Prague and the Czech Republic
October 7 - 20, 2015
In October 2015, I will lead a group of photographers together with Eileen McCarney Muldoon, to the Czech Republic. This trip has been in the planning stages for almost two years; Eileen and I did our recon work in the fall of 2013, traveling around the country with a private driver and Michael Hansen of Prague Travel Advisors, selecting 'hub' areas from which we could explore in a slow paced, immersive fashion. Planning a trip of this breadth involves a lot of places we would like to have included, but didn't offer enough variety to hold the interest of a group. The resulting itinerary incorporates as little bus time as possible, with each stop offering many levels of interest and complimentary photography genres as possible; architectural, interiors, street, food, landscape and contemplative. Eileen and I offer as much or as little instruction as is necessary; often we can be found right next to you, photographing too. Our criteria for photography workshops is to run the kind of trip that we would like to go on ourselves.
Our itinerary begins in Prague, where, for four days, we will stay in a small, family run hotel in a quiet part of the city. We will have guided tours in the morning and afternoons to retrace our steps in a more contemplative fashion, from the top of the Hradcany castle area, to the winding passages of Josefov. Prague is as authentic a European city as there is to be found. It has open squares, fed by winding narrow lanes with hidden courtyards and tall spired churches. Getting lost in the maze of medieval streets is part of the fun. In the middle of the city is the Vltava River, spanned by no less that 9 bridges, the most famous of which is the Charles Bridge, dating back to the 13th century. To walk the bridge at dawn is a totally quiet and relaxing experience, and far different from the afternoon activity of buskers, hawkers and crowds.
We leave Prague and travel west to Marianske Lazne, a Bohemian spa town near the German border with curative waters in glassed in pavilions, rich Baroque architecture with colonnades, forests for strolling and , a perfect respite to reflect upon our Prague experience. I was impressed with the authenticity of the architecture; massive elegant hotels constructed for the thousands who came to M.L. to be healed and take of the clean country air.
We travel further to Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO protected world heritage site, and a fairy tale place not to be missed. The town, situated in a bend of the Vltava River, features a 13th century castle of baroque, gothic and Renaissance elements. But it is the intimacy one experiences in the narrow streets of cafes, church yards and burgher houses with decorative facades. For two evenings and three days, we will be able to walk through these streets at will, early morning and by gaslight in the evenings makes for a very enchanted visit. Not to mention the infinite possibilities for taking photographs.
After our three days in Cesky Krumlov, we move onto Mikulov, in the southern area of the province of Moravia. Famous for its white cliffs and wine growing, Mikulov with its long history features a castle/chateau high above the town, a cobblestoned historic square, quiet medieval streets with red tiled roof houses, with ornate spires and adornments. There is a small remnant of Jewish community, with a cemetery of forgotten headstones whose dates begin in 1605, mikvah (ritual bath) and a ceremonial burial building.
We return to Prague for the final leg of our trip. Visits of note include the town of Kutna Hora with its ossuary church (bone chandeliers) and the concentration camp of Terrazin. There will also be a 'shopping day' to revisit special places, capture that last dawn at the Charles Bridge and linger over a coffee or beer in a favorite cafe. During the course of our stay, we will have the opportunity to have two dinners in private homes, and to walk the streets with Czech photographers. This thirteen night fourteen day adventure is designed to be an immersive experience for photographers and travelers alike.