Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Tales from the cup shelf #1: Prague
The first one comes from Prague, our first trip there together in 1993. The Communist era was barely over yet the city was already transformed, cleaned up and full of life. Music was everywhere. Walking around, we were constantly being given fliers for evening chamber concerts, while street performers gave excellent impromptu recitals on nearly every corner.
All of these concerts - we went to others too - were in delightful buildings, older than the music itself, with mysterious inner courtyards and staircases. These led to small rooms - whence chamber music - where you could literally reach out and touch the musicians (not that we did, though I did introduce myself to Ms Ruzickova after the concert, to thank her for such a wonderful introduction to what is often quite frankly a pretty boring instrument).
Of course we visited Wenceslas Square, site of Jan Palach's 1969 self immolation. And the beautiful Vysehrad Park on top of the hill overlooking the Danube, and Prazsky Hrad, the castle high up on the banks. Everyone does. But my memories are of other places, of the quiet cloistered side street leading to the unforgettable Blue Duck restaurant, where we spent a long and largely afternoon-destroying lunch. Or of the tram ride from our hotel, which was in the suburbs, rattling through bustling residential neighbourhoods to the city centre. And then there was the Tatra museum - a whole collection of those odd Czech luxury cars with their rear-mounted, air-cooled V8 engines.
The mugs, the perfect size for after-dinner coffee, were once six, but now only two remain. They've done better than the crystal glasses, though - of the twelve we bought, only one is left, and even that is chipped. (Quite how we brought all this booty back with us on the plane, I do not recollect.)