Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Prague

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  • Steve Curtis,

    ” She has an economics degree from Cambridge."

    I have noticed that in other non english speaking countries, their best and brightest become tourist guides to a partly crumbling or faded past.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Exploding... the inevitable?

    Vaclav Havel, the Lou Reed-loving poet who became the president after leading Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989

    So that's why it's called The Velvet Revolution
    ...such a perfect day!

    No iron hands, nor crushing curtains...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Lovely post. Eclipsed by Slatergate today, doubtless, but lovely nonetheless!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Lovely post. Eclipsed by Slatergate today, doubtless, but lovely nonetheless!

    Thanks Rob. I knew it wasn't going to get 100 comments, but it felt like it needed to be written.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I now wish to visit Prague.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    I now wish to visit Prague.

    And I wish to go back, for longer.

    Outside the brief of the post: we went to a great restaurant (Cestr) and stayed in a really cool hotel (Hotel Josef), neither of them expensive by international standards, both of them really well thought-out and modern ventures. Groovy place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

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    We stayed there for two weeks on our big trip in 1993. The memory of what came before was very fresh in the people we met and stayed with. I think the first MacDonalds had just opened, or maybe there was a debate going on over its opening.

    It seems amazing now that in those two weeks of summer, Depeche Mode played a big outdoor concert, and Sugar (Bob Mould of Husker Du) also played a smaller venue. Which I guess would have been unimaginable only a few years earlier.

    I'd love to go back too.

    Now, did you try that Smažený sýr? :-)

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

  • RichardBody,

    Thanks Russell. I've had the luck of being in Prague a few times and it really is one of those cities that requires revisiting. In a city that is full of life and tears Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral is a place that is extremely moving. This is the last stand of the partisans who assassinated Heydrich in 1942.

    I found Wenseslas Square an incongruous place. Full of English pubs and English shops and with hen and stag dos noisily roaming, but with a deep sense history. And I love the undulating cross that makes up the Jan Palach memorial at the foot of the museum.

    Abingdon, Oxfordshire • Since Nov 2014 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    we were in Berlin summer 1990, East Berlin was having a going out of business sale, the currency was being merged the next week, things were very different from 3 years before - back then there were these stops on the subway under the East that the trains just slowed for, there were lonely guards with machine guns standing under single bulbs - 3 years later those stations had opened that week, you could tell, they were the only ones without graffitti.

    While we were there Pink Floyd played the wall at the wall, saw possibly the best double bill ever Midnight Oil at their prime and Sinéad O'Connor in a Nazi era ampitheatre built for the '36 olympics

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2623 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions was also played a lot during the Reunification, as well as riding the wave of Glasnost and the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact itself.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Havent had the first snow yet by the look of the piccies, still must be nippy out

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    Havent had the first snow yet by the look of the piccies, still must be nippy out

    The locals were saying it was unseasonably warm and that most years it would have been snowing by now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Did you know Dina Jezdic worked there a while back? She may have some good contacts there for ya, being the bright young woman that she is. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions was also played a lot during the Reunification, as well as riding the wave of Glasnost and the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact itself.

    Ironically, we heard a lot of pre-Velvet Revolution music in bars. They like the hits of the 70s and 80s in Plzen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Did you know Dina Jezdic worked there a while back? She may have some good contacts there for ya, being the bright young woman that she is. :)

    Yes, she mentioned that. If and when I get back ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    They like the hits of the 70s and 80s in Plzen.

    Not an aberration,
    but the Abba-rations they were forced to consume... ?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Not an aberration,
    but the Abba-rations they were forced to consume… ?

    Also, the Czech hits of the day, which sounded fine in a Peter Sarstedt sort of way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also: people talked about the Russians, they talked about the Germans (who of course are meshed into the country's history in various ways) -- but no one said a word, ever, about the Slovaks. They were like the cousins you didn't talk about any more. It seemed inappropriate to even ask about it.

    Can anyone shed any light on this?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    My Czech friend talked about them – there are quite a few Slovaks living in Prague (both nations being in the EU, they have full rights of residence in each others countries). I get the impression it’s like NZers and Australians – they’re perfectly fine people, but they prefer to have their own states. (Czechoslovakia was a fairly artificial creation anyway, based I think in a post-WW1 idea that countries of a certain size would be more stable and able to defend themselves).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

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    Also, my memory of the Czech Republic is going to a dance party on a disused Cold War airbase. The image below is of one of the stages which were in the dispersal shelters - the marks on the floor indicate the turning circle of an Su-22.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Can anyone shed any light on this?

    Come on, you gotta hand that one over to Rich, Light in a Shed good enough for ya?
    ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    The Czech Republic is entering Eurovision next year, after previously having entered in 2007.

    This is interesting because as Eastern Europe opened up, the free (and sometimes new) countries used the competition to showcase themselves to the rest of Europe. Except the Czech Republic didn't enter until 2007 (compare with Slovakia who first entered in 1993). The theory is that the Czech Republic was generally a lot stronger and more confident than other former communist countries (all the cool kids were in Prague already!) so it didn't feel the need to do the Eurovision thing until 2007, when the country was under political scrutiny.

    So now they're back again, in time for the competition's 60th anniversary. I wonder what is behind the decision this time.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    four days in Prague in the summer of 1990 was an amazing and unforgettable experience. the interregnum, except the new top (Havel) was in place while the old bureacracy and rules continued. it was still full of East German tourists, with very few westerners. and no McD, thank god.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Mike O'Connell, in reply to stephen walker,

    When I think of Prague, I'm reminded of the Daniel Day Lewis 'doctor-turned-window cleaner' character in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    At least, what it was. I was fortunate to get there in Sep 1989 when the country was still Czechosolvakia - or the CSSR - Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. I recall seeing one or two people being dragged off by the thuggish police in Wenceslas Square. It was full of hustlers and it was in the days when the visa required £10 compulsory exchange per day at an extortionate rate for the local krona.

    But it was fun dealing with black marketeers who would give you 4-5 times the 'official' rate if you needed topping up. Trouble was, there was not much to spend it on after accommodation; and worse, I didn't drink pilsner in those days so it was difficult getting rid of the bundles of small change notes!

    If anyone is heading to Prague, I can well recommend the Red Chair Hotel in the heart of the old town. And if time permits, the stunning World Heritage town Český Krumlov in south Bohemia beckons, once the temporary home of the at times notorious Austrian painter Egon Schiele - who was turfed out by the locals for his 'alleged employment of the town's teenage girls as models'!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 385 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

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    Was looking for more photos of Prague, and found this of the remaining wall in Berlin instead, from the same trip in 1993.

    Have been trying to find an English version of the quote by the first post-war President of Germany, Theodor Heuss.

    The best I can gather is 'man cannot with politics make culture, but perhaps with culture make politics'. It seems kind of apposite right now.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

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