When you’re an ignorant point-and-shoot photographer like me, winter is a tough time of year to be taking pictures, especially when you’re far from home with limited time for reshoots. Sunset comes early, I was sometimes shivering when pressing the shutter and most of the failed shots were taken at night. Fortunately, some images stayed in my mind even though they never found their way onto the photo chip.
Oh, those two (too?) cute policemen who guarded the gate at Prague Castle the day it was closed. Clean-cut, in a GQ kind of way, and, of course, in their uniforms. Don’t hardly see them like that in real life any more!
Then there was the hilltop castle and the cable car connecting it to the bottom of the hill along the river Elbe, near Dresden and the German-Czech border. I think our guide said the castle is now a hotel with popular function facilities. On this Saturday night bus ride back to Prague, the place was lit up as though something big and fun, or maybe just important, was going on. I wanted to open a window, just in case there might be party music drifting down.
I took lots of photos of the beautiful Baroque buildings and facades in Prague but I stopped after a while because it was impossible to avoid the dense network of overhead tram lines. The trams are a great form of public transport but the wires ruined my attempts at romantic composition, like an irritating wedding guest who manages to stick his face into every photo. I hope to have better photography skills next time or at least more time to find the shot I really want. Failing that, some Photoshop skills to clean up the result.
A twice missed (or avoided) shot of the beggar who struck an unusual pose in Prague. He looked like the same guy I saw on Charles Bridge, one afternoon in 2005, a distressing thought in itself. He appeared to be in his sixties, maybe older (I keep forgetting that I’M in my sixties but he looked older than me, even in 2005, though maybe only because of his apparent life situation). He was on his knees and elbows in a semi-fetal position and looked tall. He wore a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, but no coat. He kept his limbs pressed tightly together, his head bowed, cupped hands turned skyward. No sign propped up anywhere; he did not speak. I doubt he was a performance artist. When I saw him on this trip, he was on a street near Old Town Square, around 8pm or so. I found myself wondering if locals knew where he begged and whether anyone ever tripped over him. Even if I could have taken a photo, I probably wouldn’t have. I wondered, unhelpfully, about the history of begging in this posture. I have never seen anything like it before or since and he was the only one I saw in Prague on either visit.
Finally, the Christmas ornament in a Prague antique shop near my hotel on Stepanska. Several ornaments in different colors and styles hung on a string that hugged one edge of the front window. The piece that caught my eye was made of mercury- or silver-lined glass beads strung on wire to form a star or wheel. It looked very much like some Christmas ornaments we had on our tree when we were growing up. We had a lot of old ornaments, some from Europe, but I don’t remember being told how they came to be in our Christmas collection. Presumably my Slovak ancestors might have brought them from ‘the old country’. I couldn’t see the price tag on the Prague ornament and every time I passed the shop, it was closed. Maybe the ornament will be there next time I’m in Prague, like the beggar on Charles Bridge.