Monday, June 28, 2010
According to the wiki, the airport was actually built back in 1950's. During the communist era, the airport was used by the air force, but it is now owened by the government for the civilian use. Most of the flights from the airport are charters except a very few scheduled flights going to Prague, London, and Moscow.
On Sunday, June 13th, Ko-chan left from the airport to London and finally to Mexico by stopping in SF and LA en route. It was good to have you, Ko-chan! Come back soon--.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The area is now very polished with lots of beautiful buildings, shops, and cafes, but it used to be crowded with insanitary houses and narrow streets. It was also chosen to be the place all the Jews were gathered before they were sent off to the concentration camp by the Nazis during WWII. The peace in the air suddenly felt heavy when I read that in my guidebook.
One of the synagougues in the quarter called Old-New Synagougue (picture on the left) was built back in 1270 and said to be the oldest synagougue in Europe.
Most of the synagougues were closed by the time we went there, but we found out it was what's called "Museum Night" in Prague, and all the museums, churches, synagougues had their special exhibitions and events. We got the brochure and decided to go into the Frants Kafka Cafe in the quarter to take a look at the brochure.
Before doing so, we went into this restaurant called "U Golema" to have dinner. We weren't expecting too much after the bad experience from last night at the touristy restaurant in Old Town, but this restaurant was excellent! My favorite garlic soup was amazing, and so are the main dishes. If you ever go to Prague, check this restaurant out. If you want to learn more about the legendary story about "Golem", see here.
The view from the tower top was just beautiful. It was already past 9pm, and the sky was adding a shade of dark blue. The yellow city lights illuminated here and there which gave the perfect contrast to the dark blue sky. Lovely evening in Prague!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Charles Bridge is a stone bridge built in the later 14th century to early 15th century during the era of King Charles IV. It crosses the river Vltava (Moldau), and it was the most important connection between the Old Town and Prague Castle until 1841. The bridge which is approx. 520m in length and 10m in width is totally closed off for pedestrians only, and you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Prague Castle side of Prague along the bridge. A part of the bridge was under construction, which interfered with appreciating the total beauty of the bridge and view, but it was still a great place to be. I was wondering how many people have crossed the bridge over the last hundreds of years and enjoyed the view of the castle from the bridge.
There are lots of lovely looking shops and cafes along the streets up to the castle. Enjoying the sight of pavement, bright flowers, cute little shops, and people sipping outside enjoying the coffee and sun, it ironically reminded me of the busy life I had back in Tokyo and LA. Life can be much more relaxed, if you choose it to be so.
We found a side path to the castle and went in. Prague Castle is one of the biggest castles in the world. Construction began in the middle of the 9th century, and it continued to expand throughout the years, and thus the castle buildings represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium from Romanesque, Gothic, to Baroque.
We walked around the cathedral and decided to head to the Strahov Monastery instead of exploring further into the castle, which was all crowded with the trourists (I guess summer is not the time to visit Prague). Starhov Monastery was okay. The part of the library was under construction and wasn't exactly what I expected. I also got sick by the time I got there, and just wanted to head to the hotel to rest and to feed gG. We took a tram back to the hotel and took a quick rest before heading back to town in the evening.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
The sight of Church of Our Lady before Týn against a huge blue advertising mast of Hyundai semi saddened me, but it was also a realization of us living in the 21st centry of capitalism with its massive advertisements and campaigns.
The most popular part of the tower is the Orloj, Town Hall Clock, which consists of three components: 1) the astronomical dial which is based on the Ptolemaic theory representing the position of the sun and moon around the earth and displaying various astronomical details; 2) "The Walk of the Apostles" which is a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures; and 3) a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.
One legend said that Hanuš was blinded by the order of the Prague Councillors, as the clock he made became way so popular that other cities tried to hire him. He continued to be a clock master of Orloj even after he was blinded. It said that when he deceased the clock stopped working.
The clock is definitely a work of art. It is not only beautiful to look at, the exquisiteness of astronomical dial is just breathtaking. If you are interested in learning more about this amazing clock, go to this page.
We got two Czech traditional dishes and shared among three of us. They were not bad, but the place was definitely targeting the tourists, and unfortunately we felt rather ripped off.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Come to think about it, I hitchhiked quite a bit at college, but it was a much safer world back then. Glad Ko-chan made it through by getting rides from good people. He then made me realize that we tend to create a boundary towards others as we get older. When I was younger, I was definitely much more open towards relationships, talking with strangers wherever I went even thought I knew I would never meet them again (back then, we didn't have what's called email, IM, or social network ^^). Now, how many times would I speak to the strangers?
Anyway, he showed up on Thursday evening around 8:15pm. We had a good chat on our balcony (yep, finally our new balcony set was in good use) until VERY late. But, we had a lot to catch up. My hubby for sure was happy to have the opportunity to talk with him.
We got to Prague really smoothly. No heavy traffic, and the GPS helped us find our way to our hotel. It was around 3pm already, and my hubby who had been working almost 24/7 (and just got back from Berlin) needed a nap before doing anything, so we all rested for a while and decided to head out to an evening stroll to explore a part of Prague.
It was rather humid and hot which reminded me of a summer weather in Japan, but we enjoyed the view of the Prague castle along the river before heading towards the Old Twon Square, which I will write in my next entry.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
As we started to put the legs together, we realized one of the pieces had a defect. Consequently, we had to make a tram trip to Bauhaus, which is a mega store just like Lowe's and Homedepot in the US, to exchange the piece. The little trip was fun hanging out with my hubby, eating lunch at a little restaurant in a grocery store called Interspar, and browsing the plants in Bauhaus.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
It was just a wonderful night. And I realized there was a beautiful upside-down miniture Brno town inside my wine glass :)
Here is a video of the fireworks.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Anyway, as I was walking down the street with Jana, she pointed one of the buildings and told me it was the Janáček Theater. I didn't know about it of course and got interested in it immediately. So I decided to do a bit of research about the connection between Janáček and Brno.
Janáček was born in a town called Hukvaldy (close to Ostrava), in the middle of Moravian land. As you may know, Czech Republic consists of three regions; Bohemia in the west, Moravia in the south-east, and Czech Silesia in the north-east. I will write more about it some other time, but basically Brno is a part of Moravia as well as the town where Janáček was born.
In 1874, Janáček enrolled in an organ school in Prague. After graduating, he returned to Brno and started a career as a music teacher at Brno's Teachers Institute. There, he taught his future wife Zdenka Schulzová. He moved to Germany in 1879 and studied piano, organ, and composition at the Leipzig Conservatory for approx. half a year. He eventually left the conservatory with disappointment. He returned to Brno and married his former student Zdenka in 1881, at the age of 27.
However, at the same time, he started to have an affair with Gabriela Horvátová, who played Kostelnička in the Prague premiere of Jenůfa. The incident led his wife Zdenka to an attempted suicide and their informal divorce. This site shares Zdenka's side of story from the book called "My Life with Janáček," which gives you more perspectives about their relationship and Janáček's personality. In my observation, Janáček was just an innocent old-kid who completely went blind with a very aggressive and forthcoming actress.
Kamila didn't seem to either accept or neglect Janáček. They continued their relationship without consummating it, and it said that Kamila was with Janáček when he died on August 12, 1928.
Most of his 730 letters were kept, and Janáček scholar Svatava Přibáňová published them as "Hádanka života: dopisy Leoše Janáčka Kamile Stösslové", which was translated into English by John Tyrrell and published as "Intimate Letters: Leoš Janáček to Kamila Stösslová" in 1994. You can also read some story behind Janáček's obsession to Kamila here.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Jana (again! Thank you Jana!) helped me with finding the right insurance, and even came along with me to the insurance company for me to apply, as no one in the Brno branch could speak English when I called them :(
The application process was very simple. You just fill out the application with your passport number and all that. The surprising thing was that you have to pay the amount for the duration you sign up for all in advance and in cash. In my case, since my hubby's visa is somehow valid only until Nov of this year, I decided to sign up for the shortest duration, which is 6 months. The insurance is much cheaper compared to the US (of course!), but still paying for 6 months of insurance all at once was rather surprising to me. Anyway, it will take a month to process my application, and I should have my health insurance by July 2!
I was wondering how health insurance works for Czech citizens. If you are a Czech person, I heard you can go through certain administrative procedures and can get health insurance covered by the state. Meaning, there is no one in Czech Republic who doesn't have health insurance. Same in Japan. This is so much better than the US!