Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Today we honor Petr. Happy Name Day, Petr!
Petr is a variant of the name Peter, which is of Greek origin and means "rock"
Sunday, February 21, 2010
A well-deserved victory! "The Czech Republic and its predecessor nation, Czechoslovakia, had never won a medal of any color in speedskating." We're proud of you, Martina!!
Today we honor Lenka. Happy Name Day, Lenka!
Lenka is of Slavic origin meaning "light; illumination"
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
These men make me so proud!
We Czechs have a passion for ice hockey and it has been a tradition of ours from the turn of the 20th century. It was played quite differently then though...would you ever associate a ball and a golf-like swing with ice hockey?! Nor would I, but that's how it was played in the very beginning when the Czech lands were still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The game was then known as "bandy hokej" and skaters would hit the ball down the ice with a golf-like swing. Hard to imagine, huh?
Today's New York Times reports...
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It was a thrilling, nonstop celebration of hockey amid a festive atmosphere that felt like a holiday in Prague or Bratislava, and it provided a glimpse of why this Olympic tournament is expected to be the greatest in the history of the game.
In the Czech Republic’s 3-1 victory over their Slovak neighbors here on Wednesday night, the biggest, most fabulous star of the show was Jaromir Jagr, the former N.H.L. great and now the marquee name for the Russian K.H.L., who dazzled like he did in his youth even though he has just turned 38.
Jagr scored the go-ahead goal on a breakaway and set up the insurance goal. He swooped hawk-like across the ice, stole the puck and created constant goalmouth havoc on almost every shift.
He was terrific from the start of the game, even though he claimed that he was a little overwhelmed by the high level of competition.
“It was hard making the adjustment,” he said. “In the first period I felt like a soldier in Iraq. I didn’t know where the shots were coming from. It was tough, but I survived.”
Photo by Hans Deryk/Reuters
Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic scoring on goaltender Jaroslav Halak of Slovakia.
view the entire article here http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/sports/olympics/19czech.html
Today we honor Gizela. Happy Name Day, Gizela!
Gizela is of Polish origin meaning "pledge"
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Today we honor Miloslava. Happy Name Day, Miloslava!
Miloslava comes from a Slavic expression meaning "Gracious glory"
Another great cafe in Prague is Café Montmartre. I stumbled upon it by accident, stayed for a while enjoying coffee, and found it so charming that I've been back over and over again. It's not fancy by any means...actually quite the opposite, in fact. Just a few chairs and tables strewn throughout, and old piano with fresh flowers atop, threadbare settees and an antique chandelier, but something about the cafe's aura filled me with delight. You could feel the past here, and imagine what it was like years, years ago...
Café Montmartre was founded in 1911 and is situated on a quiet street in a building called U třech divých (House at the Three Savages)...not far from the bustle of Charles Bridge. It was once a gathering place for writers, such as Jaroslav Hašek, František Langer, the Longens, Eduard Bass, Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel, Max Brod, Johannes Urzidil, and Gustav Meyrink. Artists were also amongst it's guests, and the frescos adorning the dancing room were painted by V. H. Brunner who chose the theme of the seven deadly sins. There's a room in the back of the cafe which is now great for quiet conversations or small gatherings, but it's said that it once housed an altar used for secret black masses.
Like most other establishments in Prague during the days of communism, Café Montmartre, too, was closed. When it finally reopened after a hiatus of more than 70 years, it was restored to reflect its past. Old photos of the cafe hang on the walls and an original mural covers the entire arched ceiling. Like I always say..."always look up!"
Retezova 7, Prague 1 (Old Town)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Today we honor Valentýn...appropriately so since today is also Valentine's Day. Happy Name Day, Valentýn!
Valentýn is of Polish origin and a variant of Valentine, which is of Latin origin, meaning "strong, healthy".
St. Valentine receiving a rosary from the Virgin
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Today we honor Věnceslav. Happy name Day, Věnceslav!
Věnceslav is of Slavic origin meaning "greater glory". Věnceslav is also the Czech form of Wenceslas. St. Wenceslas was a 10th-century duke of Bohemia who was murdered by his brother. He's the patron saint of the Czech Republic.
Valentine's Day wasn't always celebrated in the Czech Republic. Before 1989, Valentine's Day was non-existent in then Czechoslovakia. Even a mere decade ago it wasn't as popular as it is today, but alas, times have changed, and now you see signs of Valentine's Day everywhere you go. Some Czechs still see it as a commercial holiday, used to urge people to spend more money, but others have embraced its spirit. It's hard not to finally accept Valentine's Day when businesses have been pushing it to boost their revenue, but don't think the Czechs aren't romantic...
Sorry, didn't mean to go off on a tangent, but it just sounds so romantic! So, back to May 1st...there's another tradition associated with A Day for Lovers, and that is to meet at the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha. Why? Mácha was a Czech romantic poet, and today he stands on Petřín Hill. Couples who kiss in front of his statue believe that their love will be as strong as the stone his statue is made from.
Karel Hynek Mácha is best known for his lyrical epic poem, Máj (which is about May 1st and speaks of the tragic love of two young people). Máj is "regarded as the classic work of Czech Romanticism, and is considered one of the best Czech poems ever written." It's quite beautiful and you can read the translated version of it here http://www.lupomesky.cz/maj/may.html
Friday, February 12, 2010
This stop on our "Cafe Tour" is the oldest cafe in Prague, and one that has the most significance to me because it's a cafe that my grandparents and parents frequented ever since they were youngins. Whenever I visit we make sure to spend a leisurely afternoon here...sharing a palačinka (crepe) and a hot apple strudel accompanied by coffee or tea. They have a special coffee that you must try! We'll order one in just a bit...
My mom and I enjoying a summer afternoon at Café Slavia
Today we honor Slavěna. Happy Name Day, Slavěna!
Slavěna is of Slavic origin meaning "glory"
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Today we honor Božena. Happy Name Day, Božena!
Božena is of Czech origin and means "happy"
One of my favorite Czech novels was written by a Božena...Božena Němcová. She wrote Babička in 1855...it's the stopry about a young girl named Barunka and her childhood with her grandmother in the countryside. The book was inspired by Němcová's own childhood in the village of Ratibořice, where she lived with her parents, siblings, and maternal grandmother.
Cafe Imperial brings back the grandeur of the turn of the century. One has said that "to sit in the Cafe Imperial is to sit with the ghosts of the past", and that is why I am drawn to old establishments such as this one. The interior is truly magnificent with millions of ceramic tiles covering the walls, pillars, and ceiling.
And what do I always say to make sure to do in Prague?? "Always look up!"
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
So it's cloudy, maybe even rains a bit here & there. It's still a glorious day for a stroll through the city! I think tomorrow sounds like a good day for our "Cafe Tour", what do you think? So for today, just stroll around town, take in the sights and smells, rest your feet in a hospoda for a bite or a pivovar for a brew, and remember, always look up!
This is one of my favorite photos. I just adore all of the red roofs and the way the castle is lit up in the background. Just puts my soul at ease and fills me with love for this magical city...
Today we honor Mojmír. Happy Name Day, Mojmír!
Mojmír is of Czech origin and means "My Peace". Mojmír is a special name to me because my grandfather's older brother's name is Mojmír. He has since passed, but will be forever in our hearts. Here's to you, Mojmír, we love you!
Here's a photo of my grandfather, Zdenek (I call him DinDin), seated in the middle with his eldest brother, Vlada, to his right and Mojmír on his left. My great-grandparents are Bohdan and Maxa Kříž
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Today we honor Apolena. Happy Name Day, Apolena!
Apolena is the Czech and Slovak form of Apollonia, which is the feminine form of Apollonios. This was the name of an early saint and martyr.
Monday, February 8, 2010
An absolutely breathtaking hotel is located directly in Old Town Square, and that hotel is called U Prince (At the Prince). Although I highly recommend the hotel for it's location, rooms, and service, it's the rooftop cafe that I call a "hidden gem". I'll tell you a little about the history of this building, and then it's to the rooftop we shall go! Before I even begin, I have only one word to describe the rooms at U Prince...gorgeous!! They all ooze of dark rich wood, parquet floors, walls & ceiling with original detailing, and oversized antique furniture that looks as though it belongs in a palace.
U Prince is the 3rd building in ...the one with the flowerboxes in all of the windows
The hotel also offers a few restaurants (one on the main floor and one subterranean), and if you really want to feel like nobility, there are 2 private rooms, The Knights' Salon and the Royal Salon, where you're surrounded in medieval glory!
It's easy to feel like a king or queen in this building from the 12th century, which was at one time a "showpiece house". Even though it has been reconstructed, the building still has old stone portals and Gothic wells. In the 15th and 16th century, a pharmacy was located in this building, and in the mid-19th century the ground floor was a bookstore. It wasn't until the 20th century that a restaurant and bar opened its door at this location.
The building's Baroque-style facade is from the first half of the 18th century. There's a sculpture of St. Florian on the corner of the building, which is the emblem of the hotel. St. Florian is the Patron Saint of firefighters and the protector of those in Danger of Fire and Flood. Legend has it that Florian was a General in the Roman Army and that he "saved an entire village from flames by dousing it with a single bucket of water."
Now that you know a little bit about the building, let's walk through the foyer to the glass elevator in the rear...up, up, up we go! Now just follow me right through this door to a set of stairs connecting us to another part of the building (yes, we're outside in a courtyard so-to-speak). Now follow me through the cafe (coffee smells good doesn't it?), one more door and we have arrived at the rooftop terrace!
Beautiful view isn't it?
Prague castle stands proud in the background...
Old Town Square
The Clock Tower
As evening rolls around...
The city alights in a magical glow
Waiting for Orloj to strike the hour
View of Malé náměsti (Little Square)
Prague, my love, with my love...