, the area and the nature. Definitely give these a quick read, because you will learn lots of interesting things about the area you are exploring!

First tip, if you go on a hike, bring INSECT REPELLENT! We forgot to bring ours and ended up with huge swollen mosquito bites.

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Second tip, bring lots of WATER with you! Even though the hike isn’t as long as it seems, when it’s hot, you need enough water to keep you going.

imageAt the top of the hill, we were rewarded with the most gorgeous view! It was nice to just sit and enjoy the city and the castle below us. Once we took about a billion pictures, we took another route down. Half the time we were hoping we were walking down the right way, because we were alone in the forest. It was a great way to get back down, walking around the hill the back way.

Since the castle looked so beautiful from the top, we went to look at it up close. We walked around the grounds in awe of the beautiful architecture! Definitely suggest you walk around the grounds, it’s worth the time.

We brought our afternoon trip to an end with some wine on the main square of Mikulov. This is a must! There is nothing quite like a glass of wine after a long day of walking.

Mikulov is a beautiful place, that if you get the chance, you definitely should visit! Even if you don’t have time to go up to the hill, at least stop by for the adorable town and wine!


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Canoeing: 10 Tips for your adventure

Canoeing is a very typical Czech activity. Lots of people go on canoeing trips with their friends and family in the summer, because it is a fun and cheap way to enjoy the warm weather and have a little bit of an adventure. I have gone canoeing several times, so here are some of my tips, if any of you want to try it out!

  1. Water!! Bring lots of bottled water! Hopefully it’s going to be warm and sunny, but this means you need to buy bottled water that you can have with you all the time. I also recommend buying bottled water, rather than using sports bottles, because if you flip the canoe, then you won’t be upset you lost your favorite sports bottle!
  2. FOOD! Bring snacks that you can eat throughout the day, you might be canoeing for several hours at a time before hitting a restaurant or a camp, so it’s a good idea to bring something with you so you don’t get super hungry!
  3. Weirs – weirs can be extremely dangerous, so i recommend you look up the ones on your route so you know which ones are too dangerous to go on. Some you will be able to manage if you are careful and if there is enough water. For those, you should look up which side of the weir is safest to go down.IMG_7582
  4. Camps – find out where different camps are and how far you have to canoe between each of them.
  5. Trash bags – buy a bunch of large trash bags that you can put your things in, to add extra protection against water.
  6. Ziplock bags – small ziplock bags are perfect for phones, wallets and other objects you want to protect from water damage.
  7. Shoes – bring shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, but also shoes that won’t just float away if you fall into the water.
  8. Rain jacket – or anything else that you can put on when its starts raining or pouring.
  9. Sunscreen – you will spend lots of time on the sun, if the weather is nice. So sunscreen, hat and/or sunglasses are a must!
  10. Alcohol – be very careful about drinking alcohol when canoeing. Even though it is a little bit of a tradition to drink a little when camping, by the bonfire, but don’t overdo it, so you aren’t hungover for the next leg of the journey. Don’t drink while you are actually canoeing, that can be very dangerous!

I love canoeing, it’s a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it, if you are looking for a small adventure! I can guarantee you will have stories to tell! Have fun and if you have any questions, feel free to comment!


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Mozambique

 

Flying with Finnair

When I decided to go to Japan, the biggest concern was getting tickets for the correct dates, price and availability. Seeing as I was buying these tickets less than two days before my intended departure, availability was key and we chose Finnair. It’s also the shortest route from Prague to Osaka, with 2 hours or so from Prague to Helsinki and then 9 hours from Helsinki to Osaka with a brief 3 hour layover.

IMG_6949Pre-Flight

Pre-flight procedures here are pretty standard. You get a reminder e-mail 24 hours ahead of time and you can check in, nothing to remark on. Everything worked as it should have and I was on my way!

Flight

To be honest, it wasn’t one of my favorite flights, the seats are rather small and the place has a cramped feel to it. My return flight was significantly better, as I had two seats to myself and was able to be a little more comfortable. The best part was that the cabin temperature was pretty near perfect and I wasn’t freezing, as is sometimes the case.

Food

Food was decent, although on the way to Japan I didn’t eat much. On the way back, it was significantly better and we even got ice cream half way through the flight! You get a small bottle of water when you walk on the plane, so bonus points for that, even though it’s not enough for the long haul flight. On the short flight, you have a selection of food and drinks that you can purchase. On the other hand, service was great and always helpful.IMG_1193

TIP! Once you’re past security, bring a bottle of water for your long haul flight. I was pretty dehydrated on the way there so I did this when coming back and felt a lot better.

In-flight Entertainment

I was lucky because I travelled there and back in different months, so the movies and tv shows were slightly different. Overall, there’s a decent selection of movies and shows and I wasn’t bored, even though I hardly slept. One tip for you – you get free earphones, but I recommend that you bring your own, along with a converter to the two prong outlet for sound that airplanes have.

Overall, this was a very convenient way to get from A to B with the shortest possible travel time and best departure and arrival times. And for that alone, I would fly with them again. On the way there I was a little surprised, but on the way back I figured out what I need to do to make my flight more comfortable and it definitely was!

Mozambique

Our three day trip to Mozambique was very relaxing, even though it was short. The road trip there from Johannesburg took a while and there are a couple things you should be prepared for if you’re going to take a trip like this.

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When preparing for this kind of trip, pack everything you might need. Bring plenty of drinks and food, not just as snacks but also to eat at your destination.

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Plan your route well, along with possible places to stop for food. You should also plan the route so that you know what kind of a road you will be driving on, whether it’s a highway or dirt road. If you are going on a dirt road, be prepared for possible floods which will make the road muddy and sometimes impossible to take. So make sure you have a good car that would be able to take a difficult road.

 

The borders between South Africa and Mozambique can take some time and people there usually don’t speak a lot of English. So prepare your nerves when trying to get a visa. There’s also a lot of people trying to go between the two countries, so depending on the time of day, it might take several hours to go through.

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When we went to Mozambique we stayed in a little beach house, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There is a small town close by and some more beach houses, but other than that the beaches are empty, which is absolutely amazing!

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If you scuba dive, definitely give it a go! I couldn’t go when I was there, but I heard you can see some manta rays! Apparently scuba diving is pretty easy going there, so it’s great if you want a relaxing dive. If you don’t scuba dive, you can just go fishing out on the sea. If you get lucky, you can catch tuna, and trust me, fresh tuna is the best! Small tip though, find out how to butcher a fish before you go! You might not have wifi wherever you are, so it’s probably a good idea to be prepared for things like that!

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For me, the three days in the middle of nowhere were amazing, even though it was a little short. So after three days we headed back, sunburnt. On our way back we spent 22 hours in the car, instead of the original 14, because of flooding and having to backtrack and go through Maputo, the capital city. Like I said, plan for everything, even cows blocking the road!


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