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View over Prague from the Castle: New Oil Painting

Oil Painting Prague's 1000 Spires, View from Prague Castle

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton

Oil Painting Prague's 1000 Spires, View from Prague Castle

The Best of Intentions: Oil Painting

Have you ever started a project and then life gets in the way? This seems to happen every time a fun project comes up, whether it’s a book I can’t wait to read (Kate Morton’s newest novel, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, just arrived!) or a painting I’d like to try to paint. For me, the painting above began as a blank 36″ x 24″ canvas I placed on my easel last November 2017. On Saturday, October 13, 2018, I finished the edges, signed it, and hung it to finish drying. I am relieved and thrilled to be able to move on!

First work on the painting

Prague painting: Still a lot of work to do!
Prague painting: Still a lot of work to do!

Prague 2018

My family and I visited Prague again this summer and it was just as beautiful as I remembered it. Our family lived just outside of Prague in a village called Horomerice from 2009 – 2013. One of my favorite things to do after dropping my boys off at school was to meander into the city with my camera in hand. The month of October seemed to be the month with the best photographs, maybe because the tourists had fled for the season or because the fog settles in some mornings. The history seeps from the crevices of the buildings and stones and seems to speak out loud.

This summer, the heat and the swarms of tourists stifled the feeling of the history I’d had in cooler months when we lived in Prague. The photograph I based the painting on was taken in the month of October from the lane descending from Prague Castle and Hradcany.

View over Prague from the Castle

In this view that I’ve painted, many stories can be told about the buildings and their significance over time. The main tower in St. Nicholas Church of Mala Strana (left in this painting) served as one of the main spying points for the Nazis and later the Communists during their occupation of Prague. The Powder Towers in the foreground and background held significance from the time King Charles IV (also Holy Roman Emperor , who lived 1316 – 1378) along with his Charles Bridge connecting Old Town across the river to the Prague Castle. The Old Town Hall Clock Tower holds the famed Astronomical Clock (more than 600 years old), but also was the site of the 1618 defenestration of Prague. White crosses mark the cobblestones below the windows. And center, Tyn Church stands at the centerpiece of Old Town Square. When we lived in Prague, the Pope came and visited Prague, which meant every surface was polished to a high gleam for his visit, especially at Tyn.

Prague painting and Jennifer -- happy!

It took time for me to understand what to paint and how to paint it, including color values and shading — months, literally. I think the most important part is that I have finished it. Now, to enjoy it. 🙂

Prague painting

 

What types of projects have you started and then had trouble finishing? What helps you to get to the finish line?

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5 Czech Words to Know When Visiting Prague

Jennifer Lyn King at Shakespeare a Synove, Prague

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Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. -Miriam Beard

I have been living in the Czech Republic for almost two years now, have taken oodles of Czech lessons, and can officially attest that the Czech language is one of the most difficult in the world. Czech words are not easy to read, write, or pronounce. In college, I minored in Spanish, which I enjoyed immensely. But Czech, with its many different endings and formulations for a single word, combined with the difficult pronunciations of single letters of their alphabet, is a far different animal, especially for English natives.

the five bridges of Prague

Despite its difficulty, I’ve pursued learning enough Czech to get around well. And it has paid off countless times. The Czech people respond when foreigners attempt to speak in their language, even when it doesn’t come out perfectly. So, before you consider visiting,

5 Czech Words to Know When Visiting Prague

1) Hello : Ahoj — Said like [Ahoy]  This is an informal term used for familiar friends at greeting, and for answering the phone.

2) Good day: Dobrý den [Sounds like Doe-bree den]  This is most commonly used in Czech for all greetings. Even when someone enters a room, a “dobrý den” is mumbled by everyone in the room. The response, “Dobrý den” right back.

3) Thank you: Děkuji [Sounds like Dya-koo-yee]  This version is the correct way to say thank you, though slang has brought a new word — “Dike” or said like Dee-kay.

4) Please: Prosím [Sounds like Pro-seem]  This word you’ll hear often in Czech, especially because it is used to say please and you’re welcome.

5) Good-bye: Na shledanou [Sounds like Na shlay-dan-ow]  This expression is used every time you leave a store, a restaurant, or leave someone. There are a few different pronounciations, including the slang Na Skle or said Na Sklay.

One of the best investments when traveling to another country is a language program translator uploaded to an iPod or an iPhone. My favorite is the iTranslate app. I use it all the time.

What helps you the most with languages when you are traveling?

Prague's Charles Bridge
Prague’s Charles Bridge in fog, by Jennifer Lyn

 

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My Favorite Spot on the Charles Bridge, Prague

Prague's Charles Bridge

“There is something particularly fascinating about seeing places you know in a piece of art – be that in a film, or a photograph, or a painting.”
― Sara Sheridan

I wanted to share a photograph for Light, an innovative new camera company, and their Vantage Point project displaying the best shots of a favorite place in your hometown or a place you have traveled. Since I love photographs that take me places, I decided it would be fun to participate. The compact camera looks pretty fun, with multi-aperture capability in a small and light new gadget that would fit in a pocket. I’d love to try it.

I’ve always toted around my Nikon, a seven-year-old camera body D90, with two lenses. I love hearing how other photographers who embrace their photography as a dedicated hobby / semi-profession plan their lenses. One of my co-workers has oodles of lenses. When he asked me what I shoot with, I smiled, a little embarrassed. I’ve never been one to want to accumulate unnecessary things. I have two camera lenses: the one the D90 came with, an 18 – 105 mm kit zoom lens, and a heavy zoom lens with a range of 70 – 200 mm. I love and use them both equally.

When it comes to a great photograph, I think several elements have to work together. Lighting is always number one for me. Then composition, subject, and then the illusive choices selected by the photographer’s eye. When a photograph has it all, it’s magic.

One photograph I’ve taken and posted here on my site before is the photograph I took on Charles Bridge, in Prague. My family and I lived in Prague from 2009 – 2013, and within a couple of months learned fog is a norm for Prague, especially along the Vltava River. Remember the first Mission Impossible movie starring Tom Cruise? The story began with gunshots on a mysterious bridge shrouded in fog. That was Prague’s Charles Bridge along the Vltava River.

I’ve written about it before. The Charles Bridge is a place where I spent a lot of time, holding a steaming cup of coffee from the Lavazza cafe near St. Nicholas Church on Malostranske square. The Charles Bridge speaks. If you stand on it long enough, especially in the off-season on a day with few tourists, you can hear its stories: of Kings and processionals, of whispers of centuries of wars and hostile occupations, of floods and near-miss disasters, of changing governments and protesting people, of peace, fleeting as it may be. The stones have stories. You can feel them.

It is this that the photograph captures, I think. There is a sense of something more than light, composition, and subject. That is why I love this photograph and want to share it again, here. It is my all-time favorite photo I’ve taken, so far.

Prague's Charles Bridge in black and white

The Light Co is posting their favorite photographs of places on their Pinterest site here. And if you’ve shot photography with the new Light camera, share what you think with us — I’d love to hear!

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6 Places to See in Prague

Prague and its 5 Bridges

In the US and around the world, travelers think of Paris, London, or Rome when they think of a European city to visit, but my personal favorite is Prague. It’s not only more beautiful than all the other cities I’ve visited, but it also is the most authentic.

Its cultural significance stems from its long history as an Imperial capital city, when kings and emperors, musicians, writers and artists have called Prague home. And, since its beginnings in the 9th century, Prague is the only major European city not to be destroyed by bombs in war.

Prague straddles the Vltava River in modern day Czech Republic. The historic central area is easily walkable, and has been marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992.

My Favorite 6 Places to See in Prague


1. Old Town Square:

The open cobblestone square began as a marketplace for merchants from all over Europe. King’s processionals to the elaborate palaces, public executions, and widespread rallies have taken place in Old Town Square since the 11th century.

The great Astronomical Clock built in 1410 is fascinating. Its Apostle and skeleton figurines dance at the top of each the hour, and large crowds gather to watch the show.

Prague Astronomical Clock
Prague Astronomical Clock

 

At Christmas and Easter and other special times of the year, market stalls dot the Square with merchants selling traditional crafts and foods like Trdlnik (warm cinnamon pastries) and roast pork pulled from an open-air spit, Czech beer and mulled wine.

Prague's Old Town Christmas Markets
Prague’s Old Town Christmas Markets

 

For a bird’s eye view of the square and Prague’s Old Town, venture up the Old Town Hall tower.

 

2. Josefov, the Old Jewish Quarter:

The Old Jewish Quarter sits near the Vltava River, a ten minute walk from Old Town Square. The Jewish presence in Prague dates back for more than one thousand years, but Hitler’s drive to exterminate the Jews crushed the thousand-year legacy within four years’ time. Josefov and nearby concentration camp, Terezin, remind us today of the struggles Jews in Prague faced during WWII.

Terezin, Czech Republic
Terezin concentration camp, Czech Republic

A small patch of ground in the Old Jewish Cemetery contains over 12,000 tombs on the surface, with tens of thousands more entombed in countless layers underneath.

Tours of the Synogogues and the Old Cemetery in the Quarter are available year round.

Prague's Jewish Cemetery
Prague’s Jewish Cemetery

 

3. Charles Bridge:

For me, Charles Bridge is the heart of Prague. It is a place like no other in all the world.

Snow-covered Charles Bridge in Winter, Prague
Snow-covered Charles Bridge in Winter, Prague

 

For centuries, the Charles Bridge served as the only bridge across the Vltava River. Some stories say the bridge was first built with whatever materials the locals had at the time, including straw and eggs. When the original structure washed away, the Charles Bridge was rebuilt in stone in 1355.

Today, thirty-one statues line the darkened stone bridge, each one with a story from former religious times.

Walk the Charles Bridge at daybreak or dusk, when the tourist crowds are thinner. The view of Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge is breathtaking, so be sure to have your camera ready.

Prague Castle at Night
Prague Castle at Night

 

4. The Lobkowicz Palace:

The Lobkowicz Palace is located at the northeast end of the Prague Castle and has one of the most impressive collections in Europe. The Lobkowicz Collections display family treasures from more than four centuries, including the Canaletto painting of Lord Mayor’s Day, Beethoven’s manuscripts of the 3rd, 5th, and 6th Symphonies, armor, and more.

Plan to spend an hour or two for the audio tour, then enjoy lunch at the Lobkowicz Palace on the balcony overlooking the city before listening to the live chamber performance inside the Palace, offered every day at 1 pm.

Prague and the Vltava River
Prague and the Vltava River, the view from Lobkowicz Palace

Plan to walk the rest of the extensive grounds within Prague Castle, including Golden Lane, and St. Vitus Cathedral. Link to photos and what to do in 3 Hours inside Prague Castle here.

Prague Castle's Saint Vitus Cathedral
Prague Castle’s Saint Vitus Cathedral

 

5. The Libraries of Strahov Monastery:

Experts claim the two libraries of Strahov Monastery to be among Europe’s most beautiful libraries. The collections of centuries of books below exquisite ceiling frescoes are worth seeing up close and in person.

Library at Strahov Monastery, Prague: A setting in my work-in-progress novel, Water Lily
Library at Strahov Monastery, Prague

 

After you see the libraries, wander through the gates along the Monastery’s east wall, and find the best panoramic view over Prague.

View Over Prague from Strahov
View Over Prague from Strahov

 

6. Prague-style entertainment:

Prague offers opera, symphonic, and performing arts in all of its beautiful theaters at an affordable price. Before the show, enjoy one of Prague’s excellent emerging restaurants.

My favorite in Prague is Terasa U Zlaté Studně (Terrace at the Golden Well), reached via a cobblestone lane tucked in the hillside just below the Castle. The view from the terrace, over the glistening spires of Prague’s skyline, is unsurpassed.

Plan to see a ballet in the National Theater, worth the cost of the ticket just to sit in the beauty of the theater. At Christmastime, the National Theater offers a special version of the Nutcracker with a Dickensian twist.

Prague's National Theater along the Vltava River
Prague’s National Theater along the Vltava River

 

One final note before you travel to Czech Republic, don’t forget to learn a few words in Czech to use while you’re there… please, thank you, and beer. For more on 5 Czech words to know when visiting Prague, click here.

Happy traveling!

 

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Alphonse Mucha, Prague, and Mucha’s Art

Princess Hyacinth by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia.org

“The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create, to construct bridges, because we must live in the hope that humankind will draw together and that the better we understand each other the easier this will become.” -Alphonse Mucha

 St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

One of my favorite of Mucha’s works is located in the Prague Castle, on a stained glass window inside the St. Vitus Cathedral (above).

Alphonse Mucha (Alfons Mucha, said Al-fons Moo-ha) is an artist you may not have heard of, but it’s likely you’ve seen his work. Mucha lived and painted in Paris at the turn of the century 1900s in the Art Nouveau style, but he was from Czechoslovakia. He was prolific with his lithographs for commercial art.

Biscuits Champagne by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia Commons
Biscuits Champagne by Alfons Mucha

I’m continuing a series on art and artists I saw while I lived in Europe. I loved getting to tour the Mucha Museum in Prague, Czech Republic, with a group of friends. The museum is located at the Kaunický palác Panská 7, 110 00 Prague 1. {All photos related to Mucha’s work in this post, other than the St. Vitus stained glass photo, have been found under public domain at Wikimedia Commons.org (free media) because inside the Mucha Museum, photography is not allowed.}

Princess Hyacinth by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Princess Hyacinth by Alfons Mucha
Peonies by A. Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Peonies by A. Mucha

Mucha gained initial success for designing a poster for the 1894 play called Gismonda, which starred the most famous Parisian actress at the time, Sara Bernhardt.

Gismonda by Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Gismonda by Mucha

A few of my favorite Mucha pieces remind me of antique soap boxes and other advertising I saw at my relatives’ homes when I was a child.

Chansons Eternelles by Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Chansons Eternelles by Mucha

 

Winter by Alfons Mucha via Wikimedia.org
Winter by Alfons Mucha

Do you remember seeing any of Mucha’s work? What do you recognize his work from?

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Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” -Leonardo da Vinci

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

One of my favorite parts of the internet world is getting to know other writers and artists. Writers and artists aren’t folks who are easily known. We don’t have cards we hand out or wear certain spiffy suits to mark us as doing something notable. But in the cyberworld, we tend to find each other. One such friend is Lisa Ahn.

Lisa wrote me a few months ago and asked me if I would write a guest post for her excellent blog, The Hatchery. Out of admiration and based on years of writerly camaraderie, I agreed. “Of course!” I said. “What would you like me to write about?”

Lisa didn’t hesitate. “What it’s like to be a writer and artist in a city like Prague.”

There is so much to say about living in Prague– the language barriers, the people, the incredible places and sites, the natural beauty. But there is also something deeper which is hard to put a finger on. For me, that is the feeling of so many lives that were lived there–the history, the people, the art.

So that is where I began for my piece on Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer. I tried to put a finger on the significance of my experience in Prague, and how it changed me as a person. Here is the beginning of my piece for Lisa …

Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer

When I was very small, I loved to watch my grandmother play the piano. She could play anything by request—she had the rare gift of playing by ear. At age five, I decided I, too, wanted to learn to play the piano. I bought a set of four plastic busts of the classical composers at a garage sale, which I kept with me wherever I went. Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and Mozart became my early heroes.

I did grow up doing other (more normal) things besides collecting statues of dead musicians, but I continued with the piano, and took up playing the viola in fifth grade. I have always loved music, in addition to reading and writing, painting and photography.

In 2009, when my husband and I found out we had a chance to move to Prague, Czech Republic, for his job, we immediately jumped at the opportunity. For me, living in and traveling throughout Europe with my family seemed like a dream come true.

And it was, all four years. …  To read more, click here:

And the full link: http://lisaahn.com/2013/09/04/traveling-in-art-with-jennifer-lyn-king/

   
 

 

One further note: Lisa’s introduction had me teary-eyed. It was the kindest, most thoughtful introduction I’ve ever heard. I can’t believe the woman she wrote about is me. Thank you very much, Lisa, for the privilege of getting to write at your site.

Comments this week are closed here, but please venture on over to Lisa Ahn’s site and share your thoughts there. Thank you!

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Prague: 10 Top Things to Do and See

Prague's Spires, Czech Republic

Over the 4 years I lived in Prague, I used and refined this list many times. It is useful as a tour list, the Top 10 Must-Do Things in Prague.

The city is relatively small and easy to navigate and tour, but even more, it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful city in Europe.

Prague: 10 Top Things to Do and See

Day 1:

1. The Charles Bridge: Prague's Charles Bridge

As early as you can, kick off your jetlag and pick up coffee at one of the cafes on the way to the Charles Bridge. Walk the cobblestones of the bridge, which was constructed in 1357 under the rule of King Charles IV to cross the Vltava River. Three tall towers have guarded the Charles Bridge for centuries, and 30 haunting statues gaze over pedestrians as they cross. Read more…

2. Old Town Square: Prague's Old Town, Astronomical Clock, Tyn Church, and Christmas markets

Wander through the serpentine cobbled streets toward Prague’s Old Town Square. With its alfresco cafes, Astronomical Clock, its imposing Gothic Tyn Church and Baroque St. Nicholas Church, you’ll see centuries of history surrounding you in the buildings lining the square. In December, the Christmas markets set up in the square are lively, especially when it snows. Read more …

3. Jewish Cemetery Prague's Jewish Cemetery

Little more than a stone’s throw from Old Town Square, the Old Jewish Quarter stands near the Vltava River as an inseparable part of the city’s fabric.  The small patch of ground of the Old Jewish Cemetery contains over 12,000 tombs on the surface, with tens of thousands more entombed in countless layers underneath — making the sea of tombs seem to ride on unsteady waves. Read more …

4. National Theater performance National Theater, Prague

Do you remember Statler and Waldorf in the Muppets? The two elderly curmudgeons who’d heckle everyone who appeared on the show? Their famous box was as lavish as I could imagine a theater experience, until I sat in the National Theater.  See below on booking tickets. Read more …

Day 2.

5. Prague Castle: majestic Prague Castle

Founded in the 9th century, the Prague Castle is one of the oldest castles in the region. During its long history, the Castle housed Bohemian Kings, Holy Roman Emperors, and Presidents of Czech Republic. Today, the Prague Castle is said to be the biggest ancient castle, and gleams as the jewel glistening above the Vltava River as the centerpiece of Prague. 3 Hours Inside Prague Castle, Read more …

6. St. Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

Plan to spend the morning touring the soaring St. Vitus Cathedral, with its Gothic spires and colorful stained glass and rose windows, and the quaint artists’ colony built within the Castle walls, the Golden Lane, where Franz Kafka once lived, with houses dating back to the 15th century. Read more …

7. Lobkowicz Palace: View over Prague from the Lobkowicz Palace, Hradcany

If there is one place that must be visited in Prague, it is the Lobkowicz Palace.  It has incredible views over Prague from its cafe, where you can sit and enjoy lunch, a daily hour-long midday quartet concert, and an exceptional tour of their family’s royal treasures, including Canaletto paintings and Beethoven’s original 5th Symphony scores. It is my favorite place of all. Read more …

8. U Fleku: U Fleku Beer Hall Prague

The beer hall built in 1499 which has been brewing for over 500 years. A meal there comes complete with accordion players, long oak tables, and oodles of Czech beer. Read more …

Day 3.

9. Strahov Monastery: Library at Strahov Monastery, Prague: A setting in my work-in-progress novel, Water Lily

For the most spectacular view in Prague, venture up to Strahov Monestary, which sits high up on Petrin Hill. The Libraries inside the Monestary contain a rare collection of books dating back hundreds of years, 17th century globes, breathtaking frescos, and rare collections of artifacts. It is a place worth paying a few extra crowns to be able to take photos. To access the panoramic view, walk from the front gates, past the libraries and church and brewery, through a small portal in the east-facing stone wall. Read more …

For the rest of Day 3, I suggest walking along Nerudova Street, past the shops and through local shops, visit St Nicholas Church of Mala Strana, and back down to Charles Bridge. For dining suggestions, see below.

Day 4 and more:

10. Nelahozeves Castle: the beautiful courtyard surroundings, Nelahozeves Castle, Czech Republic

“The monumental Nelahozeves Castle, one of Bohemia’s finest Renaissance castles, is situated on a gentle slope overlooking the Vltava River in the village of Nelahozeves (birthplace of the great Czech composer Antonín Dvořák), approximately 35 km north of Prague.” The tour of Nelahozeves Castle offers an intimate glimpse into the royal Bohemian life inside the walls of a castle. Read more …

Other noteworthy links:

Prague, in Wintertime

Prague Castle, Reflections at Night

Before you go:

a) Buy tickets to a performance at the National Theater. The theater itself is exceptionally beautiful, and the tickets are inexpensive, yet the performances are first class. My personal favorites are The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake.

b) Take a break from the standard travel hotel, and reserve a place that’s inspiring like the Mamaison Riverside, the Maximilian, or The Golden Well.

c) Plan to save your Koruna for an unforgettable dinner at Terasa U Zlate Studne, overlooking Prague. Other favorite restaurants include Pasta Fresca (near Old Town Square), SaSaZu (Asian fusion), and Grosseto Pizzeria Marina (a docked riverboat, inexpensive, with great views of the Castle).

What to Bring:

Prague can be toured in 3 days — just be sure to pack your jacket (the weather is often unpredictable), sturdy walking shoes (everything is cobblestone), and your camera. You might feel as if you’ve visited a fairy tale, with all of the castles and spires and history. Once you’ve gone, and you’ll want photographs to prove to yourself that you really were there.

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What Freedom Means Now

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” -Nelson Mandela

An American flag flies high above the US Embassy in Prague, from an iconic white building high on Petrin Hill, where it billows in the breezes along the Vltava River. The Czech flag and EU flags fly elsewhere, especially at the Castle and throughout the historic and governmental sites, but none sticks out so prominently from so far a distance as that lone American flag.

the Glorietta, US Embassy, Prague
the Glorietta, US Embassy, Prague

Once, after obtaining approvals and while wearing loads of badges, accompanied, of course, by a US Embassy friend, I had the privilege of climbing to the white structure with the American flag. The site is called the Glorietta. (In the photo, the Glorietta is at the tip of the white arrow.) And though I didn’t have my camera (security reasons), I will never forget the view. It was what freedom looks like.

When I moved to Prague, I became friends with people who were often parents of my sons’ friends at school, people from far-reaching places around the world like: India, China, Russia, Malaysia, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Ukraine. Some stories I heard in the years with them were funny, others heartbreaking, and some so different from the way we live in the US that it was hard to believe they could be true. But they were.

One close friend, a native of Czech Republic, shared the truth about her family during the Nazi occupation, and then during Soviet communism. Hers are the stories that have changed my worldview completely, and redefined what freedom means to me now.

Her grandmother and grandfather, a teacher, were newly married in the early 1940s and were expecting their first child (my friend’s father). But one day, as her grandfather taught in the town school, Nazi soldiers came and took him away. Why? They didn’t take him because he was Jewish (he wasn’t), but for being an artist, a free-thinker, a writer, and respected community leader. He was sent to die at the concentration camps. He didn’t even get to say goodbye.

Later, the Czechs were ruled by the Soviet iron fist. My friend remembers walking to school beside the soldiers as they marched in time, their weapons propped up on their shoulders. Soviet tanks rumbled through the countryside and ruled the people with fear. Anyone who was caught doing anything subversive or against the state was sent to the Uranium mine work camps in the north of Czech. My 4th grade son had a field trip there.

If a person was smiling or laughing, the officials believed they were up to something. A smile or laugh brought them under suspicion during communism. They could be sent to work camps because of a smile, a laugh, a flirtation. It appalls me, and yet it is true. The effects are still evident today (a smile is rare in Czech).

Clearly, the world has had a tough century. In every corner of the globe, people are oppressed by others consumed with power. But sometimes, we forget. American flag

The most important thing we can do, each day, is not forget. Freedom is worth fighting for.

Freedom is the only way we can be our very best, individually and together. May we live in a way, every day, that respects and enhances others’ freedom.

Let freedom ring.

 

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The Expat Experience: 5 Things I Learned from 4 Years in Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

“Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world.” -David Sedaris, on the expat experience

Three months ago, my life changed drastically. After packing 5 suitcases to last 2 months, I boarded an airplane with the 4 men in my family, and said Na Shledenou, Goodbye to the country we’d called home since summer of 2009. That country was Czech Republic.

 

Prague Castle
Reflections of Prague Castle

I loved living as an expat. The expat experience was tough, but so rewarding. I loved getting to know Prague.

Where is Czech Republic?

It’s most often thought of as Czechoslovakia (it separated from Slovakia in 1993), was occupied by the Germans in WWII, taken over by the Soviets after the war, and became free from the USSR and communism after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Czech is surrounded by Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria, in Central / Eastern Europe.

Czech Republic is ripe with history, horrific like at the Nazi concentration camp of Terezin, yet filled with castles and natural beauty like Cesky Krumlov, Nelahozeves, and the Prague Castle. The Old Town of Prague feels like old world Europe. Almost every detail is authentic. Prague is the only major European capitol to be unscathed by wartime bombs. I believe Prague is the most beautiful city in the world.

Prague Castle at night
Prague Castle at night

One of my favorite parts of the expat experience was getting to become close friends with people from all over the world. Another was the opportunity to travel, widely. I toted my camera everywhere, and photographed everything.

But the best part about the expat experience was that I learned many things about myself and the world around me, every single day of those 4 years.

5 Things I Learned from Living as an Expat: Continue reading The Expat Experience: 5 Things I Learned from 4 Years in Prague

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Charles Bridge, Aristotle, and Italy’s Cinque Terre

Italy's Cinque Terre, Sunrise at Monterosso al Mare

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle

I have 3 things to share this week:

1) Happy news: Capitol Prague, a new restaurant and cafe in Washington D. C. / Georgetown, has bought use of of one of my photographs of Charles Bridge in Prague for use as a mural inside their cafe.

Capitol Prague Cafe
Capitol Prague Cafe

Isn’t it gorgeous? And, illy is my very favorite coffee, the one we drank at our home in Prague. Na zdravi! (Cheers!) Continue reading Charles Bridge, Aristotle, and Italy’s Cinque Terre