Thursday, July 26, 2018


Medovník is a Czech honey cake and it is delicious.  It is multiple layers of butter, honey, and nuts.  It looks like it's very difficult to make but it is oh so tasty.

I'm told that Slavic honey cake has been popular for over a century. Marlenka is a Czech version of Armenian honey cake.  Also quite popular, especially the cocoa version, but I prefer medovník.

Here's a YouTube video that shows how to make an eight-layer Russian honey cake.  It's basically the same as medovník without the walnuts.  While perhaps a bit time intensive it doesn't actually look too difficult.

©The Cooking Foodie

Monday, July 23, 2018

Aran Islands, Ireland

I had a fantastic birthday this weekend in Ireland!  No thanks to Ryanair.  I was supposed to fly on Friday evening with Ryanair from Brno Airport to London Stansted, followed by a late night flight to Dublin.

On Monday I received an e-mail from Ryanair that my London to Dublin flight was cancelled due to an employee strike.  They offered to refund my flight but they wouldn't do anything about the Brno to Stansted flight since it was still flying.  My only option was to catch an Aer Lingus flight from Prague to Dublin.  It cost me a half-day of vacation and an extra €100 but I managed to get to Dublin on time.

On Saturday morning we had an early morning, almost three-hour, train ride from Heuston Station to Galway and then on to Connemara Airport for our flight to the Aran Islands.

The Aran Islands, Oileáin Árann, are three islands off the west cost of Ireland.  The three islands are about 46 km² (18 square miles) and date back over 350 million years.  The Aran Islands are in the Gaeltacht which means that the 1200 inhabitants speak Irish as their first language.    

The largest, and most western island, is Inishmore, Inis Mór.  From Galway it's a 40-minute ferry ride.

The middle, and second-largest island is Inishmaan, Inis Meáin.  It's a 45-minute ferry ride.  

The smallest island is Inisheer, Inis Oírr.  It's about a 55-minute ferry ride from Galway.

The fastest way to get to Inishmore is an 8-minute flight.  At check-in, each passenger is weighed on a scale which determines where they seat you on the airplane.

Our first stop was a Dún Aonghusa which is a Bronze Age fort that sits on a 100 metre (330 feet) cliff over the Atlantic Ocean.

Teampall Mic Duach is a church dating back to the 7th century.

The Seven Churches, Dísert Bhreacáin, are on the west end of Inishmore.  In spite of the name, there are only two churches still standing.  

The churches date back to the 8th - 13th centuries.

We ended our sightseeing on the island with lunch in Kilronan before getting weighed again and another 8-minute flight back to Galway.

Galway Cathedral
We only had a short amount of time in Galway before we caught the last train back to Dublin.

Galway is definitely on the list of places to explore further.

Again, an awesome birthday weekend!

Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 Bratislava Rainbow Pride

Saturday was the 8th annual Rainbow Pride Festival in Bratislava.  This was the first year that IBM Slovakia was an official partner of the event.

Things have changed a lot since the first Pride back in 2010.  The support received was awesome!

The Governor of the Bratislava Region attended and there were embassy representatives from the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and Switzerland.

Besides IBM, there were employee groups from Lenovo, Accenture, Dell, Amazon, Ikea, and ING that participated as well.

I helped staff the IBM booth through the day and while over 25 IBMers took place in the march through the city centre.

Overall there were almost 4000 people that attended Pride.  I wonder how many people will show up in August at Prague Pride.

Here's a video that the IBM Communications team in Bratislava put together.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

South Africa Trip Summary

South Africa has to have been one of my more interesting trips since moving to Euroland.
Technically I've been to Africa before.  There was the day trip to Morocco.
However, this was my first real taste of Africa proper.

My adventure started off with an 11 hour overnight BA flight from London to Johannesburg.

Johannesburg is the biggest city in South Africa.

There's plenty to see and do so I kept busy.  The best parts for me were my visits to the Lion Park and Soweto.

Being in the Southern Hemisphere, July is the start of winter here.  Many people were complaining about how cold it was. It did drop down to 2℃ (35,6℉) but having lived in Czechland I kept thinking that these people don't know what cold is.

"Christmas in July" is a popular Southern Hemisphere thing.  Every so often the radio would play Jingle Bells or Feliz Navidad.

Normally when I travel I'm game to just go out and explore.  I'll take a random street just to see what I can find.  Not this time!  South Africa's crime rate is out of control.  Except for walking to the local mall in Rosebank, I took an Uber anytime I wanted to go somewhere.  Every sightseeing thing I did was through a booked tour.  The nice thing was that since this wasn't a busy time, I was the only person on all but one of my tours.  So I had private tours for the price of group tours.  Sweet.

I had a half-day tour to Pretoria.  The Voortrekker Monument was definitely worth seeing.  But given my limited time I probably should have skipped it and gone to see the Cradle of Humankind.

The flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town is just over two hours.

While on the airplane I had a look through the inflight magazine.  There was a full page story on why Brno is the place to go visit.

Whilst I'm glad that Brno gets the recognition as a great place to be I kind of hope it that it retains its status as a hidden gem.

Cape Town was a bit warmer.  Fortunately, they had a few days of rain before I arrived which actually got their reservoir up to around 70%.  Water restrictions were still in place.  My hotel removed the plugs from the all of the bathtubs and asked people to keep showers to a maximum of 90 seconds.  This was rough considering it took over a minute for the water to warm up.

I enjoyed Cape Town much more than Joburg.
Especially the day trips out to Robben Island and the Cape of Good Hope.

As a mentioned, security is an important thing to be aware of in South Africa.  Way more so than in Euroland.  In South Africa, all of the nice houses are hidden behind high walls and electric fences. In poorer areas the electric fences are replaced with razor wire.  It gets exhausting always being on guard.  I don't get how people live here full time.

I'm very glad that I came to South Africa.  It was educational.  The scenery is absolutely spectacular.

There is so much potential here but people are squandering it.
There is so much fraud.  I think Nelson Mandela is turning in his grave over how things are playing out in the country.

I still want to visit Durban and Port Elizabeth.  I would for sure return to Cape Town but I don't feel a burning need to go back to Joburg.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point and Stellenbosch Tour, South Africa

On Friday, I went on an all day tour from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point, and Stellenbosch.

Cape Point is the mountainous stretch that runs about 30 km (19 miles) at the southwestern tip of Africa.

Our first stop was at Maiden's Cove for a view of the Twelve Apostles which is a scenic stretch of mountain on the back side of Table Mountain.

Then we stopped at Hout Bay which is about 20 km (12,5 miles) from Cape Town.  The town is home to about 18,000 people.  It's a lovely spot surrounded by mountains with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Panoramic view of Hout Bay

On the way to Cape Point we passed an ostrich farm.

We also saw plenty of baboons by the farm.

Cape Point is beautiful.  Again, great views of the coast and the Atlantic Ocean.

About 2 km away is the Cape of Good Hope.  The Cape of Good Hope is the most south-western point on the African Continent.  It's a popular spot for photos.

Boulders Beach is near Simon's Town.  This is home to the African Penguin, previously known as the Jackass Penguin.  This is the only penguin that breeds in Africa.

Back in 1910 there were around 1,5 million penguins and today it is considered an endangered species.  There are give or take 3000 birds in this colony.

On the way to Stellenbosch we drove past Khayelitsha.  Khayelitsha means "Our New Home" in Xhosa.

It is home to over 390,000 people.  It is South Africa's largest and fastest growing township.

Stellenbosch is about 50 km (31 miles) from Cape Town.  It was founded in 1679.

Today it is a university town with a population of around 20,000.  Unfortunately we only had about an hour to walk around so I didn't get to see much of the town.

We then stopped off at Zevenwacht Winery for a short tour and wine tasting.  The winery dates back about 300 years.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Robben Island, South Africa

Robben Island is 10 km (6 miles) from Cape Town.  The small island is 3,3 km (2,1 miles) long and 1,9 km (1,2 miles) wide.

Dutch settlers first used the island as a prison in the mid-17th century.

In 1845 it became a leper colony and it eventually became an animal quarantine station.

In 1961, South Africa's Apartheid government used the island as a prison for both convicted criminals and political prisoners.

This is where Nelson Mandela served 18 of 27 years before the end of Apartheid.  He, along with Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, are former prisoners who became President of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's cell 

In 1991, the maximum security prison for political prisoners closed.  Then in 1996 the medium security prison was closed.

In 1999, Robben Island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are three tours a day from Cape Town.  The 3,5 hour tours start with a ferry ride from the V&A Waterfront.  The tour guides are former prisoners who are able to share their personal experiences.