Karlstejn Castle: Medieval Protection

Prague owes so much to the strength and wealth of Charles IV, King of Bohemia, that we forget he ruled through-out central Europe for many years as Holy Roman Emperor.  He built Karlstejn (Karlstein) to protect both the crown jewels of the empire and his collection of holy relics.  This castle, only 30 km from Prague, managed to survive the many wars since and has had three major reconstructions.  So it is in remarkable good shape and well tells the story of Charles the Fourth.

No one tells the story of our visit better than star photo-journalist, Karin.  Click below to see her Picasa Album.

Karlstejn Castle

Living on a Golf Course

Golf Swing technique mini-golf

Note the swing technique and leery bystanders.

Whew, I’m tired.  I just finished an 18 hole round of golf.  Being mini-golf it did not involve much walking but it did take me a lot of strokes.  The course rules are only in Czech so Karin and I made up our own as we went along.  We each maxed out one hole at 12 strokes yet we also had a few pars at 2 strokes.  We did not score the 18th hole because the players behind us were waiting.

Golf Grip choke

A choke grip for finesse’

Karin is very familiar with the last hole because every missed shot makes a distinctive thonk! sound.  Her desk sits in front of a window that she usually keeps open so her afternoon is frequently punctuated with thonks!  So there are pros and cons to living in an apartment over-looking a mini-golf course.

18th Hole Prague

Infamous 18th Hole

When construction was first started last autumn we worried about noise but that proved groundless.  Other denizens of the park make far more noise through the night and early morning.  We did enjoy watching the step by step progress as the course took shape through the winter.  It was completed while we were away this summer.

Karin at the golf course Prague

Our apt. building in the background matches the course color scheme.

The green fees are 140 Kc ($7) for adults and reduced fees for seniors, children and families.  Each hole has a shelf for resting your sustaining refreshment as you battle your way through the many tricky shots.

As a footnote for real golfers:  Prague and the Czech Republic have many fine golf courses with relatively low-cost green fees and un-crowded conditions.

Nelahozeves

We have a long list of towns, villages, castles and other sites within a few hours of Prague that we want to visit on day trips.  Last week we traveled to the one that has been on the list the longest, Nelahozeves.

Ever since our emotional first visit to the Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle we have wanted to see and learn more about this family and its tremendous collections of art and history.  This day was our chance.

Nelahozeves Zamek StationThe one hour rail journey from city center was very slow.  It was a commuter train; stopping at every village.  However, they were pretty riverside villages and the views across the river were nice.  As soon as we got off the train we had our first view of the palace.

The exterior is obviously in need of restoration but I can not imagine where the money would come from to do the work.  This country is just too full of worthy Nelahozeves Courtyardbuildings going to ruin.  The interior was a different story.  While not brought back to its former glory the sense of grandeur is well conveyed, especially by the countless family portraits lining all the stairways and halls.

The permanent exhibition is titled:  Private Spaces: A Noble Family at Home.  It illustrates the life of prosperous nobility in the 19th century.  The rooms are not exact recreations but meant as typical of the time.  The furnishings and decorations are exquisite; something awe-inspiring in room after room–including this painting by Rubens.Rubens at Nelahozeves

Photographs are not allowed inside but you can see some on the Nelahozeves website.

 

The print below is for sale in the gift shop and photos are allowed there.

 


Print from Zamek Nelahozeves

We had a one hour tour in English by a personable and competent guide named Lucie.  (Non-Czech tours have to be scheduled in advance.)  We felt we truly experienced the life of a 19th century noble family and left with an appreciation of the difficulty a 21st century noble family has in preserving the treasures of their history.

Nelahozeves MarinaIt was such a beautiful day that we wanted to eat lunch by the river.  We followed signs to the Marina and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the atmosphere and the food.

The only negative to the day was the lethargic train ride home brought on by having a beer with lunch.

Cheers

P.S.  The composer Antonin Dvorak was born in a house just below the palace.  There is a small museum there.  Update:  After writing this I discovered today was his birthday.  Here’s a belated toast to his great music.

Burger Fest

I frequently preach that the best way to experience local culture while travelling is to attend local festivals and events.  A year ago we went with high hopes to Nameste Miru to the Burger Fest.  We were completely put off; there were too many booths crammed into too small a space.  There were hoards of people and intertwining queues to get any food or drink.  We left with empty stomachs.  I did not write about it here but gave the event bad reviews elsewhere–as did others.

This year I was intrigued that the organizers appeared to be properly chastised.  They had moved the fest to the much larger Výstaviště exhibition grounds, added corporate sponsors and increased the number of participating restaurants.  My curiosity and my love of hamburgers got the best of me; I decided to give it another try.

Bejzment VIP Burger FestHellmans VIP Burger FestTGIFridays Burger Fest

Beer and Burger at Prague Burger Fest I am glad I did.  The first two photos show the VIP areas that required a special ticket.  The third shows some of the American influence.  I couldn’t get decent photos of the three long rows of booths because they were spread out with plenty of space in between.  The more popular places had short queues; many you could walk right up and place your order especially for beer–and Jack Daniels, another sponsor.

Being American I wanted an unusual burger so I chose the Night Rider.  It had grilled onions and cheese with a delightful sauce.  The black bun was actually quite tasty as well.

By the way there were plenty of other choices of food, drink, deserts, etc..  When I left about 13:30 on Saturday there were more people poring in then leaving so it may get crowded yet but I am optimistic that no one will leave hungry this year.

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