Software, hardware, wetware

Things I learnt In The Czech Republic

A quick post, because I’ve been busy and not updating my blog as well as I should’ve. Only way to get back into the habit is to keep writing, right?

So, a few interesting things I learnt in the Czech Republic:

  • You’ve probably heard that Prague is beautiful. The descriptions are not doing it justice.

Old Clock Tower, Old Prague

  • Watching Opera (Dvorak’s Rusalka) is much more enjoyable when captions are provided. Goes double if the performance is in Czech and you’re not a native speaker.

  • Any country where beer is cheaper than water (~25 krones, or AUD$1.50, give or take)  is fantastic fun - but hard on the liver!

  • Czech food is extremely rich and dense (and delicious). I have a theory that this is something to do with the colder months of the year and needing high energy input traditionally to stay warm. Citation needed. If you can find a good, trustworthy restaurant, you MUST try tatarak.

  • Many Czech people speak English to some degree or another; most of them are quite nervous about actually using their English.

  • Everybody appreciates it when you speak at least a few words of their language. In Czech, this seems doubly so.

  • Lots of people (at least in Prague) have dogs, even if they don’t have a back yard. This seems vaguely cruel to me.

  • Any pub that’s been around since the 14th century is Doing Something Right.

  • Lucerna is a fantastic nightclub full of very friendly, drunk Czech party animals - if you like music from the 80s. And I don’t mean the best of the 80s. I mean 80s music, all of it, even the stuff that wasn’t very good.

  • Really good coffee can be hard to find. (I highly recommend Cafe Lamborghini, around the corner from the Lazarska tram stop - the food is a bit expensive but the coffee was solid! Service is great too.)

  • A large number of Czech people that I encountered did not seem particularly optimistic about their lot in life. I believe this to be a holdover from Communist oppression, and suspect that the Czech people will become extremely entrepreneurial over the next 10 years and that the rest of Europe should watch out. The folks I met who were optimistic and/or ambitious were powerhouses of hard work and talent.

Statuary atop the State Theatre

  • There was a Czech movie a few years ago about a simple-minded young man who wore big headphones around everywhere. Walking around Prague wearing a pair of Technics headphones will earn you strange wry grins from people that will baffle you initially - all because of this movie.

  • Everybody smokes, everywhere. Get used to it.

  • According to popular legend, the Russian mafia own a significant portion of a significant number of businesses in the Republic. Politics and crime are closely interwoven. Despite this, petty crime on the streets, at least in Prague, seems quite uncommon.

  • Tea houses are a fantastic way to unwind if you a) like tea and/or b) like shisha pipes. They’re turkish-style dens of relaxation, usually very quiet and a great place to sit with a friend and talk. Definitely need more of these in Australia!

  • Having a higher population density in an area makes a lot of really cool things possible that you just can’t do in a place like Australia (re: public transport, utilities, businesses), where everyone is accustomed to having a back yard and a lot of space. Not having a yard really isn’t that big an impost, in my opinion, and we should be building up rather than building out where possible.

Finally, the key words of the language for a traveller: pivo (beer), prosim (please), dekuji/diky (thank you/thanks), dobre (den rano vecer) (good day morning night), vyborny (fantastic/delicious). Guaranteed to get a smile if you can use some of these.