Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Spedition Gebr. D GmbH - Bohemia (part 2)

12/5 - Dresden

Sixty euro plus internet charge, a couple hours to sleep, and we're rolling. New easy to reach hotel in Prague, and even M is now a seasoned vet, capable of being go-ready 30 minutes after alarm.

034. Morning; SGD tag and fanshop.

The refund comes to 16.40e, which is worth getting; that's at least lunch when we get back in the Eurozone in a couple. The CZ is cheap, and I'm planning to do that by selling dollars at the h.l.

We left the Elbtal behind at Lovosice and strike now into the Bohemian countryside. The light is great, now, even if it was a little weak for the Sächsische Schweiz. Still wicked, wicked cool.

035. Misleading signs in the train. Pretty sure those need crossed out.

Billowing white smoke from a coal plant against a Prussian-blued sky is photogenic as all hell, but I wouldn't want to be downwind of it in Poland or Belarus.

- Prague -

It was raining as we got in, but after a cafe stop for second breakfast, things improved rapidly. The winter light kills it, and there was light in actual abundance.

036. Cool decaying corner on Wenceslas. The similarities with the Nathan are striking.

037. Creche and Christmas tree in the Christmas market at the foot of the street.

038. Long view of the castle.

039. Bridgehouse going up to the Karolus.

040. Old-town-side-tower on the bridge.

041. Church opposite.

042. Gate detail to the side.

043. View up from the Karolus.

044. Riverbank on the new-town side.

045. Closer view of the castle.

046. New-town-side bridge tower. Not exactly as I shot it six years ago.

047. Contrasts in white, gold, blue, and shadow.

048. This just contrasts all the Baroquery everywhere else.

049. More brilliant lighting.

050. St. Joseph's chapel.

051. M still setting up his shot. Frame it in your head, zoom as you bring the camera up, click it, drop it, stop blocking the road, and check if necessary as you move on. Them's the rules for flaneur tourism.

052. Closer view of 049.

053. Cool back street in New Town.

054. Excellent lighting on the back of the Augustine church.

055. Neat view up to the villas.

056. Old multilingual sign for the river.

057. Back of some ministry if I recall correctly, same street.

058. View back into Old Town from below the Kafka museum.

059. Below the Karolus bridge.

060. More awesome sidelight on stucco.

061. Occluded bridge tower.

062. Fountains just hanging out.

063. View downriver to the northwest.

064. Over the bridge crowds to Old Town.

065. Swans, breakwater, and cool building on the far shore.

066. Exposed joists. $100/night is steep for Prague, so you get this total badass room for US motel prices.

Crashing hard, so it's time for a nap. Bars and dinner when that concludes, probably.

067. Das Gute an Schwarz. King Louis and a mostly-consumed Krušo černé.

This restaurant was kind of a ripoff, but pretty decent even so -- and they had fresh Krušo by the half-liter, which is what's really important here.

068. Over the roofs at night.

069. Nicholas Eve crowds under the astronomical clock.

070. Across Old Town square.

video 3: Firefalls on the main Christmas tree.

071. Tower over the clock.

video 4: Fire dancers in front of the pageant.

Old Town square, and to a lesser extent the surrounding streets, was full of revelers: bearded bishops, black devils in straw and chains, and cute girls in light-up horns. Bohemia's first reformation (Google Jan Hus) came before paganism had been really extirpated, so no matter the tradition, the shadows of ancient fire cults and the Black God remain. This may be the least of the attractions of Prague, but if you go in the winter, go Nicholas week, and see the old ways still alive.

12/6 - Prague

After a late start and probably expensive breakfast, we got rolling. Having hit many tourpoints yesterday, "castle for real", "Kafka", and "Žižkov" comprised the bulk of the agenda.

072. Modernistic hitching posts on the way up to the castle.

073. Stairs up. Probably shorter than at Ngong Ping, since I only needed the one break.

074. From the top; back to the Žižkov Tower.

075. Panorama from the top: supersedes the 'stitch' effort from 6 years back and 30 feet down.

076. Across the castle courtyard.

077. Guards marching. We saw but did not shoot/film the changing of the guard. Guard duty must suck. Standing at attention in a box for an hour, hoisting a mirror-polished SKS -- and in summer the ushanka is probably no joke either.

078. Front of St. Vitus cathedral.

079. Rest of the front that didn't get in the first shot.

080. Inside, main hall.

081. Profis set up their own light.

082. It's only pixels; modernist additions.

083. Older-styled painted glass.

084. Staircase up.

085. Across at the lofts.

086. Saints and angles.

087. Wooden Christ over a side altar.

088. Sarcophagus at the center in bad light. Save everything!

089. Founding personalities of Bohemia.

090. Grillwork between the windows and main floor.

091. Central sarcophagus in mystic lighting.

092. What hath Vatican II wrought?

093. Long wooden relief centered on Karolus most.

094. Altar behind grillwork.

095. Steeple-in-steeple.

096. Sarcophagus of Charles IV of bridge fame.

097. Splendor in silver.

098. M avoids another still-setting-up-his-shot pic.

099. Damage at the foot of the rail.

100. View back down the hall.

101. Reliquary of one of the first archbishops.

102. That silver assembly again.

103. Candle-holder beseeching out of the wall.

104. Allegedly better view of the sarcophagus; the light worked better, but the version in 091 is actually a better picture.

105. Finials of the pew ends.

106. Lion on guard at the base of a Baroque memorial.

107. View into the Wenceslas chapel.

108. Up at the organ loft.

109. Common cross motif behind a candle.

110. Better view into the chapel.

111. Wenceslas himself.

112. A sense of space.

113. Heraldry didn't have to be complex....

114. ....until it did.

115. You know it's modernist via the communist symbology.

116. Full view of one of the modernist windows.

117. Outside finally; obelisk.

118. Castle buildings still in government use.

119. Side view of the cathedral.

120. Wicker-straw creche. Nobody has set the goat on fire yet.

121. Mural on the face of the cathedral.

122. Looking past down the nave.

123. Golden grillwork up top.

124. Buttresses by the nave.

125. Bulls under a metal awning.

126. Doorway inside the castle.

127. Prague's most famous window.

128. Roundel window.

129. Up an open corner on the staircase.

130. Inside the central pillar.

131. Out over the roofs into Old Town.

132. (Not applicable/didn't come out)

133. Door furniture.

Pics are technically not allowed in the castle without badge. Why? Noobs who shoot flash. Plenty of bridges in this town, losers, start jumping.

134. Another chiaroscuro paving on the way out; ref. Denmark.

135. A neat side door between attractions.

136. Facing onto a courtyard.

137. Old building in brick.

138. Cathedral and Christmas tree.

139. Contrasts, even inside the castle complex.

140. Inside the basilica.

141. Grillwork and side chapel.

142. Bohemia's "stone of Scone", where the abbesses here crowned the kings.

143. "Christ in the trunk" -- not quite "Christ in the tortilla", but taking a bit more effort.

144. Altar in the basilica.

145. Grillwork at the side.

146. Reliquary and blackletter.

147. High windows above the main sanctuary.

148. Ancient burial customs -- dugout coffins.

149. Cathedral from a little further back.

150. Tower and a line of roofs.

151. Just a cool view.

152. Looking down at another tower.

153. Along Golden Lane.

154. War machinery outside the White Tower entrance.

155. Candleworks (and brother) downstairs.

156. Better view of the arbalest.

157. Outside; one of the few tourist-free zones.

158. Roofs in Golden Lane.

159. Inside the White Tower; suit of blued armor.

160. Conserved garderobe.

161. Mix-pack of polearms.

162. Your obligatory Bohemian ear-spoon.

163. Volley gun, just left on the floor.

164. Teutonic helm and shoulders. They match, so this is obviously a tier set. :eyeroll:


If you don't get that last caption, see this closeup:

166. Jousting armor with lance rest.

167. Impractical tournament armor.

168. Some samples from the "helmets through the ages" display.

169. More hats.

170. Greathelm ventilated with a nail/spike as per original rather than a modern punch.

171. Mix pack of flails.

172. Protection over visibility gets ridiculous. The opening here is less than half an inch at its widest.

173. Wack-ass puppet in a shop window.

174. More roof contrasts.

175. Looking out into Prague.

176. Overlooking the entrance to the prison.

177. Down into the dungeon.

178. Beheading swords down in the lower chamber.

179. Prisoner cage; the small tower reminds that former days didn't have the infrastructure for a prison-industrial complex, leading to "justice" that had to be brutal because it had to be swift.

180. Two-legged cage in the rafters.

181. Up into freedom.

182. Panorama from the terrace.

183. Push on the Žižkov Tower.

184. Striations from blasting and a sightseeing touring car.

185. Classic old street.

186. Monument and view into Old Town.

This took like all of lunch and 1.5l of Urquell to catch up on -- must rest more often.

video 5: Trollmaterial. Not RttP-fähig, though; needs moar abortions.

This concluded, on to Kafka.

187. What we lost: science and philosophy are seldom so close in the academy, and never in the working world.

188. Even Kafka got to eat. Having worked in support and documentation at various times, it is not surprising that dealing with industrial accidents, and the soul-killing regularity with which people do the stupidest possible things with the machines and processes around them, might have led Kafka's talents down the path that they followed.

189. Out in the Old Town.

190. Back over to the castle.

191. Row of houses, same intersection.

192. Some nifty brick facades.

193. Falling into disrepair.

194. Front of the opera house.

195. Up to the castle again.

196. Old and new in the Jewish Quarter.

197. Christian mosaic on a corner.

198. Crosswise on the main synagogue.

199. Star of David, maybe also with a Jew's hat. The ethnography of that, as with, really, everything, gets wicked complicated.

200. Cathedral side on Old Town square.

201. Across to another church.

202. Underside detail in awesome light.

203. Back of the clock tower.

204. More amazing light on an old house.

205. Church and sky.

206. A former abode of the Kafka family on Old Town square.

207. A suspicious sign. I can read 'big', 'world', and 'booze', but the last character isn't matching to anything. It's got nothing to do with the restaurant advertised, and probably a lot more to do with the co-operated every-booze-in-the-world store next door.

So my ATM card down't work here. Fortunately, M's does, and I have enough dollars and euros left to get to Munich, where I know I can find working cashpoints again. Change $40 tonight -- or takeaway + train, whichever fits better -- and I should be good to go. I'm not being as insanely tight as usual; risk of not going it alone. Not only the expense of two and having to charge back, but eating multiple meals in actual restaurants and paying for tickets to museums I'd already been to. So geht's.

Next up is change, maybe out to Žižkov, and likely carryout, but I need to check train rates first.

12/7 - Prague

We are leaving, as soon as the train pulls out, with enough Kč left to get snacks, maybe, but more importantly enough still-valid euros to get from Vienna to Munich. Hardmode may be hard, but things look to be at least sort of recovering, and if I can't bluster my bank into turning my card back on (worse option: totally cleaned out, though I'm not sure that's possible), I at least brought a brother to mooch off of. Losgehts!

Another potential attraction of central Europe in the winter is that the women of this region remember what proper boots are, which is to say "not goddamn Ugg mukluks". If this is relevant to your interests, as it is to your correspondent's, it may factor into your trip planning -- but it should not dominate it, as that would be just kind of perverse.

Going through the forests of the Czech hinterland really reminds me of home. The building styles are greatly different, the vegetation a little less so, but the dynamics of the trees and undergrowth are pretty much exactly what you find in New England. Climate is what climate is, I guess.

Snow on some of the higher hills now; it's been raining off and on throughout, but this is the first sign of winter-winter so far. The passage from Wien to München is at least around the Alps, so we should see some more on that leg, but we'll see.

- Česká Třebová -

We've gained significant elevation as well as land depth, so the snow is sticking everywhere, lightly frosting the trees, houses, and fueling tanks. A few flakes drift down as the train pauses in the station.

video 6: From the train. Now it's starting to feel like December.

Leaving the city behind, the snow gets thicker. Absolutely everything's overclad in white. We'll see how this develops toward Vienna.

Frozen rivers outide Opatov. It really is like the seasons have changed just like that.

- Adamov -

Wedged into the mountains of Moravia, this is as essential an example of the old East Bloc planned city as you're likely to find. It doesn't fit the landscape, it doesn't show the organic growth patterns of the settlements around it, and the first thing you encounter, coming through the tunnels and passes from Prague, is a huge and decaying factory complex set with a 20-story glass-windowed skyscraper. Impressive, but to what end? There are limits on how far we can force history and human ecology.

- Vienna -

Erfolgreich in Wien. This hotel is gonna be expensive, and I still need to rebook Munich, but my bankcard's working again, we did a killer lunch/dinner, and there's no shortage of bars aroudn the Mozartgasse. Time for some planning, then maybe go out if we aint beat.

208. Look down the Argenteniergasse, hiking in.

209. Oor hotel has its own arms.

210. Blurry relief opposite the Wieden-Bräu brewpub. Heavily recommended if you're in this part of Vienna.

So we saw history made, over beers in a betting parlor: Man Utd fails to qualify for the last 16. The gap is closing.

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