Last month we discovered that the Jicin International Shithead League, in which we enjoyed playing a couple of sessions at last year, had now expanded from the provincial college town to the country’s capital. Students from the large and prestigious Charles University –mostly from the law school if there is anything to be read into that– gather in a the back room of a city pub to play cards.
There is a well structured game plan with monthly tournaments that culminate in naming a Grand Champion at the end of the school year. Each player pays a few crowns towards the expenses and low value but highly sought prizes. The competition is intense yet friendly.
For us it always fun to associate with the young people as they try to guess our ages by asking questions about our past. Of course, when we eventually tell them they exclaim appropriate remarks about not looking (or is it not acting) that old. Our answer is that it is events like this that help keep us young in spirit.
Since this blog is meant as a personalized travel guide I will re-emphasize the point. The best experiences come from immersing yourself in the local life of whatever tourist destination you are visiting. Use your internet connection not to chat with your friends back home but to search out little known events in your vicinity whether it be a pig festival or oboe recital.
The dry sounding Museum of Decorative Arts is not the most visited in Prague while the prominent Municipal House is seen by nearly everyone who comes to Prague. For the thankfully long period of November 2013 through December 2015 they have combined to create an outstanding exhibition.
Many of our favourite places in Prague are showcases for the Art Nouveau (Secese in Czech) style. We love its flee flowing, nature inspired design. Karin commented at the exhibition that it makes the Modernist art that replaced it in popularity look sterile and boring. We have written several times about the Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.
The thought that kept recurring in my mind as I walked around the exhibition was “That is truly a museum piece.” In our wanderings around Prague and other European cities we see a lot of beautiful historical pieces in buildings and in antique shops. We admire them appreciatively. Yet the items on display in this show are in a far superior category; they are awe-inspiring. I highly recommend it to any lover of art.
First photo from Wikimedia Commons; others by Karin. Click on slide show for 80 more.
By the way, the Municipal House lobby has an elegant cafe’ and restaurant that we had avoided due to its high prices. However, this time we so enjoyed the exhibition and the tickets included a discount so we went in for coffee. It was a delightful experience and good value so we have added it to our recommended places.
I have not posted here for the last month because I have been writing for a new internet magazine, OpinionsPost.com Self-described as “a multilingual newspaper based on the concept of citizen journalism. We are independent, impartial and honest.”
My latest piece for the magazine is my take on our recent trip to the Czech spa town Karlovy Vary and the large Russian influence we found there. The article belongs in this blog as well. So please go read it and then come back here.
A few Karlovy Vary photos that did not fit the article:
Our favourite Czech drink is made here and no where else because of the water.
Transition between the Czech town centre and the Russian dominated spa region.
Money, money, money–so pleasant
a German philosopher who frequented the spas
Ancient Greek elegance for strolling while taking the waters.
Other OpinionsPost articles that are more or less relevant are:
One of our justifications for our expat lifestyle, especially living in Europe, is that we can easily travel to so many other interesting places. Reality, however, has not lived up to our expectations; we have not traveled near as much as we had hoped to. (See some of our travels on the Environs page.)
Yet this November we did make an excellent journey to visit friends in Umbria, Italy. This is definitely one of the benefits of our travelling life; we have made friends from all around the world. This couple from California share ownership of a country villa in the hills above one of Italy’s largest lakes, Lake Trasimeno. If you want to spend time among Italy’s hill towns we highly recommend their place: 3 bedrooms and a pool from 680 Euro per week.
We had the advantage of them showing us some of their favourite locations and restaurants in the region. Italian food as the Italians enjoy it! Highlights for us included Cortona and Assisi, two of the popular hill towns but off-season. We took two day trips on the train to Florence and left by train to Venice for two nights in an apartment there.
By the way, it is interesting to note that our flights between Prague and Milan were less than 100 Euro each round trip while our 5 train trips within northern Italy totaled more than 160 Euro for each person. They have no Senior discounts.
We found it intriguing to compare our familiarity of other European cities with those of Italy. Passing through we were quite impressed with the huge and elegant Milan Central Train Station. Florence, too, was impressive in its solid architecture and the high quality of its public art. Yet we felt it did not have the charm of Prague. The highlight of Florence was being in the presence of the original David by Michelangelo; all the photos and videos we have seen do not convey the power that fills the hall around this statue.
Venice also weaved a magic spell around us. We have traveled extensively and found one big city tends to be like another big city except for its own few unique sites. That is not the case in Venice! Here its uniqueness as a whole pervades every view and vista. Even the delivery men and garbage collectors are charming. It was such fun to just wander down any path or over any canal bridge that struck our fancy and not worry about being lost–on an island all paths lead to the sea.
Venice in my mind now rates with Istanbul as a city that I want to return to even though there are many great places in other parts of the world that I have not yet visited. I had better get cracking with our travel plans. See you later . . .