Monday, March 23, 2009

Light Fantastic

Vltava view 
One of the constants of our life in Prague is that friends move. This year we have had to say good-bye to a record number - four sets of friends in three months. Saying good-bye is particularly hard for Caroline, who has come to believe that California is a sort of paradise where friends disappear to, never to be seen again. Over the weekend we said our farewells to another family - this time heading to the slightly closer but more unpronounceable land of Massachusetts. Before we had to say good-bye though, we all took a long walk together through the Prague castle and down the hill to the river.

The weather was perfect that afternoon and I took hundreds of pictures. This was one of my last, just as the light started to lose its luster. It shows the shore of the Vltava, a ferry turning around in the river, and Old Town in the background. This is one of my favorite views of Prague - I like the casualness of the shore meeting the water and the spires in the background, and I hope it is a view for our friends to remember with pleasure too. Bon voyage Kelly, Alain, Paige and Colby!


marja-leena said...

Fabulous shot! I do enjoy your photos, they awaken such pleasant memories of our visit there some years ago.

Yes, it must indeed be sad to say so many goodbyes so close together...

Barrett Bonden said...

Why this constant exodus? Do they know something you don't know? But then you wouldn't be able to answer that would you?

C's imagined view of California would have been a reality thirty or forty years ago. As I may have said before, San Francisco in 1968 turned out to be one of the few cities I have visited that lived up to its hype. But then my visit was borne on the wings of luxury. I think a final visit to the Vltava is an excellent way of saying goodbye to Prague but something minor-key would have to be playing on the cellos to fix the moment. I think I've said that before, too.

Julia said...

BB - Here's a link to Smetana's Moldau, one of my favorite Czech pieces. Is this the one you are thinking about too? Czech Air used to play the theme whenever one of its planes landed in Prague and I still sing it when we disembark. It feels more like a welcome than a good-bye, but is of course perfect for a view of the river!

Many expats move here on short contracts, 2 or 3 years long, so they naturally go back in a short time. Then, the economic downturn has sped up the process for some. And some families leave when their kids get to be a certain age and need to go back into English language school systems. Lots of reasons, none of which (currently) apply to us thankfully!

Barrett Bonden said...

Just listened to it and, gosh, all sorts of memories flooded in. My initial recording came on two totally inflexible 10 in. Supraphon LPs, bought by a friend while he was doing his (somewhat secretive) national services with the RAF in central europe. They cost two shillings each - about 30 cents. In talking about minor-key cellos it was the first part of Moldau I recalled. The second is lighter and gayer but both are beautifully slavic without being kitsch. And there was old Rafael still at it, undaunted despite being driven from the Chicago SO all those years ago for the heinous crime of making the band play too much modern stuff (Mahler, perhaps, or even God forbid Stravinsky). In fact I have a Mahler 3 conducted by him and the Bavarian RSO (soloist: Marjorie Thomas) acquired when we lived in the USA and LPs were so blessedly cheap compared with the UK. And even through my ridiculous Skype earphones the Czech SO (So big!) sounded even richer than the Concertgebouw. I could go on but it's you who should be blogging about music, not me. Thanks Julia.

Julia said...

I am awful at writing about music (writer's block based on going to school with too many people who are now professional musicians and really know what they are talking about). But I love hearing other people talk about it. I picked this recording of Kubelik as I'm a fan of him too, not least because when we first moved to Prague we lived on Kubelikova street, right next door to Cajkovskeho (Tchaikovsky).

Odd but true story - I just visited a facility last week which is now the biggest vinyl printing producer in the world. They printed 8 million records last year and had Smetana hanging on their wall.