This and That

Random bits of my life

Random Shots of Jaffa

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 23, 2014

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These are a few snapshots I took when I went with my old work group to Jaffa for a half-day trip.

Children’s chairs in a furniture store:

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Seafood restaurant on Retsif Ha-aliyah Ha-shniya:

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Facade of an Ottoman period gate to a courtyard (Yefet street near the clock).

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Re-used stones in the wall of the Mahmediyya mosque (by the fountains).

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View of Tel Aviv from the Abraham Schechterman Garden:

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Cave of the Patriarchs, Hevron

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 16, 2014

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Few photos that I took inside the Cave (Tombs) of the Patriarchs. I used a pocket camera set to a fairly high ISO, so some of the photos are grainy. The interior is divided into several chambers and courtyards. This part of Hevron (H1) is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, so Jews are only allowed in certain areas, about 20% of the complex. The architecture is Ottoman.

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Hevron 10K Race

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 16, 2014

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How to get a trophy on your first race…. First, sign up for a race with hardly any participants. :-) The Hevron 10K is a tough run and had only about 60 competitors. I think every woman in the race won a trophy. There were only 4 or 5 and we were spread out over different age groups. There was another woman registered in my group, but she didn’t run, so I was the only winner in my category. Looks like a woman on top of a Dalek.

Here I am at the starting point, with the Tomb of the patriarchs in the background.

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And we’re off…. Of course I’m at the back of the pack. I’m not a very fast runner and it didn’t help that I took a wrong turn in Kiryat Arba–there was n0 sign after the unattended water stand at the 8th kilometer (that was also really annoying; when you’re running, you shouldn’t have to stop, fish a cup out of a plastic bag, and fill it yourself). I wasn’t in any danger. But I tried to guess which way to go and guessed wrong. When I turned around, I saw that the two women who were behind me had gone straight, instead of turning, so I followed them, losing about half a kilometer.

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Beautiful scenery! Lots of terraces and vineyards. The hills of the first two kilometers were really difficult, from the Machpela up to the industrial area of Kiryat Arba. I don’t think we have such steep hills in Maale Adumim, unless you try to run straight up the hill from a wadi.

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I have another 10 km race this Friday, the “Kalaniot” (Anemones). About twice as many people are registered, so I’ll have some real competition! At least it will be a lot flatter.

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Prague Municipal House and Powder Tower

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 7, 2014

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The Municipal House is a government building and concert hall, which was started in 1905 on the site of Royal Court palace (abandoned in the 15th century). It is an extremely ornate Art Nouveau building, which is worth photographing inside. Many of the rooms are closed to the public but there are guided tours almost every day. The mosaic in the dome over the entrance (above) is the Apotheosis of Prague, based on a painting by Karel Spillar. The inscription above the mosaic is a quotation by Svatopluk Cech: “Hail to you Prague! Brave the time and malice as you have resisted all the storms throughout the ages” (could use some editing).

View of the Municipal House with the Powder Tower (one of the 13 original city gates) on the left. The Powder Tower was started in 1475 and presented to Vladislav II as a coronation gift. Its design was inspired by Peter Parler’s design of the Charles Bridge.

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Bridge connecting the Powder Tower and the Municipal House.

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You can ascend the Powder Tower during the day. I’m told the view is worth the steps, but we climbed so many towers in Prague that we figured we could give this one a miss.

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Powder Tower from the other side, the side facing the Old Town.

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Don’t Blink….

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 6, 2014

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These stone angels outside Loreto Prague, a 16th century cloister, church, and pilgrimage site, look harmless. Until you blink….  At least in the first photo they’re all facing away.

Wasn’t the angel at the bottom of the stairs facing the same direction as the others?

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Tower of the Loreto

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Loreto tower photographed from Loretánská street.

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Quiet Streets of Prague

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 6, 2014

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It’s hard to believe that the old part of Prague has some quiet areas. These photos were taken mainly on Černínská street, which is surprisingly quiet, despite its proximity to the palace. If you’re going to lie down on a cobblestone road to photograph the sun bouncing off the interesting texture of the stones, make sure the road is empty. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone like Ivan along to keep an eye open for cars.

These old houses on Nový Svět are still private homes.

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I have no idea how they manage the small doorways. Czechs tend to be rather tall; here’s a photo of Ivan for comparison. I could fit comfortably under the door, but I’m only 5′ tall.

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Lamp in front of orange wall on Loretánská.

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Second-storey balcony at the bottom of Černínská.

Stone water basin outside the Romantik Hotel U raka. It was September and the leaves were starting to turn.

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Strahov Brewery

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 1, 2014

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St. Norbert Antidepressant Autumn Dark Ale sounds like a great way to get through the dark cold winter! Strahov Monastery has had its own brewery as far back as the 13th century.

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The current brewery buildings date from the 19th century. The brewery was closed in 1901 and used for farm equipment. It was re-opened in 2000 and serves food and many different kinds of beer.

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The tall guy standing in front of the bar is Ivan Navratil, a Czech photo guide (he’s holding a tiny Sony mirror-less camera). If you’re an avid photographer, I highly recommend Prague Photo Tours. Ivan is a retired photographer who works with Randy Harris, who organizes photo tours in seven cities around the world. I was the only one on this tour, so we spent 5 hours roaming Prague, photographing a variety of sites, from the regular tourist sites to houses, gates, flowers, architectural details. Ivan is friendly, gregarious, and knowledgeable (see his Tripadvisor reviews). If you’re doing a night tour, you can arrange to borrow a tripod, instead of shlepping one in your luggage. There are advantages to booking a local photographer. If you want to get a particular shot (like the famous image of all the bridges aligned), he can tell you how to do it. You have someone keeping an eye on things while you’re busy with your camera equipment. It’s a good idea to think in advance about the kind of shots you want, because otherwise you run the risk of going through a shopping list of shots that everyone else has done.

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Strahov Monastery Theological Hall

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 31, 2013

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The Theological Hall was built in the late 1600s by an architect of Italian origin, which explains the Italian Baroque stucco cartouches in the ceiling. The ceiling frescoes were added in 1727. The library contains some 18,000 volumes, mainly theological works.

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Painted statue of St. John the Evangelist (patron of toothaches?):

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The connecting hall outside the libraries houses a Cabinet of Curiosities and illuminated manuscripts.

Strahov Evangeliary (9th century), from Trier. The cover and binding date from the 15th century. You can buy a facsimile for €14,000 (listed on Amazon for $18,000, which does not include shipping).

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Albert of Sternberk’s Pontifical (1376). As a jigsaw puzzle it is priced very reasonably at $24.99.

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Strahov Monastery Philosophical Hall

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 31, 2013

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Strahov Monastery’s Philosophical Hall (interior constructed 1794-1797) is probably Prague’s most famous library. If you don’t book a special guided tour, you can only photograph it from the doorway, as I did. A “photo license” costs 30 crowns. You wear a sticker to show that you paid for the privilege. Then you lie on the floor, with tourists walking over you, to try to get a shot of the ceiling. :-) I was lucky that it wasn’t too crowded on a Sunday morning.

Detail of the ceiling fresco, painted by Viennese painter Anton Maulbertsch (1794), at the far end of the library and the upper gallery. (Other sites provide a 360-degree panorama of the library and a detailed description of the fresco.)

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Strahov Monastery

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 31, 2013

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The Strahov Monastery, founded in 1149, is a magnificent Premonstatensian abbey located a short walk from the Prague castle complex. If I had done more research on this site, I would have booked a tour that allows one full access to its famous libraries. I did get a few photos from the doorway (in another posting). I visited it twice, once very quickly with Ivan, a photo guide, and another time with my husband. These photos were taken on two different days. The view above was taken from the path leading down to the castle.

Facade of the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady (Baroque reconstruction from 1742). It was open the first day but I didn’t have time to go in.

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It was closed the second day, so this photo of the basilica was taken through the window of the locked door.

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Gilded iron fence surrounding the basilica:

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Facade of the library building.

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Vineyards behind the moanstery, looking towards St. Vitus Cathedral.

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St. Vitus Cathedral on the left, Vitava River on the right:

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