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Venice!

Santa Maria della Salute

“White swan of cities slumbering in thy nest . . . White phantom city, whose untrodden streets Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting Shadows of the palaces and strips of sky.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Venice”

Venice
Venice, all soul

I am captivated by Venice. It’s not just the water and the light, the sunshine and the bridges, the boats and the people, the Basilicas and the stones. It is everything. Venice has a soul.

Santa Maria della Salute
Santa Maria della Salute

We visited Venice over the past several days. Though we were unsure about the season (late February), we knew Venice is the definition of hot and crowded in the summer tourist season. February turned out to be perfect. Not only was it not crowded or hot, we also had a taste of Carnival, or Carnevale di Venezia.

Just one visit is not enough … I simply loved Venezia! More on Venice in upcoming posts …

Have you been to Venice? What is your favorite part?

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Czech Republic, a Country with Soul

Kutna Hora, Cathedral of Santa Barbora
We’ve lived in Prague as expats for just over six weeks, and we’re thoroughly enjoying the experiences here. Not only do we get to see the Prague Castle every day, usually hovering in the early autumn mist, but we have enjoyed visiting many sites around the Czech Republic as well. Most recently, we visited Kutna Hora, a silver mining village from the early 1100’s whose wealth was so great it funded its own gothic Cathedral of Santa Barbora (see photos). Incredible! The Czech Republic is a beautiful country.
Kutna Hora, Cathedral of Santa Barbora
Kutna Hora, Cathedral of Santa Barbora

 


As we get to know more of the Czech Republic, and of Prague, there is one word we are becoming more familiar with: cizinecs (in Czech), or foreigner. Though we can blend in with looks to the Czech people, and we can try to learn their language, we cannot really relate to the past that defines them.

Here, it has been twenty years since communism fell. Still, Czech Republic is a place where the individual and freedom and religion had been stripped from societal values for so long, and replaced with “the virtues of the tractor” and other state propaganda, the mark is long-lingering. Komunismo (Communism) billboards still can be seen around Prague, fueled by the nostalgia of the time “when everyone had a job.” The Prague Post runs interesting articles, informing us of the struggling Czech government. And some grey buildings, including a Communist-built major hospital I toured this week, still seek to remind of the drab, colorless days before 1989.  

There are many positives for the Czech people. Theirs is a country overflowing with priceless history and natural beauty, a warm and rich culture, and an ingenious entrepreneurial spirit. We can only hope and pray that with coming days and years, the Czech spirit will continue to grow and flourish in freedom, and as cizinecs, that we will continue to learn from the Czech people’s rich soul.