Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Exposure: Dancing House in Prague

Dancing House in Prague
Prague's modern architectural masterpiece: the Dancing House.
In a city renowned for its abundance of medieval, Baroque, and Art Nouveau architecture, the completion of the "Dancing House" in Prague caused quite a stir.

In the Dancing House, Ginger leans into FredThe previous building was bombed by the United States at the end of World War II, and its rubble finally cleared in 1960. Václav Havel, a famed dissident during the nation's communist era, had lived in the building adjacent to the destroyed site since his childhood. Havel's neighbor, architect Vlado Milunić, suggested using the empty corner site for a building in two parts, as though in dialogue with each other.

After Havel became the Czech Republic's first president in late 1989, the project got off the ground. Milunić eventually secured the services of renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, who designed the building in his inimitable style.

Gehry glibly nicknamed the building "Fred and Ginger," referencing dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Milunić, on the other hand, saw the building as a reflection of his nation's discourse as it left behind the totalitarian Communist regime and explored its new parliamentary democracy. According to Milunić, Gehry later had misgivings about importing a Hollywood theme to the Prague building.

Nowadays, most people refer to it as the Dancing House.

The eight-legged female figure leans in toward the male. Her steel and glass dress sweeps out from her. The male figure is more solid yet still light on his feet, with 99 individually-shaped concrete panels undulating its windows down the block. A steel mop of hair swings in the breeze atop his head.

The Dancing House, unfortunately, is not a home. Nor is it open to visitors. It serves, rather, as office space. However, an upscale restaurant occupies the top floor, offering fantastic views over the Vltava River toward Prague Castle in the distance.

Completed in 1996, the Dancing House was not instantly beloved. But now, two decades on, most residents and visitors acknowledge it as a late-20th century masterpiece. It is the newest gem in a treasure-trove of gorgeous Prague architecture.

Dancing House at the end of the Art Nouveau block
The Dancing House overlooks the Vltava River in Prague.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Busy travel season

Tomorrow we set off for our latest adventure: the far north of Scotland. After an overnight stop in Inverness, we'll head up the eastern coast to the tippy-top of Britain; spend eight nights in the Orkney Islands; take a driving tour across the northern coast of Scotland; head down the northwestern coast with a couple of nights in Ullapool; and then (sadly) return home to Glasgow.

This trip has me so excited, I'm nearing the realm of euphoria.

Magnet board sailing boat
We'll enjoy many boat rides among the islands of Orkney.
Trips like this keep me busy for weeks in advance. Planning, planning, planning. I'm a natural planner — or, at least, I was raised to be one — and that curse trait goes into overdrive when a trip is looming. Seriously, I spend hours upon hours upon hours researching where to go, what to do, events and festivals, housing, eating, photographing . . . and somebody slap me! or else I'll abandon all other activities.

{Ed.'s note: Like blogging, for example?}


Besides our twelve-day excursion tomorrow, we've also been gallivanting around elsewhere. For example, we just returned last Friday from five days in Prague.

And a week before Prague, we spent a weekend in the southwestern Scottish borders.

Three weeks before that, we toured northeastern England for five days, visiting places like Durham, Bamburgh, and the holy isle of Lindisfarne. Even hiked a glorious stretch of Hadrian's Wall.

A month before that we were in Ireland, part of our three-week visit from Nana and Grampa Bill.

Next month, we'll likely fly off somewhere. Possibly more eastern Europe. Maybe somewhere warm. Perhaps even northern Africa. Must start researching, must buy guidebook(s), begin internet sear -

{Ed.'s note:

slap gif

Thanks. I needed that.

Topping all the planning and traveling, we're in the midst of some professional and personal fermentation. All good stuff, but nonetheless time-consuming.

How's that for a teaser?

Hang tight, folks. I shall return soon soonish promptly eventually.