On Tidbits of an Epic

An art exhibition was near our hotel in Prague. An exhibition that we never knew. An exhibition that tells an important story that we knew nothing about. A story that is important to not only the Czech people, but one for an entire culture – so we went.

Czechs revere Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). My recent stained glass post included some of Mucha’s work at St. Vitas Cathedral in Prague.

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From 1910 to 1928, Mucha created 20 paintings on very large canvases celebrating more than a thousand years of Slav history known as The Slav Epic. That was the exhibition close to the hotel – but with only 11 of the canvases.

Each canvas (some 18’ x 24 ‘ – 6m x 8 m) depict important events in Slav history – celebrations, battles, coronations, and religion. I admit knowing very little about this, and the exhibition reinforced that.

Here are three images I took at the exhibition. Below them are resource links to several videos and websites for those who want to know more.

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Resources to Learn More

 

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On Tidbits of Stained Glass

When travelling, we enjoy going into churches – especially in Europe! The history, the design, the grandness, the paintings, the organ, and yes – the stained glass. This collection is from various churches in Prague, Krakow, and Budapest.

My favorites? There are two, but which are your favorites?

 

Stained Glass of St. Vitas, Prague

God the Father, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Krakow

On Trip Tidbits: More Budapest

Embed from Getty Images

 

As my dedicated post indicated, Budapest is a fabulous city to visit – let alone the tidbits about the contradictions at Liberty Square and the memorial of the shoes. However, this post is truly a collection of tidbits with murals at a bathhouse, a sculpture, and a sign.

 

Outstanding murals and a statue in the lobby of a bathhouse.

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A touch of artistry from a gallery.

 

These statues are a bit large.

 

Now this is an interesting store sign.

 

Hope you enjoyed this tidbits from Budapest. Any favorites?

On Trip Tidbits: The Shoes on the Danube

Watching the 2-minute introductory video is important.

 

My original thought was to include this place in a collection with other tidbits; but on second thought, it deserves to stand alone.

There’s a small, but powerful memorial located along the Danube on the Pest side of the river. It’s simple – 60 pairs of shoes of men, women, and children from all walks of life are made out of cast iron.

60 pairs of shoes facing the river.

60 pairs shoes symbolizing a sense of abandonment.

60 pairs of shoes serving as a memorial to victims of horror.

60 pairs of shoes reminding us of something that humanity shouldn’t repeat.

Around December 1944 and January 1945, members of Hungary’s fascist Arrow Cross Party militia police took Jews from Budapest’s Jewish Ghetto to the river. The militia ordered the people to take off their shoes and face the river. Then the militia shot the people so the bodies fell toward the water.

Just another horror that I knew nothing about until this trip.

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On Trip Tidbits: Liberty Square

Image from Budapest Tourism

Many visitors to Budapest encounter Liberty Square (Szabadság tér) – especially if they are avid walkers. After all, Liberty Square is on the way from city center to the magnificent Hungarian Parliament building.

Liberty Square is a public park. The trees are full, the border buildings are grand. Hungarian National Bank and the former Hungarian Stock Exchange flank one side as symbols to free capitalism. The US Embassy is located on the opposite side of the square.

To me, Liberty square was a place of contrast. A place of contradictions. A place that could be called the Square of Juxtaposition. Let me make my case.

Monument of German Occupation

 

Hungary initially was one of the pro-Hitler Axis Powers. Hungarian military invaded Yugoslavia and massacred many. In 1944, Germans moved to occupy Hungary because Hitler felt betrayed by Hungarian leaders. From that point, Hungarian Jews and Roma were sent to concentration camps. In front of the monument is a collection of small memorials to Hungarian Holocaust victims. Yet, no mention of the Hungarian involvement in the atrocities.

 

Harry Bandholtz Statue

Austria-Hungary and Germany were WW1 allies. Which means the Hungarians lost the war. Liberty Park has a statue to Harry Bandholtz, a US Army general (WW1). It seems a band of Romanians wanted to loot the Hungarian National Museum, but Bandholtz successfully protected the museum – therefore a statue in this honor.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Memorial to Fallen Soviet Soldiers

The Soviets erected a memorial the far end of Liberty Square to honor their role in liberating Hungary from the Nazis and in memorial to the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in the efforts. Of course, the Soviets decided to stay for over 40 years – and the US Embassy is nearby.

 

Ronald Reagan Statue

Very near to the Soviet Memorial stands a statue of Ronald Reagan. Interestingly, the current Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is responsible for the statue. However, Orbán is far to the right, and is moving Hungary closer to Putin’s Russia – and I just don’t think Ronald Reagan would be endorsing Putin.

 

Imre Nagy Memorial

Imre Nagy (HM-reh nodge) was a communist, but he sought to ease Stalinist policies. As he rose in leadership, he withdrew Hungary from the Warsaw Pact with hopes of bridging Eastern Communism with Western Capitalism. This memorial has Nagy on the bridging facing the Parliament Building. Interestingly, Prime Minister Orbán had the statue removed in late December. Here’s a related read.

Image from Wikipedia

Yes, Budapest’s Liberty Square is interesting, complicated, and full of contradictions.

On Trip Tidbits: Krakow

Krakow, Poland deliver one of my trip’s biggest surprises. I admit not knowing what to expect, but a big thumbs up to this wonderful city. I posted about it here – but in this post, a few of the oddities I encountered.

The Hourly Trumpeter

The tower of St. Mary’s Church on Old Town Square served as a vantage point for spotting invaders. Some say the trumpet sounds for the opening and closing of the city gates at dawn and dusk. Others prefer this legend. As the invading Tatars approached the city in 1241, a trumpeter sounded the alarm to close the city gates; however, a Tatar arrow pierced the trumpeter in the throat before completing the song – therefore the abrupt ending.

Today, the trumpeter still sounds the alarm at the top of every hour, and in four different directions toward different gates. Poles love the tradition so much, Polish radio broadcasts the noon event across the country.

The Head

How about this unique statue? It also serves as a common meeting place for people. Hey – meet you at The Head at 6 pm.

Dinner Time

My wife had these wonderful perogies for dinner. However, it seems Poles call them Dumplings.

 

Moons Over Krakow

Back in the hotel after a full day in Krakow, I looked out our hotel room window to find this site – Two Moons Over Krakow. Wow – that could be a song title!

On Venice 2018

 

After our days in Trieste, we took a train to Venice, actually our departing airport. Because we’ve been to this beautiful city before (but I hadn’t posted about it), our one-night stay would be in Mestre – the mainland side of the city. Besides, the airport is on the mainland and Mestre hotels are much cheaper.

As the train was approaching the train station (Venezia Mestre), I noticed our hotel is directly across the street. Then I learn that a train goes to the islands (Venezia Santa Lucia Station) every 10 minutes for 2 euros. Plus, the airport shuttle is a very short walk from our hotel (Best Western Plus Hotel Bologna). Cheaper, close to rail and the airport bus are all good things!

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With the weather being wonderful, we had to go to Venice to just wander. Part of the fun of this glorious setting is trying to get lost – because you can’t! The historical city is wonderful – after all, Venice is Venice.

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Our trip has ended, and what a trip it was. All the stops in the Rick Steves’ Eastern Europe tour were worthwhile and memorable. Then add-on stops to my birthplace and a touch of Venice was like extra ice cream and toppings on an already magnificent sundae.

 

Picking our favorite stop is not an easy task because the locations were so different. The three major cities were different from each other, then toss in the extremes of a natural wonder of a Plitvice (a Croatian National Park) to the horrors of Auschwitz, and a relaxing seaside locate as Rovinj, it was quite the tour.

Three important references for readers.

  1. I will probably do more posts about this trip with some tidbits. Time will tell.
  2. I didn’t realize that I posted very little about our Italy-Croatia cruise of how knows how many years ago. Maybe I’ll go back in time. Thoughts?
  3. Click here for all the posts about this tour.
  4. Although it’s also in the previous collection, click here for my review of Rick Steves’ Europe tours.

To see more of the island wonderland known as Venice, watch the 2+-minute video below. Thanks for coming along for my journey.