Archive for the ‘Czech Tourism’ Category

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Czech It Out: the Konopiste Castle

In Architecture,Czech Tourism on May 5, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Tired of Prague? Did you come to see interesting places, not dark clubs and strip bars? I am starting a series of tips for tourists who visit Prague for several days and wish to explore interesting places within a reasonable distance. This time: one of the most famous Czech castles – the Konopiste Castle.

It is just forty minutes by comfortable trains from Prague’s main station. One-way “group ticket” (even two people are group) is CZK 102. You need to ask for “Benesov u Prahy”. The castle is just under two kilometres from the train station in Benesov – follow the yellow trail.

Konopiste is a former fortress the purpose of which was to guard Benesov. Its original style resembled that of French “castels”. It was rebuilt by several owners throughout history. The most famous personality associated with the castle is Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este, successor to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who was assassinated in 1914. Today, the interiors of the castle are decorated with hundreds of hunting trophies (as hunting was the Archduke’s hobby).

Visitors are offered several versions of the tour, depending on which part of the castle they want to see the most. They can make qualified decisions based on photos displayed at the entrance. Certain versions of the tour feature many “hunting rooms” which animal lovers might not enjoy very much – it can be really disturbing… From what I heard in person, the guides speak English.

There are two restaurants near the castle. I would NOT recommend them, however. One of them looks like a pre-1989 skiing lodge dining room (high prices for ordinary food) and one of them is a pub-like establishment that is good for a quick beer only.

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Prague Castle Guards celebrated their 92nd anniversary

In Czech Tourism,Prague,Travel on December 11, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

Tourists who enter the Prague Castle like to have pictures taken with two statue-like soldiers in light-blue uniforms standing in front of tall wooden booths at each side of the main gate. The Prague Castle Guards symbolically “protect the president” and they are used for ceremonial purposes. Of course, the president’s real bodyguards are from a different branch of the police force.

The Prague Castle Guards celebrated their 92nd anniversary. Founded in December of 1918, less than two months after the independent Czechoslovak Republic was born, they were mostly “mounted police”. As at 2010, the unit has 655 soldiers and civilian employees…

Photo (c) The Prague Castle (www.hrad.cz)

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Karlovy Vary: a Russian city in the Czech Republic

In Culture,Czech Tourism,Economy on November 1, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

Karlovy Vary is a city in the Czech Republic. It is a famous spa town where the internationally famous Mattoni mineral water is produced and where the annual film festival is held.

But the strangest thing about this place is its strong Russian influence. It is a favorite tourist destination for people from Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet Union republics. Plus, many Russian businessmen opened their stores and other establishments here. Every once in a while a news story emerges about the negative aspects of the Russian influence, mostly represented by businesspersons who allegedly “ignore laws” (e.g. by building or renovating houses without proper permits, etc.). On the other hand, businesses that have ties to Russia or Russian owners give jobs to locals…

The town even has a Russian village where street signs are bilingual. Local people were shocked to find out that the village was built where a camp with a pool had been demolished.

And one can see the Russian presence on almost every main street in downtown Karlovy Vary, where even hair salons, post offices, hardware stores etc. have signs in four languages…

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Trebic Jewish Quarter: slightly disappointing

In Culture,Czech Tourism,Religion on June 26, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

PHOTO GALLERY BELOW

There are several UNESCO-protected landmarks in the Czech Republic. The jewish quarter in the town of Trebic is one of them (since 2003). It is an interesting place to visit, but its atmosphere will leave not you breathless. According to the WHC website,

The ensemble of the Jewish Quarter, the old Jewish cemetery and the Basilica of St Procopius in Trebíc are reminders of the co-existence of Jewish and Christian cultures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The Jewish Quarter bears outstanding testimony to the different aspects of the life of this community. St Procopius Basilica, built as part of the Benedictine monastery in the early 13th century, is a remarkable example of the influence of Western European architectural heritage in this region

…but in fact the reconstruction process does not seem to be coordinated/organised. Plus the neighborhood is not “preserved as a museum” because people live and work there and the usual aspects of everyday life (garbage cans, cars, traffic signs, etc.) cannot be avoided. Plus, in most cases the facade renovation killed the atmosphere, which is understandable because you cannot renovate a house to make it  “look like 1750’s)…

Fore more information and detailed description of the most interesting landmarks, try the virtual walk on the official website of the city

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Politicians: Bicyclists should be allowed to drink alcohol

In Czech Tourism,Law,Life,Nature,Travel on May 10, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

(c) Cyklotoulky.cz

The South Moravian Region is known for its vineyards and viniculture as such. One of the most successful ways to attract tourists are wine trails: bike paths among vineyards and villages with almost zero traffic where bicyclists can ride across the region.

However, it is illegal to be “under the influence” or “intoxicated” while riding a bike. According to wine cellar owners, this  is a huge paradox: bicyclists-tourists come for wine sampling but the law says they cannot drink alcohol…

Social democrats smell a chance to impress their voters. They want to adopt a law accordig to which a certain amount of alcohol would be tolerated, the Brnensky denik daily wrote. Member of Parliament Jiri Petru argues that the legislators who want to propose the amendment sought inspiration in Austria, where bicyclists can ride their bikes ever after they’ve had a few glasses (samples) of wine. Unions of wine producers approve the efforts.

However, opposition politicians argue that traffic rules should apply to bicylists everywhere and that it is not possible to have an extra set of rules for “wine trails” and another set of rules for roads bicyclists have to cross or use to get from one wine trail to another…

Photo: (c) Cyklotoulky.cz (Bike Journeys)

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The Brno Museum Night: free entry six to midnight and a lot to see

In Brno,Culture,Czech Tourism on May 13, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

It is one of the coolest traditions cultural institutions in Brno have to offer. Every year in May, this year on May 16 (this Saturday) people can visit numerous places for free, and at night.

It is called the Brno Museum Night and it is held from six p.m. to midnight.

Galleries, museums, exhibition halls, churches… There is a HUGE exhibition devoted to Brno functionalism at the Spilberk Castle right here in Brno. Gotta see that.

The organizers promise a variety of accompanying events: seminars, painting workshops, night sky watching, fashion shows, vintage car show, sword fighting… or fireworks. And there will be some Roma fortune tellers as well.

Coming to Brno this weekend sounds like a brilliant idea.

Michal Kasparek of BrnoNow.com noticed the English version of the event website. Really helpful!

🙂 Is there any female expat out there who is not busy on Saturday evening and who would want to go? My e-mail is on the “About” page 🙂

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Charter flights between Prague and Miami cancelled before they started

In Czech Tourism,Economy,Travel on April 28, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

skyeuropeThousands of Czechs were expected to visit the United States on Prague-Miami flights when the visa regime ceased to exist a few months ago. Travel agencies thought that with the favorable exchange rate they would fly some 7,000 tourists to Florida.

Nope. According to the Planes.cz server Czech Airlines withdrew from the route and so did the Travel Service charter airline. Both due to small demand.

I remember there were times when “summer holiday” in the U.S. WAS indeed ridiculously expensive. Airline tickets, visa fees and the fact that any immigration officer can send you home even if you have a hotel reservation and a return ticket — South Beach and Florida landmarks just weren’t worth it. Now the prices are much better, but Czechs -naturally- save money on things they need the least.

For example being fined by a beach buggy cop for sunbathing topless. I know, I know, Florida is more open-minded about this, but still 🙂

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Summer holiday confusion

In Czech Tourism,Economy on February 6, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

floridaThere is something very strange about this economy…

Some news articles say that summer holidays will be extremely cheap for Czechs this year because travel agencies purchased hotel beds and rooms in advance last year, and they paid for them. Now they will have to attract people by low prices because everybody is careful and saves money…

And other news articles say that travel agencies will increase their prices drastically because of the EUR-CZK exchange rate (Euro is getting more expensive for Czechs over the last couple of weeks…).

OK, so if travel agencies had to REDUCE prices to fill up their reservations, how on Earth do they expect to do the aforesaid with even high prices. Surely they can not attract enough people who would compensate the losses by paying more for their holidays anyway…

Croatia used to be the most favorite destination for Czechs, and I think it still is. A while ago experts started to say that  Czechs have begun to seek other destinations. I think that the crisis will make many of them reconsider their holiday plans… and it will be the Adriatic Sea with homemade meals and meat cans a la 1990’s all over again…

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Wine cellars collapsing in Southern Moravia

In Brno,Culture,Czech Tourism on January 26, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

(c) Getty Images

(c) Getty Images

UPDATED JAN 27

Several wine cellars collapsed in the village of Boretice, Southern Moravia, Czech Republic, burrying valuable wine archives and supplies. Their owners say damages are estimated at several million crowns.

The Southern Moravian Region is probably the most famous wine region in the country. There are wine trails across the region as well as many other forms of wine tourism. The owners of the cellars and other locals say that melting snow is the phenomenon to be blamed. It has caused soil to move and the walls and ceilings could no longer hold the moist…etc.

Now people fear that other cellars will start collapsing too, as there are many of them built right next to each other, plus heavy trucks passing by make the ground shake even more. Authorities claim that many of the owners have build extensions (upper floors) using heavier bricks and concrete and the basic structure of the early 20th century-built cellars were too weak for that…

UPDATE: MEP Jana Bobosikova and the South Moravian governor are involved now, they are trying to come up with some solution. It is definitely a good thing, but the help should not be provided to those who had been stupid and had built their cellars while violating construction regulations. Only innocent victims should get help, i.e. those wine makers whose legal cellars collapsed because the neighboring “illegal ones” did… Apparently, some investigation is underway…

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USA Today: Visiting Moravia Won’t Kill Your Budget

In Czech Tourism,Travel on August 8, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

The wine region of the South Moravian District is worth visiting and even USA Today recommends it, the Brnensky denik daily writes today. Biking through the wine region and tasting wine samples during the trip, visiting wine cellars or historical towns and villages along the way is affordable and a nice experience, the daily goes on saying…

People and businesses involved in tourism in this region should be thankful for any article of this kind. It is a well-known fact that most tourists who come to the region stay for one or two days, many of them come on what we call a one-day-hop from Vienna (two-hour drive).

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