Bohemian Rhapsody

‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality
Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see….’
Freddie Mercury
 

Prague Bridges
Prague Bridges

All I could hear reverberating with every step were the words from Queen’s infamous song…. until finally all those voices in my head joined in one brilliant operatic crescendo!

 

‘(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo Figaro’.
Oh the joys of my own personal karaoke!

View from the Old Square
View from the Old Square

Prague (Praha) is the capital of Bohemia and must be one of the most picturesque cities I have ever visited. It’s winding, cobblestone streets draw each visitor into its world of ancient cathedrals and fairy-tale castles adorned with magical spires.

Indeed, Freddie! Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see… Oh, what a site!

Bohemia has an area of 52,750 km² and is home to 6.25 million of the Czech Republic’s 10.3 million inhabitants. It is bordered by Germany, Poland, Moravis and Austria. When visiting Prague you might spend a night at the opera and think of Freddie, although I decided instead, to spend an evening with Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi in a cathedral along with some new German friends I had met on the train coming up from Munich.

Changing of the Guard at the castle
Changing of the Guard at the castle

The next day, I joined another group at the castle to watch the changing of the guard and to gaze from the ancient stone walls.  ‘I’m easy come, easy go. Little high, little low’ The city unfurled below like an ornate blanket embellished by mystical towers and crowned by bejewelled turrets. A short stroll down the hill brought us to a local restaurant hidden amongst the vines where, on such a lovely day it just made sense to stop and enjoy a goulash and red while the world wandered by.

Cathedral
Cathedral

The river Vltava flows through the middle of this age-old city and is crossed by seventeen bridges.

Looking up to the castle and Charles Bridge from the river
Looking up to the castle and Charles Bridge from the river

The Charles Bridge is the granddaddy of them all and in the middle of the day it is cluttered with hawkers and tourists so a cruise under it with mulled wine seemed a great solution. I returned later one evening to stroll across the bridge when I didn’t have to share it with quite so many.

To complete my bohemian experience I travelled to the beautiful township of Kutna Hora.  From the 13th to 16th centuries the city competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. It is easy to see why this precious treasure hidden away in the countryside was declared a UNESCO heritage site since 1995. Cobblestones, courtyards, cathedrals, churches and cemeteries were all fascinating but nothing could prepare me for the Sedlec Ossuary!!

Ossuary Ceiling
Ossuary Ceiling

Macabre decorations on the walls and the ceiling have been created from tens of thousands of human bones. Henry the abbott and Frantisek Rint were an interesting team! Bizarre!!

Ossuary Decorations
Ossuary Decorations

It even has its own happy little motto: ‘What you are, we were! What we are, you will be! ‘Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very, frightening me!’

I’ve always thought there was a bit of bohemian within me. I really enjoyed my journey in this part of the world and I can’t wait to return one day… maybe one Christmas when I can toast Good King Wenceslas with gluhwein.

‘Anyway the wind blows… doesn’t really matter to me… to me.’ (fade)

Wanderlust

‘She soars with eagles and navigates by rainbows’ Lesley Hazleton

Soaring with eagles in Budapest
Soaring with eagles in Budapest

I like to live in the moment and I find that nothing brings me into the present better than travel.

Margaret Mead, anthropologist and world wanderer observed that the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep and therefore knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily and to appreciate our own more lovingly.

Long lunches with new friends
Long lunches with new friends

My favourite aspect of travel is experiencing new sounds, sights and delights of different cultures but meeting people in those places and making new friends adds excitement to a destination.

‘Travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.’ Miriam Beard

Top Tip Towards Terrific Travel

As part of my quest for world peace and in the pursuit of real happiness for all travellers, I’d like to suggest that men and women never travel together.

Why?    

Well, according to my research (chatting with fellow moment livers during recent wanderings), I discovered that females look at the small details to make their travel experience unforgettable…. while mostly, men just turn up!

Enjoying the views
Enjoying the views
Exploring back streets and laneways
Exploring back streets and laneways

 What Women Really Want…                                    …Why Men Turn Up

  • Accommodation with stars                               * Roof on building
  • Welcome drink served on arrival                      * Minibar stocked
  • Dining experiences                                         * Food available
  • Vegetables (meat optional)                              * Meat (grease optional)
  • Fine Wines                                                      * Beer
  • Meandering along cobblestones                       * Map committed to memory
  • Finding new friends                                         * Mate attached
  • Optional extra tours                                        * No decisions
  • Slowly strolling museums                                 * Pubs open
  • Unlimited exhibitions                                       * Bartenders awake
  • Unhurried evenings at concerts                        * Stadiums accessible
  • Chocolates on fluffy white pillows                     * Sleep (bed optional)
  • Turn down nightly                                           * Turned down daily
  • Extra leisure time choices                                * Extra bars
  • Shopping at thirty paces in every direction.       * Last minute souvenirs at the airport

Listening to Symphonies
Listening to Symphonies

 So… it is suggested that on arrival at the airport separation must take place until the end of the travel period. If holidaying in the same vicinity then paths may cross occasionally but interaction should be kept to the evenings.

Painted evening skies
Painted evening skies

Hmmm… maybe this is my opportunity to start a travel company with tours designed just for women!

What do you think?

‘When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.’ Susan Heller

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world. It is held annually in Munich, Germany and over 6 million people are expected to attend during its 16 day run.

Oktoberfest - Early in the afternoon before the crowds arrive.
Oktoberfest - Early in the afternoon before the crowds arrive.

In 1810, Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig married Theresa of Saxony and so the happy townsfolk held a party in a large field to celebrate. It was so popular that they held it again the following year and have ever since in that same field named Theresienwiese. It originally was held during October but the Wiesn began to start in September in 1872 to take advantage of better weather.

A parade to welcome the beer
A parade to welcome the beer

 It now begins with a traditional parade of draught horse drawn carts hauling in the beer, accompanied by women dressed in dirndls and men wearing lederhosen.

Traditional Dirndl
Traditional Dirndl
Dirndles & Lederhosen
Dirndles & Lederhosen

 

Apart from beer tents at the site, there are food stands, rides and so many interesting people to watch… oh, and family day is held once each week.  2010 is the 200th Anniversary and… the rest, is history!

What’s it all about?

Well, for most people…

“It’s about the Bier!” 

Making New Friends
Making New Friends

Beer gardens, beer tents and beer halls all offer a ‘mass’ which is one litre of beer and a whole lot of fun! There are no difficulties in meeting and making friends. In fact, I felt no barriers from age, sex or nationality… everyone gets along!

Hmmm, I’m thinking that maybe these Germans have stumbled upon the solution for world peace!

The Bier Tents are not ‘tents’ but more extravagant timber constructions decorated with thousands of kilos of hops. Each one takes months to construct and are rebuilt every year.

Inside a beer tent
Inside a beer tent

Entering a huge bier tent for the first time is awe inspiring! I have only ever seen crowds like this at the Olympics or maybe at a great stadium rock concert. But the meaning of the word ‘crowded’ was redefined when our group finally landed ourselves in one late one night. This ‘tent’ was full and jammed packed with at least 8000-10000 people standing on their chairs, singing, dancing and drinking along with the band. I don’t think there are any laws about maximum occupancy so they packed us in and closed the door… wall-to-wall, a sea of happy sweating swaying people!

At the very end of the night everyone rolled out the door and wandered down to a train where we once again were patiently packed in like sardines and distributed home. The most amazing thing was that during all this time I didn’t see one fight and everyone stayed happy!

Now, THAT’s what I’d like to bottle and take home with me! Or better still… how about attendance in a beer hall be made mandatory before all sessions of parliament… or attendance at the UN!

Prost!
Prost!

  Prost!