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Sights and Sounds of Prague

Aired July 11, 2012 - 12:30:00   ET



JIRI VOTRUBA, ILLUSTRATOR: This city is like textbook of architecture. As an artist, Prague inspired some of my most important works of art. I'm Jiri Votruba, an illustrator. Come, let me show you my Prague.

We are in a street that is very dear to me. Kafka was born at the end of this street. While I was walking here, I was always imaging Franz Kafka walking and thinking about his writing. And so, I felt the sky with literature. And this happens to be a very iconic image of the city. Now you can find it on tourist items. It wasn't in fact my purpose.

Jewish cemetery is unique. I love to walk through this graveyard. This place had such a power. By the Jewish law, the tombstones could not be destroyed. So they are always being pulled up to the next layer. In this small place, they are 12,000 tombstones, 12 layers of graveyard, and almost 100,000 people buried.

Prague inspires me to draw. And it's known as the city of 100 spires. I like to listen to church music, which reminds me of the rich musical history of Prague. And I like also crossing the river and seeing this beautiful Charles Bridge.

A lot of famous intellectuals lived in Prague. And now, I'm taking you to the place where they used to hang out. Cafe Louvre has been here for more than 100 years. Franz Kafka, then Albert Einstein was coming here. There is kind of a special atmosphere.

So this is what I'm always getting with my coffee. It's a plum strudel, very special taste. And I never can resist this.

Prague has a rich musical history. Mozart or Beethoven were composing their pieces in the city, every day coming to rehearsal. This is something you still can feel in the streets, but it's not only the classical music.

Tonight, I want to show you the best jazz club n Prague. And it's Agharta Jazz Club. Jazz as the music that is most free, because it's about improvisation, living under Communism. This was a symbol of freedom. So this was very, very popular. It was sometimes more popular than pop music.

This jazz club was the first one who was founded after the change of the regime. Good jazz, good wine.



VANDA CHOCO: Hi, my name is Vanda Choco.

ARMIN ETHENBERGER: My name is Armin Ethenberger.

CHOCO: We are from the Electrical Band (inaudible). And we got nominated with two Grammy. And now, we like to show our famous (inaudible). So first one, my name.


CHOCO: So Choco Cafe, if you chocoholic as me, you definitely have to visit it. They use real chocolate for the hot chocolate drink. So I show you. For example, Madagascar white wine. I would like to pick up.

ETHENBERGER: I think that it's a secret weapon for Vanda's inspiration because when she .

CHOCO: Yes, it is.

ETHENBERGER: -- wants to compose songs, she always come here and taste these.

CHOCO: I love chocolate so much. That's why I changed my surname like Vanda Choco. This is choco is a treat when I'm tired. It's a really, really good drug (inaudible). I can run, sing, everything.

ETHENBERGER: I will try it.



CHOCO: Oh, I have chocolate everywhere. It's not like sweet. It's really -- it's (inaudible).

ETHENBERGER: Now we are showing you .

CHOCO: -- two deep underground (inaudible). During the Cold War, the government built all these new clear bunkers. And now we have about 450 bunkers. And in case of nuclear attack, 40 percent people can live here. So it's about half million people. The tunnels go on and on and on.

So let me show you ventilation room. This machine cleans the air from the top. And this old technology still works. It's really (inaudible).

ETHENBERGER: Here, you can see the old maps. So we have a tutorial how to prepare our house for nuclear war.

CHOCO: So this would be your own link to outside world. Hello, is this Morris? It's Planet Air.

ETHENBERGER: When I was 10, you had to learn how to wear it.

CHOCO: (Inaudible).

ETHENBERGER: Now we are below 100 meters in Padagaska (ph) bunker.

CHOCO: It's an ex nuclear bunker.

ETHENBERGER: So because of that, the music can be really loud till the morning. So it's really good place for us to party.

CHOCO: Let's have a party. Now we'll take you to our favorite location above ground.

ETHENBERGER: Now we were in the favorite club, Prauska (ph).

CHOCO: I'll show you. Come on.

ETHENBERGER: Let us show you. I think that this whole building is a piece of art.

CHOCO: You can see movie screen in theater, music, the bands, or DJs. Oh, I love this metal (inaudible). And look at this weird liquid, color liquid with bubbles, and (inaudible).

ETHENBERGER: It's like a big spider with a lot of lives. It's really amazing to see it after reviews or something like that. It's a really unique (inaudible) in this club.



CRISTINA PAVEL, PUPPETEER: Hi, my name is Cristina Pavel and I am a professional puppeteer. I will take you to some beautiful places in the city, but we will start with the best show puppet show in Prague.

So we are backstage of National Meg (ph). Yes, look at these beautiful, beautiful puppets. We should go back to our seats, because the performance will start.

Mozart was conducting (inaudible) here in Prague, but I think the (inaudible) is so much better. A great puppeteer, it must have the abilities to make people believe that this puppet s alive.

So now, I will show you where these beautiful puppets are made. We are here in (inaudible) of Mr. Pavel Kolas (ph). And here, my puppets are professionals and for people to buy. And the people here are true artists. They have to transmit the emotions and the character to all these little wood puppets. So we have a (inaudible) here, a soldier. It's the devil, a wolf, and a baby, Pinocchio. I love this one. Just -- it's really expert. So that gives you the puppets.

So this is where final creations end up here. So there's so many kinds of puppets, either big ones, small ones, different characters, different styles. And we have here the witches. I love the witches. We have a piece of religion in here.

So this is my absolutely favorite, Meister Michael Jackson with his moves. Ha. I'm bad, I'm bad. So, you know, that would be a good puppet. You have to love the puppet. So that's why I will take you to two places connected to the club.

So here we are on the Lover's Bridge in Prague. And you can see everywhere the padlocks. I have one, too. And this edition says that people who come and they will write on the locks the names, messages of love. And they will lock it. and the keys, they will throw in the water, so their love will be forever.

This John Lennon wall. And in the beginning, it was just a normal wall. But after John Lennon died, he became a symbol of love, of peace. And they all come here. And they all paint. They will write their poems, the lyrics on the Beatles.

This wall, it was at first of irritation for Communists. The secret police tried to wash it up, but it never remained clean, because the reason, love. And they are confident that peace and love, it's everywhere. And that's what I love about that.


JAN ZAJCEK, STREET ARTIST: I think Prague is mystical, it's creative, and there is a lot of humor everywhere. Why? I'm Jan Zajcek. I'm one of the first graffiti writers in Czech Republic. Now I just want to show you some very nice places here.

The meet factory is one of the most progressive cultural spaces in Prague. It's a place where meet cinematography, fine art, literature, performances, and music. We have here a political commercial. Just come see.

A lot of artists lives here and have their studios here. So the main idea of a meet factory is to connect artists and to share ideas. Now, I will show you my favorite places near to me.

So here we are. And now I want to take you to the best Vietnamese food in Prague. Come on in. There is a big Vietnamese community in Prague. Because of French, a Communist countries Czechoslovakia and Vietnam. This is authentic Vietnamese cuisine. What's great about Viet food is that they use just fresh ingredients. It's my favorite. It's raw shrimp, I really love.

And now, let's taste some typical Czech food. Some people in Prague sometimes have nostalgia for Communist days. Lokal is a special place where they work with the (inaudible). During the (inaudible), it was usual that you had a beer, which was under the line. You had a smaller meal. And that's the thing that you can find now as a job in Lokal.

So here, we have (inaudible), which was the cheapest meal in the Communism. It's more than 20 years I didn't taste it. Yes. Great. You can order here just the food, which somehow relates to Communism. So make a joke of it. For me, it's quite nostalgic to eat this.

Czech Republic is famous for beer. And here in Lokal, we have a beer master champion, who (inaudible) serve a perfect beer.

LUKAS SVOBODA, WORLD CHAMPION IN DRAFTING, 2010: For best beer, we need Kringas (ph). Here is four degrees inside. It's very cold water. For perfect brew, we must first form out. We need to hold the draft on the 45 degrees, and opened by full. We need the creamy foam and the perfect (inaudible). Please, cheers.

ZAJCEK: It's just the best thing in the world.


ROMAN PAULUS, EXECUTIVE CHEF, THE AKRON: Hello, my name is Roman Paulus. I'm a chef of the Michelon (ph) Paris, the Akron, here in Prague. We are here in the market. I would like to show you where's the best place to buy the best ingredients in Prague.

So I would like to show you, this is the greatest example of how Czech people can use the whole pig. Everything will be used. This is called Fochenkot (ph). So they cook all the liver and then kidneys. And everything goes into this. And, of course, the lards. This is the Czech option for the extra virgin olive oil.

What I particularly love about Czech food is the sweets. You can see here, this is one of the most typical Czech sweets. It's called Buftay Kolache (ph). It seems to me a little like a pizza, but this is something I strongly believe you will not find anywhere else in the world.

Honey is also a lovely typical Czech ingredient. We love it very much. A honey spread, some drinks with honey, even alcohol for the winter time, it's warm. And you get a little drunk as well.

So one of my favorite things to prepare is strawberry dumplings with fresh cheese dough. So, first of all, I need some butter, then the egg. You mix it together. The main ingredient is this cheese. It's called Varo (ph). It's like a fresh cheese, a little like the Italian ricotta. Some lemon skin. And now, this is semolina, sugar, flour, and a little salt. You mix everything together. So after two or three hours (inaudible), you use the dough like this. And you prepare your strawberries. We get the strawberries from this man. He's the best strawberry farmer in Czech Republic. It has to be closed. And now, we put them into boiling water for about five, six minutes. And then, we'll see. That's it, Noborohut (ph).


REBECCA KING, SOLOIST, PRAGUE NATIONAL THEATER: What I love about Prague is its history, its culture, its arts. No matter where you are, no matter what gets you, you go down at the end, you find something beautiful and amazing.

This definitely inspires my ballet. Walking into the National Theater, you feel an atmosphere straight away. The first ballet company that was actually given permission to perform Swan Lake outside of Russia. And Tchaikovsky was here at the premiere himself. You go on stage and (inaudible) the most amazing in the world. It's like a high.

Hi, my name's Rebecca King. I'm a soloist at the Prague National Theater. I'm originally from the States, but I've lived here in Prague for four years. This point marks the center of the earth. I want to take you all around to some of my favorite places in Prague.

Now this is how you get beer in style. This is one of the coolest little places in Prague. There are trains that bring your beer. The whole place is decorated with model trains and little figurines.

After a few beers sometimes, it can get a little dangerous in here. You don't have to get up to get your beer, it comes to you. Cheers. You always come across some interesting things in Prague. These are some statues by the controversial artist David Cheni (ph). And you'll find them all over Prague. You never know where you might come across them.

So I walk you guys to a cafe here in Kemper (ph) Park. Quite a hidden gem. Not very many tourists know about it. Let's come take a look.

We are at the Cafe Louvka, which is converted from a mill into this bar. My favorite part about it is the bar top. It's been created by David Cheni (ph). And it's just amazing. There's all sorts of cool stuff in here. They've got things here from false teeth, to cigarettes, to blood fingers, to old toys, old calculators, old phones. David Cheni (ph) actually calls this his living room. It's one of his favorite places to hang out, but my favorite part of this, this is a honey cake. And it's made out of honey and nuts and cream. And it's delicious.

There are a lot of beautiful gardens here in Prague. This is my favorite at the top of Ketchum (ph) Hill. There are 12,000 roses here. I've trained and performed about 60 hours a week. And this is where I come to relax and wind down. I've definitely fallen in love with Prague.