NEWSLETTER XAVIERA HOLLANDER OCTOBER 2016
I last saw her - Prague - over 25 years ago, she was depressed in every way, impoverished with no color except for autumn leaves set against a complete blanket of black soot.
I arrived again in September 2016 to discover Prague has been revived to her former glory. An architect’s living museum that spans over 1,000 years through periods of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Cubist, and modern.
Philip and I were enticed to rediscover Prague when a charming couple who stayed at our B&B spoke highly of it. Brenda Love, PhD is an American sexologist, author and recently a playwright and her darling husband,Mark, was a Czech restauranteur from San Francisco. We all hit it off immediately and with Brenda’s help we were able to rent a bargain studio apartment in their same building on the corner of Dusni and Dlouha, right in the Old Town Square, from a lovely man, Martin Sekyra, a professional violinist, who invited us to one of his delightful chamber orchestra concerts near the Astronomical Clock Tower.
We filled our other evenings with “la Bayadere”, a ballet set in Royal India of eternal love, mystery and vengeance with the lavish theatre interior that complimented the dazzling costumes of the dancers. Brenda and Mark threw a dinner party for us and we met some of the local writers and other of my fans from the USA and Canada.
One writer, Stephen Weeks, is now negotiating with his Czech publisher to have “The Happy Hooker” translated and released in the Czech Republic.
For lunch we dined at the top of the Dancing House in the Ginger and Fred gourmet restaurant that offers a 270 degree view of the Prague castle and river and met up with a long-time dear Czech friend and artist from Toronto, Lea Vivot, for lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel where two of her large sculptures are exhibited.
She is meanwhile a world famous sculptress with luxury residences in Acapulco, Toronto, New York and Prague. Lea also took us on a tour of her smaller sculptures displayed at the Savoy Hotel above the castle.
The photo of the woman and child expresses the nurturing of food, if you notice every person and animal in the scene is eating.
The sculpture of the turtle is inspired by the American Indian folklore of the creation of the world.
Lea’s sculptures are often of (her own) children sitting on benches because, as an orphan, that is where her mother left her to be found. By the way, her last name Vivot has no meaning in Czech or English but I am translating it as Vivacious. And THAT she is in every way!
At 66 years old she is still a totally natural beauty as well. While I was being entertained by Lea and the police you see in the photo, Philip and Brenda slipped off for a tour of the impressive Loretta church where pilgrimages were made by Catholics. It differs from other churches for several reasons, the bells play in musical tunes instead of just tolling.
In the center courtyard is a replica of the “Holy House” of Nazareth from Loreto Italy which is believed to be where the Angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive. Upstairs is a most impressive vault of church treasures, the highlight of which is the famous gold monstrance which boasts 6,222 inlaid diamonds.
On Sunday, Philip and I took a tour of the largest European Jewish cemetery predating to 1100 with 12,000 tombstones and an estimated 100,000 people buried in layers there. The most famous of who is Rabbi Lev (Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the creator of the fabled clay Golem.
Prior to leaving, we finally had a business meeting with Daniel Hrbek of the Svandovo Divadlo Theatre in Prague 5. It is an amazing building that houses studios for the actors, two stages, two or three bars, dressing rooms and offices.
Daniel is the producer of the play “The Good and the True” which features my dear South African friend, Saul Reichlin. Daniel and I collaborated on the logistics of bringing this world class two-actor play to Amsterdam and The Hague.
So dear friends, now at least you are up to date again with my whereabouts the last few months. Since I don’t own the villa Caprice any more in Marbella at least we start exploring other great parts of Europe like Norway in August and Prague just now.
Until you hear from me again, either by newsletter or by email or Skype at veradevries.... enjoy yourself for the rest of this year!
Love Xaviera and Philip.