Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Arriving in Prague

The flight from Dortmund takes less than an hour to reach Ruzyne, the airport of Prague. Bus number 119 connects the airport with the metro station in the green line, Dejvicka. The metro has a train every 3 minutes and from Dejvicka reach Muzeum from where the Red line has to be taken to reach Hlavni nadrazi, the main station. Prague still has to work on the beautification of its main station. Some metro stops look far better than the main!

The main mode of transport in Prague is the metro. It consists of 3 lines red, green and yellow and they cover all the important land marks in the city. We never used the yellow line even once! Accommodation was at hotel Kafka which is a tram stop away from the main station. The hotel room was impressive. It was a double bed room apartment with a cooking place. Very comfortable place for six people.


Prague has complete structures. None of its landmarks were destroyed in World War II nor has there been any destructive revolution. Though there is a history of the king being thrown of the window from his palace, everything is intact! I guess Hitler too was amazed by Prague’s beauty that he didn’t have give us any ruins.

The Vltava River has 18 bridges and out of these, the most famous one is the Charles Bridge. It is highly crowded by tourists who cross over from the town side to visit the Prague castle. This bridge stands from the 15th century and has an array of statues of saints and patrons of that time. Now, there are also shops and artists who earn a living on the bridge.

Crossing the bridge and climbing uphill takes you to the magnificent Prague Castle, Pražský hrad as called in Czech. This is the most beautiful place in Prague. The history of the castle dates back to the 9th century and the grounds comprise of the Basilica of St. George and St. Vitus. The castle served as the office of the president when it was Czechoslovakia and now serves for the head of the state in Czech Republic and is the world’s largest ancient castle.

Walking down to the old town square is the marvellous Astronomical clock or the Pražský orlo. It consists of three main components and is a highly complex system. There is an Astronomical ring, stationary background and a zodiac dial. Once an hour, there is also the walk of Apostles when the clock chimes.

Wenceslas Square is the new town of Prague. It is the cultural and shopping hub. It houses theaters and the National museum and the majestic statue of St. Wenceslas who was the patron saint responsible for the new town.

Prague also has a set of impressive Jewish Synagogues. We did not visit the interiors due to lack of time. Nevertheless, our guide on the tour explained us the beauty of it. The Old-New synagogue, the oldest of them all stands from the 12th century and is still functioning!

Shopping in Prague

I was highly excited with shopping in Prague. There are so many things that are trademark and cultural of Prague. The Bohemian crystals for sure, though expensive they are worth the collection. Czech is also the thrive of puppetry and you can find numerous puppets that can be string controlled. Collectable miniature designs of the astronomical clock and traditional hand painted Czech eggs are a must buy.


Vegetarian is a bit on the low key but its not a difficult place if you are not choosy. The traditional Czech dish is the Bramborachi which is made of potatoes. Sometimes its served with cheese on top which makes it too fatty! Sour cabbages are a delicacy and definitely worth the try. Meat eaters have heaven here. Czech beer, the Urquell Pilsner and Budweiser are definitely thumbs up. The Budweiser is an original of here and not America. God knows why the Americans want to spoil such a great beer!

Blogger is not configured enough to accomodate pics in the format I've prepared this travel log! Anyway, hope this is a good enough apetizer!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Workshop in Advanced Crystallization, FEBS, Nove Hrady

Nove Hrady, had the workshop not been held there, I am sure everyone who attended wouldn’t have noticed this place! 350 Kms away from Prague, 30 Kms away from České Budějovice, Nove Hrady translates into New Castle. The history of this town dates back to the 12th century when a castle was built for protection of trade routes and since then till now Nove Hrady houses a population of 3000. It has all the essentials and to top it all, it has got a research institute!

This is the castle/research labs where we were put up for 7 days. There were lectures everyday morning from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and then practical demonstrations from 2.30 pm till 6.30 pm and followed by late night beer party discussions which extended till 2.00 am in the morning!

This workshop was the first of its kind I attended. It was really a wonderful experience to be admits so many international audience and scientists. Unlike the Lindau conference, where I a big group of Indians with me, here I was all alone. Hence my interaction with the group was better than weak Van der Waals!

Apart from the scientific discussions, there was a lot of discussion regarding the culture, religion and habits of people from different nationalities. The amazing things that stuck me there is that fact that people can be programmed to hear things differently!
It was early morning and me, Sofia, Valentina, Rosa and Manuela decided to go for a walk. Suddenly, Valentina said, hear the rooster… kekerakeee kee! Her in-the-middle-of- road jiggle like the chicken was unfortunately not caught on the camera, but her representation of the roosters call was different! Me and Sofia were, come on, its cockaraakoo koo. Rosa and Manuela were with Valentia and apparently they hail from Italy. Then we made a survey and found that many people agreed to hearing it as kekerakee kee and not like how we hear it! Some serious audibility programming!

The travel to Nove Hrady for me was with Terese Begfors and Claude. They are both crystallographers and gave awesome presentations and workshops. Terese is a vegetarian and loves cooking Indian! Wow! I was really amazed and shared with her some of my patented recipes! The getting back to Prague was in a train. The group that travelled back was Me, Sofia and Kathrina. Kathrina is a native of Czech and she helped us get the tickets. When I entered the Nove Hrady station, boom, I was transported to my good old childhood days! What a station! Very old, smelled old too. There was burnt diesel in the air, just a single platform, cross the rails and hop into trains, heaped building material and a worn down building. It was just beautiful! There was some construction work going on and hence no trains to České Budějovice from where we were supposed to take a connection fast train to Prague. So, we were shuttled till another station in a bus and then from there in a diesel carriage. The diesel carriage was slow and late and we would have missed the fast train to Prague. Kathrina spoke to the conductor “ there are two international scientists travelling to Prague and they must reach on time. Do something and hold the train there.” The conductor called the controller in Prague and had the fast train held just for the two of us! Man, what a feeling it was!

Monday, October 06, 2008

living like a king!

sitting in the conference hall now! First blog using my mobile. This place is just wonderful. We are put up in a castle for this advanced course in protein crystal growth, methods and techniques. Assembled are international students and big heads in the field! More information coming up soon!