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Monday, April 25, 2011

THE GREAT BRNO SUBWAY HUNT

BRNO

"If you want to make someone from Brno angry, ask them where the subway is." - Prague saying.

For those who don't get it, Brno has no subway because it is small though the second largest city in Czech Republic. I suspect the lack of a subway has given some residents inferior feelings, hence they are angry. I had fun asking for the subway. Yeah, I'm that guy. When we were headed down there on the bus, I got to find out who spoke English that had a sense of humor when I announced to my companions who were sitting back a few rows that we were suppose to meet our contact at the Brno subway station. Hey, it helped break the ice a little.



THE STORY THUS FAR

Last we left our intrepid group of adventurers, they had survived the Road of Death and Trains of 'It's after Midnight and the Czech Republic is closed, you foreign devils' and made it to Brno.

After yet more walking, and hills, we made it to Thomash (Tom) and Margaret's (they're flat-mates) home. We crashed in Tom's room.

Poor Jana woke up sneezing her head off. After we located and reattached her head we ended up with an early start to a day I had felt certain that they would get to sleep in. Pete was looking his normal dignified self but Jana was beginning to get that 'I've been traveling with Logan too long' look I fear. It can precede an incident which the jury (do they have them here?) would let her off of the crimes quoting both sleep deprivation as well as just cause.

We ate at a trendy little cafe in their garden. They have a lot of nice looking ivy covering the ancient brick walls. Breakfast for four people, 260 CZK.

Afterward, Thomash gave us a bit of a tour of Brno as we headed to the train station. He turned out to be a much more knowledgeable tour guide than Jana who I deeply suspect of being Italian rather than Czech.

Tomash also stopped by one of the booths and directed Pete and I to buy and drink a shot of something Czech 'with herbs in it'. Surprise, it was firewater. I should have really seen that coming.



TRAVELER'S TIP

Any time someone wants you to try a shot of something (especially in the morning, right after breakfast) always insist on 'Sure - if you do one with me!' This gives you the opportunity to give your host a small gift or at least make sure he is poisoned from the same cup you are.

I wanted to take a moment to thank Tom (Tomash) and Margaret for letting them stay in their home. It was very kind of them.

Tom was also a much better (if you want the actual historical facts instead of the interesting other facts) tour guide than Jana. Unlike Jana, I found it easy to believe he actually lived in the city he showed us. [Jana = Italian].



BACK TO PRAGUE

Train from Brno to Prague, 160 CZK. Note, we believe this is an 'Easter special' rate - no clue what the normal rate is. Approximate travel time, an hour and a half.

Yes, I do see the irony that I'm going north through the Czech Republic so that I can travel south in a few days.

On the way back to Prague, in addition to fascinating my companions with such amazing games as "I Spy" and "Twenty Questions", I asked Pete and Jana their opinions on 'the village of rabbits'.

Jana: "I liked the feast, the atmosphere of freedom. You didn't have to worry about anything. You could talk to people, get food or go for a walk. Whatever people felt like doing. I also liked that I visited the country. I'm not from the country or there a lot. It was interesting to see a different part of the Czech Republic."

Pete: "Good company. Even the people not of the group we went with tended to be friendly. The locals reaction to us was pleasantly surprised. I might have been the first Australian they encountered. It was nice. I had a lot of interesting and enjoyable conversations with our group as well. When wandering around the town, the locals were friendly, even when we tried to invade their homes."



LOGAN'S EASTER PERSPECTIVE

Czech custom: On the Monday after easter, women become water spewing chocolate and egg vending machines. In order to activate this machine, you hit (not hard!) them with a special stick you can buy anywhere. It has bright ribbons on the end of it. Is that phallic or what? The women are suppose to give you an egg or chocolate when you do. After noon, the women defend themselves by throwing water on the men. I don't think any of this symbolism is really too hard to work out. It seems they are only allowed to do this after noon. I don't know why.

Traditional American custom: The parents hide colored hard boiled eggs. The kids run around trying to find them. The parents try to remember how many eggs they hid and inevitably forget some. Later, these become smelly bombs as the eggs are left to rot.

New American custom: Being that for many families the 'traditional' way was a lot of work and the kids have gotten too fat and jaded to care about 'seeking' the eggs. So, instead, the kids find a pre-packaged selection of chocolates and candies (not eggs) that can be bought from the store either in their bedroom or just outside of the door. The kids (and often, parents) then gorge themselves on these treats and lie in bed panting as their lungs try to work despite the layers of fat. It's a happy time that Jesus rarely intrudes into for most families.



JANA QUOTE

One of the things I have become fond of saying in the Czech Republic is "(Something) is broken, there are no replacement parts." It's a good summation of many things. The other day, Jana said "Logan is broken. Thankfully, there are no replacement parts."

According to Jana, her favorite Czech folk music song is entitled "My shit's fucked up". I have not yet heard this song but I am sure it is a classic.

Upon being asked what she thought about dogs, Jana immediately responded: "Skinned. Maybe boiled in water for a bit. Then, released into the wild."



MOVIE REVIEW - THE EAGLE

It was a pretty basic buddy/adventure story. I can't really say much without giving away the somewhat linear plot. A couple of interesting points, it is one of the few movies in which you get to see kids getting killed. This is an uncomfortable topic for people and they handled it tastefully. It is, however, historically accurate. The other thing is a personal bitch of mine. I know that not everyone else shares this opinion but you are stuck reading this blog so you get to hear it. I think directors who use 'unsteady cam' need to leave the amateur film school shit behind. I would personally love it if there was a law that forced advertisers to put a big warning label on any movie that used unsteady cam for more than 10-20% of the movie.

From wiki "The camera operator can hold the camera in his hands. This allows greater speed and flexibility, but even the most skilled camera operator cannot prevent the image from shaking, if only minutely. Hand-held footage has therefore traditionally been considered suitable mostly for documentaries, news, reportage work, live action, unrehearsable footage, or as a special effect to evoke an atmosphere of authentic immediacy or "cinéma vérité" during dramatic sequences."

In my opinion, you lose a lot of the 'authentic immediacy' when you use unsteady cam for the whole fucking movie. On the plus side, they didn't hire a poor epileptic having a grand mal seizure to film this one like they did with the second and third Bourne movies.

Needless to say, both Pete and Jana liked the movie and disagreed with my opinions. It would absolutely kill them if I became a famous movie reviewer.



CZECH CUSTOMS

I haven't been to what I'd consider a good cross sample of Czech homes yet but the few I have been to are the 'remove shoes upon entering' type. Remember, if you see an assload of shoes near the door, add yours.

In Prague (and Brno, I believe) they seem to have a lot of casinos. I have no idea if these do more business late night but the ones I've seen always appear abandoned. I don't think that the Czechs are really into handing their money over at the tables. Jana said private poker games are more the norm here.



CZECH SERVICE AND DRINKS

Beware of white and black Russians. These are drinks.

Pete has ordered a lot of Black Russians and ended up teaching a lot of European bartenders how to make a childishly simple drink. In fact, if you want a Black Russian and ask for them to hold the milk or bring the milk separately and just don't add it to your drink. This may still confuse them - even if it is said in their own language.

Despite both Black and White Russians being a shot of Kahlua and a shot of vodka some places still manage to fuck this up and give you a third the Kahlua you need. I'm guessing it is to try to save just a little bit of money. Some don't give you the right amount of milk. There is a way around this and that is to order all of the ingredients separately. It will cost you more but you won't get something fucked up and foul tasting.

One way around this is to stick to beer. Just say "pivo" ("Pee-voh" - 'O' as in the sound you make when you say "Oh shit") and you will get beer. I don't know what kind but beer you will get. They won't fuck that up.

One thing to be aware of on beer - Czechs like a big head on their beer. They call it a 'cap'. Well, I don't know what the Czech word is and you don't care but it translates to 'cap'. They see this as a good thing as opposed to other nations which see it as an attempt to rip them off of a few ounces of beer they should get.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting note on the beer thing. When British say "top me up" they mean "add more beer until it gets to the rim, bitch". But when Europeans say "top me up", they mean "add foam, bitch, add more foam".

    ReplyDelete

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{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

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{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois |

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