Story and photos by Tom Weber
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Hm. No sooner did their apprenticeships
begin did they also came to an end, just like this demonstration.
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.
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