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czech glossary

...a few words that came in handy in Prague and Greece


Babicka

Grandmother.  Kat has two Babickas - Babi Pirová, who lives in Rychnov, and Babi Grunerová, who lives in Vamberk.  The two babickas are as different as can be, but they both make the best Czech cakes, pastry and cookies; they are both wickedly funny (not always intentionally);  they have more advice and wisdom than God;  and, if we visit one, we absolutely have to visit the other. 

 
Drachma Greek money.  I ran out of drachmas at the Athens Airport.  Oops.
 
Hrad Castle.  The Czech Republic has hundreds of Hrads and Zameks, the most famous being Prazsky Hrad (Prague Castle).  A couple years ago we found a map that shows every castle and chateau, restored and ruined, in the entire country. On every trip we try to cram in a few new ones - even if it means racing along dirt roads and pulling up just past sunset to get a quick picture from the outside.  Who needs those hour and a half tours of the interior anyway? 
 
Namesti Town square.  We rate them 1 - 10 according to our own very objective criteria: how many trees, statues and fountains they have;  the condition of the benches;  colour choices on the restored buildings;  how good the pastries are in the bakery;  the quality and selection of postcards in the tourist information office;  how many cars they allow to park on the square, and how many of those are Trabants;  and finally, how successfully they have kept out McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and Coke machines.
 
Pavel Kat's boyfriend
 
Pivo
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Beer.  A very useful Czech phrase is Jedno pivo, prosim (I'll have a beer, please!).  Czech beer is the best beer in the world - and that is my completely unbiased opinion.  After all, they invented Pilsner and the original Budweiser (Budvar), and have cities named after beer:  Plzen (Pilsen), and Cesky Budjejovice (Budvar).

Pivo is brewed in a Pivovar (brewery), and is drunk in a Pivnice, Hospoda or Hostinec (All mean pub or bar - the subtle differences between the three completely escape me, and I don't think they really matter, anyway). 

Every pivnice, hospoda and hostinec in the Czech Republic is owned by a brewery, whose beer is the only beer you can get there.  Not a problem because they are all good.  And the beer is always served in its own glass - you would never (God forbid) get Krusovice served in a Staropramen glass, or 10° Gambrinus in a 12° Gambrinus glass.  If you're in a hurry, no problem;  just bring a pitcher down to the local pivnice, and they'll fill it for you to take home. 

Oh, and what is that little °?  It indicates the strength of the beer - not the alcohol content, or how dark it is - just the strength of the beer (don't worry, I don't really get it either.  I just drink the beer.  It's all good). 

 
Skoda Czech national car.  Or so it seems!  There are loads of Skodas on the roads in the Czech Republic.  Pavel has a green one (and he even let us drive it this year, holy cow).  Last year we rented a blue one;  the year before a red one.  We are working our way through the Felicia spectrum.

Car theft in the Czech Republic is so common that the Felicia comes with its own built-in anti-theft system - a complicated lock on the floor of the car that freezes the car in reverse gear. 

 
Zámek A small castle, or palace.  A Hrad is mainly built for defense and fortification;  a Zamek is usually built as a residence (a big, fancy, opulent residence).

Zasrani Turisty!

@$% tourists! 

I'm not really a tourist (yeah, right!).  No really!  My friend is a local!

Since the Velvet Revolution, tourism to Prague has mushroomed (nuclear explosion kind of mushroomed).  Millions (billions!) of tourists (okay, like me) visit Prague every year.  And, they eat at McDonald's on Wenceslas Square (okay, so I had a hamburger there one day.  I was hungry.  And tired.  So what!)  

There is a well-worn corridor from the Old Town Square, across Charles Bridge, through Mala Strana to Prague Castle, from which most tourists to Prague never stray.  Hundreds of busloads of German, Japanese and American tourists are disgorged at Prague castle daily, Charles Bridge is chockablock with tourists from dawn until long into the night, and the sidewalk cafés on the Old Town Square (which charge exorbitant prices for generally mediocre food) are jam-packed, even in cold weather. 

A shame for them really, because most of the best bits of Prague - architecture, cinemas, sights, pubs, restaurants, parks, quirky shops - are just a little ways off the beaten track.  Then again, it really does keep them well-contained and out of trouble - and, out of the way!