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Looking back

Currently I'm sitting in a friend's flat in London, catching up on some work and sipping my 4th or 5th cup of tea today (so far). It's another October in the UK and the usual cold, damp, gray weather has moved in, chilling me to the core. To be fair, though, the first few days of the month were surprisingly pleasant. And when we were in Austria a couple weeks ago, it was gloriously sunny!
wish I was here now
Josh & Chuck
I can't say enough about our week in Austria. It was productive and relaxing. . . if only all of our touring could go so smoothly! We stayed with Chuck LeMonds and his lovely family near Graz, in the south. Chuck is an ex-pat from Madison who has lived in Austria for 20+ years, making a living as a musician and teacher. Lucky for us, Chuck hooked up some fantastic duo shows for he and Josh in the Graz area. Here's are some photos from one of the places they played (a winery/ restaurant/ hotel/ venue) ...
the view from the winery

It's amazing how quickly the landscape, and everything else, changes when you cross the border from Austria to the Czech Republic. The rolling green hills turn to more craggly hills with patches of exposed rock. The pristine chateaus and churches become empty stone storefronts and boring white square housing complexes. Not to say that the CZ isn't beautiful- it's incredible- but there are differences. Driving through the Austrian countryside, near the border, I thought about what this area would have been like 25 years ago, during the Communist era. What did the quiet, prosperous Austrian farmers think of their neighbors (just a stone's throw away) whom they would never meet or even see? As we breezed past the CZ/ AU border, empty of guards on a Sunday afternoon I imagined how much this has changed- from a heavily military- guarded border to a stopping point between countries to an insignificant line between two members of the EU.
We spent several days in the Czech Republic's second-city, Brno. It's a fascinating old city full of winding cobblestone streets, medieval churches, a castle, and a very large population of University students. Josh played two shows here, and they were fantastic. The people we met were incredibly genuine and generous. We stayed with Michael, his girlfriend Kate and their 5 roommates (yeah, it was a full house). Michael told me that he and Kate are trying to find work in Canada. They are anxious to leave the CZ out of fear that the Communist party is making a come-back. That threw me a little. Clearly, the country has come a long way since that "dark" era- it seems to be prospering. But apparently the Communist party is still the 3rd most popular in the government, and growing. I can't imagine anyone voting in a Communist government, especially after having lived through it. . . But maybe some people were actually better off back then.
After Brno we had a couple days off so we went to the Medieval walled city of Cesky Krumlov. It was gorgeous but a bit Disney-esque because of all the tourism (thanks, Rick Steves!). 
at the Saturday market in Cesky Krumlov

more photos on the flickr page!

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