Archive for the ‘Brno’ Category


Protestfest: a festival of alternative culture

In Brno,Culture on May 21, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka

Fans of “alternative cultures” once again met in Brno and marched across the town to meet in a park next to the exhibition centre where a series of concerts and DJ performances is planned for Saturday night. I must say I don’t understand what they want. According to their website, “people have been losing their rights, ideas and public space” – and yet this event has been given plenty of time and space, even the busiest streets of Brno on a Saturday afternoon. They claim they fight for open discussion on current social and environmental problems. We already have that. They claim this event was not a place for advertising for private companies – and yet they had a Stella Artois parasol. They claimed that this festival was the venue for various opinions – and yet several banners carried by the march participants declared several business-related phenomena are inherently bad. So where is the tolerance and discussion?


Neo-nazi march blockade led to a detour

In Brno,Politics on May 1, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

[EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS INSIDE] On May 1, one is supposed to kiss one’s girlfriend under a cherry tree. Political movements have a worse idea – to celebrate May Day by meeting, talking and marching. About twelve hundred ordinary people decided to protest in the streets of Brno today against a parade of a political movement that is claimed to have neo-nazi attributes. The parade was permitted, the blockade was spontaneous. The result: the parade did take place, but it was rerouted.

The parade was planned to lead through a neighborhood were most Roma live (Cejl). Long before the march was to start, hundreds of people (most of them Roma, but also including students, families and pensioners) had created a human bottle stopper. However, the police had the right to tell them to leave, as the march was okayed by the court (which does not mean that I say it was okay / ed.). Soon it became obvious that it would be impossible to order all protesters to leave peacefully. So the march-goers went the opposite direction, otherwise they would have met with the protesters in the earliest stage, rendering the actual parade impossible.

While the march was underway, the police and other authorities waited whether or not there would be any illegal activity on the part of the attendees, because it would give the police the legal right to call the whole thing off as illegal, malum prohibitum, not malum per se. It did not happen and the march got dangerously close to the waiting protesters. The police therefore ordered that the parade take a right turn for a minor detour. It was amazing to see the dozens, if not hundreds, of young Roma boys lining up in front of the combat gear cops, just yards away from their homes, while many of the march-goers were from out of town…

Eventually, however, the parade ended where it started, which inevitably led to some smaller clashes. A total of 15 people were arrested for various offenses (including the possession of a firearm in public or failure to comply with police officer’s orders).


Photo Walk: The Ricky (“Little Rivers”) Valley

In Brno,Sports on April 24, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

There are several perfect locations for hiking around the city of Brno. There are four rivers and all of them offer pleasant and comfortable hiking trails. The further from Brno you start, the fewer people you meet. And the closer you get to Brno, the more crowded it gets because you encounter people with smaller children who cannot make 15 kilometers. This particular trail can be found in the Ricky Valley (“Little Rivers”, it is not the diminutive for Rick). Starting in the village of Ochoz, follow the green marker. The trail is suitable for mountain bikes (although there are two 100-meter stretches were you will need to carry your bike). It is not that suitable for babies in pushchairs (a strong parent will make it, but the kid will not find the surface comfortable at all times).


Dangerous game: kids on bikes pulled by a tram

In Brno,Cars,Life on April 20, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Boys will be boys, but this is an accident waiting to happen. Once in a while you can see boys who live near the center of the city riding their bikes in the pedestrian zone. They like to grab onto rear bumpers of streetcars and be pulled at high speeds down the streets, usually along two blocks. There is practically no way they can be caught.

People in the street cannot see them. And if they do, the streetcar is already behind them and there is no way to alert the driver. And people riding the tram cannot just press the emergency brake because it would activate the magnetic brakes and unsuspecting passengers could get seriously hurt. Chances are, the two boys will enjoy their two-block ride and pedal away…

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Of course they always make sure there are no cops on patrol in the street before they perform their stunts. And as patrols on foot are seen well ahead (due to their hi-viz jackets), the bikers are safe from hefty fines…


Downtown Brno for sale. Nobody wants it

In Brno,Culture,History on April 19, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

Some of the most valuable buildings in downtown Brno are for sale. Five historical houses in Dominikanska street can be yours for thirty-nine million. So far there have been three involuntary auctions but nobody has bought them yet. The auctions were proposed by the mortgagee, as the owners of these buildings failed to pay mortgage instalments. They must be heirs of some sort, because one of the owners is only 34 years old. (Better photos coming up…)

 It is interesting that these five buildings can cost less than one single luxurious house in the borough of Ivanovice that is for sale for fifty million (according to an ad in the Real City magazine). The truth is, however, that not everything about these buildings dates back to the 16th century. The Brno Encyclopedia writes that only basements and outer walls do, the rest was rebuilt.

 The owners of the buildings owe sixty-four million to the bank, so even if the auction goes well the total proceeds of thirty-nine million will not be enough.

Plus, the complex is connected by corridors and passages (built in 1940’s), so the new owner will have to buy them all – i.e. it was not possible to divide the auction “item” into several separate items.


Flights between Brno and Moscow to be terminated

In Brno,Economy,Travel on January 2, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

Brno Turany International Airport is a small one. Not so long ago international passenger traffic was represented only by London-Stansted (Ryanair) and Moscow (Atlant-Soyuz). Now Ryanair serves two airports (London-Stansted and Milan) and there is a new airline, Wizzair (London-Luton). According to the server, flights to Moscow will most likely be terminated as of January 16 due to financial situation of the carrier (the name of which is now Moscow Airlines). The company hasn’t paid insurance and leasing fees since September… Flights might resume under the name of UTAir. Last year in July, the airline celebrated its third anniversary of the Moscow-Brno route.


Czech Republic paralyzed. By eight inches of snow

In Brno,Cars,Travel,Winter on December 3, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

Two consecutive snow storms and almost the entire country is paralyzed. The first snow storm took place on December 1 (Wednesday). Some parts of the Czech Republic got 8 inches of snow, but other regions had only as little as 5 inches, which was enough to stop cars, buses, streetcars and trains. And when vehicles don’t move, people don’t move. Some inbound freeways in Prague became huge sidewalks on Wednesday when people gave up waiting for, or sitting on, buses.

The main Czech freeway (D1) gets blocked regularly, mostly by ill-fated trucks. Jack-knifed is the better scenario. However, the heave snow combined with high winds rendered railway switches inoperable and sometimes the layer of snow was so high that trains could not even pass through it. In downtown Brno, for example, snow got packed into streetcar switches, causing delays as drivers had to leave their cabs and un-jam the switch…

Most dailies were not available in Brno on Thursday.

Some villages that are connected to the outside world via Class III roads became isolated altogether. More snowing is expected on Friday night (tonight). Most Czechs tend to blame the road maintenance authorities and their plow drivers. They often fail to realize that high winds often blow snow back in a few minutes, or that the salt that is used on roads becomes ineffective at certain temperatures. Plus, many trucks (!) still have their summer tires.


New trams for Brno: no more subway-like seats

In Brno,Economy,Technology,Travel on November 24, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

The Brno public transportation authority, DPMB, operates nineteen trams (streetcars) known as 13T from Skoda Transportation. Some of the seats used are installed like subway seats and many people really hate it. They usually have two reasons. One, the aisle between the two rows is way too narrow, allowing only one person to stand between the two sitting persons. It is so narrow that the person’s crotch or butt is uncomfortably close to their fellow passengers’ faces. And two, as the streetcar accelerates or slows down, some passengers say their backs and necks hurt.

So there will be ten new streetcars that will have normal seating now. As to why the original nineteen were not manufactured with ordinary seating arrangement, there is no real answer, except for – according to what specialised discussion forums say – we did not think it was that big a deal. The good thing is that the low-floor parts of the streetcar can accommodate up to six wheelchairs or baby carriages.


Brno Expat Life: a new category

In Brno,Economy on November 13, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

As I am hoping to become involved (in part, that is) in, and to post regular information about, some activities around the new Brno Expat Centre, there will be a new page/post category entitled “Brno Expat Life” (see left column). Topics, recommendations, questions and other forms of communication are encouraged and welcome. 🙂 (Note: the link leads to a Czech-language article on, informing that an English-language version of the center’s website is to be launched soon).

Petr B


Gated communities becoming more popular

In Brno,Economy,Life on November 12, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

There are at least three unusual streets in the northern part of Brno. Although they are named like every other street, and they can be seen on regular maps, ordinary citizens never get the chance to see them. There are do-not-enter signs, gates and “private property” signs. Welcome to gated communities in the Czech Republic. A phenomenon whose popularity is increasing.

The street is quiet, calm and safe. We all know one another. And if, God forbid, something happens and an intruder alarm sounds, we know where it is coming from, says a local man in the middle of one of the streets. His refusal to tell me his name was polite, but firm. His words confirm that the main reason why people move into these unusual neighborhoods is “the feeling of safety”.

Sociologist from Masaryk University in Brno Barbora Vackova frequently conducts researchers in this area. When we ask people who live in these new neighborhoods. They say they appreciate the feeling that they know that when their kids play outside, they are not going to get hit by car, she says.

According to a 1998 study by Edward J. Blakely, approximately 2.5 million Americans lived in gated communities. However, the way some of the gated communities are built differs from the ways Czechs do it. Most Czech gated communities are in fact private streets within an otherwise regular neighborhood. The house owners gave up a part of their garden/plot to have an access street built on what is, in fact, their property from the very beginning.

The installation of gates must be approved by authorities and okayed by the police. But since the purpose of the gate is to protect legitimate interest of property owners, the approval is usually “automatic”.

However, Edward J. Blakely’s arguments apply to Czech gated communities as well. Blakely argues that crime rate is usually associated with a neighborhood, not a particular street. The aforementioned local man had an argument of his own. People who live in new apartment buildings have front entrance locked (or with camera-operated buzzers) and they have special locks on the door leading to the apartment, some even with a security system. This street basically has the same features.

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