Monday, April 7, 2008

Photos from Hradcany Castle, Praha

Had some time tonight to work on posting more pics from earlier in our travels. All pics are from Hradcany Castle. The ceiling is from another library in the Strahov monastery, and so are all of the cool old books.

St Vitus Cathedral

And now for a peak inside.

Patron saint of Bohemia, John of Nepomuk. The myths about the 14th-century martyr say that this priest of Czech king Wenceslas IV refused to divulge a secret told to him by the king's wife, and was thrown off Charles bridge to his death as punishment. However, it seems that legend is one thing and history quite another. Centuries later the Catholic Church acknowledged that this saint was a fabrication created to combat anti-religious tendencies by the populace. A martyr was obviously just what was needed to gain the peoples sympathies. The legend of Nepomuck is still very strong today and statues of him are found all over Bohemia. Ask us what our nickname for him is next time you see us...

Please sir, might I have another?

Poking the devil.

The tomb of Good King Wenceslas, patron saint of the Czech Republic. Reputedly killed by his brother who also turned out to be a good and fair king.

Founded in 1140 by Vladislav II, the Strahov Monastery was completed in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was functioning until the communist government closed it. Now it is a working monastery and a museum. Inside is the Church of St Roch, the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and the Strahov Picture Gallery. The biggest attraction is the Strahov Library – the largest monastic library in the country. I posted a blog picture of one of the libraries in March.

Hradcany guard with the Easter Tree.

The Loreto.
This extraordinary baroque pilgrimage church was built in 1626 with funds donated by Countess Lobkowitz. Its grandiose design, along with the miraculous stories about this place, were part of Ferdinand II's campaign to recatholicize the Czechs. The treasury on the 1st floor has an amazing collection of monstrances. Since the foundation of Loreto, the Capuchin monks (whose monastery, the Church of the Holy Angel Virgin, is in same the neighbourhood) have taken care of Loreto and of the pilgrims.

This is the Loreto Holy Hut, where the the wonder-working statue of Our Lady of Loreto resides.

And this is inside the Loreto Holy Hut. Can you see the statue in the back?

The esteemed Prague Castle Band. We bought two of their compact discs.

Train station pics

Main station in Praha.

Taming the Praha washing machine

Our solution to keeping the washing machine in Praha from wrecking the bathroom.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Other deadly sins we might have to try.

More photo catchup

Guess who? You got it! YoYo here. Just catching up on some pics.

As seen on the Charles Bridge yesterday.

Who could resist such a luscious offer?

Time out in a beautiful historic cafe.

The Mozart memorial in commemoration of the night Don Giovanni premiered.

Why are there sailor boys in front of the Astronomical Clock? No se.

Horsey sweethearts in Old Town Square.

Czech political statement

YoYo once again.

We ran across this public artwork outside the Franz Kafka museum.

The pool the figures are taking a leak in is in the shape of the Czech Republic. The artists felt that it was a bad idea for their country to join the EU. The two figures represent the heads of the European Union (in Brussels). You can figure out the rest.

I stayed a while to watch the reactions of the folks seeing the fountain for the first time. The really fascinating thing is that most, if not all, of the men felt some need to either touch the art or the stream. The women, like Hoops and myself, mostly just posed next to the figures and made faces.

Down the hatch!

YoYo here...

We decided that it was time to really give absinthe a whirl. The photos below tell all...

First, the preparation by an experienced Czech national (later, an accommodating Scotsman did the honors). The sugar needs to be soaked in the absinthe prior to lighting it on fire.

The flame.

Okay, here we go then. We'll start with the one who has the most experience with alcohol.

Everything looks in order here. Let's move on to the more whimpy drinker and see what happens.

It was a very interesting evening. As I recall, we had 3 and a half absinthe shots each. Hoops doesn't recall the last half-shot, but she does recall the very large beer she drank as an absinthe chaser. I recall the walk home (most of it, anyway), but this part of her memory is blank. What was hilarious after we got home? Hoops decided to play the guitar and sing some gypsy-irish-punk folk songs. The only problem was that the guitar was drunk and wouldn't play in the right key. I tried to help, of course, but it mostly sounded like I was caterwauling. We visited the bar today to see if we could find my wayward scarf. No luck there but the staff at the bar were delighted to see us and were most insistent that we enjoy more absinthe. We declined as our stomaches roiled at the thought.