Tuesday, November 11, 2014

 I had been in Prague a few days and had trouble figuring out what most of the signs meant.

I don't speak (or read) Czech so I was pleased when I saw a sign that I could decipher.

And I was right.

Here they spoke English and I was able to read the beer menu.

Oh, and choose an appetizer.

This was at the end of a tour of the Municipal House. The tour ticket included a BOGO (Buy One Get One free) at the bar downstairs.

I know I should have been going oh and aw at this fantastic collection of art Nouveau architecture.

Next door I had admired - and then - walked through the arch beneath the Power Tower.

Distinctive.

But there were so many beautiful sights, everywhere you looked.

The guide books and tours we took kept explaining Prague had been spared the ravages of war and many buildings dated back to the 14th Century or earlier.

Of course, it had been occupied by Germany during WWII and then by Communists until 1990.

This city has Prague Castle on a hill overlooking the Vitava River and the famed Charles Bridge, started in 1357 and finished in the 15th Century.

What was really needed was something more modern, as a counterpoint to all this preserved beauty.

So Frank Gehry came up with "Dancing House."

He's the man who designed the shiny Disney Center in downtown Los Angeles and the "Paper Sack" building in Sydney, Australia.

He also - on camera - gave his critics the finger.

This visitor delight is also called the "Ginger & Fred,"alluding to the dance team's motions of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

I can see a tango going on there.

The day I saw it, there were signs proclaiming the rooftop bar was open until midnight.

I covered over that.

Posters wrapped around pillars on the ground floor, advertising clients who had offices there.

Yeah, Photoshop and I minimized those.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the phone number prospective tenants could call to book space in this unusual-looking "house."

I also removed several street lights, overhead wires and a traffic signal that really had to  go. You're welcome Frank!

On Kampa Island, a park overlooking the Charles Bridge, I walked over a small tributary with a water wheel.

I was told to look for the locks and I pictured scenes from Amsterdam where large locks could be opened and closed with huge wheels to control the water levels in the many canals.

Well, Duh. NOT that kind of locks.

These multi-hued little items signified unending love by couples who snapped a lock on the railing and then tossed the key into the water.

A few were cute but I think there is a lot of love and devotion here and perhaps this has gotten out of hand.

I just read about a bridge in Paris that was so loaded down with these types of love tokens that the structure itself suffered from the increased weight.

I just gave up on trying to frame a shot with locks all around it. The photographer attempting to do that became my picture.

When you are in Prague, and the evening light starts to change, you look up at Prague Castle (Prazssky Hrad) and try to capture the grandeur of structures dating back to the 9th Century.

I had spent hours up there admiring the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Bohemian Crown Jewels and St. George's Basilica.

Great views from the balcony where kings and rulers had stood and looked over their domain.

It is still the seat of Czech government.

Like most of the European cities I have visited, walking is the best way to see things.

Go where large tour buses can't squeeze in.

Try to avoid the marching troops of tourists following a guide holding up an umbrella and probably saying, in Czech, follow me.

Sit at a sidewalk table and do some people-watching. Sip a coffee and eat some cake.

That's where people pass on their way to and from work, rushing on errands, or looking for a place to buy a romantic lock and key.

And, as you wander and wonder, look up now and then.

You are probably being watched from above.

These guys are everywhere and a zoom lens helps bring them closer for inspection.

That's when you notice the small wires protruding from their back to ward off pigeons.

Pigeons aren't the only problem.

Accumulated grime (for centuries?) has to be removed and facades cleaned.

I saw a huge church undergoing such a cleaning and restoration project.

Each section being reclaimed was covered by a huge scrim,  painted to show the "before" that would be perfected by the process that would be the "after."

David Cerny, internationally famous Czech sculptor, was asked to do his magic on the Zizkov Television tower, looming 216 meters above the city.

His vision resulted in space-age giant babies crawling up and down, all over the shiny tower.

My view, even with a long telephoto lens, gives the feeling but not the crisp details.

The link gives the background on how and why the Zizkov Tower was "enhanced."

The officials approved and the citizens love it.

I wish I had sought out other examples of his work.

(Click on the photos to see more detail).

Again I have to comment how nice it is to go over your pictures after the trip is over.

Relive moments. Remember sights. Share the adventure with others.

Yeah, you could say I love photography.

Film and digital.

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