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New Europe

Day One Hundred and Thirteen: Prague to Karlovy Vary

Michael Palin - New EuropeI meet up here with Bára Vaculiková, a twenty-eight-year-old, whose light, loose clothes and hennaed hair give her a vaguely New Age demeanour. She's one quarter of a group called The Yellow Sisters, who are playing later today at a castle outside Prague, at a special event to mark Witch-Burning Day. It's a pagan celebration in origin, when effigies are burnt in fires at the top of hills and high places. Bára tells me that it's more about fire and its power, and most people quite like witches.

We pedal out into the gentle flow of the Vltava. Apart from the odd warning blast from a tourist boat, it's a peaceful way to take in the sights.

Bára is easy company. She takes her music very seriously, but doesn't make a living out of it, and next week she'll be starting part-time work as a tourist guide. The Yellow Sisters' music is heavily influenced by what they've seen and heard in Africa, especially on the west coast in countries like Gambia and Guinea. At the same time she worries about the effects on African music of what she calls a Euro-American culture.

'I think we spoil it. It'll soon be gone: most of the Africans that you meet will be wearing football dresses.'

I like that phrase so much I feel a bit sour about correcting it.

'Football shirts?'

'Football shirts, yes. From David Beckham and Ronaldo.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day One Hundred and Thirteen: Prague to Karlovy Vary
  • Country/sea: Czech Republic
  • Place: Prague
  • Book page no: 263

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