Czech? Check!

The top eight things I will remember about the Czech Republic:

1.  Beer. Great beer, and at a great price. Easy to find 500 ml bottles or cans at the grocery store for less than 17 Czech kroner ($1 Canadian) or 42 kroner at the restaurant.

2. Smoking. Everywhere, including restaurants.

3. Sausage.  And lots of interesting kinds at the stands 

4. Trdlo.  Long ribbon of dough wrapped around a stick and roasted over a rotisserie before being coated with cinnamon sugar. Imported from Hungary but stands everywhere selling the pastry, with or without ice cream and/or Nutella and/or chocolate. 

5.  Bread dumplings.  Rather like solid slices of steamed white bread, handy to mop up sauce. With a temperature initially around 30, it took a while before I felt like such a rib-sticking meal. The waiter told the cook I was a newbie, so they also served me another version that was more like cubes bonded together with some egg.  Another classic is ‘roasted pork knuckle’.  I’ll let you know when I try it…

6.  Music. There are concerts every night in gorgeous halls. Last night I went to hear Beethoven and Mozart at Smetana Hall in the Art Nouveau Municipal House, supposedly the most gorgeous. Wonderful! 

7. History. Being where they are between east and west, their history is long and complicated. Prague goes back to the Middle Ages.  Duke Vaclov (A.D. 907-935) who converted the Czechs to Christianity and founded a cathedral at Prague castle, is the ‘Good King Wenceslas’ of Christmas carol fame. The most recent was from 1948 to 1989, when Czechoslovakia was a communist state under Soviet control. On August 21 there was an event in Wenceslas Square marking the 1968 ‘Prague Spring’ of young progressive communists being squashed. Around midnight on August 20, 200,000 soviet troops invaded Prague, airlifting tanks right into the city.  And then there was another attack on the people a year later. 

In 1993, Czechoslovakia separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

8. Architecture.  As one of few European cities not bombed or burnt, it is a amazing city of incredible buildings around every corner!

 Last, a special mention for my home for two weeks.  The apartments were built recently on a narrow bit of land overlooking the railway. So new buildings within minutes walk of the old town. Being up higher, I have a great view and a good breeze.

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