Saturday, June 6, 2009

Summer Fun - Mushroom Hunting

Czechs love mushroom hunting. It's a summer passion for pro's, families, young and old. When they drive somewhere abroad (where the hobby isn't taken up on a national sale) they always come back with sacks of shroom and stories of just stopping anywhere and picking kilos worth.

And I have to say it is a great thing. The verities of mushrooms and ways in which they can be used are huge. They are pickled, breaded and fried (best in fresh, home made lard), dried for later, put in soups and sauces, scrambled with eggs and caraway (much tastier than it might seem), and probably a bunch I've forgotten. And the woods, in a good year, are full of them.

But the activity itself is what I like. You wander through the woods in a semi-meditative state. Hurrying is counterproductive, as (at least for me) is too much concentration. I just sort of clear my mind and bring up an image of the two or three kinds I recognize and go. I can do so for hours. I'm not the best hunter - I always say they hide when they see me coming, preferring to be found by my wife or her father some 20 paces behind me. But I do find them. It's a bit like a cross between fishing and hiking.  Yup - fishing... you do it for the fun of the hunt and if you get anything worth eating all the better. But while doing it you relax and enjoy.

You may think this isn't exactly Prague related but it is. Prague has several forest parks - and though you have to get up before dawn to beat the neighbors out doing the same thing after a rain - there are lots of mushrooms to be had.

If you want to try something the locals do, that's free, and certainly not what all your friends did while here, try it. As they say here, all mushrooms are edible... at least once.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Stage Fright or a Laugh While You Have a Pee at The Palladium

This was the decor of the newly built Palladium Shopping Mall in central Prague. The mall, I have to say, is quite nice and pretty well rounded as such places go.

But this was the highlight when I first went. The gents with life size images of women pointing in admiration or derision toward your wedding tackle as you let one lose. It's funny.  And it's a laugh seeing some guy walk in who's too engrossed in whatever to notice until he's got it out and happens to look up. It feels like  the ladies are behind a window about two feet away enjoying a look at the array of shlongs - and not being shy about a laugh at little guys. 

Maybe it's just me, but I can't see this in New York or London. Czechs have a pretty amusing, earthy humor that easily encompasses sex, death, and all the bodily functions.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feel Yourself Like a King

I don’t know why but when Czechs make grammatical mistakes in English they very often come out sounding sexual. Here’s an example, an ad in the newspaper for a brothel a few years back read Come to our whorehouse “…where you can feel yourself like a king.” OK – brothels, when they advertise tend to want to sound sexual, I know… But like that? I mean… I can do that at home and for free, right? I don’t need no stinking cathouse for that – and this is not an inexpensive establishment (not that I’d know anything about the prices of such services, of course.)

Another case is just the other day… The one woman on my team at work, a young and quite pretty one at that wrote to me asking, “Can I please you for a day off on Friday?” Is it just me or does that sound like a nice offer and a really good deal?

They call used clothing stores here “Second Hand” stores – in English just like that. Well… There used to be a place called Stroker’s Second Hand. Again… Is it just me being an arrested adolescent?

I’ll try to keep find some others. I used to come across them frequently but maybe I’m getting immune to accidental innuendo? Naaa…..

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Prague is full of neighborhoods that don’t make the regular tourist maps but are gems none the less.  In Vršovice  there is a corner that’s a great example. Bounded roughly by Moskevská St., Kodnaská St, Ruská St and  Náměstí Svatopluka Čecha, it’s an area you can walk around in 20 min. But you’ll walk through or around three parks with playgrounds and dog runs, a wonderful street with neighborhood shops (no souvenirs or Marks & Spencer – for that you gotta go downtown), a lovely wide but pretty quiet tree lined boulevard with beautiful Empire style buildings and of course many pubs, cafés and restaurants. Of course there are the piles of gambling joints that kinda cheapen the whole city but I have yet to find an area free of them except maybe the castle district. And there are the neighborhood whorehouses but you’ll have to come wander around and find them the old fashioned way.

It’s an area well worth a lazy afternoon and for anyone looking to stay in Prague for more than a weekend or maybe even move here I definitely recommend a look here. The feeling is similar to Náměstí Míru (and it’s only a couple tram stops away) but not as upscale and not nearly as expensive. Most wait staff speak English and there are more and more UK and US expats moving there – so you should have little problem finding someone to chat with.

Among my favorite haunts there are:

U Pštrosa - Moskevská 49

GREAT food. The chef here really is good. For lunch you get the regular Czech dishes but made exceptionally well. In the summer they grill outside most Thursdays – and this is a bit pricy but really, REALLY good. And their regular dinner menu includes ostrich as well as a good selection of game meats like venison and wild boar.,14.457343&sspn=0.00231,0.003594&ie=UTF8&ll=50.070583,14.456334&spn=0.009241,0.014377&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A

Nano Cafe  - Kodaňská 22

As the name implies – its a tiny place. But, rare among such spots in Prague, its non-smoking inside. They have year round outdoor seating though (for smokers and anyone wanting to be on the street) and free WIFI. The young couple who run the place, Vladimir and Ivana are very nice (they recently had a cute little baby boy) and the clientele are like a family. This is getting to be something of a UK / US expat and student hangout. The one downside, by me anyway, is that they dont serve Czech beer – just Stella and Hoegaarden. It’s one of my favorite summer afternoon hangouts.,-95.677068&sspn=46.409192,58.886719&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A


Public Transit:

Trams 4 & 22

Bus 101, 134, 135, 139

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stars of Parking

The Beemer in this shot - the one in the middle of the intersection - is, in fact, parked. This street is narrow so anyone in anything bigger than a Smart will have a tough time and a truck? Foget it.

I have never seen such idiots as the drivers here. They act as if the rules, those of physics included, apply to everyone but them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Romantic Prague - Nový Svět

The city is famous for its beauty and shots of Prague Castle, Old Town Square and all certainly can be stunning. But details can be forgotten about. This type of lamp can be found all over the old city.  They are almost iconic - especially their soft, goldish glow at night. But this shot is one I've alsways liked with the shadow illuminated by sunlight.

This was taken up around Prague Castle area, back in Nový Svět (New World). It's an area often not found by tourists just in for thre weekend even though it's just one block from the main castle gates.

Die Krack Znacks

Die Krack Znacks - Yuuummmie!

Duno if this makes me hungry or... or... what?