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Glassblowing
Bohemian Rhapsody:
Glassblowing 101
(Dispatch #6)

Story and photos by Tom Weber

Charles Bridge, Prague

ow, where was I?

Oh yea, making my way off Praha's Charles Bridge as part of an urban kanga line of 25 international journalists, bloggers, social media experts and photographers invited along by Insight Vacations to sample a portion of its premium-escorted Bohemian Rhapsody journey through Prague, Vienna and Budapest.

freshly made pretzels, gingerbread and piggies-in-a-blanket at a store in Prague

Snaking our collective way along the crowded cobble, cameras dangling from our necks as ballpoints and No. 2s scribble down the narrative, we stop just long enough to grab a whiff of the freshly made pretzels, gingerbread and piggies-in-a-blanket wafting from storefronts dotting the route. We're now just a few paces away from experiencing an Insight "signature" moment, a private Bohemian crystal glassblowing demonstration at the Karlova Crystal Shop.

glass products on display at cabinets, Karlova Crystal Shop, Prague

Through the front door we march, passing by glass enclosed cabinets filled with the house's superlative curiosities – for gazing and purchasing – and then ushered into a small studio tucked in the back of the intimate shop.

Celebrated as Bohemia's gift to the world, the art of crystal glass making has been around since the 13th century and is appreciated for its quality, craftsmanship, beauty and often innovative designs.

Hand-cut, engraved, blown and decoratively painted crystal, ranging from champagne flutes to ornate chandeliers, from ornaments to tiny figurines, Bohemian crystal glass products are some of the Czech Republic's best-known exports, right alongside, if not on top of, its superlative beers and savory Prague ham.

artisan glassblower at work in front of a furnace

Taking our seats like first-year medical students observing a surgical procedure, a hearty, artisan glassblower, fronting a more than 2,000°F solar-orange furnace, begins to ply his trade and turn liquid silica – along with lead, potassium and zinc oxides, a dash of soda and a sprinkle of alumina – into works of art, just as it was done back in the day for Europe's noblesse.

round glass ball ready to be blown

Today's Glassblowing 101 demonstration brings to life a little bird and a round ball and concludes with several members of our band of merry media volunteering to take a turn at the blowpipe.

Throwing caution to the wind as their backsides heat up from standing so close to the red-hot furnace, they huff and puff like the late jazz trumpeter Dizzie Gillespie and somehow manage to exhale large crystal balls.

red cryatal bird

A round of applause from the peanut gallery echoes across the studio acknowledging a job well done, but the roar of the crowd is short lived as the expert artisan shrugs his shoulders and nonchalantly tosses the efforts of the wannabe glassblowers into the trash.

Hm. No sooner did their apprenticeships begin did they also came to an end, just like this demonstration.

Insight Vacation's Bohemian Rhapsody brochure

For complete information on Insight Vacations' premium and luxury-escorted itineraries, including the Bohemian Rhapsody and 100 other journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

Join me in a couple of minutes when we'll stroll over to Prague's Old Town Square just in time to watch a one-of-a-kind, 15th century, astronomical clock strike high noon.

Related Articles:
Bohemian Rhapsody: Crossing the Charles Bridge; Bohemian Rhapsody: Storming the Prague Castle; Bohemian Rhapsody: Na Zdraví! (A Brewery and A Wine Cellar); Bohemian Rhapsody: Dobrư Den!; Czeching Out A Bohemian Rhapsody; Postcards from Prague; The Czech Republic – A Little Jewel, Part 2




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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

* * * *

Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

* * * *

Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: http://www.compagniadeicammini.it/en/. Thanks for stopping by and commenting..

Tom

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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal



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Chemistry by its very definition is the spontaneous reaction of two people to each other, especially that sense of mutual attraction and understanding. This month John January and Linda Berry release their new project, Chemistry 101 and together they explore a range and depth of musical styles on both organic and physical levels. As a joint labor of love, January says Chemistry 101 is pretty straight-forward.

Go There

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Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, the Garden District, the streetcar (now a bus) to Desire, the jazz clubs, the beignets at the Café du Monde and breakfast at Brennan’s come to mind when you think of New Orleans. But that’s not all there is to this unique American city, filled with treasures both culinary and cultural.

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