Again as an overview, I decided to add some of my travel to this blog.  It’ll be out of order for a while, but bear with me – I thought it might be fun to add something besides just beads.  

In 2005 I was in “gradual school,” finishing an MFA in theatre design at The Ohio State University.  I took a course on Czech Theatre Design and ended up heading out the door to Prague – not for a bead shipping trip as many of my beady friends have done, but on a tour of some of the arts/theatre and cultural aspects of the city.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Part of the requirements of the trip were to keep a journal.  This is the fourth part of that trip.

Italics are items I added when I uploaded this to the blog.  
Small text is stuff I just ripped off of my guide books.
2005 – TUESDAY, December 13th, Evening

Late snoozing – Vawnya, Anne & I meet at 10!  A walking tour of another area near Old Town Square, and we meet up with Joe buying whiskey for Jaroslav Malina at a smokes shop called Bakers Street.  We hit the H&M (at that point I don’t think it had hit the US yet.  There’s one now in Columbus at Easton Mall and I was there this past month.  Really unimpressed), and I buy little gifts for friends in Chicago who will find them funny.  They had a kick-ass web site, by the way, which I have no idea how to code.
Total purchases = $38.00
By the way, I haven’t nicked a little loose cobblestone from Prague – just in case anyone asks.  
*      Another small museum: Mucha

I’m a really big fan of Alfonse Mucha’s work, I was first introduced to it by my friend Jess McFeater, who owns a Celtic Arts Gallery in Pittsburgh and loves art nouveau.  In spite of the fact that my work has/had nothing to do with Celtic work, he showed my work in his gallery for years, and I did quite well.  Many of my Pittsburgh friends I met because of him and his wife, Kat. 

I wish there had been less prints and more originals in the Mucha museum, since Jess owns many prints of his pieces, so I’d seen the work in reproduction form beforehand.  I was especially hoping for more 3D pieces. There were some sketches of the jewelry I the museum, but none showing the ideation and then the finished design. Total purchases at museum store = $0.00
Lunch was at a Restaurant between the Museum and The National Theatre.  We’ve ducked down a little alley and are pretty sure we’re headed in the right direction, but I’m not convinced of it and we’re having fun enough and have enough time to get “unlost” that we don’t much care.   I have goulash again – it’s a wonderful security blanket against the cold.  The service isn’t so good, and we get charged for the bread because we forget to send it away.
*      National Theatre Tour

We make it on time to the National Theatre, and the tour is beautiful.  We haven’t been able to get tickets to the Theatre because of some special events.  Our guide allows us on the roof, even, just as the sun is going down. It’s a great experience.

I walk home afterwards, and take a nap… Jenny & Vawnya wake me up near dinnertime because we are planning on hitting the obviously touristy “Medieval Style” restaurant we saw that morning. John, Miranda & Cristin join us, but when we get there, the whole thing is reserved out.  We change our mind, look for a place that sells the raspberry/vanilla/flambé thing I’ve been wanting to try.  All the undergrads ditch us.  We finally end up at a little pizza place down the hill towards the Charles Bridge.  It doesn’t set its dessert on fire, but does have the raspberry goo complete with warm vanilla pudding. Its wonderful.  Dessert for dinner.   And I try mulled red wine.  Because mulled wine and raspberry goo go together.  Obviously.
Wednesday, December 14th, Evening
*      Overnight Bus Trip to South Bohemia
*    Graveyard
The graveyard has some fantastic sculptural work, and a really creepy rusty metal crucifix.  I shoot a ton of photos in black and white film.  I of course, no longer can find any of them to scan them in for you.  ARTIO Gallery, near Denison University, has offered me a photo show if I come back with some good photos. I’m hoping that with use of their B&W darkroom, perhaps some of the Bohemian photos will work well.  Eh, go figure.  I totally had forgotten about this, and the gallery has since closed.  Bummer.  
*      Bilek House

The Bilek House is beautiful – but the outside is a little unwieldy.  Somehow the roof doesn’t seem to meet up well with the walls.  The carved …cement?… on the outside is stunning, and I like the little outdoor sitting area. I sneak a look into cracks in the wall to see it.  There are chickens poking around below the house.  The interior has another studio, with another balcony to view the work from above; I like the unfinished pieces and drafts.  It also has some lovely furniture. 

Dan is standing apart from the group.  I wonder if he’s okay.  He says he feels like he’s got the flu, but doesn’t seem unhappy that I’ve asked after him.  A lot of us are sick.  I’m a bit chilled here, but seem to travel better than a lot of people.
*      Lunch at Satlava Restaurant in Cesky Krumlov

What a great little restaurant. It looks like it should be a Hobbit Hole.  

The interior has a semicircular ring, hung from the ceiling, of velvet, to help keep out the cold.  The whole restaurant is nothing more than a tunnel.  The tables go right up to the cooking fire, which has a stack of hardwoods next to them.  On the top rack, they’ve placed our cutlets.  Sausages go on the lower rack.  The lighting is shield-shaped and low against ceiling/wall. I couldn’t get a photo, so I found this one online.

§         Menu: 
¨       Bread with “the” Pork Fat
¨       Pretzel Rings
¨       Onions & Potato Soup
¨       Chicken Cutlet, cooked over the open fire on the hearth that’s situated immediately behind me (Its so warm and cozy)
*      Baroque Castle and Theatre in Cesky Krumlov

The ballroom here is a masterpiece of trompe d’oile.  Its not until we get to the far corner that Jason and I realize that the crown molding is painted.     I want to touch everything again, but restrain myself…Sort of.  The chairs on the way from the castle to the theatre are covered for the winter and I sneak a peak underneath them; it makes me decide that I need to completely repaint the chair I found in a friend’s basement when he was living in Pittsburgh – I think its worth more than I’ve given it credit for.

Our poor guide is trying to remember his memorized English speech and keeps staring off into the middle distance to recite it.  The Baroque theatre is in perfect shape – its been under heavy reconstruction – and I like the flicker of the “fake” candlelight.  It’ll keep the paint from turning dark again like true candles, but still allows us to see it in the manner it was originally shown. The interior of the theatre is even colder inside than outside.  Joe asks whether we can go onto the wings, but our guide won’t allow it.

*      Shopping

I give up completely on beads after finding none in this town, and buy moldavite and garnet at a little shop.  I decide that the styles are much like the ones I found in Granát, but some of the prices are better.  The owner of the shop doesn’t speak English – a first here – but its all fine.  I impulsively also buy a pendant of Russian Baltic Amber, green, that I hope my friend Tammy will like, and some rough moldavite for Brian.  Total purchases = $74.00
Just for amusement’s sake, a little on each:


Garnets are iconically Czech, and signs advertising “Czech Garnet Jewelry” abound in downtown Prague. Only one company in the entire country (Granát Turnov) mines and sets the garnets, so whatever isn’t produced by them is either an antique or a fake.

Moldavite, (left) natural glass-like green stone belongs to the Tektite group. The birth of these stones had been caused by downfall of a meteorite or comet nucleus at the territory of Central Europe. This scarce phenomenon happened 14.8 million years ago.  Moldavite were discovered in Southern Bohemia. 


I also need a new battery for my ailing digital camera… Which later turns out to be a waste of money since its incorrectly labeled by Kodak and sealed in the package, and also some Kodak film, which will later break in the middle of the roll and thereby ruin my last “real” set of film.  This also will remind me why I stopped buying Kodak brand film… Total waste =$24.00
We have to go back to the town when Shannon finds that she’s lost a ring she was wearing.  This, I note to myself, is why I never bring jewelry with me on trips.  Anne and I joke about telling Joe, the next morning, that we need to go back again because I’ve lost something – maybe my mind? – or, cheesily, my heart? – but think that he might have a heart attack before we get the joke out. Here’s a bit about the town.
We have dinner in our pension at Borotin.  It wasn’t supposed to originally have been included, but then is?  I’m a little confused by this.  Do I owe any extra food money?  I try to do the math in my head for this trip, but only come up with a figure of approximately $5,600 for the trip with the hotel, food, entrance fees, Dasha’s fee, flight, and theatre tickets.
§               Menu: 
¨       Potato Soup
¨       Fried Pork or Chicken Cutlet
¨       Slaw Salad & Cucumbers with Tomatoes
*    Jaroslav Malina
Afterwards, we meet with theatrical scenic and costume design Jaroslav, who speaks louder than he did when he was at OSU, but admits to me that he’s still a little tired. He keeps mentioning that meeting upstairs in the guys’ “dorm” room is very informal, but I really like it. His new work is superb, and he says he remembers my face, even though we were never actually introduced.  He’s wonderful, and signs a book I purchase from him about his work.
The pension is adorable.  I take a bath in one of the enormous bathtubs, which actually is a pleasure after the coffin-like showers of the William Hotel in Prague. 
Thursday, December 15th, Evening
On the bus trip back to Prague everyone seems pretty grumpy; the guys haven’t slept well.  I slept well enough, but was under a skylight with the beautiful full moon directly on me.  I woke up, once, in the middle of the night, when the door popped open a little bit.  I thought I heard footsteps into the room…  Shannon, not knowing my experience, is convinced that she saw a shadow creep into the room and thinks the place was haunted.  She was freaked out a bit in the morning, and then has a fight with Dan about whether she can push her bus seat back into his knees.  Jenny snuffs out the argument by switching chairs with Dan, and I feel silly for not thinking about it.  Joe is distracted; he spent the night at the Malinas and wonders aloud if he’ll ever see his friend again.
*      Visit to National Cemetery – Vyŝehrad on way back to Prague
Its pretty cold out, and windy, when we get off the bus.  I hear lots of complaints about it…  C’mon guys – we’re in PRAGUE!  The cemetery isn’t nearly as creepy as the Jewish one.  I take a number of photos, not a single one will end up turning out.  On the way back to the bus, I try to peak into the church we pass, by stuffing my nose into a crack of the door.  The door, by the way, is absolutely fantastic.  I nearly get busted, too, but by tourists, not by the clergy.  Joe thinks its funny.
Vyŝehrad is the site of the original 10thcentury Prague castle.  It is appropriate that its great artists, scribes, musicians and politicians lie buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church. Most notable are the graves of Dvorak, Smetana, and Alponse Mucha
Here’s a Youtube Video I found that even shows the doors I almost got my nose stuck in.
*     Dinner at Fish Restaurant with Joe. 
I can’t remember the name of this place, but it’s down by the riverfront.  I try the traditional carp, and a sip of Joe’s soup. Oooh, its just wonderful.  The wine is good, too, I’m in heaven.  We get back barely in time to catch the bus to our next “event…”
*     Marionette Theatre: Mozart’s Don Giovanni

This was so totally worth it.  The Mozart Character is a RIOT, and gets “drunk” halfway through the show.  There’s water incorporated into the show, and they manage to make the opera both work AND be funny. Generally I just get annoyed with the scene about how many hundreds of women Giovanni has tricked, but this one is just playful.  Photos are from the internet, by the way…  

When not doing Don Giovanni, apparently this group does a version of Yellow Submarine.  I love the playfulness of this idea.  This theatre is obviously getting most of its profit from tourists.