Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Playing catch-up: Bohemian Carnevale, the National Gallery, and the Charles Bridge at Twilight

It's been a rough week for me in terms of modern amenities: our apartment's hot water sort of exists sometimes, and my computer is currently "taking a break" (which might end up being permanent). No hot water is a good excuse for not showering, right? As for the computer issue, it's been a bit difficult but hopefully I'll be able to figure out in the next few days what my next step should be. Luckily, my roommate Vanessa is letting me use her computer, so I won't get any more behind on my blogging!

To make up for the delay in this post, it's extra long, super colorful, and jam-packed with videos (four of them!)!
There's a two-week long "Bohemian Carnevale" going on right now that apparently is a vestige of when Czechs were actually a religious (Catholic) nation. It's basically, as I understand it, a huge celebration leading up to Lent. In practice, it's a huge party with lots of parades and costumes and masks and performances. These "horses" were among my favorite--I'm not really sure how they work because, as you can see, the legs of the people "riding" the "horses" are on the outside of the horse...so I'm not sure what's connected to the stilts! There's definitely not another person inside there. Thoughts?

Petting my favorite horse--we match!

They really do a good job of imitating the way that real horses look when they walk; I'm still impressed when I watch this video.

High-five for the shorty!

Low-five for the super-shorty :)

This was probably the weirdest thing I've seen so far. The program for the Carnevale advertised a "racing of the golden pigs." I was really hoping that there would be real (golden) pigs set loose in Old Town Square. Alas, golden pigs are probably as rare as red heifers. 

Just thought this was really cute and/or belonged in some sort of weird absurdist magazine or something like that. 

They are literally running across the square with pig heads on.

I really wanted to dance with the bear, but I was too nervous to cut in.

I guess there can only be one sun, and since the real one wasn't  shining, this  really tall one on stilts took over (with the astronomical clock tower in the background).

As advertised on Facebook :)

Classic tourist picture, since everyone should have one. I'm really good at asking strangers to take pictures of me. 

This weekend, all of the branches of the National Gallery (seven buildings in total, I think) were free. I still haven't really figured out why, but I didn't argue. Instead, after coffee with my Czech roommate Zuzana (of Belgian chocolate fame) I walked her to the train station because it was a beautiful crisp winter day with the first blue sky I've seen since being here. Then I headed out to the Sternberg and Schwartzberg Palaces in the Prague Castle complex, both of which are branches of the National Gallery. For the first time, I brought Aunt Emily's camera with me and got to play around with it a bit, though I have a lot to learn!

The view from the top of the Prague Castle complex. Red roofs have cleared a spot in my heart right there next to beautiful doors. 
This is the first building in the Castle complex, complete with guards outside and a beautiful view of the city below.  I didn't realize how surreal it looked until I saw the picture on the screen.

In the Schwartzberg Palace, I was very pleasantly surprised when I walked into one of the gallery rooms and heard notes of music wafting through the air. Then, of course, I saw the crowd, and pushed my way to the front of the room so I could see what was going on. Still not sure why there was a concert in the gallery, but I'm not complaining! It was beautiful background music for looking at the art. 

There was also dancing!

Coolest thing ever: a spork (middle) from the 17th century! And it's foldable! Someone want to get this for me for my next hiking trip?

Upon leaving the gallery, I saw a huge line and figured I should get in because whatever they were waiting to see was probably cool. Finally I got the woman in front of me to explain, using hand motions and sparse English (felt a little like being a Chalutzim counselor) that the attic of the palace had recently been restored and contained the collection of Czech armory. This is the guns/rifle case...you can't really see any of the guns in this picture, but I thought the reflection was really cool. 

Instead of taking the tram back from the Castle, I decided to walk because it was still beautiful out and the sun  was about to set. I passed this adorable little bakery that looks as authentic as it professes to be, though it's right by the Charles Bridge so who knows.

Looking east from the Charles Bridge.

The Prague Castle at twilight

From the Charles Bridge

With one of the Charles Bridge statues in the foreground
And, of course, a shoutout to Charlotte Sall--thank you for being my first Skype date since I've been here!


  1. So, did you actually drink coffee when you went out for coffee?

  2. My guess: the legs on the outside of the horses are fake and the people are just standing on stilts.