As a child growing up in communist Czechoslovakia I already longed to know what was hidden just behind the horizon, to touch and taste distant countries. I spent hours browsing the geography textbooks and planning my journeys. But this was just a dream for a girl born behind the Iron Curtain. Yet I knew in my heart it would become true one day...
Later I studied translation and the history of art and hoped that foreign languages might open the door for me - the door I knew must be hidden somewhere behind this obscure curtain. That freedom came with the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and suddenly everything became easy. In the nineties I lived in Spain and France, but I realized more and more that my place was back here in the Czech Republic, although my open and spontaneous character must contend with the shadows hovering over this country for me from time to time. When I returned to Prague, I began my career as a translator. The EU directives I translated on daily basis gave me a cheeky Kafkaesque grimace as soon as I opened my computer.
I realized I must swap the keyboard for an umbrella and began to work as a guide. This made it possible for me to share what I really love – Prague, beauty, art and people’s stories. So I became a “bridge” connecting different cultures. This is an image I naturally identify with both when I lead guided tours in the Czech Republic and when I travel alone. One of my personal journeys was to Western Australia, where I strengthened my English language skills and another with the same purpose was to visit New York City. Today, after having travelled to over forty countries (yes, I never gave up my dream) I feel that I should stop chasing one new image of reality after another and rather stay longer in different countries. With this in mind, Thailand has become my second home.
I have been guiding groups travelling to the countries of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire for many years now. I have a growing feeling that I would also like to establish a parallel platform for individual travelers and design tailor-made programs for them, so that they can discover highly interesting places off-the-beaten-path. I focused on enabling visitors to feel a historic experience as well as everyday life in a city that offers both amazing historic monuments and a modern lifestyle. What it is like to be in city currently undergoing an intensive culinary revolution?
This somewhat offbeat desire of mine found its expression in a small travel agency I founded and called the Prague Arts Tour. Most tours are organized in three or four hour blocks and a nice break over a good coffee or tea comes in handy. During this break we talk over the current news from Prague that they might find interesting – such as exhibitions, theatre performances, latest ratings of restaurants. Chatting over coffee, perhaps we can mutually enrich our viewpoints and expand the way we interpret our world.
…a surprising melting pot of a variety of architecture styles. In Prague this mixture is characterized by remarkable elegance and harmony – a real-life textbook of architecture in the open air and, by the way, it is exactly this interweaving of individual époques and styles that make Prague so special within Europe;
…the Jewish culture has been inseparable from Prague for more than a thousand years. I have worked as an official guide in the Jewish town for many, many years and, in a way, this town-within-a-town surviving miraculously until today is very personal for me. Prague’s Jewish town represents the best preserved collection of Jewish monuments in Europe;
…a kaleidoscope of art and styles, from medieval art and its impressive artifacts in the Gothic style referred to as ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Soft’, to its restless and distressing Baroque sculptures and frescoes to Cubist style and Art Nouveau, all of which are emblematic in the Czech lands. And of course I will also point out the provocative work of contemporary artists or spiritual art that relaxes the mind;
…the human face of history, in which I perceive great historic events as a framework for individual human destinies. Those are more interesting and touching to me personally than the more anonymous “grand history”;
…spiritual and esoteric Prague. The city reveals an actual manual to sacred geometry, as well as a dictionary of magic symbols for those who can read them. Prague is abundant with powerful earth-energy centers and spaces with strong genius loci, the kinds of places where W.A. Mozart drew his inspiration, when meeting with his Free Mason friends;
…traces of Nazi occupation in the capital. The five-year period when the city and its inhabitants suffocated under Nazi oppression: the creation of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovak occupation, the brave men and women in the resistance movement, the assassination of Heydrich, the Prague uprising and final liberation;
…our forty years under communism: what was life like behind the Iron Curtain? The Prague Spring, “live torches”, the power of the powerless, the gray years of so called “normalization”, Václav Havel’s leadership, the Velvet Revolution…and then freedom;
…Prague and photography – I am myself an enthusiastic photographer; owing to the fact I have walked the pavements of this city and the roads of this land for decades. I have a list of places, unusual angles, from which to take the best shots and thus make them look gorgeous…and I am always on hand to push the trigger-button on your camera;
…the best beer in the world, a cup of tea (Prague experienced a unique boom of fine tea-rooms recently), a tasty meal… this country is right in the middle of a culinary revolution: it is better to know where the gourmets eat, rather than having an unpleasant experience where the revolution hasn’t yet taken root;
There are an infinite number of approaches to a city tour. The possibilities are endless. I would appreciate hearing from you to better judge what you would and would not enjoy.
Perhaps together we may touch, if only for a short while, the soul of this picturesque country in the heart of Europe and its inhabitants. As a poet says, “the road is made by walking”.
Each tour is ours to create. I will introduce you to the city of Prague, an almost 1000 year old lady in whose company I have lived for more than 20 years. Her flirty charm has never ceased to surprise me. And perhaps I will also show you some of our beautiful small towns, situated in a picturesque landscape with green hills, different points of view and different contexts.