What I Learned from my Czech Mates

22 08 2012

In my last post about my trip to Czechia I thought I would tell you a bit about the lighter side of my trip. While it was a very educational trip, we did have our share of fun and I did learn some interesting and quirky facts about Czech culture, as well as get to see some things that I found particularly fascinating. Here is a list of what I learned from my Czech Mates.

1.) Jaromir Jagr is by far the most popular Czech athlete: Despite a long list of great hockey and soccer players the country holds a soft spot for the mulleted one. Our tour guide made sure to point out his home town and Czech national team jerseys available in tourist shops all had Jagr “68” on them.

2.) Tourism in Prague is absolutely crazy: The astronomical clock was the peak of the tourist chaos, but anywhere we went we were overwhelmed by North American and Western European tourists. Perhaps its the recent opening up of the city from the Iron Curtain, perhaps its because its so cheap, but it was a very interesting sight.

3.) The Czech Republic has exceptionally good beer: From Budweiser to Pilsner Urquell, to Kozel, to Staropramen to Samson…every beer we had in Czechia was very well made. Its probably a good thing I don’t live there

4.) The twin sons of famous director Milos Forman are making a living performing street theatre in small Czech towns: I’m not exactly sure why they are sleeping in trailers and performing in small town squares in the Czech Republic, but they were drawing big crowds! Here is a link to a part of the entertainment

5.) The best nights are usually the random ones: The Forman brothers hired a Jazz/Folk singer Yael Rasooly to perform for guests as they entered the show. It turned out the Israeli born singer went to school in Toronto and we managed to talk her into giving us a live Jazz Performance on the streets of Telc.

6.) Brewery Tours in Czechia could improve significantly: On our tour of the Samson Brewery we were overwhelmed with technical facts about how to make beer for nearly two hours. The health code seemed non-existent as there was beer all over the ground, the wires ran wildly around and the tasting room was in the actual brewrey.

7.) The street theatre in Prague is quite impressive: From the one man to the six -piece bands, you can’t walk around the Old Town of Prague without hearing some quality music.

8.) Watching 30 professors sprint towards a steam train is quite entertaining: As a surprise on our excursion we got to see a coal steam train departing. Despite the fact it wasn’t departing for 8 or 9 minutes all the professors (many retired) ran off the bus with their cameras and snapped every picture they could. I got this video of the steam train leaving, something that was close to home for me and Dad, as his father used to work on these trains back in South Africa.

9.) Seeing a hand crafted Nativity scene was much more interesting than I expected: When it was listed on the programme I wasn’t too sure how fun this would be, but as you can see by this video this nativity scene is incredible. It took the creator over 60 years to hand craft it.

10.) Christmas is not an ideal time for Carp in Czechia: Fish ponds are rampant throughout Czechia and at Christmas time Carp is the fish of choice. These fish are generally sold to families alive and kept in the family bath tub until they are needed to be cooked. The consequence of this is that the kids often get quite attatched to the fish and are usually quite devastated when they are killed prior to Christmas dinner – usually with a club to the head.

11.) The currency in the Czech Republic is still the Koruna: Having not done a ton of research before I left (see the note below as to why) I had been expecting to use the Euro as I had done in Slovakia in February. The move to stick with the Koruna is looking smarter and smarter as the Euro continues to struggle.

12.) Going from being extremely into the Olympics to not even paying attention was really weird: I spent the week before I left soaking up the Olympics and attending events, when I got to Prague the Olympics were all of a sudden the last thing on my mind. It was weird leaving halfway between, but I think I got the better of the two weeks in London!

Please look at the pictures for more things I learned in Czechia!




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