Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Danger: Vicious Dog!

Prague is, without question, a doggy city. Its numerous parks offer plenty of green space in which happy hounds may be walked, and dogs acquire almost the status of citizens with their free rides on public transport (usually muzzled) and their entry into drinking houses, where they have a tendency to approach complete strangers with a pleading look in their eyes, especialy when there's a tasty piece of klobása in the offing.

They appear frequently in the literature: Josef Čapek was the creator of an immensely successful children's series about the adventures of a dog and a cat ('Pejsek a Kočička), and his brother Karel also discoursed on the animal, declaring 'If dogs could talk, perhaps we would find it as hard to get along with them as we do with people'. In a similar vein, Franz Kafka's 'Investigations of a Dog' ('Forschungen eines Hundes') invests its canine narrator with self-consciousness and the ability to consider some of the big human and philosophical questions. In the first part of Jaroslav Hašek's masterful 'The Good Soldier Švejk', the ever-willing recruit puts his dog collecting skills to great effect when he kidnaps a lady's pride and joy from a Vinohrady park and delivers it to Lieutenant Lukaš, only for the latter to walk his new prize straight into the path of madame's outraged husband, the Colonel.

Were I a dog-thief like Švejk, today's house-sign (from Vinohrady, Prague 10, close to the Čapeks' house) would certainly give me pause as I delved into my satchel for that tempting bit of liver.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Lightning over Vršovice

One of the dangers of the electronic blog, as opposed to the old pen-and-ink version, is the possibility of having your laptop wiped out by a lightning strike just at the critical moment; and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities for that to happen for about an hour and a half this evening, when the mother of all storms paid a visit to Vršovice.

This picture was taken just before 10pm, when the last vestiges of the tempest were drifting away to the North. Now the sky is clear, the torrential downpour has magically been turned off, and all is calm again.
Sadly I cannot provide a recording of the thunder, which was easily as impressive as the lightning.

The storm had me scurrying for my extremely useful dictionary of idiomatic phrases, where I found, as I thought I might, 'jako bouře ve sklenici vody' - 'like a storm in a glass of water' (unsurprisingly, the 'teacup' means little to non-British peoples). By the way, Shakespeare's late romance 'The Tempest', is called, simply, 'Bouře'; it's a popular play with the Czechs, who have a penchant for putting on outdoor performances in the summertime at Prague Castle. Though not tonight, I hope.

Friday, 1 July 2011


The picture shows a typically decorative window in Vinohrady, Prague 2, near the square named after I.P. Pavlov, the celebrated Russian physiologist most famous for his experiments on 'conditioned reflexes' in dogs which paved the way for the science of behaviourism. Today 'I.P.P' is best known for its metro station, and as the place where tram drivers switch shifts.

In the nineteenth century the demand for housing in Prague led to an explosion of building in this area, which lies just to the east and south of Wenceslas Square. Fine neo-classical detailing such as this is not at all unusual as one looks up at the many imposing apartments surrounding the square.

The first of each month is 'theme day' at City Daily Photo, which collates photos from all over the world under a single website, and this seemed an appropriate way of celebrating July's topic, the colour green. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

The photo is also a suitable cue for announcing my new blog, The Prague Vitruvius, which arose from a slightly obsessive plan to catalogue the thousands of architectural elements such as this that adorn the streets of the Czech capital. If you like Vršovice Photo Diary but would like to explore more of the city, why not pay a visit?