Casa’s Blog

A Life Abroad

Why can’t I – walk on through. And not feel like – one is in hell. We don’t need no water let the motherf***er burn…

My time in Prague yesterday arvo probably wasn’t the most Czech experience one could have.  Matty and I ended up going to Fatboy’s (an aussie pub) and watching some of the 20/20 cricket before the rain came down to stop play.  Was definitely fun just watching the cricket, chatting and have a few beers, but hardly counts as immersing oneself in the culture of the place one is in.  I did a little better over dinner as we all went off to a Czech restaurant just around the corner from Juz’s place on Italska and I had a full on Czech Meal.  It was called the Czech Lovely Grub and consisted of 3 kinds of meat, 2 kinds of cabbage and 3 kinds of potato dumplings….it was a massive feed made even bigger by the fact that it was suggest I get a side as well with the others forgetting that my dinner came with the dumplings.  I must say though that I did  a damn good job at finishing off the meal though.  As I washed it down with good cheap Czech Beer (Beer is cheaper than basically anything else here…cheaper than coke or bottled water in some cases!), I was able to eat probably 90% of it.  Although I must admit that afterwards I felt near on exploding and probably should avoid eating such quantities regularly. The food was different to anything I had really had before but it was great, the dumplings were gorgeous and I could probably eat them for every meal of every day!

Even though I have hardly scratched the surface of Prague, today I was off in Brno touristing around with Matt.  Justin had to go to Brno for work and was taking the work car (luckily his colleague was driving).  As a result there were two spare seats in the back in the Skoda so Matt and I got a free trip down to what turned out to be a pretty interesting city.  As you leave the “Praha” city centre, you quickly encounter the countryside and communism in all it’s glory.  You start seeing all the large, apartment blocks iconic of Communist countries as well as forests of trees that just seem to go and go.  I was quite surprised that there was so many trees still around as in most parts of Europe most of the trees have been chopped down long ago.  I was even more surprised to find out how far Brno was from the border (just an hour or so more) as although it was just a less than two hour drive, the speed limit was 140km/hour in some places.  As I sleepily sat in the back of the car I couldn’t imagine that we had gone so far.

When we got dropped off in Brno, we found our way to the Information Center by a combination of good guesswork, luck and a dodgy map.  There we found an equally dodgy map but it outlined all the main attractions of the city (in English) and if Adelaide is called the City of Churches, clearly people have never been to Brno.  There were about a dozen famous churches listed but the main thing that caught our eye was the castle.  It was a bit hard to find, but eventually we made it in to the castle grounds and up the steep hill in to the entrance.  For just 90 Kc (student price) we got admission to all parts of the castle (The look out tower, the 5 permanent exhibitions of the Brno City Museum now housed in the castle and admission to the Casemates (which we had no idea what it was but turned out to be exploring the old rooms of the castle with a few rooms set up “as they would’ve been” a while ago).

Firstly we went up the tower and got a grand view of Brno which is a beautiful city.  Surrounded by purely green forrest you see a city that just appears to have quite a bit of character.  The most dominate building on the skyline is the Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral as it is on one of the many elevated parts of the city (it is very hilly) and is a mammoth building on top of that prime location.  However it was good to just be able to look down upon a city so different to the places I have grown up and known well.

The Museum part of the Castle was pretty good.  Far and away the best exhibition of the 5 was the one dedicated to the history of the castle from the time it went from palace to prison (1700s through 1940s).  It detailed not only how the buildings were utilised but also outlined the treatment of prisoners, torture used, recreated some of the cells and also had dedicated rooms on each of the different conflicts that lead to political prisoners being housed there from Italy, Poland and the like.  It gave me a greater insight in to the political history and development of this part of Europe as all the moving borders and conflict were well explained.  All the exhibits were in Czech but detailed English translations were provided in little books.  The other exhibits weren’t quite as good.  The one dedicated to objects from Brno’s past was good but the english assistance was very sparse so you couldn’t get the full value.  The collection of old artworks were also good, although as I am not a big fan of Art I am sure I missed a lot of the finer points. What did catch my eye was the ability of the painters to breathe life and personality in to the eyes and faces in the portraits they painted.  The final three exhibits on Modern art (I can’t enjoy it as much as other periods of art), a specific Czech painters exhibition (which just reminds us all to collect our children’s kindergarten work and sell it because people will buy anything) and on post 1920s architecture weren’t that interesting I must admit.

The Casemates were cool though.  Not only did you feel the freaky difference in temperature once you got in to lower parts of the castle – it literally dropped 10 degrees in a matter of steps as you left the sunny day outside -but it did a good job of giving you an idea of how horrible it would’ve been to be a prisoner there.  The lack of windows and natural lighting.  The vast amounts of people crammed in to the rooms.  It can’t have been a fun existence.  There was also parts of the Casemates that had been altered in the 1940s when the Nazi’s had used it as a Garrison which was interesting to me as World War 2 is one of my main historical points of interest.

We then strolled back in to the city, past some weird ‘hippy-like folk’ doing some weird form of tai chi/dance, in search of lunch.  We settled on this “African Resteraunt” in a secluded corner of the town. It may have been african but after a quick bit of two word english discussion we found ourselves ordering soup, schnitzel, potato salad and beer with cake for dessert…a very Czech lunch.  The price?  Just 89 Kc for the lunch and the beers again just a couple of bucks each.  It was a damn good food and I can’t believe we got a three course meal so cheaply.  I am definitely going to make the most of my eating and drinking time in the Czech Republic.

After lunch we had decided to check out the Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral before taking the train back to Prague. We had the option of staying until Justin left in the car after 5pm, but after being up at 5:30am to head down and walking around for a fare few hours we were probably done.  The Cathedral was amazing though.  I haven’t seen many of the main Cathedrals you must see but this one was gorgeous.  The decoration was intricate, beautiful, yet subtle.  Not close to “gawdy” which can happen some times in overly decorated churches.  It would definitely be up there with my favourite churches I have visited.  It was brilliant and to find it in Brno, a city most people probably wouldn’t go to in their travels I would think was great.  They even had very detailed English pamphlets to help us understand about the different things and tourist places get extra points in my book if they are accommodating of us non-native speakers.

It was now time to take the train.  Finding the station was easy.  Buying the tickets was easy, yet another case of us just saying the few czech words we knew and needed as well as a fair bit of bad sign language (What is interesting was today we seemed to encounter a lot of people, particularly at the museum, who didn’t seem to pick up we didn’t speak Czech.  Blank stares, us talking in English and saying English or the Czech word for English didn’t seem to help them cotton on for some reason.  I think I am able of picking up if someone has NO IDEA what I am talking about quite quickly).  What was hard though was finding the train.  Firstly the Prague trains didn’t have platforms listed and when they did platform two referred to two sides of the platform with different sections also marked.  Eventually we just asked enough guys who didn’t speak a word of english if the train was ours (this involved pointing at the ticket and shrugging the shoulders) until we found one off to Prague…not the station close to the apartment that we wanted but we got home in the end.

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June 17, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. Reads entry.. > reads ‘Brno’ > reads rest of paragraph in Bruno, Austrian Fashion Reporter voice.

    Really ruined this entry for me.. Haha

    Comment by Steve | June 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. CASTLES!!!! CASTLES are better than all the shiny stuff in the world! I’m extremely jealous 🙂

    Comment by Christ | June 18, 2009 | Reply


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