Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Name Day, Pavlína! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Pavlína.  Happy Name Day, Pavlína!
The name Pavlína is a variant of Paulina, which is of Latin origin.  The meaning of Pavlína is "small".

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Name Day, Vladěna! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Vladěna.  Happy name day, Vladěna!
The name Vladěna is of Slavonic origin and is mostly used in the Czech language.  The meaning of Vladěna is "to rule".

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Name Day, Evelína! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Evelína.  Happy name day, Evelína!

The name Evelína is the latinate form of Aveline, which is from the Norman French form of the Germanic name, Avelina.  The name Evelina was revived by the author Frances "Fanny" Burney for the heroine of her first novel "Evelina" (1778).  It is also often regarded as a variant of the related name, Evelyn.

Frances Burney

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Name Day, Augustýn! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Augustýn.  Happy name day, Augustýn!

The name Augustýn is a variant form of the name Augustine, which is of Latin origin and means "august, dignified, holy".

Saturday, August 27, 2011

House Insignia of the Day...Where Am I?

House Insignia of the Day Revealed - At The Blue Fox (U Modré Lišky)

At The Blue Fox (U Modré Lišky)
Na Kampě 1
The Blue Fox of Kampa Island would seem to be the peaceful exception among the otherwise cunning and bloodthirsty beasts of legend - in place of a pilfered fowl, it carries in its mouth a branch or a rose, and is watched over by baby Jesus.  Yet whether the blue fox is running, we cannot say.  And where has it emerged from?  According to legend, most likely from the deep forest that in ancient times covered the entire island of Kampa.  Here there once stood a massive oak tree, consecrated by the ancient Slavs to the god Perun.  Several legends also tell of a gigantic idol to Perun that stood on the island, cast into the river with the coming of Christianity.  And the old house marked by the blue fox is said to have once been the gamekeeper's lodge at the edge of this deep forest.  From history, though, we can only say with certainty that the blue fox has guarded it since its rebuilding in 1664, the date carved into the stone entrance portal.

Oh, Irene!

Hurricane Irene is headed my way.  For all of you in her path, stay safe, stay dry, hope you have enough booze to get you through

Happy Name Day, Otakar! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Otakar.  Happy Name Day, Otokar!
The name Otakar is mainly used in the Czech language.  It's of Germanic origin and means "wealth, fortune; vigilant, watchful".

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Name Day, Luděk! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Luděk.  Happy Name Day, Luděk!
The name Luděk is the Czech form of Louis/Lewis/Luis.  It is of French and Old German origin and means "famous warrior".

Thursday, August 25, 2011

House Insignia of the Day...Where Am I?

House Insignia of the Day Revealed - At the Golden Horseshow (U zlaté podkovy)

Way overdue with this one!

At the Golden Horseshoe (U zlaté podkovy)

Located at Nerudova 34 in the Lesser Quarter, At the Golden Horseshoe was originally a Renaissance house with Baroque adaptations from the beginning of the 18th century.  In 1749, J. Bischof founded the first pharmacy in the Hradčany district there, which later moved to the neighbouring house At the Golden Lion.  A gilded horseshoe, said to bring good luck, marked this house as far back as the 16th century.  In the early 18th century, the house insignia was cleverly included in the painting of the patron saint of the Czech lands, St. Wenceslas.  Now, though, all that remains of the actual horseshoe is the trace of its imprint on the newly restored painting.

Happy Name Day, Radim! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Radim.  Happy Name Day, Radim!
The name Radim is of Czech origin and is a short form of Radomir, which is of Slavonic origin and means "happy; peace; great, famous".

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

Yesterday we honored Bartoloměj.  Happy belated name day, Bartoloměj!
The name Bartoloměj is the Slovak, Croatian and Serbian form of Bartholomew, which is of Aramaic origin, and the meaning of Bartholomew is "son of Talmai (the father)"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday to my Daddy

Happy Birthday, Daddy!
Miluji tě

A little girl needs her Daddy

For many, many things:
Like holding her high off the ground
Where the sunlight sings! 
Like being the deep music
That tells her all is right
When she awakens frantic with
The terrors of the night. 

Like being the great mountain
That rises in her heart
And shows her how she might get home
When all else falls apart. 

Like giving her the love
That is her sea and air,
So diving deep or soaring high
She'll always find him there.

Happy Name Day, Sandra! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Sandra. Happy Name Day, Sandra!
The name Sandra means "man's defender" and is of English origin and is the short form of Alexandra/Alessandra.  It was introduced to the English-speaking world by author George Meredith, who used it for the heroine in his novel "Emilia in England" (1864) and the reissued version "Sandra Belloni" (1887).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Name Day, Bohuslav! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Bohuslav.  Happy Name Day, Bohuslav!
The name Bohuslav is the Czech, Slovak and Ukranian form of Bogusław, which is of Polish origin and means "glory of God".

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Name Day, Johana! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Johana.  Happy Name Day, Johana!
The name Johana is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "God's grace".

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

Yesterday we honored Bernard. Happy belated name day, Bernard!
The name Bernard is of Old French and Old German origin, and the meaning of Bernard is "strong; brave bear". 

Three famous medieval saints bore the name: a founder of a monastic order, the patron saint of mountain climbers, and a scholastic philosopher.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Name Day, Ludvík! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Ludvík.  Happy Name Day, Ludvík!
The name Ludvík is a variant of Louis, which is of French & Old German origin.  The meaning of Ludvik is "famous warrior".

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The best hidden wine bar...EVER

Basement, cellar, crypt, vault, dungeon...whatever you want to call it, I'm there!  You see, these subterrane places intrigue me even more than driving through a ghetto.  Now combine this with vino, a labyrinth of stone stairs, in a spot generally unbeknownst to tourists, and I'm in a state of ecstasy.

Honestly, I can't believe I'm even going to share this place, but I trust that you'll wish to keep it a secret.  It's not that it's unknown, it's just that it's in the heart of the city and yet mainly frequented by locals and those who are so happy to have stumbled upon it that they dare not tell for fear of it being overrun by stag parties and, well, hipsters and douchebags.

You may think you're in the wrong place when you walk in the front door and are ogled (if you're an attractive female) by the chain-smoking beer-guzzling Czech men siding up to the bar, but you're not, just keep on walking...

House Insignia of the Day ...Where Am I?

Yesterday's "House Insignia of the Day" Revealed - The house of the Black Madonna (Dům u Černé matky boží)

The house of the Black Madonna (Dům u Černé matky boží)

This building was the first cubist building in Europe. Everything in the house in connected with cubism – from the permanent exhibition of Czech cubism to special "cubist" cakes in the Grand Cafe Orient.

The building was designed by Josef Gočár between 1911 and 1912 as a multifunctional building with shops on the ground floor and offices, flats and the legendary Orient coffee house with its cubist furniture on the floors above.   

Josef Gočár (1880-1945)

It's a real architectural masterpiece with huge Cubist windows and facades broken into multiple planes in order to create an unusual interplay of light and shade. Behind a grille on the first floor is the statue of the Madonna, which gives the building its name.   The building is also home to the Czech Cubist Museum with its permanent exhibition on Czech Cubism, which is unique to Bohemia although Cubist painting is common in Europe.

The The Café Grand Orient was open for a mere ten years or so but closed in the 1920’s when cubism fell out of fashion.  Renovated and reopened in March 2005, we're happy to have this piece of history back.

The house of the Black Madonna (Dům u Černé matky boží)
Celetná 34, Prague 1

Happy Name Day, Helena! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Helena.  Happy Name Day, Helena!
The name Helena is a variant of Eleanor and Helen, both of which are of Greek origin.  The meaning of Helena is "sun ray, shining light".

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

House Insignia of the Day...Where Am I?

Yesterday's "House Insignia of the Day" Revealed - Valkounský House

Valkounský House 
Nerudova 14
The history of house number 14 dates back to the 17th century.  Valkounský house is named after the owner, Knight Bohuchval Valkoun from Adlar, from the beginning of the 17th century.

According to an early Baroque project of Kryštof Dientzenhofer, the house was rebuilt in the 16th century, as all the neighbouring houses were just after the fire of 1541.

.In 1601 it was bought by Kašpar, brother of Kaplíř from Sulevice, who was executed on the Old Town Square.

The house acquired its Baroque shape during 1705-1727, when it was owned by a famous baroque architect, Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel.  

Santini prospered and bought the house Valkounsky dum for 3000 gold coins in cash in 1705.  Two years later, he bought the neighbouring house, U Zlaté cise (At the Golden Goblet) and connected both houses.  **At The Golden Goblet was Monday's House Insignia of the Day by the way.**  However, when Santini died, a renowned goldsmith, Diesbach, bought the house in an auction and built up the third floor.

This town house served its tenants until 2002, when it was closed.  At the same time, very sensitive reconstruction of the whole property came underway, thanks to which, we now have the opportunity to admire authentic wooden ceilings, ribbed vaults, wall fresco paintings and an original porcelain stove.

Today, the building houses the Santini Residence, a romantic, luxury hotel.  

Happy Name Day, Petra! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Petra.  Happy Name Day, Petra!
The name Petra is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Petra is "rock".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

House Insignia of the Day...Where Am I?

Dance of the Marionette

  I have a love for marionettes, mostly because it's a Czech tradition. But tradition aside, marionettes have made their way into my heart, and that's where they'll always remain.  

Meet my marionettes, Čert a Doktor...

The art of Czech marionette and puppet making goes back to the 18th century. They are traditionally hand-carved from wood or made from plaster. They represent all kinds of characters ...from devils, witches and wizards to clowns, kings and princesses, and even Czech "celebrities" such as Spejbl, Hurvínek, or the Czech literary character of Švejk.  Many of these beautiful, elaborately carved Czech marionettes are works of art.  They make fabulous gifts as well!  Know a doctor?  Isn't my doktor marionette a cutie?  See where I'm going with this? 
PS...Shopping info is listed below 


Here's Don Giovanni performed by, well, marionettes!
(PS...if you were in the audience you wouldn't see all the hands)

Marionettes aren't just for kids!

Do I spy Peter Pan?

Look never know who may strike your fancy

Ah hahahhahha... The Tax Collector is priceless!

Is that Santa Claus?!

Here's an recent article from The Christian Science Monitor:
Czech puppetry tradition comes with strings attached
The Czech Republic has a long tradition of puppetry, which carried on cultural and language traditions when the Austro-Hungarian Empire discouraged Czech nationalism

Bins of body parts are stacked in Miroslav Trejtnar’s Prague studio. Three heads line his workbench. A smell of wood permeates the air.
“I don’t get so many requests to make puppets nowadays,” says Mr. Trejtnar, a traditional Czech puppetmaker. “I always made puppets for myself and others, but now I am more interested in teaching it.”
Czech puppetry dates back to the late 1800s, when puppeteers traveled by wagon to entertain villagers. The nation was still governed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so Czech nationalism wasn’t encouraged. Puppets were a way to keep cultural and language traditions alive through storytelling, says Trejtnar.
Under communism, puppet theaters were state-owned and focused on Russian theater traditions and stories. Even today’s puppet theater is more geared toward tourists than true Czech tradition.
“I never intended to keep the tradition alive.... I just ... want to pass [knowledge] along,” he says. “Puppet theater is a ... comprehensive art form; theater, literature, visual, music, sculpting, painting all together.” Trejtnar estimates he has taught more than 400 students from around the world over the past 10 years. Students learn carving, painting, how to make costumes, and puppet design.


There are many shops in Prague, but here's one I really like called Obchod loutkami (The Puppet Shop).  
They're located at Nerudova 51 (top of the street) in Lesser Town. Two other locations are at Jilská 7 and Jilská 22 in Old Town, not far from the Old Town Square.  They ship worldwide, too, and their website is

For those of you who don't live in CZ, besides Obchod loutkami, which I mentioned above, another shop that ships worldwide is

Yesterday's "House Insignia of the Day" Revealed - The Golden Key (U zlatého klíče)

The Golden Key (U zlatého klíče)

Originally a Renaissance house with Baroque and Classicist adaptations, it sits where a moat once divided Hradčany and the Prague Castle.  The house insignia, a richly adorned wrought key in a Baroque cartouche, is from 1844.

Today, the building houses The Hotel Aureus Clavis, a three-star hotel that was recommended by the New York Times as one of the top 100 hotels in Europe for under $150 per night.

Nerudova Street 27/243, Lesser Town

Happy Name Day, Jáchym! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Jáchym.  Happy Name Day, Jáchym!
The name Jáchym is primarily used in Czech and its language of origin is Hebrew.  Jáchym is a form of Joachim, whic is also of Hebrew origin and means "Yahweh will establish; established by Yahweh".

Monday, August 15, 2011

House Insignia of the Day...Where Am I?

Yesterday's House Insignia of the Day Revealed ...U Zlaté číše (The Golden Goblet)

  U Zlaté číše (The Golden Goblet) 

Originally a Renaissance house (note the stone portal) with Baroque and Classicist adaptations (note the plain façade), the building underwent reconstruction in 1965-66.  The house sign is formed by a relief of a golden cup in an oval cartouche.  It's the symbol of a goldsmith's craft and dates from 1660, and reminds us of a goldsmith who owned the house, B. Schumann.

Today it houses an antiquated bookstore called Antikvariát U Zlaté číše.  It's filled floor-to-ceiling with everything you'd find in those secret cubbyholes in your grandfather's secretary desk.  Dig through piles and boxes of dusty old prints, stamps, postcards and pamphlets to find your own personal treasures - like Communist propaganda cards and Kafka biographies.

Nerudova Street 16/212, Lesser Town

Happy Name Day, Hana! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Hana.  Happy Name Day, Hana!
The name Hana is of Arabic origin, meaning "bliss, happiness".

Czech banknotes among world’s most potentially toxic

So apparently Czech banknotes are among the world's most toxic of banknotes.  At least we're not alone... Brazil and Australia are toxic, too.

Read more - here's the link: