Havel’s tomb to be visited by thousands of “fans”

In Politics on December 23, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Thousands of people are expected to visit the Vinohrady cemetery in Prague to pay respect to the late president Vaclav Havel. His family’s tomb can be found here, at the second largest Prague cemetery which is also a cultural landmark. According to media reports hundreds of candles had been placed and lit near the tomb even before the Friday funeral which was attended by numerous world leaders, including Nicolas Sarkozy, Bill and Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and others. Havel’s parents and first wife Olga are also buried in the tomb. It is one of fourteen tombs located within a chapel which was built in 1897.


Candles lit for Vaclav Havel around the country

In Politics on December 21, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

As the coffin of former President Vaclav Havel went on display in Prague where thousands of people have been coming in person, people all over the country keep bringing candles to places which are more or less associated with Havel. On the other hand, there are also places which have nothing to do with him, they have just been picked at random by people who gathered to pay respect to Havel. In Brno, hundreds of candles can be seen on a fountain, in front of a memorial on the central square or in front of a theatre which used to show Havel’s plays.

Photos: (c) Petr Bokuvka



Insurance company: the late president was our client

In Internet, Media on December 19, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Some people in charge of marketing and PR at Vojenska zdravotni pojistovna (V0ZP), one of health insurance companies in the Czech Republic, are idiots. An advertisement in a black frame was posted on the company’s website today included Vaclav Havel’s photo and the words “client of VoZP”, the news server wrote and TV Nova reported today.


Vaclav Havel, the symbol of democracy, has died

In Politics on December 19, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

As of last Sunday, Czechs will probably have a new Where were you when… question.

Where were you when you found out about the death of Vaclav Havel? Havel died in his sleep at his weekend house, following a lengthy period of health problems. Since February he has been cancelling most of his scheduled events and his public appearances were less than sporadic. According to some news reports, he has died of circulatory system failure.

Most Czech personalities comment on Havel’s undeniable contribution to the end of communism. Notable world leaders were quick to respond in their own individual ways, including Barack Obama or the Dalai Lama

His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. (…) He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world.   — Barack Obama (source: AFP)

A three-day official mourning period will be observed from Wednesday to Friday. A state funeral will take place on Friday. Havel’s family decided to have him cremated. The Czech government is considering the adoption of a special law to recognize his contribution to freedom and democracy.

The truth is that Havel taught Czechs that democracy is a hard work and that it is one of the most important things to be thankful for. Since the Velvet Revolution, Havel has commented on the issue of freedom in less fortunate countries and regions (such as Russia or Tibet), reminding world leaders (with more or fewer attributes of dictatorship) that the 20th century democracy benefits everyone. 

He represented civilized politics in the Czech Republic, which is something that we have not seen in this country for a few years. Maybe even from the moment he resigned. Some people called him idealist and said that many of his views had little in common with the way politics is done these days. But according to many Czechs, he was the force that held many politicians back… According to a recent research, 99 percent of Czechs who did not vote in the last elections are disgusted with politics.

Thousands of people passed a plain coffin guarded by the late president’s coffin to pay their last respect on Monday.

There have already been some proposals that the Prague International Airport should be named after Havel.


Battle of Austerlitz reenacted with Mark Schneider

In History on December 3, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

The annual re-enactment of the famous Battle of Austerlitz (aka the Battle of Slavkov in Czech) took place near the village of Tvarozna, just outside Brno, today. Every year the event attracts thousands of people, not just from the region. Hundreds of visitors from Poland and Russia arrive as well. I saw at least four Russian news teams and one film crew of four (the former Russian Empire was one of Napoleon’s opponents).

Napoleon was once again played by Mark Schneider, a famous impersonator of the emperor who even has his own IMDb entry and who has played or impersonated Napoleon in Slavkov or in History Channel TV programs. A few years ago he was interviewed by the Daily Press and talked about his experience playing Napoleon in the Czech Republic.

Nine hundred soldiers, ninety horses and twenty canons took part in today’s show.

All photos (c) Petr Bokuvka


CSA strike: dozens stranded and flights cancelled

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

(c) Petr Bokuvka

Many Czech Airlines pilots have been on strike for two days now. They protest against the company management’s restructuring plans, which include, among other things, the transfer of a part of the CSA fleet to Holidays Czech Airlines, which is a charter airline which was established as a sister company.

Czech Airlines announced on its website that the protest is illegal even though only a court can declare with maximum certainty that a protest is illegal. The announcement says that due to the illegal pressure tactics the airline is unable to operate some of its flight. Earlier on Friday the management found a Bulgarian airline which has offered four aircraft and crew, the server wrote. Some of these aircraft brought home dozens of Czechs who had tickets on inbound flights.

In addition, the protesting pilots claim that the CSA management and Minister of Finance are not telling the whole truth about the company’s financial performance (which has been tragic recently) and that the general downsizing, in terms of its fleet and number of employees, is hurting the company “beyond repair”. According to a letter sent by the airline’s top manager to the employees, pilots will be able to fly for the sister charter airline. However, the company offers much lower salaries, the news server wrote. The chairman of the pilots’ professional association was quoted by AFP as saying that transferring aircraft between these two companies is just like holding your bag in your right hand and switch it to your left hand.

Czech Airlines announced on Friday evening that it had managed to make arrangements for all Saturday flights.


Sitting on Santa’s lap? Not in this country

In Winter on November 30, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

How does one convince their son or daughter that Christmas presents are not purchased by adults when the kids see people with wrapped gifts in malls or on the streets everywhere? It is harder and harder to retell the story about  Santa or the more traditional gift-giver, Christkind. The latter is invisible and immaterial and nobody actually “knows” what the figure looks like but the former is, of course, the straight out of an American made-for-TV family comedy about Christmas Santa Claus. While the Czech Republic has adopted Santa as a Christmas figure, his prominence is much smaller. For example, the sitting on Santa’s lap is virtually non-existent. It is only practiced in a handful of shopping malls around the country (my guess would be five to ten, and I could possibly name all of them). Coincidentally, this Christmas tradition was recently banned in the United Kingdom.

The fact that Christkind can still beat Santa in terms of the number of fans and followers is probably the reason why Santa is more of a fairytale character. According to a 2009 research, 87 percent of children believe that Christkind brings the presents. No Czech kid knows the names of his reindeer. Only a few (who have taken English classes taught by a native speaker) can probably name Rudolph. In addition, most Czech kids stick to Christkind due to the fact that Santa appears too human and he is often portrayed as having made, purchased, wrapped and transported the presents. Christkind, on the other hand, is much more virtual, which gives kids more room for imagination…


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.


Czech Television will assign color codes to reporters

In Media on November 25, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

A new system of employee evaluation has recently been introduced by the Czech Television, Czech Republic public service broadcaster. Based upon this internal system, reporters will be divided into color-coded groups based on their skills, achievements, attitude and the overall quality. The best team (black, according to the TYDEN weekly newsmagazine) will be in charge of the evening news broadcast, Udalosti. Other teams will do the less prestigious work, including the daily update of the CT24 channel, which is the Czech Television’s 24/7 news broadcast.

All news teams everywhere are divided into groups, we just have them color-coded, Czech TV’s spokesman Ladislav Sticha told the Mlada fronta DNES daily. The news department’s management wants to work with the most experienced journalists to create the flagship program. Sticha added that there will be no “wall” between any two teams, meaning that any reporter can be promoted based on their achievements.

According to the newly appointed director of Czech Television Petr Dvorak, the flagship program is intended for viewers who only want their portion of news once a day. In addition, this evening news program should be anchored by one person only (for the time being there is one anchorman and one anchorwoman who “take turns”).

According to a humorous rumor quoted by the TYDEN weekly newsmagazine, there will also be an orange team whose members will wear high visibility jackets while cleaning and collecting garbage around the news department building.


Photo Walk: some really ugly parts of Brno

In Architecture on November 20, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

There aren’t many neighborhoods of the city of Brno which one can refer to as truly ugly. There are only three or four exceptions, one of them being the Horni Herspice railway station and the adjacent streets on both sides of the track. Directly to the north and north-east from the station is a huge shunting yard. It is a no-man’s land where you can find small private gardens as well as unauthorised garbage dumping sites and shacks evidently used by homeless people.  There are old dilapidated buildings which are to be demolished quite soon. There are obscure dead-end streets with yards full of cars, which means there must be some active companies doing business there. Either way, this place is spooky, especially on a gray Sunday morning… 

(above): A former factory just next to a huge underpass which was recently built under a nearby railway line.
It has been for sale for months now…

(above): Waiting room of the Horni Herspice (a Brno borough) train station. Dirty, destroyed. Bummer…

(above): A bunch of place names on a wall in an almost unused alley. No idea what they were supposed to mean…

(above): Along the street leading to the train station are many tiny “gardens” with tiny huts. The soil does not seem to be fertile to begin with… And many indices suggest that the inhabitants of these huts like to collect stuff other people have thrown out…

(above): Looks like the situation in the building is so complicated the mailman does not want to go in.

(above): The borough administration does not want squatters and homeless people here. This building should be demolished in April.

(above): This street is one of the main access routes to the main bus terminal. Many international bus lines use it. Not a fine picture to see if you are foreigner arriving in Brno…

(above): There used to be a working class pub in this building. On the left-hand corner there is a huge hole in the wall through which one can see what used to be a men’s room. The urinals are still there…

(above): Another building which will soon make room for a new modern neighborhood. The question is, how long it is going to take considering the global crisis in which many plans have been put on hold…

%d bloggers like this: