Well this post is beyond overdue...I started it while we were still in the Czech Republic, but it was right near the end of our stay and Amanda and I hit the ground running on another experiment as soon as we were back in Colorado. But these stories and pictures are too good not to post, so I hope you enjoy!
Time Warp back to June of 2013
I'd really like to draw some parallel between the Hund family vacation to the Czech Republic and one of the Griswold vacations, but the Hunds have their own unique version of crazy...and I mean that in the best possible way!
After spending a few days in Prague, the Hund clan - Fred, Kathy, and Sarah (with her new fiance, Ryan, in tow) - headed south for their Bohemian adventure. Due to some unfortunate timing, their stay in nearby Trebon coincided with our second round of adult capturing (the subject of the previous post), but Amanda and I sucked it up and spent a week working hard and playing hard. We met up with them at their penzion after our day of banding. As many places in South Bohemia do, their penzion had an aviary with several exotic birds, a pond with a statue of the waterman, and a garden where the guests can taste the local brew. After giving us the tour of their tiny room, we headed toward the square for dinner. As any college or graduate student knows, the best time to go to the fancy restaurant you've always wanted to try is when mom and dad are in town...so we took them to Šupina. On our first day in Southern Bohemia, Martina (also a graduate student) showed us this restaurant and told us it was very good, but a little pricey and that it would be a good place to go when Amanda's parents came to to town. As we've mentioned before, Trebon and the surrounding areas are known for their fish, specifically trout, and Šupina (and it's little sister Šupinka) is one of the best fish restaurants in town. All the meals were amazing! We found out that our server, who was wearing the required bow tie better than anyone else, was heading to San Francisco for work in a few weeks. Before leaving the restaurant, Fred slipped him an extra 200 crowns (on top of his tip) and told him to go to Fisherman's Wharf when he got to San Francisco - always willing to help a fellow traveller!
We were lucky to have one day off from banding to do touristy things. All 6 of us piled into the Hunds' rental car (Tomas would later inform us of the trouble we could have gotten in for not having enough seat belts) and headed to Hluboká nad Vltavou to visit a Windsor-style castle. After a delicious meal in town where we discovered Sarah did not like Kofola, we trecked up the hill to the main event. Unfortunately, the castle wasn't open for public tours the day we were there, but we were able to walk around the grounds and see the amazing gardens.
In the afternoon, we met Tomas and his family (Jana and baby Adam) at the zoo. All you Americans, forget the image you have in your head of zoos. At this zoo, the fences were low and there were no moats separating us from the animals...you want to stick your finger in the cage and have it bitten off by a monkey, go right ahead, you'll learn your lesson right quick. One of the first exhibits we stopped at was the prairie dogs. Anyone that's been near a prairie dog colony knows that they're pretty active little dudes. But one of these prairie dogs was sprawled out near the mound, and all of us agreed that he looked a little dead as indicated by the flies accumulating on him...luckily, as we walked away, he came back to life and ran into the burrow.
Some of the other highlights included the meerkats, where one attempted to sit on the lap of another, the diverse array of bird exhibits, the insect exhibit, and feeding the carp. Yes, I said feeding the carp...you could buy a handful of what looked like cat kibble and drop it into the pond. Within seconds, a mass of carp would be swimming around, mouths open, waiting for more food to drop. By the end of the day, Amanda and I had discovered a fundamental difference between us (the biologists) and Kathy and Sarah - while Amanda and I were swooning over the wallaby joey, Kathy and Sarah couldn't get enough of baby Adam. Granted Adam has some adorably chubby cheeks, but...baby wallaby!
We concluded the day with dinner at one of the oldest restaurants in the region, Masné Krámy - the first reference of it was as a meat market was in 1336! It had clearly been renovated, but the food and beer selection were quite traditional. Unsurprisingly, our waiter spoke little to no English, but don't worry, Kathy commiserated as her ability to speak English apparently disappears when ordering food at a restaurant in a foreign country. Despite the language barrier, we ordered through a sophisticated method called, 'pointing at the menu'. In an unprecedented move, Amanda was not hungry and was starting to feel a little under the weather. So we ended our fun-filled day on a bit of a downer, but all in all it was a great day.
The next day, Fred helped out with some field work. Amanda and I had a couple swaps to do during another big banding day. The extra car made the process go much quicker and then Fred stuck around to take some pictures. Now all of Amanda's family has assisted with the barn swallow project in some way.
While everything at that time was a bit of a whirlwind, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything...and I know that I'm guaranteed a big hug any time I see a Hund (wink, wink Kathy).
See more pictures of our trip to Hluboká nad Vltavou and the zoo here