Weekend as Popelka in Brno

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Popelka is the Czech version of Cindarella, screened every year around Christmas time (she’s also quite popular in Germany and Russia, I’ve heard). Fairytales are popular in Czech Republic; they are on TV all the time.

Well, this past weekend I felt a bit like Popelka because I spent the whole weekend on my hands and knees cleaning somebody else’s mess. My husband has an apartment in Brno which he has been renting out, and the tenants recently moved out and into a house, so we went to Brno this weekend to do some repairs and clean up the apartment a bit as well as have an open house viewing for potential new tenants. Unfortunately the previous tenants didn’t clean up before moving out and the place was full of well-ingrained dirt and grime that took ages to clean. Even better, every single room had paint drops everywhere, especially on the siding board, as they had painted and not cleaned the mess from dripping paint. I scrubbed so hard that I came to appreciate the terms “back-breaking work” and afterwards not only my back but also knees and wrist tendons were aching. Just like Popelka’s, I’m sure. The place did look a thousand times better afterwards though. And afterwards Popelka and the prince rewarded themselves with well-earned dinner and cocktails, so at least we got to see a bit of Brno.

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Brno: the castle and the lower town

For dinner we went to a local Brno brewery, Pegas, that also serves food, as my husband doesn’t miss any chance to try a new beer. He had pork ribs served with bread, mustard and horseradish and I had duck with bread dumplings and red cabbage.

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Some Czech food

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Afterwards we went for cocktails at a great local bar called Bar Ktery Neexistuje. I really liked the original cocktails, which had unique components such as rooibos tea, earl grey, butterscotch vodka, cedar, bergamot and chocolate. Rooibos, originally from South Africa, seems to have become popular in recent times in Czech Republic, as we also came across red espresso and red cappuccino (made from rooibos) in a small town in the mountains last year. My favourite cocktail was Zovialny, which had flavours of chocolate, mint, bergamot and blueberry. It sounds like an odd mix, but it was just perfect.

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In between eating and drinking we also got to take a look at the centre of Brno and visit the famous horse statue. The statue is famous because if you stand underneath it you get a different view to expected (I won’t spoil the surprise).

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The next day it was back to cleaning and repairing. It took longer than expected, so all we had time for afterwards was an early dinner before heading back to Berlin. We stopped at a restaurant (Dřevěná růže) that had a delicious svíčková (a Czech dish of meat served with a special sauce, berry sauce accompaniment and bread dumplings). We were so hungry we ate it all before even thinking to take a photo, but I have a photo of svíčková from another time (actually this was also the main meal at our wedding, since it’s a classic favourite). Brno is in Moravia, which is a wine area, so I also tried some local white wine (my husband couldn’t as he had to drive). After that it was time for the 6 hour drive back to Berlin.

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Svíčková

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Despite or perhaps because of the hard work, it was quite a rewarding weekend. The apartment looked really lovely after we’d finished cleaning it and fixing up the kitchen, and I even felt reluctant to hand over the keys. Cleaning can also be quite meditative – I didn’t think about work the whole weekend! But hopefully next time we’ll get to see a little more of Brno.

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Popelka’s view of Brno, peering out the bathroom window of the apartment

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Easy Boiled Fruit Cake

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, but this is a good one! While busy in the kitchen tonight making this fruitcake it occurred to me to share this quick and easy recipe on my blog. Although it’s called “boiled fruitcake”, it’s baked – the name comes from the fact that some of the ingredients (fruit, butter, sugar) are boiled together beforehand, giving the cake a more complex flavour. It’s a lovely, light fruitcake, perfect for tea or a snack. This recipe was passed down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me.

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Top 10 posts of 2016 (in case you missed them!)

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There and back again – December to January

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My last real blog post was just before we went away for Christmas holidays to South Africa via Namibia, and now it’s February already! I feel like I’m always behind these days. In between travelling I am overloaded with work, trying to meet all my many deadlines before the next trip. At the moment I’m away again, at a meeting in Switzerland. It should calm down a bit in February, but let’s see. Hopefully then I’ll have time to update on the places we’ve visited in December and January. Here is a sneak preview in the meanwhile. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #30 – November ’16

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Every year I say this, but this year seems like the fastest one ever. I feel like we were celebrating Christmas not long ago and here we are already on the 1 December again. We’re into winter days already (not officially since winter starts on the 21 December) but golden autumn is definitely gone and it’s got a lot colder. Since I haven’t written a weekly small pleasures post for a while (a blog event started by Mani at A New Life Wandering), I thought I’d update on some of the highlights of November. Continue reading

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First snow: hiking in the Harz mountains

 

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This weekend a friend organized a spontaneous trip to the Harz mountains when a colleague mentioned to her that it was snowing there. Although the highest peak, the Brocken, is only 1141m, the area has an alpine character with lots of fir trees and receives much more snow than the surrounding areas. It was amazing as we drove from autumnal forests full of orange and gold up to a snow-covered winter wonderland. We visited earlier this year in January or February when the snow was deep for cross country skiing. This year we did some hiking in the hills instead, another way to enjoy the beauty of the snowy trees. I can hardly wait to visit again. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #29 – chocolate, kriek and autumn forest

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Well 2016 has certainly been a year of change worldwide. Terror attacks, Brexit, turbulent politics in South Africa and now Trump’s election. They say you always remember where you are when you hear dramatic news, and probably I will always remember that I was in Brussels at a meeting when Trump was elected. Because of my meeting, my husband and I spent the weekend in Belgium. We’ve been to Brussels several times before and have also visited Bruges, Ghent, Blankenberg, Spa, Lieges and Leuven, so this time we decided to take a day trip to Antwerp. I’ll write about our trip in a separate post, but Belgium is full of things to enjoy, and so this week my weekly small pleasures were Belgian ones. Check out the weekly small pleasures of others here at a New Life Wandering. Continue reading

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Posts I’ve yet to publish

Dear bloggers, I bet all of you have a few posts in your draft box that have not yet been published! Well, Alyssa at the blog alyssagoesbang wants to hear about them. I definitely have some sitting around that I’ve been meaning to finish (or start) for ages, and I enjoyed reading other people’s lists too. Here is my list. Which one of these abandoned posts would you like to see me finally publish? Continue reading

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