~ballad of the old bohemian pt. 2~

July 29th, 2008

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He was a man so cranky he seemed a character in a story by Dickens. This man–let’s call him Ebenezer–spit a response to my innocent inquiry, “Please sir, where is the real cricket playing tiny violin?”

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No matter, we found said cricket–and the flea in golden horseshoes, and the whole herd of camels in the eye of a needle–at the Muzeum Miniatur in an area called Pražský Hrad a Hradčany (aka Prague Castle. These photos are shot through a microscope, hence the vignetting.)

The heart of Prague is composed of five main areas clustered around the Vltava River. In the west is Prague Castle and on its highest hilltop sits the Strahov Monastery Library.

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The view here is lovely, the eight hundred year old library is…well, no one mentions until you’ve paid and ventured inside that you are not allowed to actually stand in the library. It’s more like a church for books, or maybe Studio 54–you get to peer in from behind a velvet rope. Hmmm.

We went hoping to see a fresco in the Philosopher’s Hall that depicts “Mankind’s struggle to know real history.” Instead we experienced Ali and Kim’s struggle to know real library, a challenge we were up to after the cricket incident. Here is my totally illicit photograph of the sacred space.

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We did see some bizarre vitrines stuffed with amateur taxidermy and wax apples and such in an intriguingly chaotic mix. But I really broke the no photos allowed without paying extra rule for you, dear reader, because I had to show you these:

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Tree books!–books made of tree limbs, each titled by its own species and still covered in lichen and moss. Absolutely beautiful, totally Praha, and nearly hidden out of sight. The witchy loveliness of them made my day.

We also saw the Saint Vitus Cathedral, with its Mucha stained glass and outrageously large Tomb of Saint John Nepomuk (1736).

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We also visited a charming toy museum before crossing back to the east side of the river.

As tourists the day left us feeling somewhat antagonized–as I imagine any day spent in multiple museums is bound to, but let it be said: Prague kinda needs and hates tourists at the same time. We vowed to skip all institutions on the following day…
However we are still wishing we bought the museum shop mouse pad featuring a disgruntled baby Franz Kafka.

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As my mother used to say frequently (of me, thanks), “Truly bizarre.”

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