Archive for the ‘Prague’ Category

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Best Prague street: mostly Italian and Arab tenants

In Architecture,Prague on November 27, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Parizska (Street) is generally thought to be the most expensive avenue (or street in general) in the Czech Republic.  Its stores include Louis Vouitton, Prada, Swarowski, Hugo Boss etc. According to some sources, it is the 14th most expensive street in the world in terms of the aforementioned indicators. French actress Chantal Poullain, who used to be married to famous Czech actor Bolek Polivka, says that the street does her remind of Paris, especially to the the architecture of the buildings.

It is also interesting to look at the door bell panels and see the names of the tenants. I think it is no surprise that foreign sounding names, especially Italian and Arab, are the most common thing to find. According to this list of apartments currently for sale at Parizska, a two-bedroom apartment costs usually well over $800,000. This one (four bedrooms) costs $1.6 million. Italian and Arab businessmen are common in the Czech Republic, especially in fields of business in which one’s permanent residence address matters a lot. Accoring to the photos from the list of available apartments, these are high-ceiling apartments, a common element of Art Nouveau.

Look at this photo-visit to one of the apartments owned by a Dutch-Czech businessman, who says that he bought it because he likes huge rooms and the short distance from his office, downtown Prague and his parents’ house.

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Photo Walk: Vltava and Kampa in Prague

In Prague on May 8, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Downtown Prague is a perfect place to walk on a beautiful spring or summer day. Naturally, there are three or four places to avoid due to huge crowds of tourists that make you stop or zig-zag frequently. The streets of the Kampa Island (just next to Mala Strana) are much more peaceful, even though tourists and locals find their way to this neighborhood as well. There is a huge park there where people are allowed to step, sunbathe and nap on the grass (which is restricted in most parks and gardens around downtown Prague). However, when it comes to Kampa, one needs to bring a bottle of water with them. In case of sudden thirst on a hot day, it would be a shame to relinquish a comfy park bench and search for a small convenience store…

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How I did not become an ATC controller

In Economy,Personal,Prague on April 24, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

Being an air traffic controller is one of the most stressful things ever, I was told. You have in your hands the lives of hundreds of people at a time. I have always been fascinated by airports, commercial airlines and aircraft. When I found out about a month ago that a certain Czech air traffic control authority was hiring, I sent my resume immediately.

However, things did not go the way I planned, even though I started well. Having tried a sample English language test (score: 100 percent) I was pretty confident. I mentioned in my resume my long-time interest in said issues, my extensive theoretical knowledge of all the ground and in-flight procedures and terminology.

I was prepared to move to Prague, because, as I was told, the initial training takes place in the ATC facility on the outskirts of Prague (some two miles from the touchdown zone of one of the runways at Prague Ruzyne Airport). Then the HR manager sent me a warning note. It was something I did not expect but, as it turned out, it was a necessary preventive step on their part, due to previous experience with other job candidates.

The note said that successful candidates have to undergo 18-month training. They are employees of the ATC authority during this period of time, but their gross pay is only CZK 13,000 a month. One cannot live on this salary in Prague, if one does not have a loving partner who supports the family (couple) during this period of time. Of course, I did not expect to be paid the full salary (which is pretty good), but the aforementioned amount is just not possible.

A friend of mine who loves plane spotting way more than I do said “It is a widely known fact. You should have asked me before you sent the resume. I have a friend who did it anyway. He was on macaroni and cheese almost for a whole year. Says it was worth it”.

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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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Prague Flash Mob 2010 at the main train station

In Culture,Entertainment,Music,Prague on December 2, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

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The Harlem Gospel Singers to perform in Prague

In Culture,Entertainment,Prague,Religion on November 25, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

Czech music enthusiasts will once again have the opportunity to see and listen to the Harlem Gospel Singers. They will perform at the Prague Congress Center on December 14. The interesting aspect of their performances in the Czech Republic is the fact that many audience members don’t even understand the lyrics and their real message, i.e. they fail to realize they are clapping to the rhythm of a church song. 

Crowd participation is a very important part of the live performance of the Harlem Gospel Singers. They sing hymns and Czechs crowds follow even though they have no idea about the meaning. Oh Happy Day is a good example. The most recognizable text is easy to comprehend and seems to have nothing to do with religion. But it is, after all, a part of a 1967 gospel music arrangement.

Sure, it is entertainment – but it is also a little disrespectful. The question is: to whom. Dancing and clapping and singing in churches is a key aspect of religion in Alabama and other Southern states, so when a religious Czech person does it at a HGS concert here, it is kind of like cheating on their religion…

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Bus To Bohemia: witty observations by an Englishman in Prague

In Culture,Entertainment,Language,Life,Media,Prague,Travel on November 14, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

I am a fan of witty books written by foreigners about a country they visit, or about their new (temporary or permanent) homelands. I liked Stephen Clarke’s Merde books and I enjoyed For the Love of Prague by Gene Deitch.

Bus To Bohemia by Posh Parker is another one of these works of art that are, in my opinion, written mainly for the author’s fellow citizens who are less fortunate and have not had the chance to visit a foreign country and dive into its everyday life by attending local bars and communicating with local people, instead of just eating at KFC and shopping like ordinary tourists. Of course, just like most authors of all genres (be it comedy or university textbooks) there are a few very minor cases of jumping to conclusions — but hey, we ALL do it.

Books like this one may also be of interest to Czechs who want to know how the nation is perceived by foreigners and who do not take things personally. Many Czechs do take things personally and any comments and remarks regarding aspects of everyday life result in their unspoken remarks “Go back to (insert country here)”.

Of course, one has to have in mind that books written by the author’s foreign experience are often written from one specific perspective. Had the author arrived as a first-class British Airways passenger and stayed at the Radisson and dined in the Alcron’s La Rotonde, it would be a different — and boring! — perspective. 

The author’s website is here. You can also buy his book.

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Missing Czech girl: Day 24

In Law,Prague on November 6, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

It has been 24 days since Anna Janatkova, 9, from Prague disappeared. The girl vanished on the way home from school in Troja, which is a rather upscale neighborhood. The police searched the area several times and found the girl’s backpack and a water bottle she had in school. They even arrested a suspect whose DNA was found on the backpack. The man (who has a worrying criminal record) claimed to only have touched the backpack and the supervising judge ordered that the man be released from custody. The next day the man “vanished”, too.

No new clues so far. Except for the fact that Anna was not kidnapped for money. Her father offered CZK 3.5 million in a televised speech and so far no kidnappers have contacted anyone.

American readers might be surprised to hear that a nine-year old walks home from school alone (or with a friend). The answer is that this is totally normal in the Czech Republic. (1) Streets are pedestrian-friendly almost everywhere, let alone in neighborhoods like Troja in Prague. (2) We do not have schoolbuses here, so kids are not picked up outside their schools and brought to their doorsteps. There are special public transportation lines that are routed as schoolbuses, though (large cities only).

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Prague subway turnstiles: neverending story

In Economy,Prague,Technology,Travel on May 20, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , ,

DP Praha, the City of Prague’s public transportation authority, wants to reinstall turnstiles at subway stations. The most recent discussions have been going on for two years with no real results…

The project is feasible. One of the benefits would be the improvement in terms of fare collection. However, some issues have to be resolved, such as the payment of one-ride fares via SMS cell phone messages, etc.
MF Dnes daily, March 14, 2008

Public transportation enthusiasts reacted almost immediately. They argue that the crowds of people at major transfer points who transfer between buses/trams and the subway will slow down and that people who have pre-paid cards (in which case bar codes or magnetic stripes will have to be scanned) will cause the system to crash.

However DP Praha argued that these issues will be resolved and ticket inspectors will practically disappear from subway stations. They’ve probably never heard of people in the U.S. who like to jump waist-high turnstiles.

One year later, on March 13, 2009, Czech Television reported that the project should cost CZK 2.2 bln and the estimated ROI is five years… According to the report, the turnstiles should be almost full-height types (1.7 m) and that the design should be sufficient to withstand large crowds at major transfer points (40 to 60 people per minute)…

And once again, one year later, the Green Party says that DP Praha should give up the project because the ROI calculations are unrealistic, DP Praha would have to apply for a loan and that the new technology is not friendly to wheelchair-bound citizens and mothers…

Some citizens’ organisations also claim that the system that is planned for subway will not be compatible with ticket markers on buses trams and trains…

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Prague Ruzyne Airport – behind the scenes

In Life,Prague,Technology,Travel on May 15, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , , , ,

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