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 podebrady

24 cerven (june)
The hour-long bus ride, standing, made me a bit apprehensive about whether the trip was worth it. But once we rounded the corner into town I knew it would be a pleasant outing. After providing a glimpse of the town square, the bus stopped at the end of a green, shady park.

Podebrady, another spa town, is decorated with fountains. Fountains with small sculptures in the center, fountains ringed with floral displays, fountains timed to create never ending patterns of sprays at alternating heights, fountains for children to play in and fountains to drink from the famous mineral spring. A celebration of water. This was the hometown of King George, hence the namesake of the town square I lived near in Prague: Jiriho z Podebrad, George of Podebrady (endings of words, even names, are always changing to indicate the part of speech, for example subject or object). Its name means "below the ford".

The long park colonnade led eventually to the square where I settled into a nice little outdoor cafe with a latte to observe the people and activity passing by. Two large pieces dominate the center - an imposing statue of George on horseback surrounded by lesser statues on a lower level, and a thinner plague column. A small castle at one end of the square is home to a campus of the Charles University, and was not open to tours, apparently undergoing some restoration work. A hidden surprise in Podebrady were streets lined with small architecturally interesting houses, decoratively tiled or painted with geometric art, with villa names built right into their walls, some operated as pensions or boarding houses.

A summer festival in the park opened its stalls and people gathered around noon. I approached a vendor to buy a pastry roll, held up a finger and said "jedna" in my best Czech accent. He replied "one?" How did he know I spoke English? I must have looked bewildered, because he held up his thumb with a grin. Of course - Czechs begin counting with the thumb, and my finger stuck out like a sore one! Children's rides and games filled the afternoon. Street theatre players danced out on stilts, with accordion and tambourine, and engaged the children with music and song.

Back in the city, the Prague Quadrennial, a "scenology" festival during several weeks in June with exhibits of theatre costumes and set design from different countries, offered performance art at random places throughout the city. I just caught a few of them: a woman posed as a seated statue, clothed in a red drape that cascaded down the front of a building; a tiny city of sand castles was slowly decimated by a swinging metal figure of a man; plump, feathery bird constructions filled trees along a street. My favorite could only be called a backhoe ballet: a man dancing with a backhoe. After you got over the initial comedy of it, it was enchanting - classical music played and the backhoe's arm was like a caressing, expressive hand.

I'll be traveling most of July and will be back in Colorado soon. I've signed on for another year with the language school starting in mid-September.
Hesky leto (happy summer)!

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