Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dinner in a palace? Oooh, I'd love to!!

For those of you who haven't been to Pálffy Palác yet (and I haven't been either), I have a wonderful reason for you to go.  Not that you need a reason to dine in this splendid setting...it's regal, breathtaking, and simply divine, darling!   But it's also quite costly, and can set you back a pretty penny.  And that's exactly what brings me to why you should go.

Pálffy Palác is now (um, today to be exact) offering a phenomenal three-course degustation menu at a special rate of 990 CZK (54.78 USD / 40.28 EUR) for 2 people.  This normally retails at 2,360 CZK (130.58 USD / 96.02 EUR).  The voucher for this spectacular offer is only available for purchase today, but can be redeemed any evening for the next six months.  What a great gift this would make!  Or heck, be selfish!  Don that floor-length slinky dress or tux you've been dying to wear and enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner with your significant other...they'll thank you for it later!

Pálffy Palác is a landmark restaurant hidden away on a quiet road in Malá Strana (Lesser Town)

Purchase of this voucher supports the Tereza Maxová Foundation  http://www.terezamaxovadetem.cz/en/ Tereza Maxová is a Czech model who in 1996 on a visit to Prague found numerous abandoned children, which prompted her to start the Tereza Maxová Foundation.  It has a patronage over 24,000 children growing up in institutional care in the Czech Republic, providing better care and placing a number in families.


A little bit of history:
Pálffy Palác was established in 1994 on the second floor of the Pálffy Palác building and is one of the most famous baroque buildings in Prague.  It came to be following the adjoining of two buildings at the beginning of the 18th century, and has gradually been reconstructed since 1808.  In 1853, general reconstruction was executed and the building took its current form.  The name of the palace originates from 1881 when Eduard Pálffy, the earl of Erdor, bought the building.  Later he sold the building to the state to become a state holdership archive and a mounted police station.  Between 1918 and 1946, the palace served as the archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 it was acquired by the Ministry of Culture and in 1992 it was leased to the Prague Conservatory, which continues to reside in the building to this day.


Location:
Pálffy Palác
 Valdštejnská 158/14
11800 Praha 1-Malá Strana

Metro:  Malostranská (line A)
Tram stop:  Malostranské náměstí (tram #'s 12, 22, 23)




Happy Name Day, Jeroným! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Jeroným.  Happy name Day, Jeroným!
Jeroným is the Czech form of Jerome, which is of Greek origin and means "sacred name".

St. Jerome (4th century) was a scholar who prepared the Latin Vulgate, the standard accepted text of the Bible in the common language of the time.  He is often portrayed with a lion from the legend that he removed a thorn from the lion's pad and won the beast's lifelong loyalty.

 Painting by Niccolò Antonio Colantonio, showing St. Jerome's removal of a thorn from the lion's paw

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Horses give us wings, which we would otherwise lack."


To ride on horseback through the countryside; to be aware of the partnership between you and another living being; to trust.  

I'm looking forward to seeing you again, Shien!  I've missed you!
Welcome to Favory Stables at the spectacular Benice baroque estate...the biggest private breeder of the old Kladruby horse in the world!  The Benice estate is surrounded by rolling hills that used to form a part of the estate of Archduke Ferdinand d'Este....he was the last owner of the estate, from 1918 to 1994, briefly interrupted during the time of the protectorate when it was used as an army training ground.  In 1994, the estate became the location of the Stud Favory.  Because of its historical value, the estate is registered as a cultural monument.
I love a coffee or a bite to eat at the cafe ...so peaceful to just sit and relax amidst these beautiful surroundings


Magnificent rolling hills



The Old Kladruby horse is the only work horse on Earth.  They have been continuously bred for over 400 years and are one of the oldest horse breeds in the world.  Descending from old Spanish and Italian bloodlines, today's horses have documented ancestry going back to the mid 18th century.  You'll see them in a lot of paintings and sculptures as they're "the horse for the king"!

So Majestic...

And what a great life they lead here!






Thanks for visiting with Shien and I!  We're off for a stroll through the countryside...




Happy Name Day, Michal! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Michal.  Happy Name Day, Michal!
The name Michal is the Czech form of Michael, which is of Hebrew origin.  The meaning of Michael is "who resembles God?"  This is a rhetorical question, implying no person is like God.  St. Michael was one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition and the only one identified as an archangel in the Bible.  In the Book of Revelation in the New Testament he is portrayed as the leader of heaven's armies, and thus is considered the patron saint of soldiers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

King Wenceslas and the Bath Attendant Zuzana

Since today is a Czech Statehood Day marking the anniversary of the death of Saint Wenceslas, I figured I would tell you a little story about the good king, a legend if you will...

King Wenceslas and the Bath Attendant Zuzana
Karlovy Lázně - Charles' Baths, Smetanovo nábřeží 198 

King Wenceslas IV was on bad terms with his nobles.  They kept complaining that he filled the royal offices with his personal favorites and ignored their own proposals and advice.  Quarrels and disputes multiplied until finally the nobles attacked the king on his way from the Castle of Žebrák to Prague and took him prisoner.  They carried him off to the Old Town and threw him in prison in the Old Town Hall, from which there was no escape.  He was kept under careful guard day and night.  When th eking was in his fourth month of imprisonment, he began to lose hope that he would ever be free again.

Castle of Žebrák

One hot summer's day, the king asked his captors to permit him to visit the city baths by Charles Bridge.  They allowed it, bur for safety sent four guards:  one to stay at the door, one to watch his clothes, and two to go into the baths with him.  After bathing, the king came out onto the stone courtyard gallery, wrapped only in bathing linen.  It was a beautiful summer day, the sun shone in a sky so cloudless that it too looked freshly bathed, the birds chirruped and carefree people hurried across Charles Bridge about their business.  Wenceslas wept at all this beauty, the beauty of liberty, the birds who could fly where they wished and even the beggar who could wander wherever he liked.  The king alone - he only - was bereft of freedom.  Wenceslas gazed sadly across the river to Prague castle.  It was so near, and yet he had no way of reaching his faithful followers.  Looking down at the bank, he saw a small boat tied up under the gallery.  Just at that moment, the young bath attendant who had served him as he bathed came onto the gallery.  The king beckoned her to come closer, and quietly asked her to tell him her name.  The girl recognized him, curtsied and said, "They call me Zuzana, Sire, and I shall do anything you wish."

"Do you see that little boat, Zuzana?" the king pointed at the bank.  When the girl nodded he whispered, "Take me in it to the opposite bank.  If you do it, you will never lack anything to the end of your days!"

The girl thought for a while.  Then she gathered up the linen that was drying on the gallery and skillfully tied the pieces together with strong knots.  Both of them climbed down from the courtyard.  Zuzana untied the boat, the king sat down i it, and she quickly rowed over to the thick bushes on the other side.  When after a while the guards came out onto the gallery, a great surprise was awaiting them.  They sounded the alarm and roused the whole neighborhood, but the king and Zuzana were already safe on the other side, hidden in the bushes.  After the commotion in the baths had died down and as dusk was falling, they set out upstream through the rushes and found another boat, in which Zuzana took the king close to Kunratice Forest, and the king's new castle (Nový Hrad).   The burgrave immediately recognized the king, sorry as his state now was, and received both with sincere joy and appropriate honor.  When they were sitting wrapped in warm blankets in the safety of the castle hall, the king called the treasurer and gave Zuzana a hundred gold pieces in payment.

Ruins of Nový Hrad
  

"I know that your service merits more," said Wenceslas.  "You did not fail me when my most faithful servants betrayed me.  Give me a little time, and I shall give you greater recompense."

After a while, the King managed to resolve his disputes with the Bohemians lords and regained all his royal power.  Then he repaid the bath attendant in true royal style, by having the old baths by Charles Bridge demolished, building new ones and giving them to her with even more money.  Nor did he forget her trade, which until then had been amongst the lowest of the guilds.  He issued a charter raising the guild of barbers and bath attendants to the status of honored crafts, and allowed them to use a new coat-of-arms  -  a towel rolled into a circle and inside it a kingfisher on a golden field, which was King Wenceslas's personal emblem.  And so that people should never forget the brave and loyal Zuzana, the king had her portrait painted into a vault of the Old Town Bridge Tower, where it can still be seen to this day.

Old Town Bridge Tower

Today in the Czech Republic we honor our beloved St. Wenceslas

Today in the Czech Republic we honor St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic.  St. Wenceslas was a loved Czech King who propagated Christianity and ruled over Prague in the 10th century. 
According to legend, in September of 935, St. Wenceslas was murdered while on his way to morning religious service by the mercenaries sent by his younger brother, Boleslav I of Bohemia.   After his death, Wenceslas was canonised as a saint due to his martyr's death, as well as several reported miracles that occurred after his death.    His feast day is September 28th.

An equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas dominates Prague's Wenceslas Square, which has been the site of many important moments in history:  The Czechoslovak state was proclaimed here in 1918.  Protests against the Soviet-led invasion in 1968 took place here.  In 1969, Jan Palach, a young student, set himself on fire in protest of the Soviet occupation.  And in 1989, demonstrations in Wenceslas Square saw the fall of the communist regime.

Wenceslas Square as seen from the National Museum



  


  

Today, you can view his helmet and armour, which are on display in Prague Castle.

And of course, you know how we Czechs love a legend!  There are several legends about King Wenceslas, one of which claims that a huge army of knights sleep inside Blaník, a mountain in the Czech Republic.  The knights will awake under the command of St. Wenceslas and bring aid to the Czech people when they face ultimate danger.

 Blaník

Another legend says that when the Motherland is in danger in its darkest times and close to ruin, the equestrian statue of King Wenceslas will come to life, raise the sleeping army in  Blaník, and upon crossing the Charles Bridge his horse will stumble and trip over a stone, revealing the legendary sword of  Bruncvík.  With this sword, King Wenceslas will slay all of the enemies of the Czechs, bringing peace and prosperity to the land.

 Bruncvík


Happy Name Day, Václav! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Václav.  Happy Name Day, Václav!
The name Václav is of Czech origin and means "wealth of glory".  Saint Václav (known as Wenceslas in English) was a 10th century duke of Bohemia who was murdered by his brother.  He is the patron saint of the Czech Republic.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy Name Day, Jonáš! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Jonáš. Happy Name Day, Jonáš!
The name Jonáš is the Czech and Slovak form of Jonah, which is of Hebrew origin and means "Dove".  Jonah was the name of a prophet swallowed by a fish, as told in the Old Testament Book of Jonah.  He emerged from the fish alive three days later.  His story was popular in the Middle Ages, but did not become common until after the Protestant Reformation.

Thank you for allowing me to have a fabulous holiday in Costa Rica!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ahhh...vacation

Prague, My Love will be on a brief hiatus for some much needed R&R.  See you on the 20th!

In the meantime, what is your favorite restaurant in Prague?


Happy Name Day, Daniela! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Daniela.  Happy Name Day, Daniela.
The name Daniela is a variant of Danielle, which is of Hebrew & French origin.  The meaning of Daniela is "God is my judge".

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A favorite Czech pastime...mushroom picking


We Czechs love to grab our straw basket (sometimes a plastic bag), rise with the sun, and head on out into the forest to search for those fleshy fungi otherwise known as "mushrooms".  


As I got a little older, I realized that although I grew up mushroom picking with my grandfather and father, I still was no pro at this "sport".  Clearly, not all mushrooms are the same.  They look different.  But even those that look similar can be complete opposites (i.e., of the poisonous variety).  Now I can buy a book and compare my findings to the glossy pages, but I'd much rather trust those that have been doing this for generations.  I mean, this is our national pastime (and one of my favorites!)  and 7 out of 10 Czechs will be out there in our forests searching for mushrooms between the months of July and November (the best picking is a day or so after a nice rainfall).  So if you're a novice, best to avoid the embarrassment of running into a seasoned mushroom-picker in the forest with your basket full of inedible finds by buying a bushel of hand-picked mushrooms from a local Czech.  If you're lucky enough, they'll even have a few that they pickled to sell you.  Mmm... Delicious!

My favorite are pickled mushrooms but I think we seriously have over 100 recipes for mushrooms...some of my favorites are, besides the picked ones, of course:


Fried mushrooms

Dried mushrooms that are later used in a sauce over beef and/or dumplings

Mushroom & egg scramble







Happy Name Day, Mariana! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Mariana.  Happy Name Day, Mariana!
The name Mariana is a variant of Marian and Marianne, both of French origin, and Mary, which is of Latin origin.  The name Mariana means "star of the sea". 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Name Day, Boleslav! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Boleslav.  Happy Name Day, Boleslav!
The name Boleslav is a Czech name of Slavonic origin, meaning "fame, glory".

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The World's Best Cities for Beer

According to Frommer's, Prague is one of the world's best cities for beer.  But, um, we already knew that.


"They certainly love their beer in Prague.  Arguably the largest consumers of beers in the world (more than 41 gallons per person per year), the Czechs are believed to have invented pilsner.  The city also happens to be among the cheapest places in Europe for drinking amber ale."

Average price for a half liter: 26 Czech koruna (about $1.25)

Happy Name Day, Boris! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Boris.  Happy Name Day, Boris!
The name Boris is of Slavic and Russian origin, meaning "small; battle glory".

Origially from the Tartar nickname Bogoris, then used as a shortened form of the Russian name Borislav.  The name was borne by a 9th century ruler of Bulgaria who converted his kingdom to Christianity.  Saint Boris (10th century) is known as the patron saint of Moscow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Move over New York...Prague has a Fashion Week too!

And it only makes sense being that we produce some of the most beautiful women in the world...Karolina, Eva, Veronica, Paulina, Petra, Daniela... 

So on September 4th & 5th, Prague takes over as Fashion Capital of the World.  Pařížská, Prague's most prestigious shopping street, is home to Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Cartier and Prada, to name a few.  But this weekend it transforms for Prague Fashion Weekend.  Not only will established luxury brands and top Czech designers showcase their work, but the event also gives up-and-coming Czech and Slovak designers a chance to present their fashions.

This will be a fabulous weekend of style, so don't miss all of the gorgeous models strutting their stuff on the catwalk on Pařížská!

Event starts 1 pm both days.  For more information, please visit http://www.praguefashionweekend.cz/ 

Happy Name Day, Jindřiška! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Jindřiška.  Happy Name Day, Jindřiška!
The name Jindřiška is of Czech origin and a variation of Henriette, which is of Old German origin.  The meaning of both names is "home ruler".

Friday, September 3, 2010

Brussels' Flower Carpet comes to Prague this weekend

If you're in Prague this weekend (Sept. 3rd - 5th), Old Town Square will be covered in a carpet of blooms.  Yes, blooms.  Blooms as in tens of thousand of live flowers!  

A picture, specifically designed for Prague, will take up 500 square meters and will be made of some 150,000 Begonias that will be imported to the city.  Begonias offer a wide variety of color so expect this flower "carpet" to be spectacular!  They don't use the entire flower, rather just the petals, which are manually collected one day before the carpet is installed.  This botanical tapestry is the work of Belgian architect Marc Schauteet.

Flower carpet in Brussels
The floral tapestry is a traditional part of the decor of Brussels' Grand Place and is displayed every second year.  This carpet is very rarely seen outside of Belgium, and to date, has only been exhibited in Warsaw and Israel. 

This flower carpet tradition originates in Brussels.  The first flower carpet was made in Brussels in 1971 on the initiative of the city's then mayor after the pattern of some smaller Belgian towns. It attracts some 100,000 tourists annually.  


If you're there, please send me your photos and thoughts on the flower carpet.

Happy Name Day, Bronislav! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Bronislav.  Happy Name Day, Bronislav!
The name Bransislav is of Slavic origin, meaning "glorious defender".

Happy Belated Name Day, Adéla! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Yesterday (Sept. 2) we honored Adéla.  Happy Name Day, Adéla!
The name Adéla is of Old German origin, meaning "noble".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mommy!

Today marks a very special day in my heart...my beautiful mother's birthday.  
Happy Birthday, Mommy!  I love you

    If I could give you diamonds
    for each tear you cried for me.
    If I could five you sapphires
    for each truth you’ve helped me see.
    If I could give you rubies
    for the heartache that you’ve known
    If I could give you pearls
    for the wisdom that you’ve shown.
    Then you’ll have a treasure, mother,
    that would mount up to the skies
    That would almost match
    the sparkle in your kind and loving eyes.
    But I have no pearls, no diamonds,
    As I’m sure you’re well aware
    So I’ll give you gifts more precious
    My devotion, love and care.