Sunday, December 15, 2013

Martina Franca Antique Market

There are many antique markets throughout Southern Italy, many cities will have markets on different weekends and you can travel around to each of them.  I visited my first antique market this weekend in Martina Franca, about a 30 minute drive north of Grottaglie.
 This market was full of a bunch of random stuff, from books, paintings, ceramics, household items and any number of other stuff.
 Large glass bottles are popular around here, these were originally used for making wine but now make good coin jars.  These go from 10 to 30 euros depending on how clean they are.
 I was hoping to find some old lenses but this market was not great for that kind of stuff.  They also had a bunch of old phonographs, I thought about getting one and seeing if I could retrofit it for amplification of an iPod
 Market was really busy.
 When I first saw this I assumed Mercedes at one time made typewriters... I was wrong about that, here is a link to the Mercedes typewriter story.  This typewriter is from the early 1930's.
 Market had many nice mirrors.
 And religious statues.
 If you ever wondered what an Italian Cowboy might look like, he would probably look like this guy.
 Not far from the market is central Martina Franca, today the central area had a Christmas Market.  But compared to Germany, I don't think you would plan on visiting southern Italy with the sole purpose of checking out a christmas market.
 The white christmas tree is made from toilet bowl cleaners.  Very clever.
 The main square of Martia Franca is beautiful, it was very busy Sunday early afternoon.
 Fountains are still on.
 Across the street from this shop is a leather shop that sells custom made cowboy clothing and bags.
 Through out the afternoon different bands were playing jazz and Christmas music.  The funny things was all the Christmas songs were sung in English.
 Around 12:30pm we went for lunch and exited lunch at 2:00pm.  At this time all the crowds were gone for siesta.  It's so weird, I can't figure out where the 1000's of people went.
 Event the Christmas market shutdown.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Grottaglie Christmas

This past weekend the city of Grottaglie decided to go for Christmas!!!  I was not sure what would happen around my hood for Christmas.
 The road leading from my apartment to centro has lights hanging between buildings as well as centro.  Centro has lights over the fountain.
 And all over the place.
Considering I just came back from Christmas Markets in Germany, I walked up to these tents from behind and got all excited about what Christmas stuff might be on the other side.   I got disappointed to learn it was just an antique furniture market. 
I'm thinking Grottaglie will become more and more Christmas as Dec 25th approaches.  If that happens, I will update this post.  I don't use it often, but these photos were taken with a 1960 Summicron 35mm f/2 v1 lens...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Prague Castle

From the main train station, I took the 9 tram, transferred to 22 just before crossing the river and spent most of my full day in Prague at Prague Castle.  I even purchased  the short visit and ended up spending hours here.  First things first, get lost and need to re-route with trams.
 If you get to the castle before noon you can watch the changing on the guards.
 I'm guessing in a change-the-guard contest, Prague Castle would be better protected than Buckingham Palace.
 Changing on the guards is about 20 minutes, if you leave that event a few minutes early you can get an early entrance into St. Vitus Cathedral.
 I visited late November / early December, for photos, I think think light entering the church around 12:30 to 1pm is great.  Probably the best time to visit and take-a-photo.
 Stain glass all over the place.
 The short visit ticket includes 3 or 4 places to visit within the castle complex.  It is more than enough to see, the long visit ticket must take 6 or 7 hours to see everything.
 The main hall.
 Amazing light passing through the south - south - east windows.
 Some windows have filter with a brown yellow glass.
 Stain glass everywhere.

 All over the cathedral were statues and carvings.
 Another location on the short visit was Vladislav Hall, a large hall used for king-style parties.
 The east wall of the cathedral has a Christmas tree.
 This was the last place to visit on the short ticket, at first I though I was scammed because this just looked like another sidewalk. But it turns out this is the Golden lane, a row of old apartments and shops.  Some rooms actually sell stuff and other preserve how the room looked back in the day.  The upper floors of the golden lane contain a guard tower and a bunch of medieval armor and other things made out of tin.
 The view from the base of the golden lane is nice.
 But also the area past the exit of the golden lane provides an even better view of Prague.
 Me at the base of the castle, looking over Prague.  I was lucky to have great weather in Prague.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I ended my Thanksgiving holiday in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  I was in the city for one full day and I spent a majority of that day at Prague Castle, I will post about that site later, but here are some of the other things I saw in the city.  Again, Prague has great transit, these trams were really easy to use.   But I did make one error where I kept mixing up the 9, 20 and 21 when trying to get over a bridge back to the main side of the river.  Basically, you can't just take the next tram that shows up (most cities, all trams go to or from the main station, not Prague).
 Old town square is the center of the Christmas festival, it is also cornered by three or four amazing old churches.
 One church has the astronomical clock, this one was first built in 1410.
 It's a really large clock, besides just looking at what time it is, they don't really help to explain what all the other faces of the clock means.
 An old sidewalk through central Prague.
 During rush hour, the trams are kind filled like Tokyo.  I saw this and decided to walk back to my hotel.
 Looking over the river towards the castle.
 Old town square at night.
 In Prague, if someone ask you where is McDonalds, you kind of need to question back "how far are you willing to walk?"  Also in downtown Prague is a Hooters restaurant.  If you are missing American / Mexican food, let me recommend  a visit to Frankfurt for Chipotle and Prague for wings at Hooters.  Hooters also shows NFL games, I think it was live.
 This is Wenceslas Square, at the base of the square is the National Museum.
 Also at the base of the square is a tribute to Jan Palach and Jan Zajic, who were political activist who protested against Russian invasion of what was at the time Czechoslovakia.
 Looking back over the square.
 You can get tickets to the airport on the Airport Express bus.   It was kind of weird, the bus was about half way to the airport on the road that is direct to the airport when it turned off and started heading into the country side.   I started wondering where the heck we were going when we were about 20 minutes into the country side.  But after a while the bus turned back into the direction of the airport and ended up at the terminal.