Monday, November 17, 2008

"Fixing" my scar

I say "fixing" because it's currently dark purple. The laser breaks down the blood vessels, so it's pretty much like a big bruise at the moment, and looks a little scary. I won't post a photo on the blog, I'll spare those who don't want to see this time. Pic is here -

Once the bruising goes away it should look pretty good - fingers crossed!

So we got to Stanford at 6:30am. This time we went to the Stanford Ambulatory Surgery Centre - it's mostly day surgery I believe. It was a really fancy place, nice wood panelling, fancy and comfortable waiting area, and 2 screens which had a heap of numbers that were associated with patients, and colour coding. So it starts with Registration Complete, then went through to Pre-op, then a range of others including surgery, stage 1 recovery, stage 2 recovery, transferred etc. (there was about 12 different codes) so you could keep an eye on where your person is up to.

Anyway, so they do the IV under a super fine needle local anesthetic, which is always my biggest worry, so that makes it nice and easy. I had to wait in the OR for about 15 minutes all ready to go because they were early and the laser wasn't quite warmed up yet, but they started pretty much on time at 8:30am, then before I knew it I was waking up at about 9:15am.

Then it was recovery, and all the check out stuff, and we were home by 11:30am, and I was feeling fine. I slept for an hour, and woke up feeling pretty good, just a bit jelly-legged.

So fingers crossed it will stop getting bigger now!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scarred for life!

Well, that was kind of expected after getting open heart surgery. Unfortunately I don't heal very well when it comes to scars. My c section scar is still quite thick and raised, whereas my friend Briana, who had a c section a few months before me, has an almost invisible scar.

So my heart surgery scar got worse after I got the staph infection - it separated as fluid built up under it, and then after the incision got opened again to drain the infection, it never quite went back to normal, and has gotten wider, thicker, and more tender over the months. It's still getting worse, so on Monday I'm going back to Stanford to get "plastic surgery". They're going to laser the scar itself to help with the appearance, and do steroid injections which will hopefully shrink some of the excess scar tissue, or at least stop it from getting any bigger, and will hopefully also help with the itchiness and some of the tenderness. It's a general anesthetic, but I'll be surprised if it takes more than half an hour.

This is how it looks now:

You can see the bottom part near my fingers looks great - that's how it should all look! It's gotten lighter over time, but wider.

This is compared to in June:

I'll put up another photo after everything is healed from whatever they do on Monday.

Study study study

Since we got back from the holiday I've just been madly busy with study. I had assignments, online exams, catching up with missed study, and preparing for end of semester exams. I've been doing 3 subjects this semester, which has been quite full on to do externally, and just before we went on holiday I had a couple of weeks where I kept getting "ocular migraines" on an almost daily basis. My vision would go all weird, and I wouldn't be able to see clearly, I got really dizzy, felt nauseous, then the headache would come on. The whole process would last a couple of hours and was very disrupting, so I got behind with my study. I think I was just sitting badly, and muscles got too tight in the wrong spots. It's certainly gotten better since.

The final end of semester exams were over the last week, so I'm really glad to have them out of the way. I'm finished first year now, which is good. I'm doing just one subject over the "summer semester" so that should give me a bit of a break - new semester starts on Monday.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catching up (yes I'm still alive)

It's been a really busy few months! I'll go back to September.

We went on holiday to the Seychelles and Dubai for 2 weeks in September which was fabulous. My aunt Vicki lives there with her husband Chris and their two boys, Jack and Harry. Chris has a job as part of the United Nations, which is based in the Seychelles and they've been living there about 4 years now.

The Seychelles was fascinating. The economy is completely broken - they have the highest level of debt of any other country, and since we were there the International Monetary Fund has agreed on a $26 million rescue package, and the currency has floated and been devalued. A lot of things were run down, the roads were terrible, there's a big divide between the rich and poor and everything has to be imported, so the black market is rife.

But the beaches were gorgeous, the weather was fabulous, the sky was oh so clear at night, and the stars were stunning. Sitting out on Vicki and Chris' deck every evening watching the night sky was an amazing way to relax. We were a very short walk from the beach, and just enjoyed our 10 days there relaxing.

It was great to spend quality time with Vicki, Chris and the boys. Vicki lived with us for a few years when I was younger, so I've always felt very close to her, and Jack and Harry are such great kids, we had a lot of fun with them.

Here's a few pics from the trip:

The markets

Amazingly clear water

Full moon over the fishing boats that were at port due to the worries over the Somalian pirates

We hiked to a beach called Anse Major, which was quiet, and so pretty

On our way to Anse Major

View from Vicki and Chris' balcony

Everyone. Vicki doesn't usually look so grim, and no, Andrew didn't bother with shaving while away :)

A couple of gorgeous sunrises

After Seychelles we spent a few days in Dubai on the way home since we were flying with Emirates (best airline I've ever flown with by a long shot), and stopping in Dubai anyway.

It was Ramadan, so we couldn't eat or drink in public during daylight hours, and a number of places were either closed for the month, or closed for a few hours in the afternoon, but it wasn't a big deal. We had a really nice hotel which we got a great deal on due it being Ramadan, and therefore the low season, the city in general wasn't too busy, and we just did a double decker open top tour bus tour the 2 days we were there, which supplied us with complimentary cold bottles of water which we guzzled as soon as we got on the bus - so we probably drank more water than we would have otherwise.

It was stinking hot - over 40 c, and about 90% humidity, and the heat was disgustingly oppressive. We had a fabulous time though. It was such an interesting place, and there was so much to see and do. And being so hot, it made us very aware that we were in a desert, and the regular calls to prayer from the temples made the whole experience more authentic. It's a place I would like to go back to some time to further explore - 2 and a bit days definitely wasn't enough!

Some pics:

Down on the water - there were boats coming and going loading up with goods to be transported to other nearby countries, carrying tourists around, and general water taxis for transport.

A small selection of gold in one of the windows at the Gold Souk (market)

A shopping centre called Wafi - it had designer shops, and an upmarket "traditional" souk area - the place was deserted due to Ramadan, and most of the shops weren't opening the entire month.

One of the water taxis

Dubai is a construction zone! There were cranes everywhere you looked. The sky was never clear, it's pretty much one big sand storm. And this highway made American highways look tame!

The new Metro system they are building which will make a huge difference to traffic - you can see Burj Dubai in the background which will be the world's tallest building

In front of Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah - the water there was toasty warm!

And then Ski Dubai... so bizarre!

One of the big mosques

One of the mosques near us. They were having the evening iftar buffet (breaking of the daily fast)

And Andrew on Dubai Creek at sunset

The rest of the photos are here

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dealing with other people's pregnancies

This is something I've been asked about a few times, and something I was just thinking about, so thought I'd share. In the months after Joshua's death, some people were hesitant to tell us they were pregnant in case they upset us, some tell us before anyone else because they want to tell us in person rather than on the grapevine. That really didn't bother me, I'm generally excited to hear about friends pregnancies. Ultrasounds were hard to look at, and baby showers were hard to go to, and still are. Joshua died 2 days after our baby shower, so baby showers just don't have that same level of fun anymore, memories of our loss just come flooding back.

The other thing that's hard to deal with is other people's loss, but for a slightly different reason - my heart just aches for them. A very close friend had an early miscarriage a few months ago, and my heart ached for her. Another good friend who has also had a rough year has just suffered a 2nd trimester loss, and it breaks my heart. I don't want anyone to ever feel the weight of loss like we did. I know a loss earlier in the pregnancy is probably a bit easier to deal with, but it's never easy, and once you start planning names, planning how the room will look, what you'll need, changes you'll need to make, and start thinking about the future they're going to have, it's so hard to have it all ripped away.

It's something that really affects you for a long time, and I think it's important for people to understand that.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why the US healthcare system is ridiculous

Andrew got bitten by one of the feral kittens a few weeks ago, and the little shit managed to bite through one of Andrew's fingernails (amongst other puncture wounds in his hands).

Cat bites are notoriously dangerous because of the way the tooth is shaped - they are like needles injecting bacteria under the skin, and it heals over fast, which causes an infection, and before you know it you have blood poisoning.

I was worried that we wouldn't be able to clean out the puncture in his fingernail properly, so tried to book into the doctor to get onto a course of antibiotics. They couldn't squeeze us in, so we tried going to "Urgent Care", and they were closing, so told us just to go up to the ER.

If we had have got into the doctor it would have cost $10. We just got the hospital bill, and we are responsible for $415 of the total of $4000 or so. We spent maybe 10 minutes in there, and got a prescription for antibiotics and some antiseptic put on the puncture wounds. How the hell can that cost over $4000????? And how can they charge us $415 just for that??

We paid about $1200 for my open heart surgery - apparently a prescription and antibiotics is worth 1/3 of open heart surgery, ICU and a 5 day hospital stay...

If anyone wants to contribute to the Andrew and Sarah kitten fund - feel free to!

Friday, August 01, 2008

The foster kittens!

First the Google litter:

Sergey, the little guy who loves to cuddle now

Francoise, the shyest of the bunch

Larry, the most sociable of the litter from the beginning - adopted and doing great in his new home

Marissa, the sweetest, also adopted, and has melted the hearts of her new owners, and working on winning over their other cat

And the Gilroy litter:

Boots, who went home with her brother Bond (below) last night - a sweet, playful pair

James Bond, adopted with his sister as above - a VERY affectionate kitty!

Velvet, just a little thing (actually weighed 2 ounces less than Sergey who is 4 weeks younger than her!), but is super active and incredibly athletic

Adonis (now called Freddie), a long lean boy, who is loving being the only cat in his new home and getting all the attention

Blaze - long and lean like his brother, sweet, and a bit of a rascal - loves to chew toes :-)

Daisy - pure love! Loves to cuddle with her siblings, and loves getting attention from her people as well.

That's the mob!

Kitten fostering and socialising

I just realised it's been a while since I last posted, and it's probably due to the recent outbreak of kittens in our house!

It all started on July 2nd when I went out to Google to trap a mother cat and her 5 kittens that staff had seen running around. I trapped the mother and one of the kittens (using 2 humane cat traps that I have), and the next morning trapped the last 4 kittens.

Trapping the last kittens was a challenge. They'd all been living in a generator, so we ended up having to get keys to open the generator, and literally grabbing the kittens and yanking them out. Finding them in the generator was hard, grabbing them was pretty easy. I just grabbed them by the scruff of the neck as they ran for cover, and put them in a cage.

That same day I was due to go down to Gilroy and pick up a litter of kittens that needed help. Their owner was on a disability pension and living in a trailer park, and was given a cat that was unspayed, and got a little too friendly with her male cat who was unneutered. A litter of kittens ensued, and while she gave them lots of love, she didn't have the space for them (she has another cat, so 3 adult cats, and 6 kittens in a much smaller space than us!) could not afford the proper nutrition for them, or to get them spayed/neutered and rehomed and didn't want to take them to a shelter where they may get euthanised.

I had separate crates for the different litters in my spare room, but things were crazy. The Gilroy litter were about 11 weeks old, and had bad diarrhea (most probably diet related) so were super skinny, but were very sweet. The Google litter were about 7 weeks old and what I would consider semi-feral. They were hissing and spitting at me, and the mother would hiss at me, but she'd let me put my hands in the cage to change their food/water/litter without being at all aggressive - even if it meant putting my hand almost right under her nose. So I think she knew people were ok, and meant her survival, but we weren't to be completely trusted.

We were away that weekend because it was July 4, and I couldn't get the mother to be spayed until the Wednesday after, so for the first week I really had no contact with the kittens - just looking after their care, and getting them used to my voice and presence.

The 6 older kittens I got a friend to take care of for me - it was too many kittens in the house!

Meanwhile, the Google mother cat was spayed, and I had planned to keep her a few days to let her recover, then release her where I found her. Once she was at the vet for her surgery, I let the kittens out for the first time to let them start playing.

One was pretty brave, 2 were curious, and 2 were very shy. Only the brave ones came out, so getting them back in the cage was fine - it was their safe house.

The next day I tried again, only this time I could not get 2 of the kittens back in. It was very stressful for everyone involved! There was one kitten who each time we tried to socialise them would flip out - hiss, spit, strike at us, and get incredibly mad. The others were scared, but nowhere near as aggressive. To make it worse, she would run to the other kittens and then do this big act at me, which was freaking the other kittens out. The mere sight of me was enough to set her off.

I decided she really needed to be released with her mother - she would require more resources than I had (time, space, patience...), and she was scaring the other kittens and making them more wary which wasn't helping them.

So I got her spayed the next day, gave her time to recover, then released her and her mum together back to the generator where I first trapped them. The people at Google were going to keep providing them with food and water, so at least they were dry and safe, and had been fixed and vaccinated, so are hopefully a little more healthy, and can't reproduce.

Meanwhile, the Gilroy litter still had very bad diarrhea - it was pretty much pure liquid, and they weren't putting on much weight. Off to the vet I trotted with 2 of the kittens, and some stool samples. They tested negative for kitty diseases and negative for worms, but did have ear mites, but the vet could find nothing else wrong. We walked away with a large bill, medication that would hopefully help the diarrhea, and ear drops for the ear mites. Their foster mum, Scottie, did an amazing job keeping their litter boxes clean (not an easy task!), giving medicine, applying ear drops and giving them lots of love. She also started putting mashed pumpkin in their tinned food - pumpkin is supposed to help make their stools more solid. That seemed to help, and they generally have good poop now :-)

Back with the Google kittens, the more shy ones started coming out and playing more almost as soon as the cranky kitten had been released. We were no longer crating them any more, so they had the whole room to play in which they were loving.

Generally to socialise them, we did these things:

1) Using interactive toys to play with them so they associated us with fun
2) Patting them and sitting close after they eat their tinned food, as well as giving them Gerber baby food off our fingers in the early staged (kitties LOVE that)
3) Taking them individually into the bathroom for some lap time - it was easier if they were separated from their siblings
4) I took the "easy does it" approach, whereas Andrew took the "tough love" approach. So I would pretty much let them be during the day - play with them, feed them and sit nearby watching them. So they got used to having me there, and got comfortable playing, eating and using the litter tray with me right there. I would let them approach me, then try to pat them. Andrew would pull them out from their hiding places, or scruff them when they were near by, and hold them, and get them used to be handled. He got the most purrs out of them initially as he was handling them more. I think it was good to have both us doing different things - they were comfortable going about their business with me around, and they got the handling they needed from Andrew.
5) I played podcasts from my laptop in their room to get used to the sound of human voices

It was amazing watching the progress of these kittens. They were so scared and untrusting when we first got them. Then the brave kitten learned early on that being patted was good, and became very outgoing and affectionate. Then another stopped hissing when we went to pat her, and started putting her head up to be patted. Then the one who loved to play but hated being touched started letting us pat him - now we can pick him up with no problems (I still have scars from the first couple f times I tried picking him up), and he headbutts his sister out of the way if I pat her and not him. He also snuggles up under my chin if I'm lying on my belly so he can get in close, and rub against my face. He's made the most improvement. The last kitten is still very shy, but is more confident than she used to be, and purrs as soon as she thinks you're going to pat her!

We started finding homes for all the kittens, and an email to Google found us a fair bit of interest. The first appointments for their spay and neuter appointments (as well as vaccinations, microchipping, and another round of ear care/treatment for the kittens with ear mites) came around, and we did 3 kittens from the Gilroy litter, and 2 from the Google litter (the 2 Google ones had homes, so they went in the first round). The next night, one of the Gilroy kittens, and 2 Google kittens went to their new homes. Another couple also decided on 2 kittens from the Gilroy litter, but as the girl hadn't been spayed, they had to wait another week for after her appointment.

By this stage (a week ago now), I had all kittens back at our house. The Gilroy kittens are in the spare room, and the Google kittens play in our bedroom during the day, and go into the bathroom at night. The 2 Gilroy kittens went to their new home last night, so right now we are left with 3 Gilroy kittens (someone is interested in taking 2 of them, and coming to see them tonight), and 2 Google kittens.

Our kitties are curious, and handle it all very well. Stumpy has met them all and hisses if they try to play with her, but generally just wants to eat their food, and check them out. Lily met one of the kittens from the Google litter yesterday - she's always trying to get in to see the kittens, so I let them meet - they sniffed each other for a good couple of second, then Lily let out a HUGE hiss, and headed for the hills! These are the same kittens she's been watching and playing with from under the door for the last month... :-) Smudge is scared of them, she stays away from their room, and occasionally shoves her nose under the door of their room, and gets very upset if they try to wap her nose in return! So she stays downstairs, and just comes to our bedroom at night after all the kittens are in bed and settled down.

So it has all been very busy - caring for those kittens as well as socialising them, and giving our own cats attention has taken up a lot of time. It's been expensive too, but I'm charging enough for the adoption fees to pretty much cover all of my costs, so that's ok.

It has been incredibly rewarding though. The Gilroy kittens are in MUCH better health now, the Google kittens have socialised really well and have turned into wonderfully sweet kittens, they are all putting on weight nicely, they are going to excellent homes, and we have stopped 12 cats from having more babies. There's on average 5 kittens per litter, so that's about 60 less kittens that have gone into the world from just one more generation, assuming only one litter per cat! It makes all the hard work worth it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Uni results

I got my uni results today and I'm very pleased! I got an A for statistics and a B for politics. The way the results work is a bit odd at my uni - the highest mark is a HD (a 7 in other systems), then it goes A (Distinction/6), B (Credit/5), C (Pass/4), then varying degrees of fail. I hated the politics subject and thought I'd get a C, so am pretty happy.

It was a tough semester, starting 8 weeks after heart surgery, and feeling very tired, emotionally drained, and not having studied for 8 months trying to get back into the swing of things.

I'm glad it's over! I'm doing 3 subjects next semester, then I'll be finished first year - yay!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ahhhh on holidays

I finished my last exam for the semester - yay! Now I get to be sociable for 4 whole weeks! I've been pretty unsociable for a while. Between losing Joshua (it's been nearly 10 months can you believe!), preparing for surgery, recovering from surgery, then getting back into study and life in general, I haven't done very well at catching up with friends or replying to emails.

Now I can try to do both those things, plus get back into regular fitness (it's been very sporadic), read a backlog of books and do some more cooking and baking (anyone got any requests?).

There's two more things I'm looking at doing. The first is training to become a National Disaster Animal Response Team volunteer - it's run through the Humane Society of the United States, and it's a group of trained volunteers they can call on to help out when national disasters hit (floods, earthquakes, fires etc). The volunteers help evacuate the animals, provide emergency sheltering, track down owners, and generally be the animal version of the Red Cross type groups.

The other is getting some "studio" equipment for our Nikon D80 to do portrait photography. I need to get a Speedlight (external flash), stand for the speedlight, a background, and something to hold up the background, and I guess maybe an umbrella for diffusing light, and will start off with doing kids and pets for friends - just as a hobby. If anyone has any recommendations for equipment, I'd love to hear it!

I think my 4 weeks "break" will go fast!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quest for the ultimate Polar watch

Ultimate meaning "best watch for me". I started off with a basic running model, and it was ok, but didn't have the "Own Code" feature, so would pick up everyone else's heart rates as well as mine, and most annoyingly - didn't have a back light! It was very annoying to be training in low light and have no idea what was happening - the screen was a different colour than the watches with a back light, and it also made it hard to read.

The battery died on it ages ago, so since I'm getting back into exercise, I decided it was time for a new watch. I got the Polar F11 - a cute fitness watch which had a backlight (yay!), and seemed to do the basic heart rate monitoring features I figured I'd need. Only as it turns out, it doesn't do laps which is REALLY annoying while swimming as I can never keep track of laps, and once you start exercising, it will only tell you whether you're in the pre-determined OwnZone limits (it's a pain in the butt to tell it you're doing low HR exercise rather than high HR exercise or whatever), or it will tell you your total exercise time, and nothing else.

If I'm swimming, I want to know laps, I want to know lap times, or I just want to know the actual time! None of these I can do with my current watch. Sigh.

So now I'm thinking of selling the F11 (which is a nice basic HR watch if anyone wants it), and buying a watch that has:

Own Code
Min., max. and ave. HR over the total exercise
"Heart Touch"
Foot Pod would be nice for when I start running again
And doesn't cost a fortune

So I'm looking at the Polar RS200SD which I believe has all of these things. Has anyone got one of these, and have any opinions on it?

Do you have a watch that also does these things and would recommend? I'd be open to suggestions for the Garmin Forerunner as well. Any opinions would be appreciated!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

This looked like fun...

From Angie

A fun game if you have a few minutes to waste!


1. Think of the first word that comes to mind when you think of me.

2. Go to Google Images and search for that word.

3. Reply to this post with one of the pictures on the first page of results (don't tell me the word).

4. Do this in your own blog, if you wish.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New foster kitten

I got an email from the volunteer coordinator at the shelter saying they had 2 kittens that needed fostering. As of yesterday, one was still looking for a foster home. Her name is Sally, she's 12 weeks old, and had been found injured at a local beauty place. They took her to an emergency vet who diagnosed her with a fractured pelvis, and transferred her to the shelter where she's been recovering in a cage.

So I picked her up today and good time too - apparently a couple of kitties have gone into the room she was in sick with upper respiratory infection (kitty cold), so glad she's out of there.

She is an absolute lovebug! She's in a cage in our spare room, and I let her out for some attention and socialisation. I've been letting her out for a half hour at a time, and have done that a few times today. Each time she has purred constantly, rubbed against us, and meowed happily. I imagine she's so pleased to get out of the cage, and some attention. After about half an hour she starts getting hyper and wants to run around the room attacking everything and climbing everything, so for her own good I have to put her back in the cage :)

Apparently when she was found she couldn't put any weight on her back legs, but now if she's just walking, she walks almost normally. Doing anything like running, pouncing, and jumping (all which I try and not let her do!), she is a bit wobbly, but looks more stable than Stumpy when we first fostered her with similar injuries. I think she'll be up for adoption within a few weeks.

Here she is:

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Oh it's nice to be home.

It was a typical trip... we got up at 5:30am to get our flight from Zurich which was delayed by an hour. Our landing into Heathrow was kinda scary - the pilot slammed on the brakes just after we hit the ground, and everyone's faces pretty much got slammed into the chair in front. We were still braking hard when he made a right turn, which we only just made - I was on the left of the plane, and there wasn't much concrete between the plane wheels and the grass. I believe they're mostly automatic landings, so I'm not sure what happened.

Heathrow we had a shortish transfer, but it was fine, then got to San Francisco, and our bags didn't. They're still to arrive, but were apparently on the next flight which should have gotten in by now, so hopefully we'll get them soon. They said around 7 and it's almost 7 now. I don't want to stay up too late!

The kitties were a bit blase when they first saw us, then finally realised it was us, and Smudge got appropriately excited. She was on Andrew's shoulders rolling around in ecstasy. Stumpy came and jumped on my lap purring as soon as I sat down, and Lily came out to say hi. All 3 have been following me around all evening so far.

We were up at 5:30am, and it's now about 3:45am Zurich time. I have a tired headache, but need to wait and see if the bags turn up, make the bed and maybe think about food (although food sounds too hard at the moment).

Photos are up at our photo website. There's still no captions - hopefully there will be at some point.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Price of petrol in the real world

We have a lovely little, fuel efficient Prius back in the US. We would normally pay a little over $30 to fill the car, and get about 400 miles (650 km) out of a tank with regular driving, a bit more efficiency if we're doing a road trip.

We rented a Toyota Auris, which is a similar size to the Prius, to drive from Zurich to Prague. We had to change it over in Prague because the "Check Engine" and "Check Vehicle Stability Control" lights had come on and weren't going off, and the car kept beeping at us because of it.

We got a Audi A3 TDi in return, and were quite pleased because we'd put more petrol in the Toyota on the way, but it was only about half full, and we got a car with a full tank in return :-)

We managed to get the whole way to Zurich before needing to fill up. We drove about 700km (not much more than we get from the Prius), and paid a little over CHF100 (about USD$97) to fill the car with diesel.

In the US, we're paying about $4.20/gallon which is about the most expensive in the country, and has really only gone up recently, whereas in places like Zurich, they're paying $6.50/gallon! I think it won't be long until the US is up around those prices.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Next installment of photos - Prague and Deggendorf

Typical building in Prague - they're all so ornate!

Looking down from Karluv Most (Charles Bridge)

The fascinating astronomical clock which dates back to 1410. The astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; "The Walk of the Apostles", a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Twelve Apostles and other moving sculptures; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months

The Old Town bridge tower is a world renowned example of Gothic architecture-style buildings. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them Baroque-style, erected around 1700.

Can you find Andrew?

Staroměstské náměstí (aka Old Town Square), which is where the astronomical clock is. This is Church of Our Lady in front of Týn, or Týn Cathedral which was built in the 14th century. Another example of the beautiful Gothic architecture.

Moving over to Vyšehrad Castle (short walk from the hotel), which was built in the 10th century, but abandoned as a royal home in he 14th Century as Prague Castle was established.

This is in Vyšehrad Cemetery, established in 1860 as a burial ground for famous Czechs, so is quite beautiful and well kept. This is a line of the bigger, more ornate memorials for the more famous/rich people.

Many famous people, including the composer, Antonin Dvořák

Walls of Vyšehrad Castle

Door to the Church of St. Peter and Paul, Vyšehrad Castle. It amazes how much blood, sweat and tears must go into making this sort of thing

And looking from near the hotel down towards the city with Prague Castle in the background

In Deggendorf, Germany

This is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church that dates back about 1000 years. Inside is breathtaking.

The remains of St Felix - they've made him more pretty by covering him with jewels

At the top of a hill, looking over the pretty city of Deggendorf with the Danube in the back, left side.

Made it to Zurich

And so it seems that "Anmelden" is "German" for Sign In according to Blogger. I now know: hello, goodbye, thank you, I speak no German, and Sign in :)

We finished our week in Prague (more photos to come), and we both really enjoyed it. Andrew got a lot out of the Ubuntu Developer Summit he was at, and got to see the main sights of Prague, and I got to have a good explore of everything I wanted to, as well as get my assignment sent off and get some study in.

Yesterday we drove to Deggendorf, Germany to see Christine and Tim and check out where they're living. They seem to have settled in really well, and Deggendorf is gorgeous! It was founded about 750, traces of settlements have been dated back to 6000BC, and a cemetery from the Bronze Age was dated back to 1500BC. It's a beautiful city with a lot of history.

We left Deggendorf late afternoon, and drove to Zurich. We went to the Google office to pick up the keys for the corporate apartment and WOW! The office is amazing! We only walked from where we parked to the front desk, but we went past a slippery slide that goes from the floor above the cafe down to the cafe, we saw "phone booths" for conducting interviews in the form of ski lifts, as well as igloo themed booths - they were very cute!

The corporate apartment is nice as well, it's 3 levels, 5 bedrooms, but not carpeted, and with 5 rooms of people, can be a little noisy. It's in a very pretty area, not far from a tram stop, and very "swiss-looking". :)

We had to return our hire car this morning, and caught public transport back to the apartment - it's all very civilised! Nice, fast trains, and regular running trams and buses that go all over the city - even on a Sunday! I love a city with good public transport.

We're just doing some washing, then will get out and do some more exploring. More to come later in the week!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How surreal...

In the last couple of days here in our hotel in the Czech Republic, we've heard Ben Lee and John Butler Trio floating through the sound system in the hallways/lifts. How weird to hear such bands that I didn't think were very well known outside Australia, let alone the Czech Republic of all places.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Photographic overview of Prague so far *yes, photo heavy*

The outer castle walls (note the arrow holes along the bottom of the wall)

The arrow holes

The entrance to Prague Castle

The front of St Vitus' Cathedral

The side of St Vitus' Cathedral

Inside the Royal Palace (within Prague Castle)

Vladislav Hall - the Royal Court, which in its day was like a public market)

All Saints' Chapel, built in the 1300s, partially rebuilt after fires in 1541

All Saints' Chapel again

The "Diet" - medieval parliament, also the Throne Room

The New Land Rolls - these rooms were decorated with the crests of clerks who worked there

St George's Basilica, founded between 920 by Vratislaus I (Duke of Bohemia), and enlarged in 973, and rebuilt following a fire in 1142.

Inside St George's Basilica, this is where we saw the classical concert

Vratislaus I of Bohemia's tomb

I'm guessing they're not his bones, but it's still kinda creepy!

The ceiling of the tomb

The back corner of the basilica

Inside St Vitus' Cathedral

One of the many beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral

Tomb of St John Nepomuk

Chapel of St John the Baptist

St Wenceslas Chapel. Also known as, Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, he was son of Vratislav who founded St George's Basilica. St Wenceslas is also known as "Good King Wenceslas" of the Christmas Carol.

More stained glass - the detail was amazing

At the top of the 287 step staircase to the top of the Bell Tower, was a gorgeous 360 degree view around Prague

From the top of St Vitus', looking down

Looking down Vltava River

One of the spires of St Vitus', looking north-west

For the rest of the photos, check out our photo website