Velka Amerika and Old Town Square Christmas Market

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This weekend, we decided to take a break from our studies and go out and explore.  Our housemates had heard good things about the “Grand Canyon of Prague,” Velka Amerika, so we decided to make a day of it and check it out.

We had to take a bus to the metro, and then road the metro to the end of it’s line.  When we got off we were at a giant bus depot and metro station.  There were different stands with food and goods everywhere and across the road was a mall.  We had 45 minutes before our next bus came so we decided to grab a snack.  We finally got to try Trdelnik, a sweet pastry that is rolled over a metal stick and cooked over hot coals and then coated in a sugary nut mixture.  We had seen them everywhere but never tried them until yesterday.  It was great!

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Our bus finally came and we had to pay 24 crowns to ride.  Our public transportation passes didn’t work because they are only good for within Prague’s city limits.  Everyone getting on was able to pay the bus driver directly and then our 50 minute ride commenced.

The bus ride was enjoyable because we got to see a whole new side of this country.  There were some areas that looked quite rundown, other places were huge green pastures, and there were also some normal looking country homes.  Our eyes were opened to the world outside of the city center.

When we arrived at our stop, we had to walk up a hill for about 25 minutes because the bus stop that was closer to the canyon was not in service due to it being Saturday.  The hike up the country road was one of my favorite parts of the day.

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The canyon was visible by a parking area right off the road we were walking on.  We rushed up the small dirt path to the first view of the canyon and wonder struck us all.

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We ended up walking around the entire canyon, stopping at different view points, finding natural clay to play with, and just generally enjoying the beautiful view.

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The canyon was created from limestone mining.  There were small caves lining the walls and a dirt road that we saw people walking on.  We figured out how to get down to the road, but we were somewhat intimidated by the huge, extremely heavy metal doors that stood in our way.

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So at this point, we decided it was time to call it a day.  We had to wait at the bus stop for the bus to come for a pretty long time because the weekend schedule only had it coming once every three or so hours.

We all made it back at last and were starving and freezing.  We went to a restaurant in Wenceslas Square to warm up and get some good food.  Jordan tried Grog and we both got Goulash for the first time.  It was so good!  Jordan’s came in a rye breadbowl, and mine came with bread dumplings.  I love dumplings. 🙂

IMG_2232Next, we took a short walk over to Old Town Square for their Christmas Market.  Since it was the first day they were holding it for the season, it was as busy as Black Friday!   But it was well worth fighting the crowds to see the many vendors selling crafts, homemade foods, artisan honey, and so much more.  We are planning on going back to get some of the amazing food on Friday for lunch.  I was particularly eyeing the Chocolate fondu parfait.  Just imagine, instead of yogurt in a parfait, they had chocolate.

Our friend Amanda was intrigued by little slices of a loaf of marzipan and she got one to try.  We decided it was interesting to try but not something we were crazy about.  The best part of the Christmas market were all the lights lighting up the square and the christmas choir that was singing in one area.

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We were so happy that we could get out and see some cool sights this weekend!!

Early June Weekend Adventures

This weekend was filled with good food, good friends, and good adventures.  Let me explain.

Friday night, Jordan and I went out to dinner at Pane Vino, which is located on Water Street in Downtown Rochester.  We both loved the location and outdoor seating overlooking the Genesee river.

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The food was Classic Italian with an extensive menu.  Their special appetizer of the night was alligator fritters, so naturally we had to try those.

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The came out with some delicious chipotle mayo which was very creamy with a little kick.  The fritters were slightly sweet and kind of similar in texture to crab cakes.  The bits of alligator were tough but didn’t have a very distinct taste.

For our mains we both got pasta dishes.  I had the Tortellini Boscaiola which was cheese filled tortellini with bacon, peas, mushrooms and a light garlic cream sauce.

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All of the flavors blended together nicely.  The bacon bits were definitely the highlight and the portions were huge.

Jordan got the Chicken French which was delicious and flavorful.

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After dinner, we went to the movies to see Edge of Tomorrow.  Although I wasn’t sure if I would like it, it ended up being a pretty good movie.  I am not usually into action movies, but this one had elements of humor, drama, and action.  It was overall an enjoyable film.  It was not too gruesome and actually had an interesting plot.  (World is at war with aliens, Tom Cruise’s character must live the same day he dies in battle over and over again.)

Saturday morning we woke up early to go to Cummings Nature Center in Naples.  We stopped for an early lunch at Cafe Sol in Bristol.  We got to meet a cute little dog named Tim who seemed to belong to the restaurant owner.  We sat on the front deck to eat and enjoyed seating in comfortable outdoor furniture.  After full deliberation on the menu — almost EVERYTHING looked good — we all decided.  I got the House Salad which was recommended to us by our waitress due to the “Green Goddess” dressing which ended up being a slightly creamy herb dressing.

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It had mixed greens with chopped avocado, blanched asparagus, pistachios, and blue cheese.

Jordan got the Cesar salad which came with a circle of grilled cheese – what he said was definitely the highlight.

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My mom got the turkey salad sandwich which came on a whole grain croissant and had wonderful undertones of pear – unusual and delightful.

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We arrived at Cumming Nature Center with the intent of hiking some of their trails.  When we arrived and paid our donation ($3 per person) we were informed that they were having a porcupine demonstration.  We wandered out to the pavilion where two porcupines were dwelling.  One was able to be picked up by his carrier.

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She was the only one able to touch him due to laws regarding dealing with the animals.  We learned they are a part of the rodent family and that they were bread as animal ambassadors who are kept in the woman’s home.

The other was a breed of African Porcupine who’s quills were hard and wood-like.  The two porcupines did not get along due to their territorial nature.

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We ventured out onto the trails and we checked out the Pioneer first trail which had a great overlook.

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We got to see tons of little salamanders swimming under the water while the sun was warming our backs.  It was so quiet and peaceful on the overlook.  We also enjoyed the tall pines that enclosed the trail near the beginning.

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Next we went on the other side of the woods and checked out the Haudenosaunee Trail which had a maple house as a stop off the trail.  The trails were very easy to hike and no longer than 2 miles each.  Being outside was relaxing and peaceful with the beautiful weather we had.

After our hike, we went back to Canandaigua for my friends’ birthday party.  Two of my friends were having their birthday’s this weekend, so we met for a pool party where my friend Jamie was making delicious blended strawberry margaritas.  We relaxed around the pool catching up and enjoyed some beer made with organic barley.

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After a few too many Wegmans Oreos and salt and cracked pepper kettle cooked chips, we decided to go to the Wine Walk that was taking place in Down Town Canandaigua.  We walked a half mile to Main Street where we meandered in and out of shops to wait for our wine samples.  Around 15 shops had a mixture of wine tasting and food samples.  For $5 we were able to get a wine tasting glass and various samples from local wineries and food vendors.

The lovely weather this weekend facilitated enjoyable outdoor activities with good friends and good food. Here’s to more exciting adventures to come!