We are loving Eastern Europe. Our first stop behind the former Iron Curtain was Prague in the newly minted (on January 1, 1993) Czech Republic - that’s Czechoslovakia to those of you over 30 - but it was called Bohemia for many centuries before that.
My dictionary defines Bohemian as: unconventional, eccentric, unusual, avant-garde, original, odd, exceptional, and quirky. The word has come to represent somebody, often a writer or an artist, who does not live according to the conventions of acceptable society. No wonder we felt at home!
From his high-horse King Wencelas of Christmas song fame has a clear view of the McDonalds – not exactly The Feast of Stephan if you ask me. Born around 903, Good King Wencelas, later a martyr and saint, is credited with bringing Christianity to his heathen subjects. Personal Factoid: The GKW Christmas carol is not popular here at all. I asked many Czechs and none knew the song. Or at least they claimed not to and refused to sing it with me even after several yummy local Pilsner Urquell beers.
The Charles Bridge is a romantic stone Gothic bridge lined from one end to the other with lifesized stone statues looking down on embracing stoned tourists. It’s a world-class arm-in-arm stroll up from The Old Town Square for a snuggle with a view on the bridge. The bridge’s construction was commissioned in 1357 by the beloved Bohemian king and erstwhile Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV. Legend has it that egg yolks were mixed in with the concrete mortar for added strength. The bridge survived the devastating Prague floods of 2002 with no damage. I guess the egg yolks worked.
Ironically it was a pacifist playwright, Václav Havel, who lead the Czechs out from behind the Iron Curtain and onto the world stage. In 1989, after 42 years of bad reviews, the Communists bowed out - with a whimper, not a bang, in a nearly bloodless “velvet revolution” directed by Havel. Now that’s what I call a class act. BRAVO!
Even ancient Bohemian religious leaders were, eh, “Bohemian” in nature: In 1467, nearly two hundred years before Martin Luther brought up the subject, a Brethren of Christian Bohemians bravely rekindled the flame of non-conformity with their outlandish (for the Middle Ages) views on individual freedom. They were extremely radical dudes for their time, sorta the rappers of their day: they would stick it to the man (literally with arrows, stakes and such) and take the heat (again literally, some were burned at the stake). They really rocked (again literally, some were stoned - and not in the good way).
Modern day Prague rocks, too (in the good way). It is now solidly on my list of recommended sites.
Prague boasts that their beer is better than Germany's beer. I tried numerous tankards one evening in an effort to report accurately here. Later that night I was inspired (hic) by the story of the radical rapping bohemian brethren to write my own Bohemian Rhapsody.
I can blog on Prague -
Where the beers be cool.
But a rap from a white girl?
Makes me sound like a fool.
Cha-Cha-Cha Czech it out!
IN THE GHETTO
Prague sites include the best preserved complex of Jewish historical buildings in the whole of Europe. The Jewish Ghetto is also the home of one of the most expensive retail areas in all of Christendom, Jewdom - or any other religiondom. I couldn’t afford the price of the WC at the synagogue.
And another little shiksa girl was gouged in the ghetto – GHETTooooooooh!!