Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Loving Prague

Unfortunately, I did not make it to a single one of my classes this past week. Regardless, I was still able to experience parts of Prague and learn more about my life here in the Czech Republic. On Tuesday, the history students went to a documentary, Fighter, about our history professor, Jan Wiener. It was fascinating to see his life told from an outsider’s point of view, and one point really stood out; although he has lived this incredible life, and has fought his way out of a number of difficult situations, there are times when it is not appropriate to be a fighter. I wonder if sometimes his experiences have made him confrontational when such confrontations are not needed. Then again, I can get quite defensive at times, so maybe I shouldn’t be so critical. After “history”, I was quite excited to have my first Czech politics class in an actual conference. Unfortunately, it was canceled because my professor was still in Slovakia, so I returned home dejected.
Wednesday was my free day, and I decided to engage in my new favorite activity. I’ve coined it ‘skirting’, and it basically involves taking a tramvaj to the end of the line, exploring, and finding your way back. (Skirting is actually also a real word, but not nearly as exciting, just a wooden board) I headed out to the end of the 25, in Praha 8, and found a nice park for hiking and maybe picnics. Sometimes I do not know at all what to expect at the edge. What happens at the end of the city? Does it dissolve slowly, or is there a definite boundary? At the end of the 25, I did not find my answer, but I did find some magnificent mushrooms. I wish I was in touch with my mushroom hunting skills, because I would love to pick a bunch of mushrooms and cook a delicious mushroom soup. It would be a very Czech thing to do. Then of course, it would be a very stupid thing to pick one of those really bright colored mushrooms and end up in the ER.
Afterward I started my trek back home, and stopped at a nice thrift store where I was able to buy a nice used pair of dress shoes for two dollars and fifty cents. Sometimes the prices hear are so incredibly different between the center and the edge, that I cannot understand why anyone is fooled into shopping in the center. I also found some Czech books, but they are taking me quite a while to translate. Perhaps I need to find books with an even younger audience...
Praha 8 was wonderful for practicing verbal Czech; hardly anyone speaks English, and that is what I like. I am surrounded by English all the time, and need to cut that out of my life. In one drastic step, I decided to change my songs in my iPod from a majority of English songs, to a new majority of Czech songs. It really helps you learn new words when a little tune gets stuck in your head.
On my way back, I saw an interesting looking market in Praha 7. I jumped out of the tramvaj and was pleased to find the Czech version of the Turkish Grand Bazaar. There were brilliant scarves, shoes, household appliances, everything anyone would need. The best part? You were allowed, and needed, to heckle for prices. I was tired and headed home, but returned the next day to buy a new pair of faux Pumas... well, they might have been stolen, but either way they were at a great price. I think the nickname is the Hanoi Market, and most of the marketeers were of Asian descent. It is nice, but I really wish there was a China town in Prague.
Friday morning I went on an organized trip to Levý Hradec, Nelahozeves, and Mělník. Levý Hradec is considered the place where Christianity began in Bohemia, and is the site of the oldest church. We also visited a chateau, that may have been an interesting, but we only glanced at the courtyard. Its exterior was brilliant, but we saw nothing. I did find a CD of operatic arias, however, and was excited that it was only five dollars.
The best part of the trip was the vineyard at Mělník. It was here that Princess Ludmila began the wine-growing tradition in Bohemia. The chateau Nelahozeves above the vineyard is fantastic, although the recreation of certain elements was a little kitschy. We were surprised to get an introduction by Jiří Lobkowicz, however, who is a member of one of the richest families in the Czech Republic, which was exciting.
Saturday and Sunday were days of rest (except for my ten mile on Sunday, yikes), but I was excited for the start of a new week. Once again, I have classes to occupy my time, and will continue exploring the outskirts of Prague. I also should not fail to mention my continued obsession with the theater in Prague. I recently bought a membership at the Narodní Divadlo, and saw four shows last week. Tosca, by Puccini, was the only disappointment, but I blame it on the director. I saw a českou komedii on Friday, which luckily was based a lot on body humor, or I probably would not have had a clue on what was going on. Saturday I saw a spectacular original ballet called “Mozart? Mozart!” The first piece was to his Petite Mort and created these amazing sexual images and forms which fit perfectly with the piece. The second act was to his Requiem, which I adore, and was also incredibly staged. I especially liked the way Petr Zuska correlated movements of the male and female dancers to correlate with the voice parts.
I think that is all for now. However, I would like to ask if you have any questions that you would like answered. Perhaps you have suggestions of places to see in Praha, and I would love to take up these suggestions. I stole this idea from my friend Colleen in the Peace Corps, but I think it would be spectacular to have the opportunity to answer your questions. Plus, it will keep me on my toes, and I can maybe stop slacking and write shorter and more in depth entries.

No comments:

Post a Comment