Sunday, January 22, 2023

Brno City Break in 2023

Last year, Time Out magazine published their list of the 16 best city breaks in Europe for 2022.  Brno came in second place.  

This year Brno made the list again but fell to seventh place.  A few spots lower but still in the top ten.

The write up for Brno was pretty much exactly the same as last year.  

Here are the top 18 places.  Several of these are still on my list of places to visit.

  1. Marseille, France
  2. Sheffield, UK
  3. Buhać, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  4. Milan, Italy
  5. Bilbao, Spain
  6. Arles, France
  7. Brno, Czech Republic
  8. Liverpool, UK
  9. Kaunas, Lithuania
  10. Oslo, Norway
  11. Hamburg, Germany
  12. Dublin, Ireland
  13. Inverness, UK
  14. Trikala, Greece
  15. Rotterdam, Netherlands
  16. Freiburg, Germany
  17. Turku, Finland
  18. Valencia, Spain

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Brno Zoo Turns 70

This year the Brno Zoo turns 70 years old.  To help mark the anniversary the zoo has issued a new tourist stamp - number 2766.

I have to admit that it's been a while since the last time I went to the Brno Zoo.  It's going on eight years.  Maybe I'll have to check out this year to see what, if anything, has changed since the last time I was there.

Here's a short video I found out on YouTube but it's only in Czech, without subtitles.

©Info TV Brno

Monday, January 16, 2023

Jan Palach Remembrance Day

Today is the first "significant day" of the year.  It's Jan Palach Remembrance Day and it commemorates his self-immolation in 1969 in protest of the Soviet-led invasion the year prior.  

It's a day worth paying attention to especially when you think of the similarities to what's going on today in Ukraine.  Alexander Dubček's liberal reforms caused the Soviet Union and most of the Warsaw Pact to invade Czechoslovakia

When Ukraine wanted to join the EU and NATO, Russia invaded.

I've heard the story of Jan Palach for years.  What I didn't know about was what happened afterwards.

The communist government didn't want him to be a martyr so it went after his family following his death.  A young lawyer, Dagmar Burešová, defended his family.  She spend most of her career representing dissident opposition leaders.  Following the Velvet Revolution, she became the country's first Minister of Justice.

In 2013, HBO Europe released a three-part miniseries called Hořící keř "Burning Bush" that tells the story  of Dagmar Burešová defending Palach's family.  The series was directed by Polish director Agnieszka Holland.

Following the success of the miniseries, Burning Bush was edited into a film.  It was selected as the Czech entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy awards.  However, because it aired on Czech TV prior to the edited version appearing in the cinema, the movie was disqualified from the Oscars.

In 2013, it did win the Czech Lion for Best Film and for the Film Fans Award.

Here's the trailer, with English subtitles, that I found out on YouTube.


Sunday, January 15, 2023

2022 Passport Power

The new passport power index came out and, for the fifth year in a row, Japan has the most powerful passport.  Japanese citizens can visit 193 out of 227 destinations visa-free. 

  1. Japan
  2. Singapore and South Korea
  3. Germany and Spain
  4. Finland, Italy, and Luxembourg
  5. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden
  6. France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom
  7. Belgium, Czechland, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, USA
  8. Australia, Canada, Greece, Malta
  9. Hungary and Poland
  10. Lithuania and Slovakia
The Czech passport moved up one level from last year and tied with the USA.  Both countries' passports allow for visa-free travel to 186 countries, but not all of the exact same countries.

I need to get to the USA this year to sort our a new notarised copy of my birth certificate so that I can finally apply for my Czech citizenship this year.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Česko Slovensko má talent

Česko Slovensko má talent (ČSMT) is the Czech-Slovak version of the "Got Talent" franchise that is in some +60 countries. 

ČSMT first aired on 29 August 2010 and the tenth season finished airing a couple of months ago.

One of the moderators is Czech and the other is Slovak.  Both Czech and Slovak are spoken by the moderators, judges, and contestants.  

From what I understand, back in the days of Czechoslovakia, the evening news used to always be broadcast in both languages.  The first half was in Czech and the second half was in Slovak.  This was one of the ways that pretty much helped everyone to understand each other.  While Czech and Slovak are pretty close, the younger generations today, in both Czechland and Slovakia, have a harder time understanding the other language.  I wonder how many other shows there are out there that are broadcast in both languages.  

Here's a short clip from season 8 that I found out on YouTube.  The contestant plays clips from songs in several languages and holds up cards with similar sounding but incorrect lyrics.  I think it's pretty funny.

©TV Prima

Nikola Kusendová is a 15-year old from Slovakia who just won season 10.  Here's her winning performance.  

©TV Prima

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Croatia Joins Eurozone & Schengen

New Year's Day was a big day for Croatia.  It officially joined both the Eurozone and Schengen.

When the country joined the EU back in 2013, it had to commit to eventually replacing its currency, the kuna, with the Euro.  But then again, Czechland joined the EU in 2004 and still hasn't switched.

Croatia is now the 20th member of the Eurozone and the first country to join since Lithuania back in 2015.

Here are a couple of short YouTube videos out there about Croatia adopting the Euro.

©The EU Made Simple

Croatia also joined Schengen becoming a member of the world's largest visa free zone.  The thing about joining Schengen, or the EU, or NATO, is that every single member has to agree.  Heck, it's hard enough trying to get four friends to agree on a particular restaurant.  Much less trying to get 26 different countries to agree on something.  Yet, back in December, every member country agreed to let Croatia join.

However, the Netherlands blocked Bulgaria, while Austria blocked both Bulgaria and Romania.


With Croatia in the Schengen club, there are now 27 members.  So whenever it comes time for Bulgaria and Romania to try again, they will also need Croatia to agree as well.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy 2023

Happy New Year!!  Šťastný nový rok!!

In Czechland, it is also Czech Independence Day!

Last night was another Silvestr karaoke party at the cottage.  Lots of fun but we stayed out way too late. 

The Czech presidency of the Council of the European Union ended as well.  As of today, Sweden now holds the presidency.

Update 2023:  Here's a short YouTube video about the change of the EU presidency.

©The EU Made Simple

Saturday, December 31, 2022

PF 2023

Šťastný nový rok!  Nappy New Year!  PF 2023! 

Another year has come and gone.  For ten years, I managed to visit at least one new country a year but that didn't happen in 2020, due to Covid-19, and this is the first year since then that I managed to go to a new country.  Well, sort of a new country if you count the Bailiwick of Jersey, one of the UK's Crown Dependencies, as a country.

Besides St. Helier, I managed to go to Austria and Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina for my Easter trip, plus Germany and Bilbao, Spain.  More countries than last year.

This next year already looks better when it comes to public holidays.  This year we only had eight public holidays but this year we get ten.  We only lose three public holidays next year due to them falling on the weekend.  

I missed my niece's high school graduation in 2020 due to Covid travel restrictions, so I'm hoping to finally make it over for a visit in 2023.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Christmas Day 2022

Yesterday was European Christmas, which again is Christmas Eve in the USA, and today was Christmas Day, which some refer to as the first day of Christmas and some refer to as the second day of Christmas since Christmas was last night.  Yeah, I know it can be a bit confusing.

Anyway, today was the day to relax and watch Christmas fairy tales on German TV.  Of course that meant watching the Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel, the German edition of Popelka.

Between fairy tales, Oma put Tünde and I to work making dumplings for dinner.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas 2022

Veselé Vánoce, Fröhliche Weihnachten, and Merry Christmas!

Like usual, we headed over to Oma and Opa's place for coffee and cake before going to church.  This year, services were held both inside and outside.  

We had our traditional Christmas dinner of buletten, sausages, and potato salad.

Tünde's getting older so der Weihnachtsmann didn't make an appearance this year but we still had presents.

I absolutely love my new "Best Guncle Ever" t-shirt.

Another great Christmas with the German family.  I also finished Tünde's advent sock calendar.    

Update: My sister wins the best Christmas present ever.  When I got back to Brno there was a package waiting for me.  She scanned my late grandmother's signature and had it laser printed on a Christmas ornament.