“Welcome to my Palace”
Posted by Andy Steves in on September 26, 2010.
Sept. 26 2010
I woke up on Friday excited for the afternoon. I had scheduled a meeting with William Sr. and Jr. Lobkowicz. Their family is the only Noble family outside of royalty who has a palace up in Prague Castle. Earlier in the day, I tagged along a couple walking tours trying to find someone with the caliber who could lead a group of ours in the future. No luck. I then hiked up to the castle, where I killed some time before the appointment in the toy museum across the way from the palace. Walking in, I didn’t know the experience would be a waste of time, but shortly after paying the entrance fee, it became clear that the numerous tin dolls, and hundreds of vintage barbies looked—and potentially played—the part of childrens’ nightmares. They were scary, and reminded me of chucky. The expressions on these porcelain faces were taught and forced. Sprinkled throughout the glass containers was the broken and somewhat incomplete history of the tradition of having and decorating the Christmas tree, which originated in this area, I guess.
Before long, it was time to hop on over the street, and into the palace of the Lobkowicz’s. Will Jr. had emailed me the week before saying “Why don’t you tour the place, and enjoy the audio tour, and I’ll meet you in my café at about 4.” Reading it made me laugh out loud. I wish I could say something of the sort to a visitor to my home: “Go ahead and admire my numerous original paintings and portraits, family trees, collection of historic rifles and pistols, dozens of violins and sheets of music in Wolfgang Mozart’s original hand. Then, why don’t you enjoy the beer my family has made for over 200 years in our café, and I’ll meet you there.“
As I wandered through the floor that was open, I got the run down of the entire family history—which is exceptionally interesting I might add, especially recently. This family lost everything twice (first to the Nazis, then the Communists), and got most of it back twice. When thinking of how fragile a family line is over history due to various persecutions and whatnot, it was crazy to see the family tree that dates back hundreds of years. The personal history of this place was enthralling.
After I finished, I found the café, and enjoyed a tuna melt, and Lobkowicz pint. Before long, both the Sr. and Jr. showed up, along with Filip, the palace’s event coordinator. Sr. explained to me that palaces and castles today are a burden (the family had 8 and has since sold 5, keeping the main tourist attractions). Sr. had to take off after only a few minutes, but it was great to hear how excited the family is about sharing their long story. I stuck around with Jr. for a while and am ecstatic to have him personally walking our tours through the family’s palace for our tour in November. When else can you meet a kid who knows stories about champagne corks bouncing off crystal chandeliers, and tipsy partygoers falling into paintings, or putting stilettos through walls.
He had to take off quick as well because he was DJ-ing his little sister’s middle school dance that night. Through a smiley, brace-ful mouth, he said he was happy to do it so her could keep an eye on what she was up to—a feeling that I can relate to given I have a little sister of my own. Again, the history of a place that would otherwise be just another boring building comes to life for me with the personal stories behind it.
This past weekend, I traveled to Budapest with WSA with a couple of friends from my university abroad, and I couldn't have asked for a better trip! After arriving at the hostel, we met Bogi, our tour guide for the weekend, who was instantly friendly and welcoming. Throughout the weekend, Bogi was an amazing guide! She showed us some great places for shopping and food, as well as the top sights around the city. You could tell she loved her job and never passed up an opportunity to share about her hometown and some of its history. She was so friendly and was sincerely interested in us as individuals and did everything she could do accommodate our priorities for the weekend (whether it was food, shopping, nightlife, sightseeing, etc.) I would highly recommend WSA's guided tours for any student studying abroad who wants to explore more than their university's city!Katrina Alford, Concordia University - Irvine ~ AIFS Richmond, Spring 2015
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