Jiří z Poděbrad

A few weeks back, I met Emily and we had a lovely chat over some espresso in a hole in the wall--really more like a hole in the attic.  I asked her if she knew anyplace to buy Bohemian Crystal.  Bohemia is famous for its crystal, a fact that  souvenir vendors like to exploit.  Not knowing much about crystal or where to start, I was happy for Emily's advice: Go to Poděbrady.  There's a metro stop in Prague near a church I like to visit when I'm there for the weekend.  It's near the stop Jiřího z Poděbrad.  So, I thought, I can remember Poděbrady.  It was a bit later till I realized that this is the Poděbrady alluded to by the metro stop.  Jiří z Poděbrad means Jiří (George) from Poděbrady, and he was a Czech king.  In particular, he was a leader of the Hussites (those following the teaching of Jan Hus--happy belated Jan Hus Day!).

So, I looked for crystal and got Czech history along the way.  Last Saturday became the day designated to seek out Poděbrady, which is under an hour away from Prague.  I was accompanied by my friend's husband, who was interested in the crystal.  Leaving the train station, I immediately saw an expansive park with lovely landscaping and a few fountains.  The park was lined with benches, and the benches were lined with trees, and the trees lined a road with shops.  Being a Saturday, the first shop we passed was closed, but we came across another soon thereafter.  Inside, John taught me about how to identify quality glass.  He pointed out the traditional Bohemian pattern and taught me to look at the points of the stars on the crystal to see if they all came together to a point.

We then continued onward to the old square, locating an info centre.  There we learned that the other main crystal shops were closed.  After this news, I took a little walk around the square--including the castle that Jiří was probably born in) and then we returned to the shop to make our purchases.  One of the pieces I chose proved hard to locate, and the woman was a little stressed by our presence.  I assured her (in Czech, of course) that I had time, and accepted her request that I come back later.  John left towards the train station with his crystal vase, and I proceeded back towards the town to have a nice jaunt.  The sun beamed at me as I entered the park, and I sought out the foot pool.  I don't know how to best describe it, so I'll leave you to the photos below.

The pool was refreshing in the newfound sun and heat.  I then went in search for some lunch (actually, I went in search for a toilet, and thought I'd go to a restaurant so I didn't have to pay for it).  I ended up back at the old square, and sat at a patio table where I enjoyed bruschetta with a glass of orange juice and water (yes, they were mixed).  Thus filled, I proceeded towards the river, past the castle and towards a lake.

Winding through some streets, I made my way back to the area where a band was playing and stands were set up to by some wafers.  You see, these days, Poděbrady is more known for being a spa town than for its Protestant king.  And with spa towns come spa wafers.  I picked up a box to bring back to my hosts and contemplated another walk through the foot pool, eventually denying myself and going to the crystal shop.

All in all, it was a quick afternoon jaunt outside of Prague, and I would go again in a heartbeat.  Maybe the next time I'll go into a shop and get a wafer there.  They serve them warmed and delicious.


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