Trippy Christmas

The last few years we’ve traveled to Europe for the Christmas holidays. Last year we traveled to Copenhagen and the year before that we went to Brussels.

This year we needed to spend some money on some much needed home repairs and upgrades so there was not enough in the kitty to be able to go anywhere for the holidays. And based on the severe winter weather in the US and in Europe, it was probably for the best anyway.

So rather than having any Christmas trip pictures, I offer you these trippy Christmas photos. Shot using a tripod and setting the exposure so the shutter would stay open while I zoomed out. It is called photo zooming and the effects are, well….trippy.

Travel Shots For Fun – Dancing House In Prague

The Dancing House is the nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building in downtown Prague, Czech Republic. It was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Miluni in co-operation with Canadian architect Frank Gehry. The first shot is HDR handheld from 3 exposures and the second shot is one extended exposure of 9 seconds. Click either image to see a larger version.

Prague – Day 10

Well, it’s our last day in Prague. Vienna seems so long ago at this point. We’re totally sated in every way and ready to come home. If all goes well, we have a car picking us up at 5:30 am to go to the airport. We’re crossing our fingers in hopes that he shows up.

We took it relatively easy today. Just some walking around. Again, we found some things we had been kinda keeping an eye out for.

We headed to Wenceslas Square to see if we could locate the Lucerna Gallery to see the sculpture “Saint Wenceslas Riding an Upside-Down Horse” and succeeded

A quirky sculpture, to be sure.

From there we just wanted to walk around. We explored the area by the river right next to the Charles Bridge. While walking around we stumbled upon a REAL puppet shop. In case you didn’t know, Prague is famous for puppets. Especially Marionette style puppets. There are stores everywhere selling cheap and, frankly crappy puppets that look to be mass produced and are there for the tourists exclusively. But this shop was different. These puppets were hand made by a group of Czech artisans and had all the charm of something that hearkened to a bygone era. The shopkeeper allowed me some time to photograph in the shop, which I think was very kind and generous.

We couldn’t find a puppet we wanted enough to justify the cost and the effort of getting it home. But it was nice to see this place. Cynthia bought a little hand carved sheep as a souvenir and a token of our appreciation for the time the shopkeeper spent with us.

All we did the rest of the day was walk and walk which lead us to stumble upon another thing we were looking for.

This is the monument to the students that were injured by the police in the protests that precipitated the Velvet Revolution.

I’ve got a lot more photos to process when we get home and I’ll be trickling those out as time permits.

We’re back at the apartment just relaxing now. We’re packed and ready to come home. What a glorious adventure this has been. Thank to everyone who followed along here and on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. I’ve got a lot of photos to process. I’ll be trickling those out as time permits.

Prague – Day 9

Another gorgeous day in Prague!

We have one more full day in Prague before packing it in and heading back to H-Town. Without a doubt, we are winding down. We’ve got nothing pressing us for time so we’re just taking in this magnificent city for the last few days at as leisurely a pace as we can.

Cynthia wanted to get the post cards in the mail. They will certainly arrive in the US after we do, but no matter.

As we were looking for the post office we chanced down a street and found the Kafka monument

It was something we wanted to see, but had not put much effort into finding. A happy happenstance.

After we couldn’t find the post office we stepped into a tourist information center and asked. A helpful young man set us on the correct path and we were off again. This time we stumbled upon something we definitely wanted to see, knew was here, but had no idea where it could be. We saw it on the cab ride in to town and it was on our minds.

One symbolic element of the demonstrations of the Velvet Revolution was the jingling of keys, to symbolize the unlocking of doors. When 300,000 protesters flooded Wenceslas Square, noisily jangling their keys in a symbolic call to throw off communism it must have been something to see (and hear).

To commemorate this event on the 20th anniversary, people from all over the Czech Republic brought 85,741 keys to the local Vofaphon shops. These keys were then made into a sculpture by artist Jili David that resides in Franz Kafka Square.

The sculpture spells the word “Revoluce!” which is Czech for “Revolution!”

The sculpture is amazing and thought provoking.

After admiring the monument we found the post office and Cynthia sent them on their way.

From there we headed back to the park at the top of the hill where the giant metronome is. This is the park we visited yesterday. I wanted to see if I could get some shots from up there using my panorama equipment. We spend about an hour up there before heading back down.

While we were there we noticed there were a lot of policemen around and many people carrying balloons and wearing hats that had something written on them. Since we didn’t read Czech, we had no idea what they said and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. We made our way back to our breakfast place and got some food. After that we headed back out just to stroll around. We had decided to go to the river and explore the north and the east.

As we got to the Manesuv bridge we noticed the police had the street blocked off and that there was something going on at the Galerie Rudolfinum. There were hundreds of people and a public address system. There were news crews and a helicopters flying overhead. Something big was happening.

As we got closer to the bridge and were about tot turn right we noticed hundreds more people marching down the bridge with signs blowing whistles and vuvuzelas.

Then we saw that is was not hundreds of people. It was THOUSANDS of people.

And thousands more were pouring down from the hill top where the giant metronome is.

More and more streaming down from the hill top

The crowds were filling both bridges we could see and all converging on Galerie Rudolfinum. Cynthia and I were not going anywhere until this was over.

Apparently the civil service workers (police, firemen, etc.) we’re protesting proposed budget cuts that would reduce their salaries by 10%. Here’s an article I found online about the protests.

Thousands of people protest in Prague against budget cuts

It did eventually die down and we were able to move on and enjoy our walk.

Tomorrow is our last day. The weather forecast says more good weather. We’ll probably take it easy and get things packed up for our departure on Thursday. I am anxious for home. I love to travel, but I miss my own bed for sleeping.

Prague – Day 8

Today was another casual day. Cynthia wanted to visit the Old New Synagogue in The Jewish Quarter to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Golem that is said to be still hiding amongst the rafters. Fortunately, no run ins with this legendary animated anthropomorphic being. No photos allowed in the synagogue.

From there we walked around the area and we came to the Cechuv bridge. And there, towering over the city was a giant, functioning metronome looming over the city.

From what I understand, that is where the giant Stalin monument once stood.

We decided we would like to check it out, but decided it might be a bit hard to reach on foot and kind of blew it off. That is when I noticed the steps leading up to Prague Caslte in the distance. We had come down those steps when returned from our visit to the castle complex a few days earlier, but wanted to just go have a look at them and then the surrounding area.

Before we knew it we had climbed the steps and were in the castle compound. It was a rather arduous climb, but we didn’t wear ourselves out too bad. Once we were up there we decided to see if we could find our way to the giant metronome. A little research and we figured out it was in Letna Park. Problem was that we couldn’t immediately figure out how to get to Letna Park from our current location.

I knew we didn’t want to go down again and that it must be up where we were in terms of elevation. The maps were pretty useless, but I had the general direction in my head and we set off to find it.

We ended up in this park that ran along the old mote of the castle complex. It was very scenic and there were not very may people there. We came upon the castle vineyard and there was a nice view of the castle from there

We walked quite a bit trying to get a fix on the metronome which was fine. The weather was absolutely perfect and we were in no rush.

We explored the area and eventually came out to a main street that I recognized from the map and from there is was pretty easy to find our way to Letna Park, and presumably the the giant metronome. Which we did.

All in all we walked for a good 5 hours with frequent stops to take in the view and shoot some pictures.

As we were headed back to the apartment to recombobulate and maybe get some food we saw a bunch of swans in the river near the tour boat launches. Cynthia wanted to feed the swans which we did after regrouping.

I can really feel myself winding down. We’ve got two more full days and I am starting to think about home more and more as departure time draws near.

Tonight we go to see The Tiger Lillies perform at the Archa Theater. Should be very strange.