Friday, July 1, 2011

Falling for Coffee and Copper

We woke up at the apartment for the last time, and after packing our backpacks, our host suggested we take some parting photographs. What ensued was an appropriate closing to our stay as we all laughed while exchanging hats and silly faces in front of the camera. Once outside, we crossed the street to investigate a coffee shop Roy had noticed the previous day. It seemed that most of the coffee culture in Prague had been hidden up until then, as most of our cappuccinos were pretty gnarly, and apparently dissolvable coffee was all the rage. However, this place seemed promising, so we decided to test the waters. Upon entering the always lower-case mamacoffee, we immediately became enamored with it's cozy atmosphere. Across the threshold hung a line of colorful paper cranes, and beautiful blue and white cups were waiting atop the espresso machine. We ordered a latte and an espresso cardamom, and sat at a small wooden table outside. Our drinks were brought out to us each on a shiny Turkish silver platter with a piece of chocolate, a separate ceramic pitcher of steamed milk for the espresso, and glass tumblers filled with water as a chaser.

A mama held the tiny hand of her son to help him playfully lock and unlock the front door, and a bright ladybug alighted on the brim of Catherine's hat to explore the feather plumes. The ladybug stayed put, wandering around Catherine's head, as we reluctantly left the blissful coffeehouse.

It was still with us even as we received the skeleton key to our new abode--the Museum Inn Hostel, which to our delight was not really a hostel but our own apartment near the city center. The extraordinarily high-ceiled apartment was flooded with warm light when we entered, and the old double-paned windows begged to be pulled open to let in the street sounds and summer breeze. After dropping off our belongings, we set off on foot for Old Town's historical center to take a look at the famed astronomical clock and browse the antique shops. The clock itself was a marvelous sight, but it was the door adjacent to it that really caught our attention - a massive wooden portal, ornately carved with a decidedly eastern influence.

Wandering the alleys branching out from the square, we came upon a small antique shop with beautiful windows displaying a large array of Art Nouveau antiques and oddities, as well as a small selection of some of the finest antique jewelry in Prague. It was there, Antique Ungelt, that Roy stumbled upon an expertly crafted copper vase featuring exquisite hammering, planishing and enamel, as well as dovetailed joinery. The vase seemed to incorporate the fine aesthetics and craftsmanship of American Arts and Crafts copper, as well as the design of Austrian and Czech Art Nouveau metalware - an inspiring combination.

Across the alley from the antique shop, was Botanicus, a shop littered with beautiful glass bottles filled of natural shampoos and remedies, and handmade soaps of every imaginable scent and purpose. Roy bought a small lavender soap to experiment with as a shaving cream, as he'd left his old soap at home, and we decided to call it a day and return to the apartment.

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