top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>My darling husband surprised me with a trip to Prague so he & I could have a little R&R; and1-on-1 time after I’d been out of town for an extended period during my Antiques Diva tours. We went to Prague to take long walks holding hands, to drink copious quantities of Czech beer (his intent, not mine, as even living in Germany has not converted me to being a beer drinker) and to nibble our way through the winding streets of Prague.
Won’t you join me on a quick tour?
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to 10px; WIDTH: 300px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/S1yBZ8F6G_I/AAAAAAAAEFQ/eWB7dfC5q6o/s400/068.JPG” border=”0″ />Perhaps one of these is the key to my heart?
to 10px; WIDTH: 300px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 400px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/S1yBZvvrYjI/AAAAAAAAEFI/rn92LP1JVDQ/s400/064.JPG” border=”0″ />Something you may not know is that my husband, The Wine Guy (the man who could be called The Antiques Guy), could also be called The Pilot. For when he’s not crunching numbers as a CFO, he’s a private pilot flying the friendly skies and thus has an avid interest in anything aviation!
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Bric a Brac
Týnská 7, Prague 1
Phone: (+420) 222 326 484
Metro: Staromĕstská (line A) or Námĕstí Republiky (line B)
to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/ScFE7zetVjI/AAAAAAAACyM/NkjtiM_913M/s320/divas+statue.jpg” border=”0″ />When my husband WG & I stumbled into Miro’s gallery in the charming Bohemian village of Cesky Krumlov, he stood like a Czech god with the sun shining only on him as tourists and customers circled in the shadows. As we studied the sculptures, something about Miro’s work niggled and wiggled in the recesses of our minds, reminding us of another artist whose work we had fallen for while visiting Toronto nearly 10 years prior for my 25th birthday. For years we had regretted not purchasing that piece that haunted us. From time to time WG would comment, “Remember that artist in Toronto?” and I would nod claiming this piece was “the one that got away – our great travel-shopping regret.”
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Crowds stumbled in and out of the gallery and when the tourists thinned, Miro sat on the step next to us and started talking, sharing his life story as we shared ours. He told how before the fall of communism he’d been granted a visa to live in the USA and Canada. He spoke of the cold Toronto winters of where his work had been exhibited and WG’s eyes caught mine as we read one another’s mind – “Could Miro Pozar be the artist that got away? Whose work we’d coveted for so many years?”
to 10px; WIDTH: 320px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 240px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/ScFE8od-0mI/AAAAAAAACys/kUWsAlvlOV0/s320/miro+pozar+4.jpg” border=”0″ />We’ll never know. Much like reading a book and remembering the main character’s name, but not the author’s, WG & I had over the years forgotten the name of that Toronto-based-artist while the art lived on in our memories. Whether Miro was the mystery artist might have been serendipitous, but it was oddly a moot point in the purchase decision, for upon seeing his chiseled work it was a foregone conclusion that we’d return home to Holland with something from his atelier. We wouldn’t pass a second chance with “coup de foudre” – he wouldn’t be another artist whose work we’d regret letting “get away”.
Miro, upon seeing our joy at his work, offered us a discount for paying in Euros instead of the local currency and smiled as he said, “You are young. The young, they never buy art. It is always the old who buy art. They, of course, can better afford it, but I make art for the young, for the future, not for the past.” He attached the bust we’d chosen to a rolling cart, giving us a stand upon which to display it as a gift with the purchase. As we chatted, he offered to roll the statue to our car which it turned out was parked opposite his atelier and warehouse.
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As we drove away, WG released his grip on the steering wheel and reached over to rub my neck, “Do you feel we bought a piece of history?” he asked and with a nod and graze of his leg, I smiled “Perhaps even a piece of our own history” as I thought of that trip to Toronto years prior when we were young and didn’t buy art.
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Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo buildings dot twisting cobblestone alleyways set against the dramatic Krumlov Hrad (Schwarzenberg Castle). Here the Rozenberk dynasty ruled for over 300 years and apparently they built a room for every year they were in power, for this 300-roomed castle is the second largest in the Czech Republic, coming in after Prague’s famed castle.
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Since the fall of communism, tourists have flocked to this little Bohemian village near the Austrian border to visit the castle and its surrounding area. Hotels, restaurants, great shops and antique stores have followed suit – not missing an opportunity one for serving the revitalization of this river-side town.
Diva Readers Take Note – Vendors often were more open to negotiation in Euro than the local currency the Czech Koruna. Thus come prepared with extra Euros on hand for better negotiation.
Nearby the castle, you can stay (or merely dine) in the romantic Hotel Ruze, a 16th C Renaissance building once used as a Jesuit monastery. Should you want to get a bit further off the tourist path, there are a myriad of pensions to choose from that are still within walking distance from the edge of town. While a day or two is enough time to tour the historic town, the shopping in Cesky Krumlov might just require an extended stay! Among the shops and vendors selling arts, antiques and handicrafts, one gallery stands out from the crowd – that of Miro Pozar.
Miro Pozar is a Czech sculptor whose work has appeared throughout Europe and North America. His face and torso are as chiseled as his sandstone sculptures made from stone culled from nearby quarries. Miro studies the stone in its rugged, raw state and he sees what is not there but could be – crafting the breast of a woman or the weary face of an old man in the veins of the stone. From time to time, the stone cries out for something different – to be made into more abstract art – and Miro creates from the past the future – making sculptures that appear both medieval and modern in their simplicity.
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Often as you walk about town you feel this simplicity – and this connection with the past even as you go forward into something as mundane and modern as a nation-wide chain. Botanicus stores branch across the Czech Republic, and while truth be told I enjoy visiting them in any Czech location, this Cesky Krumlov branch is perhaps my favorite. Fresh lavender dried and tied in bunches decorates the walls while baskets of fresh fruit soaps and cosmetics are placed about the room, giving an air of days long past. The shelves are lined like an old general store with oils, vinegars, conserves, teas and cordials. Each item is organic and made from the finest collection of natural products grown on Botanicus’ own farm in a small rural Czech village.
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The past is felt yet again when lunching at the nearby 16th C mill – Krumlovsky Mlyn (Krumlov Mill). One of the largest Renaissance buildings in town, the thematic restaurant not only offers a giant terrace overlooking the Vltava River where patrons dine to the sound of water churning, but it also houses an antique shop on premise alongside an oddly out-of-place-but-interesting-none-the-less historical motorcycle “museum”. For a real score, antique shoppers will head from here to two of my favorite antique shops in this region – Antique Starozitnosti and Antik Sterzunger.
Antique Starozitnosti (located at Zamecke Schody 8) has an interesting assortment of “perfectly packables” on offer. Antiques and vintage curiosities tumble onto the street, offering pedestrians a peek at the treasures inside. Their prices tend to be higher than some of the other antique shops in town but their inventory caught my attention. I fell head over heels for a pair of opera glasses, a blue glass ink well, a well-loved violin and a collection of vintage cameras.
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The items for sale at Antik Sterzinger (located at Siroka 48) were priced remarkably well. Walking into the corridor of the little shop you know without a doubt that you will find treasures inside!. Though the prices were reasonable to start with, the staff was still open to negation — WG picked up a beautiful alabaster bowl for a song (down from 16 E to 12 E) and I negotiated the purchase of an elaborate turn of the century marble pastry cart – that wouldn’t be out of place at Vienna’s Sacher Café – from 150 E down to 122 Euro. to 10px; WIDTH: 240px; CURSOR: hand; HEIGHT: 320px; TEXT-ALIGN: center” alt=”” src=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kcTb8DnPVW4/SbtlHXUEjTI/AAAAAAAACuk/KZxcBmcxTSc/s320/Antique+Sterzinger.jpg” border=”0″ />
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Of course, getting this latter piece home proved to be a problem as the vendor wasn’t willing to ship the product (even at my own expense) and after purchasing a statue at Miro Pozar’s our car was filled to the brim with Czech exports. With regret I left this treasure in the store, knowing that it was a bargain as I’d seen a similar cart priced for 1500E in Paris just a year before… so I left hoping that someday when I returned (hopefully in a much larger car) it would be there waiting for me in Cesky Krumlov. Now my only fear is that having told The Swiss Miss and her husband about my incredible find they might beat me to it! I guess that’s a risk The Antiques Diva™ has to take!
Happy Travels and Happy Antique Shopping!
The Antiques Diva ™
(seen at right with WG drinking pilsner in Prague)