As a military family stationed in Europe, we took advantage of every opportunity to travel. We also got a lot of enjoyment out of shopping for souvenirs, along the way. That’s why, on a spur of the moment trip through Germany, we decided to make a quick foray across the border into Czech Republic to buy a chandelier. Our destination was Karlovy Vary, a beautiful spa town, known for its Bohemian crystal. The traffic was terrible in the city center, we couldn’t find a place to park & were told to move on by a policeman, when we attempted to stop & get our bearings. Frustrated, we drove away, down a side street, where we stumbled upon a brilliantly lit shop with crystal sparkling through the windows. We easily found a chandelier that we both liked, at a reasonable price, & were back in the car, with our conveniently boxed purchase, within 15 minutes. Score!
Over the next few years, we either lived in military quarters or rented properties, so we never had a chance to hang the chandelier. The box remained in storage, until we finally bought our own home in Virginia, when my husband, Mike, was stationed at the Pentagon. We thought it would be perfect in our new dining room. After updating the light fixtures throughout the house, ourselves, we finally got around to the dining room. Anticipating a fairly straightforward project, based on recent experience, we opened the box, only to discover that the whole thing was in individual pieces. Fortunately, there were instructions, but…they were in Czech. There were dozens of crystals to attach & wires to thread through various tubes. Daunted, we put the box aside, wondering if this had, perhaps, not been the wisest purchase we had ever made.
A few weeks later, the box still lay in the dining room, awaiting a resolution, when Mike returned home excitedly from work, & announced that there was a Czech crystal concessionaire, who had a temporary shop at the Pentagon, & was willing to assemble our chandelier. Unbelievably lucky! Getting the boxed fixture to the Pentagon was not a problem, but, once assembled, we would have to transport it back home, gingerly, in the back of our SUV. The plan was for me to drive to the Pentagon &, when I was close, I would call Mike & he would bring the assembled chandelier down to the parking lot, load it into the padded vehicle, & I would be set to go. The plan was unfolding nicely. I called Mike & told him I would be there to meet him shortly, but, then, I missed the entrance &, mistakenly drove across the bridge, over the Potomac River, into downtown Washington, D.C. As Mike stood in the Pentagon parking lot, in uniform, holding up the weight of all those crystals & wires & tubes, I was frantically trying to figure out how to get back across the bridge. I circled past the Lincoln Memorial & the Washington Monument, desperately looking for signs. (This was 10 years ago, so GPS was not available to me; I had to rely on my memory of the layout of D.C.). Fortunately, I was soon able to loop around & I did make it back to meet Mike, but not before he got a lot of strange looks from passerby (as well as some very weary arms).
Our Czech crystal chandelier now serves as a show & tell piece in our home…we show visitors the lovely fixture & tell them the crazy story of its journey.