A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Vsetínský Krpec--A Czech Folk Festival

The Vsetínský  Krpec is an International Folk Festival in the small town of Vsetín, in the eastern part of the Czech Republic.  Held every other year (on even years) the festival draws groups from nearby countries and even further.  This year one contingent came from South Korea.  The first year I saw it, they hosted dancers from Georgia (the former Soviet Republic, not the US state).

I love Czech folk dancing, and I've loved all the visitors too.  I had fun comparing styles and traditions.  This year my favorites were the Serbians:  so energetic, with such great music and nice costumes.  Here are a few pictures.

Members of various groups posing for a picture:


Polish dancers:


Serbian dancers:



If you want to go, here's the website:  http://krpec.dkvsetin.cz/  The festival usually takes place at the end of June/beginning of July.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Awesome Czech Words with No Direct Translation

Aren't these Czech words great? 

Přiotrávit--to almost poison
Sezvánět--to call together with bells

"Přiotrávit" is is apparently more of the "Oops, I accidentally put the wrong mushrooms in this soup" as opposed to "Darn, I didn't put enough arsenic in his food" or "Wait, dear, don't drink that.  I do love you after all." 

"Sezvánět" isn't much in common usage anymore...but seriously, how beautiful would it be to call people together with bells?

I love words like these.    


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Kutna Hora Silvering Festival

Kutna Hora is a historic royal town in central Czech Republic.  At one time the town rivaled Prague in power and importance, chiefly because of the silver mines.  Now they have a medieval festival every year, where they pay homage to the role of silver.

A falconer--with the impressive and unique cathedral in the background:


The King and Queen with their entourage:


One of the many miner-related works of art in the cathedral (the man is wearing the traditional white robe of miners--which you can also wear to go on the awesome underground mine tour):


And, of course, Kutna Hora is also famous for its ossuary (also called the Bone Church).  Yes, these are real bones.  No, it's not as morbid as it seems:



If you want to go to the festival, which takes place every year in June, here's the website:  http://www.stribreni.cz/the-royal-silvering-of-kutna-hora 

It's also a great place to visit other times of the year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

This is a beautifully written book.  And yet.  Some of it's too stylistic for my taste.  It's interesting.  But.  Sometimes "style" comes across more like "gimmick." 

I LOVED Leo's character. His loneliness is palpable, heartbreaking, his views on things unique.  But.  The "And yet" and "But" sentences drove me crazy.  Had there been fewer, I think it would have been a nice way to distinguish his voice, to show his sort of tentative hope and struggle to hang on.  And yet.  Too much of anything just diminishes the power of the device.

I also loved Alma and her world and her weird little obsessions.

I didn't read the book fast enough, so I got a little confused sometimes on what was truth and how people were really connected, but I think that's part of the point of the novel, so I didn't mind it. 

I would have preferred the ending to go on a little longer.  But.  It was still satisfying in a bittersweet sort of way. 

As I said, most of the writing was beautiful, with some fantastic passages.  I cared about the characters and didn't want it to end.


I would definitely read more by Nicole Krauss.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pernštejn Castle, Czech Republic

Pernštejn Castle is a CASTLE.  Sprawling defensive walls, bastions, towers, spiral staircases that go clockwise so that attackers can't properly use their sword arms, tales of a ghost who appears to foretell good or bad events...the whole nine yards.  But parts are also very palace-like and opulent inside.  It's now one of my favorite castles.

If you go..

Check opening hours and plan plenty of time.  The tour alone may take over an hour, and there are other museums, shops, and bastions to wander.

By public transport, the nearest train station is Nedvědice.  From there, it's a a nice walk to the castle, about 1.5 km on the yellow trail.  You'll see the castle in the distance.  Head along the railway tracks toward it and watch for trail markers.  On the way back, consider the "long" red loop, which leaves from the castle gate nearest the restaurant and takes you past some other sights like a covered wooden bridge, an old stone bridge, nice views of the castle, and various other points with interpretive signs in Czech.  



Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cool Fountain--Brno, Czech Republic

This is the most awesome fountain I've seen in a long time.  It's hard to see in the picture, but this big frame has a row of water jets in the top that go and stop in carefully controlled patterns to create designs with the falling water, everything from various geometric designs to quickly plunging images of the city's landmarks.  It's amazing.  I sat on the grass in front of the theater and watched for a long time, and I wasn't alone.  If you can't see the patterns, look for diamonds.