Archive for Category ‘Go‘

A Walk in the Woods

The city of Prague ends abruptly on a wooden hillside about a mile north of here. Strangely, in this city without suburban sprawl, it is the same distance to the edge of town as it is to the center. The storied center of Prague is where the tourist herd snakes its way though the narrow cobblestone streets and waits in droves for the hourly toll of the Astronomical Clock.

Compared to the bustle of Old Prague, the maze of dusty trails that wind through the woods is a welcome retreat. Gurgling streams descend the canyons as they make their connection to the river bed in the valley below. The leaved canopy echos the hullabaloo of a thousand birds. The sunlight plays in golden patches along the ground and illuminates the path ahead.

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prague-dusty-road_sm.jpg Occasionally one may chance upon a cabin tucked away behind the brush. A man is chopping wood in his garden while nearby a group of friends sit at a table enjoying a midday conversation over a bottle of wine. Those who venture into the woods forget that they are on a hillside above a capital city and come to believe that they have entered the pages of a fable.

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Of course your storybook walk might seem all the more outlandish when a twenty-foot-tall giant iron sheep is gazing at you from a clearing. You have interrupted his meal and iron sheep are know to be fairly territorial. A word of advice: proceed slowly with caution, trying not to make eye contact.

Eventually the beast will return to grazing and forget all about your presence.

The hills above Prague have as much mystique to offer as the city itself. The fact that the forrest is so accessible and also lightly traveled, makes it the hidden gem of the city – an escape from tour groups and trinket peddlers. I will have to make sure that this secluded garden remains a local secret.

Prague: City of Bridges

In my ongoing series of Prague photos, I offer this view of the Vltava River with the many bridges that cross from the old city center (Staro Mestska) to Minor Town (Mala Strana). The most famous is Charles Bridge (Karlov Most) pictured center which is a carnival of tourists, souvenir merchants, portrait artists, and musicians. Charles Bridge dates back to 1357 during the reign of King Charles, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. The stone construction has been rebuilt from the original due to damage by flood waters and the statues are replicas with the originals housed in the National Museum. Today tourists flood Charles Bridge with their digital cameras held high above their heads as they make their way toward the Prague Castle perched above the north bank of the river.

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Candy Trees

Prague is a city of parks, most famous for the stone facades of its storied past, but the real gem of this city is its centuries old commitment to conservation. The vast green spaces segmenting the city are omitted from travel books and destination guides, but make Prague one of the most livable cities in the world. A traveler can walk the length of the city almost entirely on dirt paths under the cover of trees.

Here are some wonderful pink blossoms in early spring on the north side of the Vltava River.

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Evil Building, Evil Horse

Visitors to Prague are familiar with the gothic Church of Our Lady Before Tyn – whose dark spires loom ominously above the Old Town Square in the city center. I consider the 14th century cathedral to be one of the most fearsome (if not evil) structures in the known world and I frequently experience physical manifestations of its evil power when in the vicinity.

I recently spotted this horse that has obviously succumb to the demons of the Tyn.

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Child Warriors

The kids in Prague have hyper-realistic toy guns that can be bought for ten dollars at the flea market located at the southern edge of Holesovice. When they play in the street I am reminded of the photos of child warriors in African guerilla conflicts that break hearts and win Pulitzers. When these kids are not pretending to kill each other they handle the mock weapons with the care and respect of real guns. I took a series of photos of these children from my apartment window on the warmest afternoon of the year.
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Illustration Friday: Pet Peeves

The city of Prague has the most obedient and well trained dogs I have ever seen. Many dogs remain unleashed during their walks and can be seen waiting impatiently for their masters outside the entrances to grocers and cafes.

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Unfortunately, many owners are not so well trained in civic responsibility. Despite the abundance of courtesy bags pictured below, the cobblestone sidewalks are a minefield of fragrant hazards.

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Travel Photos: Alaska : I Once Caught a Fish “This Big”

I am not much of a fisherman. I am far better at drowning worms while dozing beneath the brim of my sun hat. There was a time, as a young man, that I caught a fish that was too big to fit in a skillet. I recently found the evidence of my biggest fish tale while dusting off an old hard drive. I ended up packing two suitcases full of dry ice and halibut for my flight back to San Diego.

Travel Photos: Bratislava Urban Art: Skapal Pes

This stencil painted on the ground in a shopping district near the Old City of Bratislava reads “Skapal Pes” which translates from Slovak to “Dead Dog”. The idiom means that nothing is going on in town; there is nothing to do today.

Travel Photo: Arizona

I took this photo on the six-hour drive back to San Diego from Phoenix, Arizona. The barren landscape of the Arizona desert heightens the dramatic effect of the crumbling mountains that stand like sentinels upon the valley floor.

Travel photo: Bratislava urban art

The capital city of Bratislava, Slovakia is awash with graffiti. Unfortunately most building facades are covered with mundane acronyms hastily scribbled in black spray paint by uninspired youth. The beautiful stencil below with the inscription “samar” is an exception and perhaps the best that the old city has to offer.