Monday, November 13, 2023


With the Amawaterways journey over, we took the train from Vienna, Austria to Prague, Czechia. Rail service in Europe is quite good, we had booked tickets on a nonstop train. We arrived in Prague in the early evening. We walked from the train station to our hotel: I was glad it wasn't too far as wheeling luggage over cobble stones isn't always easy. The street our hotel was on was a little dreary, but the hotel was nice, and we were right off of Wenceslas Square and very close to the Old Town. After checking into the hotel, we walked back to the square and found a nice place for dinner.  My sister and I shared a jumbo kebob with chicken, beef, zucchini, corn and red pepper washed down with a Pilsner beer for which Czechia is famous.

The next day we toured the Old Town. The Old Town in Prague is quite extensive, and you could easily spend two full days there exploring all the little side streets. We saw the astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall, walked to Charles Bridge and all the way down to the Dancing House where we stopped for iced coffees. We also did a river cruise in the evening. It was nice not to have to meet a schedule. 

Charles Bridge

Evening view of Prague Castle

The next day we went to the Prague Castle which was on the other side of the Vltava river so off we went again to cross Charles Bridge. Little did I know that there would be many stairs to walk up to get to the castle.  There are quite a few places to explore in the Prague Castle, the palace, the church and the Golden Lane depending on which ticket you buy will determine what buildings you can tour in the castle complex. We didn't do any of the towers, I didn't mind as I wasn't up for more stairs. The tickets are good for two days which is why we went on our second day as then we knew we wouldn't have to rush to see everything and could, if we wanted to, go back the next day.

The memorial to the Victims of Communism was also on the same side of the river so we walked along the river until we found that memorial. There was no one there when we got there which was nice because the group of people who showed up a little later seemed to be making fun of the memorial.

On the first day as we were walking around the Old Town, we noticed a tour guide pointing up to show a group of people a statue and we found out in Prague you have to look up or you'll miss some things.  So, on our third day, we decided after visiting the Museum of Illusions to go on a hunt for some of Prague's whimsical statues. I'm sure if we went back we would find ones that we missed.

On our last day, we went back across the river to Waldstein Palace Gardens to see the Dripstone Wall.  The gardens have an avenue of statues, a pond with large koi, and peacocks wander around certain parts of the garden and, of course, the dripstone wall. 

On our way back to our hotel we stopped at the Pilsner Beer Experience. Pilsner beer was invented in the town of Pilsen, about an hour and half from Prague, and it is still brewed there today.

Prague was spectacular and you could see much of it without spending a lot of money. There is so much to see just walking the streets. I certainly wouldn't mind going back to Prague. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Kith and Kin

Today, 1 November is also the Day of the Dead.  It is a joyful celebration to remember family members and friends who have passed away. 

This year we lost a number of family members but two were both kith and kin. In May, we lost my mother's older brother, Terence Pineau. My father, Danny, met Terence in the Royal Candian Air Force, I think, when they were both posted to Beaverbank, Nova Scotia. So, my uncle Terence was my dad's friend before they were brothers-in-law. It was Terence who brought my dad home to visit his family in Halifax, where he met my mother, Anne. As for my uncle Terence's wife Helen, she was my mother's friend before Terence and Helen began dating. My mother was Helen's Maid of Honour at their wedding and a year later Helen was my mother's Maid of Honour. So, for both my parents, their friends became family. 

Helen and Terence's wedding

Anne and Danny's wedding

We also recently lost a cousin of my mother's, Ivan Arsenault. Ivan was a second cousin. I'm not really sure of their relationship. Ivan was about three years younger than my mother, so it's unlikely that they met on Prince Edward Island before my mother's family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. We were living in Alsask, Saskatchewan, a small radar station of the Pinetree line, when one night my father called from the Junior Ranks Club. He told my mother that there was an Arsenault from the Island and they were probably related. As the story goes, my mother said: "Don't be ridiculous not every Arsenault from the Island is related".  Well, it turns out if you're an Arsenault from PEI, you probably are. Anyway, they hung up, but later in the evening, my dad called back and said: "You have some of the same uncles, I'm bringing him home". And that's how we met Ivan Arsenault. In Saskatchewan, we were a long way from any family, Ivan is the first relative I remember meeting. My mum's parents and their youngest children had visited us in Foymount, Ontario, our previous posting but I don't recall that visit at all and my dad's mother had visited us in Alsask but I only vaguely remember that visit. My mother and Ivan probably met as children on PEI during the summers as Ivan used to help his father or grandfather with deliveries.  But it was way out in western Canada that we all became both family and friends.

Ivan and Terence were good friends of my father and all three served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as Air Defence Technicians or Air Weapons Controllers. Our families would be posted together at 21 Radar Squadron in St Margaret's New Brunswick.

Ivan Arsenault

Terence Pineau

Danny Stewart
So, in this month of Remembrance and on this Day of the Dead, we will remember them. I've read once before that as long as we are remembered we will never truly die. 

Remember your family and friends, both kith and kin, they are part of your story.