Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Prague Castle

(click on picture for larger image)

I had the privilege to live and work in Prague quite recently (altogether for about four years). When I am asked, what place in historic Prague is the most memorable, I answer without any hesitation: The Prague Castle. This mighty castle, high on the hill overlooking the Vltava (Moldau) river is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of over 70000 m², length of 570 meters and average width of 130 meters.

The history of the castle stretches back to the 9th century. It was mostly likely founded around the year 880  by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty. Later Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and Presidents of Czechoslovakia and, since 1993 the Czech Republic have had their offices in the castle.

When you plan a trip to Prague, remember to reserve enough time for the castle - there is so much to explore. And the view from the castle down to old Prague is breathtaking!

Here are a couple of sites with useful information:
Visit to Prague Castle
The Prague Castle home page
My Czech Republic

The architecture of Prague castle:

Friday, 4 February 2011

Simple pleasures nr 12: Old prints

Collecting antique paintings is nice, but a certain level of wealth is necessary in order to do it in a meaningful way. However, there is a more affordable way of collecting old art: bying antique prints.

Wherever you travel in the world, you will always find a wide variety of antique print dealers. There are well established quality print dealers, but with a little bit of luck, you can discover bargains in flea markets and similar places.

And, of course, today you can find almost anything on the net. My favourite print net dealer is Steve Bartrick Antique Prints & Maps, a UK based online shop with a huge selection of fine old prints to affordable prices. Warmly recommended!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Simple pleasures nr 11: The 20th anniversary of my Barbour jacket

I have worn my Barbour waxed jacket for 20 years now, and it is still serving me excellently. That´s the kind of clothing - which you do not have to change every second year - that I like. Fortunately there are still some companies that make these kind of high quality products, which are more or less disconnected from the rapid changes in fashion

FT last year published an article on Dame Margaret, "The Queen of the Wax Jacket", which is well worth reading.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

You´ve got a friend

I whish everybody would have a friend (or several) when the going gets tough ....

Monday, 31 January 2011

The Art of Amália Rodrigues

Portuguese Fado music is nowadays known and loved all over the world. For this we have foremostly to thank Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999), the Qeen of Fado, who still is unsurpassed as a Fado performer and one of the best female singers in any genre.

If you still are not familiar with the art of the great Amália, listen to these interpretations, and I think also you will become a fan:

Fado Português

Tudo isto é fado

Fado do Ciúme

Com que voz

The fine CD "The Art of Amália" and many other of her recordings are available e.g. here.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bavaria - my favourite German state

The free State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) is my favourite German state. There are many reasons for liking Bayern, but for me the most important is a mix of friendliness, great hospitality, beautiful nature, good beer and picturesque small towns. What I think is particularly nice, is that the bavarians love and are proud of their traditions - food and drink, music, dresses and many other things. The old saying "Gut´ Ding will Weile haben (Good things take time) also says something about the Bavarian lifestyle. And in Bavaria the Church still has a big role in people´s life - which I think is very important.  

Bavaria is a large state with so many interesting regions, that it is not possible to cover them all here. But if you plan a trip to Germany, remember to include Bavaria in your itinerary! These sites offer excellent information on Bavaria: 

As a personal recommendation, I would like to mention my favourite small Bavarian hotel - Neu Meran - not far from the historic Austrian city of Salzburg, in a beautiful alpine setting. This wonderful hotel - owned and operated by the Weber family - is ideal for an enjoyable and relaxing holiday, with Salzburg within a short driving distance. There are many good restaurants in the vicinity, but there is actually no need to go further, because the Neu Meran kitchen is top class.

For more information, visit the New Meran web page.