Saturday, 30 October 2010

Of violins, lobsters and vintage cars


Prague houses were once known (and located by the postman) by a quaint system of allegorical symbols - many with alchemical significance. The Mala Strana quarter, and in particular Nerudova  street, where we stayed (at the Castle Steps), has the highest concentration of these original signs above the doorways ...



'House of the three fiddles', said to be haunted by a demented, screeching trio on moonlit nights


 

So it's possible to say here, "I live in the house of the golden urn" or "... the house of crazy hair guy"



'House of the two suns' was the birth place of Czech poet Jan Neruda, for whom the street is named.
























It took until 1770 for Empress Maria Theresa to stamp her elegantly-shod foot and bring some Habsburg order from Vienna to Prague, by insisting on house numbers ...
















A green lobster? What were they smoking when they thought this one up?




Perhaps none of this is as confusing as the case of our Serbian taxi driver, who claimed he'd lived in the same house all his life, but in four different countries! I think this is possible, though I can only get three for sure - Yugoslavia to Serbia-Montenegro to Serbia - but maybe his house was in an area of shifting borders (Bosnia & Herzogovina?) Balkan history makes my head spin a little.





I was not surprised to notice that every third car in Prague was a Skoda, but even to someone like me, to whom cars hold very little interest, it was pretty obvious that vintage cars are quite the thing here. You can hire one of these jaunty buggies above along with a driver who will be your tour guide for the city, while you snuggle up in the back under one of those fleecy blankets and spare your feet the walking. (No, we did it the hard way, pounding the cobble stones on foot, can't think why now).





These lovely old cars were everywhere. I'd want to be dressed like the lady in pink, though, to look just right.





 I don't know the make of these cute old cars below, but a lovely sight one morning was a convoy of these putzing their way down the steep cobbled streets, part of a rally of some kind ...

... Petr looked pleased as punch to be off on this outing, while Miriam handled the wheel with a look of determination ...




... and Milan took both hands off the wheel to give me a double thumbs-up, while Martina frowned at the map (clearly it's the women who are required to be level-headed in this game) ...




Now, if I could've only persuaded the owner of this lovely vintage Skoda sports model to part with it, I'd be driving home across Europe right now, getting to grips with all the name-changing states ...




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