’12 Sep: Prague, Czech Republic
It’s great, just as everyone says, and they are two wild and crazy guys.
Including four nights in the charming Brno.
For the young folk, copied directly from Ms Wiki of course, just like you should not write your term papers:
“Czechoslovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (at the end of World War I and as part of the Treaty of St. Germain), until 1992.
“From 1939 to 1945, the state did not de facto exist because of its forced division and partial incorporation into Nazi Germany, but the Czechoslovak government-in-exile operated independently during this period. In 1945, the eastern part of Carpathian Ruthenia was taken over by the Soviet Union.
“On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.”
(Not to be confused with the former Yugoslavia! which is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. We live in the US .. we don’t teach geography much…)
Arriving from Vienna, in Brno, Czech Republic, in the late afternoon to find an extremely pedestrianized town. Trams run on rails and electrified overheads…
…and it looks like half the streets are torn up with road work and an apparent extensive overhaul of the underground systems.
And not that the streets were torn up and nothing doing. There were so many workers about I wondered if they could all live in Brno.
This picture is in the plaza of the Puerta de Menin. Menin actually has a smiley face over the first n and a / mark over the i, but I haven’t found it correctly on the internet to copy/paste.
My room, among the smallest I’ve ever stayed in.
I’m on the 4th floor up the steepest stairs in the narrowest staircase. Hauling my bag up those stairs, on floor three I muttered a very quiet curse, and instantly a door opened and a guy said ‘here let me help you with that’. I said ‘oh, thank you very much!’. He said ‘it happens everyday.’
No closet, no cupboard, no shelves, bathroom down the hall – but it’s clean, has a bed, a chair, and a view, and it’s cheap. Yay. And from the chair or the bed, this view out my window is so cool.
I’m doing a walk-about today just around town. Since it’s Monday most sites you want to get into are closed.
And I just realized late in the day that my only chance to visit the caves is tomorrow and it takes most of a day, but I’ll want to get into the museums too, so I’m going to take a pass on the caves.
The Centre for Experimental Theatre. I wandered around inside…
The only tourist brochure that I’ve located so far lists 16 attractions of which half are churches. There are more churches than are listed.
On the left, Iglesia de Santiago, and on the right, I don’t have its name yet.
Yikes these photos are distorted. And apparently I’m too lazy tonight to fix them.
Capuchin Monastery and Vault (Klaster kapucinu) where they have a crypt with mummies, not the Egyptian kind but the kind that just dry out.
You’ll see cafes often in these pictures. Along with the churches they are the most prominent feature of the historic center of Brno.
And don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of smoking going on here but not at the frantic, passionate, insatiable rate of the Viennese smokers.
Artists live and work here, and it seems like it should be very cool but I’m seemingly too old for cool now.
The guy who lives behind this wall was in his garden working on a project by whacking away with a huge metal hammer on big pieces of thick metal making a deafening noise that rang through the neighborhood.
The person next door was playing, loudly, an ill-tuned radio. Yikes.
(It was interesting to see some residential areas but was it worth all the steps? Maybe not. Maybe I could have made it to the caves and still seen the castle. Or I could have taken the trams and saved both time and steps for something else in town.)
Right now it is the morning of September 19th here in the Czech Republic. I was learning a new word (I can say ‘Thank you’ quite well now (or so they tell me (and have forgotten all my Hungarian words already but not my few bits of German since I’ve known those words for awhile)). I am starting to work on ‘goodbye’, so back to the BBC language site.
There are formal words for hello and goodbye that I’ve been hearing people say but then I noticed that there is a casual expression that means both.
It is spelled Ahoj and pronounced Ah’Hoy. Which made me wonder if it was related to Ahoy Matey, which made me look it up on the internet, which led me to discover that WOW, Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrrr!
This picture is from the entrance to the building next door to the hostel.
September 19 off to Prague
I walked the 10 minutes from my place in Brno to the train station in the rain for the ride to Prague. Look what they were selling at one of the sandwich shops in the train station!
You can get breads in all their forms, some with a bit of tasty fatty meat to make a sandwich, and pretty good pastry too, but this is the first time I’ve seen anything resembling a ‘healthy choice’.
I haven’t got this take your own picture with your phone thing down at all. This lovely young woman stopped to help me with my bag. Thank you! And we had a happy visit for the two and a half hour trip.
The rain had stopped so riding the subway and walking the couple of blocks to my new place was easy-peasy.
My new window!
I finished Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday set mostly in Vienna and now that I’m in Prague, I’m on to Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948.
The Zweig book was so excellent that Prague Winter feels, from the first couple of chapters anyway, a little ‘thin’ in comparison, but still interesting and I’m going to forge on.
Here he is again, from the front with the sun behind.
The building on the left is the National Museum where I was standing in the photo above, and according to a sign in the window: ‘The National Museum Historical Building is being prepared for a 5-year reconstruction. Currently we are de-installing the exhibitions. The building is open only for occasional concerts.’
…and emerge into Old Town Square. All these buildings and the ones you can’t see from this shot each make up long chapters in the history books.
It doesn’t look that crowded but I was unprepared for the jostling and decided to come back early one morning. It is the next morning already and I haven’t done it yet…but I will!
Then I found myself a great location to get a coffee and watch the Prague Castle changing of the guard.
I borrowed a Prague Condensed guide book from the place where I’m staying. It had a decent sized font, bright white paper, and the light was just right over my shoulder .. I could read it! and it was Lonely Planet. Oh how I’ve been missing you Lonely Planet!
I can’t read the regular editions anymore, the font’s too small, and I’ve been using the internet for information and to copy/paste when I’m looking for a few concise sentences of history…
…which means I’ve been missing out on using the colorful expressions always so amusing to me from Lonely Planet. From here the ” “s will be LP unless otherwise noted.
Changing of the guard. It was kind of long and slow and not so much, but a sweet old lady was standing next to me and she poked me in the arm every two minutes, pointing at the gates. She was so proud.
With the church to the right, there was a political assembly gathering in support of a candidate running for senate from the Prague district.
There was a band playing and wow-eee. They reminded me of a ROCKIN’ Bar Band playing excellent covers of all your favs. They did Proud Mary for heaven’s sake, Beatles tunes, Little Richard, and way more. That little boy was kickin’ it too.
I recognized almost all the songs and they sang maybe half of them in English and the others in Czech translation.
And because we are two…
The Jan Hus statue from a different angle, “completed in 1915 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the execution of Jan Hus .. shows two groups of people, a young mother symbolizing national rebirth and the figure of Hus emphasizing the moral authority of the man who gave up life rather than his beliefs.”
The Old Jewish Cemetery, Europe’s oldest, and tourists filing through.
Earlier I mentioned that I was reading Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 and I am very glad that I am. If you have an interest in Prague, have been to Prague, want to go to Prague, you will be well served to have read this book.
We had another political rally in Peace Square with the guy in the cowboy hat running against the guy from Friday for the senate seat from Vinohrady.
But all the cameras and microphones were focusing on the man in the white shirt. I asked around about why everyone was so interested in white-shirt man instead of cowboy-hat man. Everyone seemed quite forthcoming with what they knew. White-shirt man is an important person in politics.
From a TripAdvisor correspondent: “I especially liked the view of the outsider on things that are common for Czechs, like “the man in the white shirt” on Namesti miru. His name is Andrej Babis and he owns the majority of the agricultural business in the country, including dairies, meat producers and bakeries. He’s a bit of a nutcase, but exactly what Czech politics needs.”
One woman told me white-shirt man was among the richest in the Czech Republic and well respected because he wanted to reform government and because he had clean hands. We talked about how it is not easy to be in politics and to keep your hands clean.
And thinking of food, I stopped off at the office of my personal concierge (and my gorgeous personal reading room) located in the lobby of the handsome Four Seasons Hotel. It has a wonderfully central location and I stop by often.
They are so good at helping. So for my last dinner out I took their recommendation and enjoyed an excellent meal using up most of my remaining koruna.