Reality Czech

As you remember (or would, if you had read this story), I was guest of honor at Eurofurence 8, a small gathering of anthropomorphics fans held in Germany in the summer of 2002. A petition was circulated (okay, I circulated it) to invite me back, and enough signatures were gathered to convince the con staff that they should bring Uncle Kage back for 2003.

This year the convention was held in the Czech Republic. When I was a child we called it Czechoslovakia. When my grandparents were children it was the Kingdoms of Bohemia and Moravia. When my parents were children it was Something We Can Give To Hitler So He'll Leave Us Alone. When I am an old man they will probably call it something else entirely. But standing firm through all these changes, just as it has for more than a thousand years, is the city of Praha -- Prague, to us Anglophones. "The Mother of All Cities," it was for centuries the intellectual capital of Europe. It has been the seat of government for the region since the Dark Ages. It has seen governments rise and fall, boundaries drawn and redrawn, German bombs and Soviet tanks rumbling through its cobbled streets. But it still stands, just as proud and wise and beautiful as ever.

And damn, did I ever fall in love with it! It shows in the number of photos I took of the city in the company of a wonderful young lady who in the "furry" circles is known as Mbili. Her husband, Mbala (the Czeetah), roped her into taking care of this bizarre visitor whom she knew only as "Strýč Káge." The poor girl had no idea what she was getting in to. She was an excellent hostess though and was very devoted to the three duties to which she had been assigned ("Show him Prague," "Make sure he gets here alive and in one piece," and "Teach him to say 'I am a stupid American and speak no Czech' in the local tongue"). I am also very grateful to her for coming to put me to bed after I had a little too much wine and wound up loudly arguing American foreign policy with about 20 Germans.

I did not take very many pictures of Eurofurence itself, but that should not imply any derision or affront to that gathering. It was simply because I was enjoying myself so much in the company of my European cohorts, all of whom are delightful to be around, that I did not really think to drag the camera out every few minutes. In short, I was having a ball just hanging around and shooting the breeze.

A note about the pictures: All are in JPG format, and all are 600x800. They are meant to be viewed on a monitor that is set at 1024x768 resolution or better. If you do not know how to do that, right-click on your desktop, click [properties], then [settings], and look at "Screen area." It might also be helpful to close some of the menus at the top of the browser screen (Netscape and I.E.) so that the full picture is shown, without the need to scroll to see all of it. I've put a handy "jump list" at the bottom if things start to get too boring.

As I did with the pictures of England, I took time to caption all of the pictures and to try to adjust the brightness and contrast to make up for my incredibly inept photography skills, which I had previously blamed on the gloomy lighting that Great Britain is known for. For the pictures that do not please, I shall apologize in advance.

The trip begins with me waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the English Channel.