“Listen you little trustafarian parasite, I ain’t putting no more funds through Western Union ’til you come up with a better story…”
So thankfully the Sultans of Brno are here to the rescue with our no- holds/gropes/touching-barred guide to the wild side of life in true tripping multibit backwaters of Česká republika, and this month we’re all hopping on a bus at Florenc (200Kč), to spin 2.5 hours down the D1 to Brno – not just CZ’s second city, but another kingdom, many other ways of life, another everything – (you’ll probably even need another heart and liver), but you certainly won’t need another job or cash injection!
Arriving in Brno at one of the bus stations you’re sure to be greeted by the local Roma reception committee, but don’t let that stress you – like everyone else you’ll meet during your stay it’s just sex they want, not your full wallet, but it’s never nice to hang around public transport zones, so move your organs following the ‘centrum’ signs for five minutes or so and presto, you’re on Masarykova, Brno’s central shopping artery, by which stage you’ll have a sore neck from twisting it so much to look at the visions/appartitions/mahongony-sculptured smiling country holkickas passing (hey girls if you’re reading, you too will find these irresistible and maybe get your tongue pierced to better enjoy the weekend (more later)).
So you’ll realise you’re closer to Vienna by happening across the first of many grand cafes replete with massive posing terraces outside… that is posing by those who can afford the 120Kč kava on the terrace and more desperate, eye-locking posing by those whose daddy drank their 60Kč, by those parading around the terrace.
This ‘first’ cafe, CAFE ADRIA is the nearest Brno has to an expat joint, because truly, (as you will find through- out your stay in these parts) that it’s a deep-end plunging mission lifestyle-wise, and the happier ‘expats’ here shed that tag pretty quickly and “do as the Romans do”. But if you’re in somewhat insecure and need a friend/ bodyguard/pivo-sponsor, this is the first and probably last place you’ll hear English spoken, and so be in a position to do some table-hopping.
Ditto accommodation – you’ll have realised by now this is not touristville, with no Japanese umbrellas, unhindered passage everywhere, and no gougers offering you “furry bootifull rooms”, and communist-era signage for same (i.e. none), so depending on your budget, the Anglophiles in Cafe Adria are best, I should say safest, to ask about accommodation in pensions, or hostels. However, these don’t come recommended in these parts, as they’re soooo cheap that they’re full of hungry and screwed-up-with-anger long-term Ukrainian and Kosovan residents, so you’re better off budgeting up just a little and asking after one of the many cafes further up the centre streets which offer truly beautiful apartments for 6-800Kč per night. These places are usually very large, with independent entrances, no curfews, etc, so you can haggle for the best price and smuggle in your friends later – not to mention arranging whatever level of orgy you’re after as these mighty fine addresses are only a minute’s pulling from any of the nocturnal hunting grounds. With the haggling part, as with all other transactions here, you’ll find Italian or Deutsch handy (if you don’t have basic Czech numeracy down), but if all else fails, the pen, paper and sight of money should do.
If you’re feeling flush, you’ll be surprised with the hotel quality you can find for 1,000Kč upwards, but you’ll find the smuggling trick requires lubricating the porter’s palms, and decorwise even 4-Star hotels still come with communist carpet which can be hard on the optic nerves the next morning, and hip-wise, the locals will assume you’ve come to town on a 24-hour whoring mission simply because that’s what the normal hotel residents, the 165 kilo Austrians and Deutschlanders, do in these parts. So it’s the apartment or the park basically! But either way you will have no problem, and the parties continue most nights until at least 5 or 6 in the morning, so you could always postpone the issue, party hard and check in early the next morning for the following night – effectively a 2-for-1 deal!
So with that sorted, you sweet-talk a baggage deposit at a cafe, or use a station locker, and take in some of the more fixed sights. This is easier than the accommodation bit – as there are countless publications (freebies and paid) – showing off the buildings, churches, palaces and castles that are so beautifully intact and open (most free-of-charge), and functioning as galleries, museums, cafes, exhibitions, etc that you’ll start to admire the commies for their architectural conservation.
If you want to make yourself a trail, you’ll probably start at Staré radnice (The Old Town Hall) just off the main street, where you’ll find a tourist office full of any extra info you might find interesting. Here’s where you might get the lowdown on the many local legends also – including the tale of the Brno Drak/Dragon, the famous “wheel”, and the crooked spire on the front of the building, which the architect “Gaudi-ised” ‘cos he was pissed at not getting paid (as usual in these parts).
You should get the phone number of the blondynka who’s just filled you in on this legend and arrange to do some recipricol filling-in later, and move onwards and upwards to Spilberk castle (no need for maps here), where, not only will you get a panoramic vista of the city and surrounding countryside, but, where a 30Kč investment in the museum will have you out after 1 hour feeling chuffed at being a walking encyclopea of facts, figures, dates, kings, emperors, Nazis, Swedes, Celts, Jesuits, etc – you’ll know so much about the history of Brno, Moravia, Czech lands – eastern Europe as a whole that you’ll almost want to rush back to piss your Praha friends off with your sudden substantiated theories on what made Vaclav Klaus so evil, etc.
And if you’ve a habit of getting into heated political arguments, and need some facts’n’figures on the Roma community, rush yourself to the Museum of Roma Culture on Jugoslávská before the bus back. But don’t, stay a while instead!
From the castle ramparts you’ll be able to identify your next targets – whether it’s churches (gothic, baroque, etc) you’re after, palaces, bordellos, and shopping centres – whatever, you’ll see them from here. Anyone who has studied biology will find it strange to descend from the castle and towards Mendlova náměstí – where you’ll find the monastery grounds and church – the home and gardens of the great pea-priest, Gregor Mendel. Herein lies a little museum so pathetically small considering the genetic genius this guy was, but before you dis’ the commies for this one, you’ll find it was a much larger museum in their times, only to be scaled down by the neo-capitalist rent-hungry monks of today who’ve rented most of the site out to offices – many (PR firms and the like) exploiting their historic address.
No doubt you’ll find the weather warmer and fresher than Praha here, and the going tougher, so you’re going to have to worry about a good meal! Only extravagant people go to potravinys here to buy food – because it’s usually cheaper to have a full McCoy 2-course meal in a hospoda/pub. If it’s not clearly chalked-up outside, you got to ask them for their “Denni-Menu” – which is usually a 60-80Kč affair, with many places even offering a choice of up to 5 main courses for that price. You’ll need a dictionary (but don’t ask for “listek” (foreigner food!!) as phrasebooks tell you – ask for “menu”, unless you’re into the point & hope method, but invariably you should find the standard of food high, compared with what you’d think by looking at the place first.
Vegetarians are not considered normal by hospoda standards, but, being a city of 5 universities, many specialist fazola-joints have opened in recent years offering an amazing array of “denni menus” at crazily low prices, (best one is next door to Brno’s biggest bordello – MOULIN ROUGE, so try asking for directions to that at lunchtime (ok Slovákova 278/12), with another, more elegant- dining set-up, but more expensive at 55Kč, a short No. 1 tram ride away, called SPIRALA on Štefánikova.
Badly matched couples should try to find KORMIDLA on Kounicova where the best of both worlds are offered. (Whaddidijust say? Couples? Sorry, I meant ‘groups’ if you’re still a couple at this stage go back to Praha and save your relationship while you can, as no love will last the afternoon, let alone the night here, and furthermore, no-one ever had a party by bringing apples to an orchard… sorry, ciao!).
These streets and all others are easily found by checking out the clearly- indexed map boards at the end of every street, but less adventurous, greasy-faced or blind people might prefer to loiter around the central shopping streets (Masarykova, Česká, Kobližná) which all meet in the central square (Náměstí Svobody), and are freckled with kiosks offering all the usual rubbish; gyros, ‘pizza slices’, German food, etc.
There’s always McDonalds and KFC at the main square with the annual food special, but more tempting 16-year old specials comparing their leg-lengths on the benches while sharing a cheeseburger with those doleful eyes telling you that investment in Coca-Cola could reap delightful dividends.
Now you’re really wondering why the Commies are being demonised all the time, if they could mass-produce beautiful talent like this, and your thoughts become immoral for the 165th time today. You’re Catholic? So you hit 2 birds in 1 church – beautiful baroque or gargoylful gothic architecture and repenting. Too much. They’re there again, the eyes, the legs, the butt just shaping up like a pear in July, Clinton would find this acceptable – ok you’re leaving church… forever.
Anyway, being hot and seriously bothered, you’d appreciate some water – right? So, back to the main station (at end of street – soooo simple), and find a number 1 tram going north and stay on until it stops at Ečerova / Přehrada. There you’ll find Brno’s lovely lake complete with beach life, bars, music, boating activities, babes with/without bikinis, etc., which you won’t have seen since you last smelt the ocean! A bike is best to really explore this region, but if you ain’t got one, you can’t hire one, so you’ll have to make do with your few kilometre footsie range.
No doubt you’ll stumble across Beach Volleyball and Beach Handball everywhere, and especially recommended is the SOKOLSKA beach volleyball club (right side of lake, 2k from tram), where you’ll find CR’s finest and fittest with 3-metre sallow legs doing the biz on the sand, while you relax with, but try to hide, pivo you just bought because you feel ashamed that pivos and these type of sculpture will never be one. So you sip your new Mattoni, but decide to enter life’s league of loving at a more attainable level.
She smiles, shhheeeett, gotta buy some Orbit White now. Inadequacy? Unworthiness! “Lord I am not worthy?” you are, idiot, you’re just from Praha, Chill out, cool down – it’s a lake, lots of people swimming – no Speedos? Ah, look Nuda Pláž. Enter, try to look as cool as the 1000s of the sun-squad already there, strip off, why they looking at you like that? You’re now unique in the world, you feel you’ve hit a Zimbabwean farm – everyone’s mahogony-coloured and precision-shaved, they’re at home dancing, drinking, partying it up, and you with the biggest bush on the beach and a white bum! So swim, shakedown to dry, and escape, as you ain’t going to get no funk on these beaches, as these are hygienic hedonists and they don’t like getting bush rash. Yeah mon, whole world’s still suffering from BUSHrash.
So meander back along through the lakeside forests, head down, dissing all ambition, and get yourself a paunch-making pivo at any of the many little hospodas in fantastic settings – in some you can watch a movie on a proper kino screen, others will let you put your Orb on the stereo if Kiss 88.3FM’s constant playlist of DJ Bobo feat. Natalia Oreiro “I vanna sh-sh-shag u all night long… ohohoh (ad nauseum)” with all the illegal honeys tapping along like they actually understand the lyrics while they share the Kofolas and Start Lights.
You better believe this music, cos that’s all they know, that’s all that they can get on the Vietnamese FM radios they buy here, and that’s all you’re going to hear if you really want to see a different life and pull tonight! They ain’t going to understand the Orb, and you won’t get no funk, so try and forget music, and fit in, because anyway, if the local Militia come in from the bushes for their refreshments of a couple of gallons of pivo, when they chuck their weaponry (shit that makes the NRA look like a water pistol club), in a pile on the floor, and look as if they want to dance, you’ll quickly feel that the Orb was a mistake for these people, the barman will agree as he quickly removes your CD and tunes in to Country Radio after which you’ll bop along out of pure respect for Kosice’s Kountry Kurt Kobain, or Mikulov Mountain’s Marilyn Manson as the shit gets going… they’re karaoking it up, oh no, no funk, off again!
So as the sun goes down, you’ll notice another change in the pace of life in the hospodas as you try to find the main port, from where you left the tram, and you’re so buzzing with the stress/pivo/innocence/inadequacy thing that DJ Bobo starts to sound like Frankie Knuckles to you, so you’re lured into one of the many open-air/semi-covered disco bars at the port… and again, every holka seems to be beautiful and 17, and the guys are the militia types, and sex (with these girls) is clearly not on their agenda… so look, look schooooo schtupid, toooo much loooooking, their eyes are asking you what the forest is for, you ain’t got the balls to pull them by drawing pictures on a piece of paper alone, or is it the militia types? Too much, lets get the tram and seek out more “normality”.
So lets get away from the bad influences for a bit and learn something! Sun’s gone down, it’s still hot, but there’s a beautiful warming breeze, so you’re thirsty again. Promise yourself to avoid DJ Bobo, and head for Gorkého (off Úvoz), where you’re going to have to make a choice: U Blahovka, a proper, must-be-seen beer bar, with a choice of Pilsner Urquell and Pilsner Urquell and Pils… so it’s only the good shit which is pivo so frothytastic like you’ve never had before, which is true, you haven’t because all you get in Praha is stuff from kegs, right?
Here they realise 3 things: (a) that kegs can run out, and (b) that kegs need gas, and (c) gas contributes hugely to the paunch, not to mention actually slowing down your drinking capacity. So they eliminated problems like these by building a pipeline from Plzen (ok… too many legends, – but, truly they actually tanker it in), and the guys here are professionals who won’t comprehend if you go around asking them about kegs or any other minute quantities of beer.
The mobile phone companies allegedly researched here as models for their prepay schemes, as the Pros here tend to pay in advance (i.e. when leaving one night), so that they simply must go back the next night when the prepay voucher expires (“I know milacku, I’ve been there every night this week, but we will technically lose money if I don’t go… rozumis?” Ok, dobre, Pavel, miluji te…”).
Also try the food! Just once! The bar ”delicacies’… truly unique, eye-opening (literally…aaaarrrgh) menu. No music, but a unique Joycean deep bass clattering and hum of conversation, which only stops when Velky Pavel says “ëye schpeeks inglish too…. won, to, free… yyyyyyeeeeehhhhh”, and all the other Pavels roar raucously and raise their (personal) glasses to Pavel the polyglot. “Is that your wife in the photo, Pavel, really? … That’s a big cucumber” … “znojmske okurka… riiiight!”; Znojmo, the ol’ iron curtain town, now Czech’s very own Las Vegas and undisputed capital of okurky (cucumbers), vino and erotic taxis!
But the pros here are bottom of the Gambrinus Liga compared to the Champions League Livers of the Vinarna next door – a strictly no-smoking little bar, so concerned are they about the integrity of the truckloads of Znojmo’s freshest vintages that they got in there, and so concerned are they about the integrity of your palate that they won’t let you actually order a king size glass of 42Kč wine until you’ve tasted the full range of the day and indicated an educated preference for one in particular, and you’re swaying so much feeling like you’re from Utah… but you try to keep the show on the road because you know the night’s young.
You read in Think that you should be going ’til 5 in the morning at least, and the girls are nice, but they’re giving you food again, no man, and the ‘delicacies’!!! However you’ll find the girls here a little older, with real jobs – just like in Praha, and with that comes a smattering of English which they’ll be happy to test on you, and they’ll tell you that they’ve been here since finishing at the office at 15h… they’re looking good, they discuss last night’s threesome with you, and all you can think of is that Canadian cigarette packet with the full colour pic of the limp dick emblazoned as a health warning, and what’s that? Inadequacy again? Beautiful alcoholics! Truly sculptured, clear-skinned vinaholics! So what if the liver packs up early? Die young, beautiful and happy! Maybe you’ll forget juice bars and do some proper juicing for the rest of your previously Episcopalian life!
Pozor – these bars must by (residential area) law close at 22h, but it’s now past midnight and you realise you’re at a lock-in party! Try to escape, but the owner stops you! What’s the problem! Of course you paid! No, he’s not angry, he’s just drunk and Martina translates for you that he’s just telling you to come back in September when the first pressing of the new grapes is served, a cloudy yellow liquid called BURCAK with strangely hallucinogenic properties (for those not in the Gallo / Masson families) perfect to make you start itching your ear like Van Gogh – you’ll be back boy!!!
Another bar next door is worth mentioning if you’re more of a Sparta Praha type (top of Gambrinus, not quite resident in Champions Liga), it’s called the Whiskey Bar (Gorkého 58), strangely, with whiskeys that your daddy could only afford at Christmas in their extra-reserve versions for 100/150Kč for the blind-barman style shots (not shots man, drinks!) Bring your vegetarian girlfriend here if you’re having trouble finishing with her, because the house special is the (illegal – gotta know a code word) ‘tartar bifstek’ which is meat minced fresh out of the cow, so to speak, served to you raw in a pile, topped with raw egg, onions, and strange types of mustard, paprikas, etc. And of course these folks are so health conscious, they don’t want to risk food poisoning, so they gots to wash it down with homemade slivovice (read extra-fortissimo plum poitin), and just another to make sure all the new bacterial guests die a slow painful death in their stomachs.
Women here are alarmingly older (see how they look at 45!!! whoa), and Magdalena Kožená is one of the younger babes to frequent here. Check her out in her next concert and think of the cows! Alarmingly professional also – doctors, dentists, butchers, celebs, etc. The delectablicka doctoricka stops you at the toilet door, tells you her husband is useless so she’s ditched him, and by the way, when you urinate you lose your erectile longevity (per session)… and she knows ‘cos that’s her job, and maybe she’s got a little vested interest – too much, you can’t actually use the Basement Jaxx, so you try to look like you’re all hard already and sneak out later to the other bar with no girls guarding against short term diuretically induced erectile dysfunctions. Moc, Moc!!
Escaping this dangerous zone brings you back to musical chairs, and musical choices! ‘Chairs’ because thirsty, horny locals usually fit in at least five venues in a night (no problems as výstup/entry is often only 50Kč, if that), and ‘choices’ cos if you dig your music you’re not going to be able to do that, on principle! Anyway, by this stage, you should have pulled at least twice, or be phoning the legends Lenka from earlier and getting some handheld orientation. But if you’re strangely up to your own devices, the safely choose (a) REMIX (Brandlova 4)for techno/house with maybe even some names, or (b) CHARLIE’S HAT (Kobližná 12) if you want to try to find a slightly older (say 25 years English-speaking Brnicka girl (who will love you for all life) by the simple and effective technique of just plunging into a anthem-straining, pogo-dancing pit full of skirt or (c) LIVINGSTONES on Dominikánské náměstí 5, if you want a Slovak student narcotic version of same.
If you’re into making movies about aliens in white socks and Hungarian striped sweaters and reliving the 80’s discos in commie-time, then invest 20Kč in METRO MUSIC CLUB (“number 1 nightclub”) on Postovska 6, Alfa-Pasaz. But check out the Albanian pimps bringing the crew in for after-work drinks before you make an expensive mistake! (d) Bestest as we go to press is ZELENÁ KOČKA at Masarykova 25/27, because it’s got the executive lounges and the divoickas to go with it.
Open air parties come to town, or rather the forests outside, on an almost weekly basis – check these out on www.rave.cz, or look at the local poles (the lamp poles, you lecher). No matter who is playing, check them out, for you’ll never forget the sight of 1000s of dancing divickas wearing just enough while pretending to drive their little cars as the lights swish around spruces on the hills and La-di-luscious-da or similar babe completes the ideal mix on the proper-sized podium. Raj (heaven)! Yeeeeahhh baybeeee!
These parties are admirably well organised, with great food, low prices, even pharmaceutical-testing desks (no shit, not a legend, nor a trick a les Simpson’s – just straight-up organisers caring for the wellbeing of these beautiful people and/or investing in the future of their business, as there’s nothing worse than having to answer to the local magistrate on how Katya and Lenka ended up in body bags).
The party people are the most beautiful, but in this land, where the tunes are, you won’t get “the excitement” as Frank McCourt called it in 1950s NYC. So on your way home you might like to let the raging bull effect rip into a local bordello, where there’s no messing around (a la Goldfingers, with private viewings and the menu thing). These are simply all night bars – some have strip shows and will try to relieve you of 300Kč for entry, but in the others, just go in, have a drink (lil’ bit pricy @ 100Kč/pivo), if you want to do the business, just recall your fantasies and get them all over with at once – no rules, haggling the norm – but no pressure, so if you’re so intimidated cos you never went within 10-metres of girls as tall and beautiful as these before, just sip your pivo, and wait to check into your accommodation.
They got their raison d’etre Germans to be getting on with, and you can watch the horny Helmuts trying to coax their nervous fat fraus into the room – drei liebling, drei, drei!!! Next day, you can chill out at any of the many local cajovnas (try Skleněná louka – beside Moulin Rouge (seee – ya can’t help hanging around there, can ya), Kounicova – great library!), or Dobrá čajovna, Frantiskanska 3, if you want to admire her beautiful toes over a happy intimate hookah).
If you’re hungry, and want a change, check out the only authentic Italian (ITALIA BAR – Zámečnická 90/2, besides McD’s, also with apartments) for a real delicisssimo meal in a family salon, or LAGUNA (Smetanova 2) with a recommendable venison goulash with potato cakes. If it’s simply ‘the cure’ you need, try a range of innovative beers at the Pegas microbrewery on Jakubská (just off main Česká)
So you’ve actually done Brno in less than 24 hours, you’ve spent like 4 hours’ earnings, but you can’t go back to smoky stressy Praha now, so call your boss, tell them the sad story about the grandmother again, how you’ll be back in a week, and check out ZULTAN ZAP ZIMMER, and do the village thang!