Instead I will resort to time-honoured tradition and gather an interested party of beautiful people around a Brno beach bonfire on a balmy summer’s night and regale them with my tales while doing my bit for local folklore, genetics, wine consumption statistics, etc.
However, let’s, in the interests of CZ and Lonely Planet-type readers, qualify your new classification of “two-bit backwater” so they will know what to expect if you continue to score places with these ‘bits’, rather than stars and whatever else normal folk are used to. Big POZOR to people of a fragile disposition of any form – romantic, digestive tracts, Bush-supporters, vegetarians etc.
When sober next, find a map of Europe and aim to put a pin in the centre! There you will find Brno – a city steeped in history, that, when it didn’t have it’s own Moravian Kings, took influences from every wave of demographic that crossed Europe – the Celts, the Romans (even the emperor Lucemburg family was Brno-based), the Austro-Hungarians (big manufacturing base for Emperor Josef and the gang), Mendel and his experiments, the first railway lines (Brno-Vienna), and even Gadaffi who tried to make up for the absence of Moorish influence by setting up a terrorism university in latter regime years!
And this “heart of Europe” city retains its right to that name today and continues to go from strength to strength. It’s got 5 universities around, it’s got beautiful, proper, baroque architecture – buildings, palaces, churches, etc., put up after the Jesuits and the gang had finished their apprenticeships and prototypes in Prague, it’s always got Miss Ceske Republiky (if she remembers to enter), and it’s got fun, vibrance, youth and energy!
Check out the latest Cesky Statisticky urad facts and figures to see our soaring positive dominace in such key areas of quality of life as healthcare per capita, crime, air pollution, lots of young working people, etc! Yes – you can even admire the baroque architecture here without needing special polaroids to see through the grey soot and grime of other cities!
So with all these influences, what did Brno do? “Brnicka”, as they fondly call it here, decided it didn’t have any form of identity crisis so rejected what it saw and decided to keep it’s funky Moravian traditions – intact!
So welcome to Brno if you will care to be normal, do as the Romans/Brnickas do and drink lots of pivo, enjoy lots of memorable heterosexual relationships, become a wine connoisseur, eat fresh, uncooked tartar beefsteak and wash it down with Slivovice shots (depending on how many legs you have) – and start to recognise the existence of the Czech Language!!!
Heck – even the only 2 attempts at foreign ‘theming’ of pubs here were run out of town recently – you guessed it – Irish pubs, (as even if yours truly was thirsty, he would spin back to the ‘ould sod for a pint of the fresh stuff, in the soft rain, rather than the searing tropical sunshine and 30+ temperatures of our beautiful plateau).
Next Pozor!!! Decisions, decisions! Which beach wil I go to today to relax after having spent the morning waterskiing, playing beach volleyball with yet more babes, or mountain-biking in the forests?
Later do I watch Nabucco in the Castle courtyard, or cool down in the opera house watching a Romeo and Juliet Ballet? Or will I regret not having gone to a theatre to watch an inspiringly innovative Czech production of Hamlet, or even Playboy Of the Western World (always helps to set the tone!)?
Or would it be more relaxing just to sit on any of the terraces on the main square and invest 25Kc for quality ledova kava, or save money and pay 16Kc for a pivo while watching what seems like the world’s entire supermodel population ramble past… again… and… again, until you’ve had the eye contact and the “mluvite anglicky?” opener, and then decided to contribute more to Czech GDP and go all romantic with foie gras and venison steak washed down by Mikulov’s finest vintage vinicko in the opulent surroundings of a Baroque palace courtyard!
But Pozor! Again – remember you’re on a budget, and you’ve mentally noted not to spend more today than you would on a Paris Metro Day Travelcard plus Cafe au Lait, so next, rather than check into Brno’s hottest hotel and consummating immediately (1000Kc), do you (a) choose from a selection of Europes hottest DJ chefs cooking the decks in a cool but crazy club, or (b) don’t risk cultural impeachment by not joining 100’s of other thirsty locals sweating the night away while losing their collective voices to the starins of famous Czech & Slovak folk anthems, given a 90’s spin by DJ Bobo and some fellow-conspirators?
Either way you’ll show her how hard you can party, giving her an inkling of the beautiful fun life she can have with you forever after, so you can probably afford to go home early, say about 05h, by hailing any taxi and investing a further 50Kc in your night’s enterprise without fear of being ripped off – such is the integrity of every taxi-denizen of this fair city.
A lot of decisions to make, you will agree! And worse is that you must make them all over again the next morning, and on tuesday, and wednesday, and thursday and friday and saturday, complicated by wondering if it’s a little too cheesy to take a photo of your sleeping beauty for your website to gloat your mates back home, trying to remember how you were capable of such successful linguistic (and other) acrobatics the night before.
And then you check your wallet and decide that since you’ve underspent your Paris Metro Ticket plus coffee budget that you deserve twice the fun this day, to celebrate?
Alternatively, you could always improve your fiscal and physical condition by getting up earlier and signing on with any of the 100’s of hungry firms here who will pay you relatively juicy wages to do whatever you feel you’re good at, while improving that crucial Czech language, maybe furthering your social prospects, and more importantly, feeling you deserve the hedonistic lifestyle a little more for your troubles.
Finally, in this “two-bit” category, we are proud to offer you fast, easy virual repatriation if you feel homesick in any way: for every hour either a train or bus leaves for the Golden Smoke of Praha, where you can cry into your beer and phone home – feeling all the better because the beer tastes the same and costs almost as much as Bradford, Seattle or wherever it is you’re homesick for, the instructions on the payphone are comfortingly in English, and the resident nosey alcoholic at the bar will try to strike up traveller’s tales with you – in English, and, almost forgot, the girls remind you of home – Happy Landings!
Don’t miss the next issue, where we’ll be discussing “3-bit backwaters”… Na zdravi!!!
– Joseph Deignan <josephdeignan @hotmail.com>
Joseph, you got us. The lack of women, beer, clubs and squares in Prague had been bothering us, and now we know where the action is – Brnicka! That urban tricycle where giggling peasant beauty queens sing folk songs for any pale Brit with a day job. Luckily, the trains run both ways, and surely you know that most Moravian girls end up in Prague to get ruined sooner or later. But you do paint a nice post card, and thanks for the history lesson.