Monday, 6 October 2008

Ferdinand D'Este at Konopiste

If you like a combination of nature and culture, you will enjoy a day trip to Konopiste Castle, not far from from Benesov.
To get there: drive down the main D1 motorway until you reach the Benesov exit. However the castle can also be reached by public transport. Either take the bus from Florenc bus station or from Roztyly in south Prague (one metro stop from Kacerov or Chodov), or go by the suburban rail line from Masaryk station or the main station in Prague). The bus is easier though, because it drops you right at the junction to the walk that leads to the castle.

Now you can take a leisurely half hour walk to Konopiste Castle, the former family seat of Archduke Ferdinand D'Este and his wife Sophie Chotkova. The assassination of the couple in Sarajevo in 1914 was the event that triggered World War I. So how did a Habsburg come to be called D'Este? Well, apprently he took the title of the Italian nobleman uncle from whom he inherited the castle as a condition of inheritance. And after his marriage to Sophie Chotkova, who was an aristocrat but not royalty, was a morganatic one, it suited the couple to be away from the Viennese court but close to Prague.

The Castle is located in beautiful hilly Bohemian woods and landscaped parks with a lake. There are tours available and some interesting souvenir shops. Perfect for a gently active Sunday afternoon!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre

Finding myself in Prague for most of the summer I have been writing for much of the time, but did manage to escape for a wonderful evening of Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre. The production attempts to reconstruct the premiere attended by Mozart himself (he finished writing the opera at Bertramka, the delightful country home of his friends the Duseks, now a Mozart museum just outside the Prague city centre), including the set design and adhering to the Aristotelian unity of time in the flow of action on the stage. This gives an extraordinary sense of drive and pace to the action, enhancing the inevitability of Don Giovanni's descent into the abyss. The theatre itself is a delight, as is the service there. Tickets are available either directly in front of the theatre or online here.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Two of the things I hope to be doing over the summer are visiting the Karlovy Vary Film Festival from July 4th-12th.
This is followed a couple of weeks later by the Uherske hradiste Summer Film School for the week from 27th July to 3rd August. These are both total treats for film buffs. The Karlovy Vary Festival ranks among the world's most prestigious festivals and takes place in the elegant spa town. The Uherske hradiste event, on the other hand, also attracts cogniscienti audiences and film industry professionals and although it is called a School is something between a school and a festival, as well as boasting a wide variety of other cultural events besides film, such as literary readings and theatre performances. I can't wait!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Knights in White (Prague) Satin

For those of us old (sorry mature!) enough to remember the 60s, a classic clip from the Moody Blues, recorded in Prague in 1968:

Feast your eyes on my favourite city!

This is where I live. I hope the pictures can give you an idea of how that feels.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

A Quirky Look at Prague

A home is not a showroom, and Prague as a home is no exception. Beautiful, magical, deep, fascinating, vibrant - it is all these things, but like any home it has its squeaky floorboards and ill-fitting doors. It is also permanently teeming with visitors, to the profit and gain but also sometimes the irritation of the local people. And some of the long-term paying guests, the expats, do not endear themselves to the rest of the population, any more than the bald hordes of weekenders from the land of my birth (UK). On this blog I plan to take a quirky look at some of the things I really love about Prague - and some of the things I like less.

My Prague

You know how it is. There are places you feel at home in, and places you don't. Prague is a place I feel at home in. Maybe it's because I'm a writer and Prague has been home to so many writers and artists. Maybe it's because Prague is landlocked and I was born near the sea.....