Sunday, April 25, 2010

Can Anyone Tell Me About this Beautiful Czech Pottery?

Twenty years ago, when I started corresponding with my Czech pen pals, one of them sent me a vase like the one pictured in the second picture below. I fell in love with the beautiful folk pottery! It's Czech, but I have never seen it offered for sale in Prague.

These pictures are on display at Celetna Crystal on Celetna Street. When I asked the salesperson about them she shrugged and said "too old fashioned." Say it ain't so! It's classic folk pottery. So who knows anything about these beautiful things?

Are they Moravian?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Peter Eigen: How to expose the corrupt | Video on

Here's an NGO (non-governmental organization) you should know about.  It's called Transparency International. I never heard of it until I came to the Czech Republic and I saw it advertised on buses, trams, and on T-shirts. I knew it fought corruption but I didn't know how. What a wonderful vision this man has of the difference he can make in improving governance throughout the world! Nobel peace prize people, are you listening?

Take 16 minutes by clicking on my title or the link below to listen to his TED talk describing his work organizing suppliers to create a corruption-free business culture. Just by listening to his arguments, you help create a less-corrupt environment that honors great products rather than corruption culture in developing markets. Think of the cynicism this man is helping to prevent! And is there anything that keeps more people from political action than cynicism? I think not.

Can you share his ideas with one other person, especially someone who works at a global company? You, as a member of civil society, can help reform cultures across borders by developing beliefs and expectations that this can change. It can change, you know. Believe.

Peter Eigen: How to expose the corrupt | Video on

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Journeys of Captain Oddsocks

When you decide to move to a country and want to learn all about it, one of the best things you can do is read the blogs of expatriates who are already living there.  Today I want to give a shout out to an expatriate blog about the Czech Republic that I have loved reading and that has introduced me to parts of the Czech Republic beyond Prague.

The Journeys of Captain Oddsocks is such a well-written blog.  Here's one of the posts I appreciated the most: "What and Where was the Sudetenland?"  For example, one of the things I learned from Captain Oddsocks' post that I didn't know before about the Sudetenland was the role reversal of German-speaking citizens governing the country at the time from a majority position and then all-of-a-sudden becoming the minority.  There's a similar parallel today with the Sunnis in Iraq who used to govern the country and are now getting used to a new role.  I hope it turns out better than the Sudetenland did!

I will know that I know the Czech Republic really well when I start winning Captain Oddsocks "Where the Czech?" photo contests.  Haven't won one yet!  Have you? Another post he did I totally love is "100 things about the Czech Republic."  How many items on the list did you know about? What makes you smile?  What would you suggest to him as an addition?

Yesterday, Captain Oddsocks started a series on Czechland architecture with an initial post: Baroque for Beginners.  Who can resist a name like that?  I didn't want you to miss a single entry! I recommend signing up to follow Captain Oddsocks on his blog or through Facebook.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pictures at an Exhibition

Jana, center, invited colleagues
Justin and me
to join her at a reception
for a Czech photographer's
exhibition of Tibetan culture.
It was the 50th anniversary
of the Dali Lama's exile from Tibet.

I predicted that one of my students
with a thing for Tibetan culture would be there.
This was the only time I ever played hooky from class.
I guessed, correctly, my student would be playing hooky too!
We rescheduled the class for another time.

The reception was at one of the Czech Parliament Buildings.
Here is the receptionist's nifty period in-and-out-board
for knowing which official is in the building
and which isn't.

Prague is full of beautiful cloak rooms
with pleasing period fixtures.

and a few toys.

The librarian in me was completely enthralled by
these glorious documents on display
on the way to the reception room.
Look at the "signature" seals on these things!

The explanations were only in Czech
but I believe the document below is a
Czech constitution from some moment in Czech history.

The reception was very intimate
and felt more so due to a light rain outside
falling on the skylights.
Yet, this government-sponsored reception
felt completely accessible, open, and friendly to
anyone with an interest in the topic
whether they were Czech or from some other country.
I love that about the Czechs.
I never get the feeling of "exclusion - natives only please."

There were all kinds
of interesting people in attendance.

The guest of honor: the photographer
who took the beautiful photographs on display.

A sample of her photographic work above.

Czech people know what it is to be a tiny country
that feels forgotten.

I came away from this evening understanding that
there are supporters of Tibetan rights
all over the world, not just the USA.

Jana was excited to meet Kateřina Jacques,
Vice Chair of the Czech Green Party.
"She is like our Obama!"

Jana explained to me that Kateřina Jacques
had become famous throughout the Czech Republic
of her 'treatment' by authorities at a political rally
at the start of her political career.

Jana was toying with getting involved in Czech politics.
I admired my friend for that because
my experience so far had been that Czech people don't see how their
individual involvement in politics can make a difference. 
It can! It does!

And to end on something lighter than politics:
my favorite food discovery of the evening
was this Czech pastry I was
introduced to that night - věneček.
It's the one second from the right.
Totally, totally worth the calories.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Artist David Cerny: "I Painted Tank Pink to Get A Girl"

David Cerny

Czech artist David Cerny is so endlessly entertaining.  He always makes me laugh.  Turns out he painted the Soviet tank pink back in the 1970s to get a girl.  Read the full story on the Radio Free Europe web site by clicking on my title.
Related posts:
It's David Cerny Appreciation Week and
The Saturday Profile: With Sharp Satire, Enfant Terrible Challenges Czech Identity

A Man With a Biking Plan

I want to give a shout out to an English-born blogger who is currently living in Prague.  Simon is a man with a plan.  What is his plan?  He is going to circumnavigate the Czech Republic on his bicycle.  I don't think he has started yet.  This looks like it will be an awfully fun adventure to follow.  Why not sign up to follow his blog? Or for that matter, I invite you to sign up and follow mine! Click on my title to reach his blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Behind-the-Scene Pictures of Barack Obama in Prague, 2nd Set

Air Force One Arrives in Prague

The United States Embassy in Prague has shared a second set of behind-the-scene photos of Obama in Prague.  Click here to see the photos.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

An Evening of Jazz at the Reduta

 At the Reduta Jazz Club

All of this "Obama in Prague" commotion, took me back to a wonderful memory from "Obama in Prague" weekend last year.  My President had just arrived in Prague, it was the night before his big speech and the entire city was jazzed.  What would be a better thing to do than to go hear some jazz?  Actually, that's what the last democratic American president did when he was in Prague in 1994.

A display of photos from that special night in 1994
of the "Two President's Gig"

Vaclav Havel took Bill Clinton down to Prague's most famous jazz club, the Reduta, and therein a night of magic was created.  It's gone down in history as the "Two President's Gig."  President Havel presented President Clinton with a saxophone.  In this small intimate club, so tiny it could almost be someone's rec room, Bill Clinton played "Summertime" on his new sax.  Czech musician Jan Konopásek, now living in Florida but keeping a home in Prague 1, had also created a piece of music that was a blend of the two nation's hymns.  It was played.  Our Secretary of State at the time, Madeline Albright was also there, which was fitting since she has Czech roots. This evening was beyond statecraft.  This was friendship.

 I knew President Obama wouldn't be there on the eve of his speech.  Lightening doesn't strike in the same place twice -- or at least so I'm told.  But I had a very special invitation from Czech bandleader and clarinetist Pavel Smetáček to come hear his Traditional Jazz Studio band play at the Reduta on a breathtakingly beautiful springtime evening.

 Reduta Bandstand

The evening to me was a celebration of deep roots.  Pavel Smetáček's band has been in existence for 50 years.  When you think of how fashions in music come and go, and personnel come and go, and then you add a totalitarian regime harassing musicians on top of all that -- it's hard to underestimate the accomplishment.

The crowd forming - 
music begins at 9:30 p.m.
Pavel Smetáček's band was not the only Czech jazz institution to have lasted for so long and with such a grand reputation.  The Reduta jazz club has also continuously operated as a jazz club for 50 years as well.  Sometimes I think jazz is celebrated more here in Prague than at home! What wonderful memories Pavel must have created over the years at this club.

Vojtech Hueber
Announcer for the Evening

So there was not only Pavel's 50 years of musical leadership present, and 50 years of Reduta jazz history present, there was also the incredible long-standing friendship between Pavel Smetáček and his friend Vojtech Hueber, PhD present. Spending time with them, it's obvious to see how lucky these two men are to have each other as friends.

Vojtech, associated with Czech Radio's jazz department, also has a lengthy career history in international affairs.  These men have their love of jazz to discuss and also global politics.  Pavel helped represent the Czechoslovakian government with new democratic faces after the Velvet Revolution, having served as the Ambassador to Italy in the early days of democracy.

 The dreamy Smetáček brothers.
Pavel on the left, Ivan on the right.
this picture is better.

Pavel on the left, Ivan on the right,
and me chillin' with the dreamy Smetáček brothers!

Oh, and one other long-standing partnership was on display. Pavel's brother Ivan, was also present that evening.  Ivan played the trumpet for years and no longer plays since his embouchure has taken a well-deserved retirement. Both Pavel and Ivan carry themselves with an urbanity quite uncommon in today's world. Can we bring it back?

 I asked Pavel, "where did you learn to be so elegant?"

"From my father, Václav Smetáček; he was a symphony conductor.  He died in 1986 at the age of 80.  He was known for his handsomeness."  He wrote a piece of music for Pavel's band called "Ragtime Echo."

 I haven't met Pavel's son Stěpán, representing a third generation of musical leadership, but he has his own modern band called the New Orchestra of Dreams (Pavel plays traditional dixieland jazz although he says he's a "tolerant traditionalist!"). Dasha, Pavel's wife, is a flautist.  She played in Pavel's band for 10 years.  She now teaches and has a chamber music ensemble with flutes and cellos.

The depth of all these connections was moving!

The band began to play with a power that just blew those of us in the front row away.  Wow, I want to be like this when I'm his age.  It was so fantastic.  They started off the first set with the song Nobody's Sweetheart. and continued with:
Careless Love,
Some of These Days,
I Can't Give You Anything But Love,
and Oh, Lady Be Good.

I was touched when Vojtech introduced me to the crowd as a special guest of the band.  While many of the people were local, quite a few in the crowd were Asian tourists.  Would I be as hip to their fabulous music if I went to their countries?

The trombone player was adorable.  Anytime he did an extended solo and the crowd clapped he did this very cute "aw shucks" schtick that did not get old. He not only played the trombone, he had a trombone 'kazoo' that he would bring out for fun.

The second set, the band played:
All of Me
Pennies from Heaven
Burgundy Street Blues (arranged by George Lewis)
When You're Smiling
Strutting' With Some Barbecue

The third and final set the band played:

I've Found a New Baby
C-Jam Blues
St. Louis Blues
Sweet Georgia Brown 

I especially appreciated hearing St. Louis Blues because one of the seminal jazz moments in my life was hearing Count Basie's band accompany Joe Louis on that number in Nice, France when I was 17 years old. I remember it like it was yesterday! It was yesterday, wasn't it?

Band members on stage:

Armin Reich - drums
Ondřej Cernil - bass
Antonin Bílý - piano (not pictured but jamming in full force!)
Jaroslav Zelený - trombone et al.
Vitězslav Marek - trumpet et al.
Jan Chvosta - tenor sax
Pavel Smetáček - clarinet

Pavel and Vojtech also gave me some tips on who I should listen to in European jazz. I'll keep those recommendations to myself.  I wouldn't want to say anything that harms a diplomatic legacy.   Thank you gentlemen, for an unforgettable evening of music and terrific fellowship!

You might enjoy this earlier post about Pavel's band:

I Could Have Danced All Night

In Karlovy Vary, Pact With Russians Raises Old Specters

The Streets of Karlovy Vary
in Western Bohemia, Czech Republic. 
It's a spa town so popular with Russians
there are direct flights.

Old memories die hard.  The New York Times asked the citizens of Karlovy Vary what they thought of the treaty signing in Prague and the building friendship between America and Russia.  It was an inspired choice since there are no communities in the Czech Republic who have more interaction with Russians on a daily basis.  Click on my title to read the article.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Behind-the-Scene Pictures of Barack Obama in Prague

President Obama and President Medvedev
signing the START Treaty at Prague Castle

The United States Embassy in Prague recently posted behind-the-scene photos of President Obama's visit in Prague.  Click on my title to see the photos. 

If you are an American or Czech who worked to make the President's trip a safe success, thank you!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"We are here because enough people ignored the voices who told them that the world could not change!"

 In honor of President Obama's achievements in signing a new START treaty with Russia this week in Prague, I'm reposting my original blog post about his Prague speech on nuclear weapons.  Having just watched the speech again yesterday, I was struck by how clearly he laid out exactly what he was going to do and his timeline for doing so. He accomplished exactly what he said he would accomplish in the first year.  Congratulations President Obama!

What's Latin for "they came, they saw, they charmed?"  That's what President and Mrs. Obama did when he spoke to the Czech people on April 5th, 2009 on a hazy Sunday morning at Hradcany Namesti (Prague Castle Square).

Beginning with Czech history from Chicago (something well-known to Czech people and hardly known outside of Chicago within America), President Obama shared his Chicago roots in a way that charmed the Czechs and Americans like me in the audience.  He honored Czech people for things they love about themselves and by extension, that Czechs teach foreigners to love about them as well:  their humor, their high level of culture, their "unconquerable spirit despite empires rising and falling, and the "revolutions ... led in arts and sciences, politics, and poetry. "

My very favorite part of the speech was one I did not expect.  When he was establishing connection with his Czech audience, President Obama talked about the improbability of him serving the United States as President and of Czech people being free to live their lives in democracy:

"We are here today because enough people ignored the voices who told them that the world could not change." 

What a perfect thing to say to a nation of skeptics who don't believe that democracy will change anything, who don't believe that corruption can ever end, and that don't believe their politicians will stop arguing and start governing.  President Obama was asking Czechs to believe.  It was easily the most moving part of his speech.

He was asking them to recognize their own power as citizens and visionaries if they organize and work for and believe in change.  After all, it was their first democratically-elected President, President Vaclav Havel, who proved that "moral leadership is more important than any weapon." Believe, Czech people, believe!

He did not come here to argue the merits of the proposed missile defense system to the Czech people.  He aimed much bigger than that.  He came to propose a nuclear-free world.  Now if any other politician proposed such a thing in a speech, I have to admit, I would roll my eyes that he expected me to believe such a Pollyanna vision is possible.  But if there is anything I have learned about my President is that he accomplishes things that others might not even dream up.  This is a man who had his credit card denied trying to get into the Democratic convention in 2000 in Los Angelas just so he could attend and eight years later was the nominee of his party.  I'm not discounting the possibility that he could actually do it.

He broke the whole idea of eliminating nuclear weapons down to manageable short-term goals, any one of which would be an accomplishment in it's own right. Godspeed, Mr. President.

He even labeled the Czech Republic as a being in the heart of Central Europe, not Eastern Europe!  Americans labelling the Czech Republic as "Eastern Europe" drives Czech people crazy. We Yanks can't help it, we still have that Iron Curtain line in our heads.  When I talk to Czech friends my age, I realize they do too.  It is a new generation, born in freedom, that has a new reality.  Major charm points, President Obama.  Thanks for coming to the Czech Republic!

There are great photos of President and Mrs. Obama in Prague on the White House blog dated April 9, 2009 at

After Prague, What's Next for Arms Control?

Often Americans hear news reports from countries around the world crying out "why won't America lead on this?"  Here's an exciting article that shows just the opposite.  When it comes to nuclear weapons, we've got a prophet, he's got a plan, now he just needs some followers. Click on my title to read the essay.

Growing U. S. - Central European Ties

How to reassure Central Europe that America still cares since the missile shield moved elsewhere? Two Americans with strong ties to the region argue that America can help grow the bond between Germany and Central Europe so that the tie becomes as important to the EU as Franco-German ties were to NATO in the 1950's.  Click on my title to read the essay.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In Prague, you can enjoy reading the "Cafe Europa" at the Cafe Europa

Slavenka Drakulić continues her look at life after communism in the book "Cafe Europa" her sequel to “How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed.” It's a great read and an honest read that rings true still 14-18 years after she wrote it.

If you think regular consumers in the West sometimes have trouble recognizing that TV advertisements and media showcase a fantasy, unobtainable lifestyle, imagine how hard it was for people exiting 40 years of communism to know what’s real and what isn’t.

Croatian novelist and essayist Slavenka Drakulić says that every Eastern and Central European formerly-communist capital expresses their longing for the perfect Europe of their imagination with a Cafe Europa.  There's one in all the major capitals; indeed, the one in Prague is spectacular.

One of the most powerful parts of her book discusses the complicity that citizens of fascist/communist countries feel having worked to sustain a system that is now on the dustheap of history. As countries like Croatia tossed aside old street names, square names, and place names to reflect the change in power from communism to democracy, citizens saw their own personal history erased at the same time as everyone glossed over how they participated. She discovers that nations as a whole, don’t look back with probing insight. When the author went to Isreal and was questioned by the citizens there about Croatia's role in the Holocaust, Ms. Drakulić realized with shock that people there were asking her questions about history that went unexamined back home. It’s hard to take responsibility, on a personal and a civic level if that isn’t part of the civic culture.

I enjoyed this book because the author beautifully explains that many of the emerging democracies infantilized under communism are actually stuck in feudal behavior as much as communist behavior. The political system may have changed for the better, but it will be years until citizens know how to work the system, rather than subvert the system (the old way of surviving) and also how to look to themselves as personally responsible.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Celebrating My Accountable President Returning Once Again to Prague

One year ago today, my President was in Prague, giving a speech calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.  That speech contributed greatly to his Nobel Peace Prize.

Exactly one year and three days after that speech, he will return to Prague to sign a treaty with the Russians lessening the number of nuclear weapons in their respective arsenals. It probably helps that both of them need to find ways to save money.

In addition to the treaty, President Obama has eliminated the vagueness from America's policy of exactly when it would use nuclear weapons and when it wouldn't through a process called the Nuclear Posture Review.  He has taken a more measured, deliberate and probably honest approach to exactly what circumstances would merit a nuclear response.  To those who decry eliminating the vagueness and instead that we should keep our enemies guessing, I would ask them to look where bluffing got Saddam Hussein.

If that were not enough progress toward the goals outlined in his speech, this month my President is hosting the largest gathering of world leaders since the founding of the United Nations 65 years ago to discuss how to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of rogue states and terrorists.

I don't see how lowering the number of nuclear weapons in the world could be a bad thing.  I have no opinion on whether lowering the temperature on nuclear response is good or bad.  I am not an expert although I am a big fan of clarity.

What I celebrate today, is the sheer joy of having a President who feels accountable and reports progress.  He did it by returning to Iowa City, Iowa where he had first called for health care reform on the campaign trail to report that he had done it.  One year later, he returns to Prague to report the steps he has taken to make the world safer from nuclear weapons. I like many others who heard the speech, have closely followed what has or hasn't happened on the issue.  My President feels and acts accountable to the people and reports back to the initial audience who heard his goals.

To have a President of the United States that I both respect and love is just a completely joyous, wonderful thing.  And I agree with his politics.  It's a political trifecta! I and many other Americans, are the beneficiary. Godspeed, Mr. President. Congratulations on your achievements. Thank you for "ignoring the voices who said the world could not change."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Czech/American marriages

I heard a funny story from an American woman married to a Czech.  I asked her if she would recommend marriage to a Czech man.  "No actually, I recommend the other way around," she intimated with a laugh.  "Czech women are raised to do everything domestically and expect nothing from a man around the house.  He gets away with doing less than he would have to do married to an American." So when a Czech woman marries an American it's a very peaceful marriage because both people are getting more than they expected.  She continued, "but when a Czech man marries an American woman and he doesn't do anything and she expects the same sort of help an American man would give, it's not at all peaceful."

There you have it.  Choose accordingly!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Need for Mythic Narrative

Scratch any American and you'll find someone in love with the mythic narrative of his or her own country.  That's why I could never understand George Bush's invasion of Iraq.  He was depriving the Iraqi people of the opportunity to create their own mythic narrative to cherish as we cherish ours.

That love and nostalgia of one's story is a deep human need.  I read this New York Times story about an underappreciated photographer of Eastern European Jewish life pre-WWII with the full knowledge that I have this same need as much as anyone for romanticized mythic narrative about my own people.   

Scholar Maya Benton studied the photos which represented her parent's past and wanted to know more.  She began to look into the photographic narrative of Roman Vishniac, known for his pious poverty-stricken pictures of Eastern European Jewish life taken pre-WWII and she wondered at the specificity of his photographic focus.  As she researched, she discovered that Vishniac's view of shtetl life was too narrow and much of his best work was unpublished because it didn't fit the requirements of the mythic narrative being constructed.

Who knows what romantic notions I hold about the mythic narrative of my own country that may be selective rememberings?  But as Ms. Benton says, "the fuller picture is so much more interesting." She continues, "Even the selection of what Vishniac chose to publish now seems, broadly, like a distortion. “It’s as if we took pictures of homeless people in New York and then the city fell into the sea, and 50 years from now people looked at those photos and thought, That’s what New York was.”  Click on my title to read the whole article and to see a selection of Mr. Vishniac's photography of Eastern European Jewish life.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Track Trip To Kutna Hora

It was February of last year, and my friend Nhan needed a break - a road trip out of town.  Only this was the Czech Republic and why take a road when you can take a train on the densest railway network in all of Europe?  We threw around ideas of where would be a good place to go.  Wanting to save places that would look best in Spring and Summer, I suggested Kutna Hora cause going to see a pile of bones is the same in February or July.  No amount of spring flowers will change the view.

We got into our train compartment and marveled at what a relaxing way this was to travel.  Nhan originally hails from Orlando. He remarked how wonderful it would be to have a train like this for day trips from the city to the beach.  Instead, after a day of unwinding, a Florida beachgoer has to experience the stress of the traffic back into town. We would get to chat the whole way to Kutna Hora with nary a thought about traffic, gas tanks, or directions. The cost round-trip was less than $5 for each person.

Being the dear friends they are, Gulnara and Nhan greeted me with a box of chocolates, even though I had lost, yes, lost the Christmas present they gave me before I even opened it.  Did I say they were dear friends? Simply the best.

Gulnara and me in the deserted Square at Kutna Hora

It was one c-o-l-d day the day we decided to go.  I think we were three of 12 tourists in the whole town. We definitely did not have to fight off the crowds to go visit what was our first UNESCO Heritage site that we visited simply because it was a UNESCO Heritage site.  We decided to save the Bone Church, the reason everyone comes to Kutna Hora, for the end of the day.

The Alchemist's Shop

Immediately we spotted a beautiful building with tourist information and a purported alchemist's shop.  I would like to say we were all filled with a burning desire to learn how to turn ordinary objects into gold, but mostly we were just freezing our tushes off and needed someplace, anyplace, with heat!

 Investigating Alchemy

There were all sorts of mysterious mad scientist apparatus and giant bellows and a tunnel that lead who knows where.  All of it food for the imagination of a young person raised on tales of King Midas. But what Kutna Hora is known for besides the Bone Church, is the real wealth, not pretend wealth that came out of this town.

Kutna Hora was the center of a mining operation that created coinage that was traded so widely you could call it unintentional medieval Euros. We began walking toward the famous Church of St. Barbara's (named after the patron saint of miners and anyone working with explosives) that had been built with all of this fantastic wealth that Kutna Hora produced.

The Walkway to St. Barbara's

The walkway to St. Barbara's was so romantic -- or it would have been if it wasn't 0 degrees centigrade.  Along the way were numerous statues of  saints and people in various states of torment, along with the beautiful paving and stonework that Czechs do so well.

Over the stone fence to the left, there was a magnificent view of Kutna Hora, the town, and the surrounding countryside. There are around 21,000 people in Kutna Hora today but at one time Kutna Hora rivaled Prague for economic dominance of Bohemia. The mines have played out, however, a new source of wealth has been found: growing tobacco for Phillip Morris.

 Gulnara and Nhan
with St. Josef's Church
in the background

As we walked toward St. Barbara's Church, I was fascinated by the competing church St. Josef's, easily seen from this walk way and the spectacular St. Barbara's.  I marveled at what politics would motivate the building of a smaller, less ornate church when there's a perfectly magnificent church already started in town in the 1300s.  Maybe it's like American churches that divide and divide into smaller and smaller congregations over minute theological questions, I don't know. Or maybe the townspeople viewed St. Barbara's as a money pit. It didn't get finished until 1905.  It was fun to think about.

 Approaching the flying buttresses
of St. Barbara's Church

I ask you gentle readers, especially my male readers, you know what flying buttresses are as an architectural detail, don't you? Simply because it's so much fun to say "flying buttresses," right? Can you say the same for knowing what crenelated stoneworks are? Sounds like a detail on a petticoat, doesn't it? I was just wondering if my theory that you know what flying buttresses are proves correct.  The inner 8-year-old in all of us loves to say "flying buttresses!"

 One of many beautiful baroque altars
and stained glass windows within the church

The beautiful Gothic
arches and ceiling
within the Church
After thoroughly exploring the unheated church we headed back toward the center for a long leisurely lunch of Czech specialties, mead and beer.  There were more interesting sites along the way to our next stop.

For example, they don't make
water towers like this back home.
 Two wild and crazy Czechs
from back in the day.

Many European communities
have one of these:
a Plague Column
to commemorate and give thanks for the end
of the Bubonic Plague's rampage.

We were all excited when we saw this truck
because we thought we were going to get to say hi
to American military overseas.
It was three Czechs moving carpet.

The Italian Court
Our next stop was the Italian court, a former royal residence and mint. We took a tour that showcased some of the coins and manufacturing operations of those times.  I remember being impressed with medieval loss prevention techniques.  Nobody was sneaking home with any coin molds in their lunch pail.

The keys our guide used to enter
the doors at the Italian Court.
Good thing she had them.

 She was so nervous
giving her first tour in English
she accidentally locked up a few tourists
on our tour.

Luckily Gulnara asked,
"Hey, where did the Germans go?"
Otherwise they might still
be locked up in the tower.

The drop-dead gorgeous chapel
in the Italian Court.
 Every wall was achingly beautiful.

Oh, the Bone Church.
We ran out of time. Never saw it.
Ice cream and good conversation
got in the way. 

I hope I come back this way again.
I'll do the Bone Church and the Silver Mines time.

You might enjoy these other train-related posts:

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