The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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St. Agnes

With the National Gallery closed for reconstruction (for years we discovered), its collection has been distributed to various other venues in Prague. Although the Czechs might disagree, it really isn’t much of a loss, except for the very fine works of medieval art now on display at St. Agnes Convent, which are world class. Everything about the exhibit was perfect—the barren Gothic space, the arrangements of the pieces, lighting, and the quality of the paintings and sculptures themselves. It was one of the highpoints of our trip.

October 17, 2011   Comments Off on St. Agnes

Cafe de Paris

An acquaintance said we had to have lunch at the Cafe de Paris, her favorite restaurant in Prague, so we did, but even at 2:30 it were full, so we had our half liters of Stella in the bar until a table was available. The waiter said five minutes tops. When it was time for us to move, he closed his hand on my large goblet of beer to transfer it to the tray and literally crushed it. Beer poured from the table to my lap and I was immediately drenched in beer. Of course, he apologized profusely. Towels were provided. I dashed to the men’s room to clean up. When I returned, we ordered the cafe’s famous beef with its secret sauce and were treated to free appetizers, wine, and a dessert. The apologies continued, though his diabolical waiter friend leaned down, sniffed my crouch, and with typical Czech humor asked, “What’s that I smell?” Oddly, I didn’t mind in the least. It was one of my most memorable dining experiences. At the end of the meal, the French couple next to us stood up and said, “Parfait,” and without thinking I replied, “Exactement.”

October 16, 2011   Comments Off on Cafe de Paris

Dead Czech Lovers

We found this kissing pair in the cemetery surrounding the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Vysehrad, the former fort cum park at the end of Prague. Of course, I immediately thought of the Brancusi in Paris, though this sculpture is not as refined. The moss heightens the effect, don’t you think?

October 16, 2011   1 Comment

Paying It Forward

There is still a residue of communism, like scum on a piece of glass, touching certain aspects of Czech life—you see it mostly in those who can’t adapt to the faster pace—though mostly now the Czech Republic is about commerce, economic expansion, grafting as much tourist money as possible, living well, being chic, and enjoying the things that wealth makes possible. I gave this guy in a passing tram a V sign and he barely nodded back at me in resigned disgust, so I took his photo and got this nice smile. (There is a reflected image of me in his black jacket.) A few Czechs are short-tempered, frustrated at trying to understand the strange currents of English they must deal with every day—particularly, American English—but many are kind and helpful. Only in Barcelona did I encounter as many persons who spontaneously offered their assistance. It was one of things I brought home with me. Life works best when you pay it forward.

October 14, 2011   Comments Off on Paying It Forward