Sunday, December 31, 2017

PF 2018

PF 2018!  Šťastný nový rok!!

Happy New Year Everyone!!
It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone.  Every year it seems to go by all that much faster.

I was fortunate enough to visit 19 countries this year.

Happy New Year! Šťastný nový rok! Gott nytt år! Buon anno! Frohes neues Jahr! Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku! Boldog úl évet! سنة جديدة سعيدة! Godt nytt år! Bonne année! Bliain Nua Shona! 新年快乐!Hyvää uutta vuotta! ¡Feliz año nuevo! 새해 복 많이 받으세요! Guten Rutsch!

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Last night we went to see the Irish production of Annie at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.

The concert hall was built in 1865 as a exhibition hall before becoming an examination hall for University College Dublin (UCD).  The building was reconverted in 1981 with the main auditorium seating 1,200.

The National Concert Hall is home to the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir Ireland, and the Irish Baroque Orchestra.

The venue is absolutely beautiful.  And the show was very well done.

I had only ever seen the movie so the stage production of Annie was a bit different in terms of the story.  However, it was excellent!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas in Berlin

I had a fantastic Christmas up in Berlin staying with Claudia's parents.  Only the snow was missing.  Even though it has been warm lately I was still expecting all of the snow we had there back in 2009.

On the 24th, Santa Claus came and brought Tünde a bag full of presents.  It was nice getting to be a spectator and not trying to dress up like der Weihnachtsmann.

On the 25th, we went to see a Christmas pageant at one of the local churches.

Later we went to see the Nutcracker at the Berlin Opera House.  Well we tried to see the Nutcracker.  Unfortunately, a pipe burst the night before and the stage was flooded.

So instead we headed over to the Gendarmenmarkt.  This is one of the few Christmas markets that stays open until New Year's.  All the rest normally shut down on the 23rd. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Getting to Berlin

Last night I had a seven hour bus ride from Brno to Berlin.  This was my first time using Flixbus.

Flixbus is a German intercity bus service that launched in 2013.  They have been rapidly expanding and now have 120,000 daily connections to 1000 destinations in 20 countries.  This year they entered the Czech market and they are trying to compete with Student Agency.

I'm not impressed.  The yellow busses are better than the green busses.  The good thing was that it was a direct bus to Germany.  The bus went from Brno to Dresden to Schönefeld Airport so there was no reason to change busses in Prague.  The Schönefeld stop was more convenient than the Central Berlin Station (ZOB).  

The service on Student Agency is way better.  On the big yellow bus you book a specific seat and each seat comes with an individual entertainment system that allows you to watch movies.  With SA, you get a complimentary hot beverage and you can purchase soft drinks or snacks.  There was nothing on Flixbus and the Wi-Fi didn't work either.

At 9 am this morning I received an e-mail from Flixbus reminding me that my bus leaves at midnight and that I should be there at least 10 minutes early.  When they sent me the e-mail I was already in Rahnsdorf having breakfast with Claudia's family.

There are two airports in Berlin.  Tegel (TXL) is in the north of the city and handles 21 million passengers per year.

Schönefeld (SXF) is in the south-east part of the city.  It is mainly used by low-cost airlines and handles 11,6 million passengers per year.

The Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) was supposed to open in 2011.  The plan was to close both Tegel and Schönefeld when Brandenburg opened.  I remember years ago when there were protests about opening the airport.  I guess they need not have worried because people wonder if it will ever open.  Currently it's scheduled to open 2020-2021.

In addition to all of the bad planning, growth forecasts were never considered.  Once Brandenburg actually opens, it will already be at 100% capacity.  Now there's speculation about keeping Tegel open for good.  What a mess!

Here's a short video from last year that I found out on YouTube.  

©DW News

Update:  BER finally opened in December 2020.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Veselé Vánoce!

Veselé Vánoce!  Merry Christmas and PF 2018.

As the last working day before the Christmas holidays I want to wish my very international team a very Merry Christmas.

Veselé Vánoce! Veselé Vianoce! Selamat Hari Natal! Boldog Karácsonyt! Wesołynch Świąt! Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Fröhliche Weihnachten! შობას გილოცავთ! Geseënde Kersfees! Crăciun fericit! Sretan Božić! Gëzuar Krishtlindjet! Весела Коледа! 圣诞节快乐!Joyeux Noël! क्रिसमस की शुभकामनायें! Nollaig Shona! Buon Natale! عيد ميلاد سعيد! Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus! Linksmų Kalėdų! Feliz Natal! С Рождеством! ¡Feliz Navidad! கிறிஸ்துமஸ் வாழ்த்துக்கள்! З Різдвом Христовим! Chúc Giáng Sinh Vui Vẻ! Maligayang Pasko!

This year I'm spending Christmas in Rahnsdorf.  For the last five years I've hosted an orphan's Christmas lunch for a few foreigners in Brno who can't travel home for the holidays.  This year, I'll be the orphan in Berlin.

Tonight I've got a midnight bus to Berlin.  This will be my first time taking Flixbus.  This is a German company bus company that expanded in to Czechland this year.  Let's see how they compare to Student Agency.  The reason I booked with them is because they have a direct route to Germany without requiring a change in Prague.  Wish me luck!

Friday, December 15, 2017

New Brno Flights

In October, Wizz Air cancelled its Brno-Eindhoven route.  Well now they are leaving Brno completely.  In January they will end the Brno-London Luton route.

In June 2018 they will close the Prague base and only offer flights from Prague to London Luton, Bari, Italy, and Kutaisi, Georgia.

Wizz Air will still fly from Bratislava with flights to Skopje, Kyiv, Warsaw, Sofia, Tuzla, and London Luton.

With Air Berlin gone, Wizz Air is establishing a base, in 2018, in Vienna with 17 new routes.  From April they will have flights to Gdańsk, Tuzla, and Varna.  In June, they will have flights to Bari, Malta, Rome, Valencia, and Tel Aviv.  From November there will be routes to Billund, Bergen, Dortmund, Kutaisi, Larnaca, Nis, Ohrid, Tenerife, and Thessaloniki.  These are some great destinations and several of them are still on my bucket list.

The good news is that we're getting a new airline in Brno.  The Romanian airline Blue Air is establishing a base here.  The Blue Air Moravian Transport will be 35% owned by the the city and 65% owned by Blue Air.

At the end of March 2018, they will offer flights to Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Brussels, and Lviv.  Over the summer there will operate flights to Split and Dubrovnik.

I'm surprised that being a Romanian airline, and given the number of Romanians here in Brno, that there's no flight to Romania.  Perhaps it will come in the future.  I've never flown with Blue Air before but I'll have to give them a try.  So nice that there will be more discount airline flights direct from Brno.  Plus lots of new Wizz Air destinations out of Vienna.  Looks like there will be more travel opportunities in 2018.

Update:  What a complete disappointment!!  Flights were supposed to launch at the end of March but service was delayed due to legal processes.  Now the South Moravian governor announced the end of cooperation with Blue Air so it looks like I'll have to keep flying from Vienna, Bratislava, or Prague.  Too bad because it would be so convenient to be able to fly in and out of Brno.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Masarykův onkologický ústav

At Žlutý kopec is the Masaryk Oncology Centre.
Masarykův onkologický ústav (MOÚ) was established in 1935.

It is named after Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk - the first president of Czechoslovakia.

Like FN Bohunice, it is a teaching and research facility in cooperation with Masaryk University.

This is among the best oncology hospitals in the country, if not one of the best in Central Europe.

Each year, the centre treats 10,000 hospitalised patients and another 200,000 as outpatients.

The Radiation Oncology Clinic is one of only two hospitals in the country where children are treated with rays.

It has five linear accelerators which permits automated adjustment to the shape of the rays in order to treat irregular shaped tumours.
This minimises healthy tissue near a tumour being affected by the radiation. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Old New Synagogue

There's a memorial plaque on a building next to the Brno Trauma Hospital.  In 1906 the New Synagogue was opened.

The building was torn down in 1985 - 1986.  Today the building is part of the hospital.

Of the four synagogues that used to be in Brno, only the functionalist synagogue is has regular services.

The New Synagogue

Here's an old photo I found online of the New Synagogue.

In keeping with the synagogue topic, today is the first day of Hanukkah.  So to all of my Jewish friends - !!חג חנוכה שמח

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 PM Christmas Party

On Thursday night we had the annual IBM Project Management Christmas party.  This year's theme was the "Roaring 20's / Great Gatsby".

Once again my team was behind the poster.  They really love Photoshop.

I didn't have anything to wear so the easiest thing was to just rent a tuxedo for a local wedding shop.

It was a really nice evening.  I had early morning calls on Friday so I went home around 10 pm.  I heard that some of the festivities lasted until around 4 am.  Way too late for me nowadays.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Still the Top Beer Drinkers

Once again, Czechs are the top beer drinkers in Europe.  In 2016 the per capita consumption in Czechland was 143 litres.  Of course it's what happens when there is such great beer here.

Germany came in second place at 104 litres and Austria was third at 103 litres.  Poland, Lithuania and Ireland round out the top six.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Brno Trauma Hospital

Úrazová nemocnice v Brně is the Brno Trauma Hospital.  The hospital cooperates with the Medical Faculty of Masaryk University.

The hospital has 174 beds.  There is also a trauma clinic at the university.

The hospital was established in May 1933.  A new emergency pavilion opened in 2015.

Each year the hospital handles:
*60 - 80 spinal injuries with neurological lesion
*3800 acute traumas requiring hospitalisation
*6000 operations
*180,000 out-patient treatments

Friday, December 1, 2017

2017 World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.  The number of people infected with the disease has been steadily increasing.  More than 3800 people here in Czechland have the virus.  Estimates are that about 700 people aren't even aware that they are infected.

The authorities, back in the Czechoslovak days, began monitoring the spread of the HIV virus since 1985.

Truvada for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a once-a-day medicine that combines two antiretroviral medications that helps prevent the HIV virus from being transmitted.  In Germany, this medicine costs 1,000 Kč ($50) per month and in France it is covered by health insurance.

Here it costs 6,000 to 8,000 Kč (~$300 to $400) per month.  It requires a doctor's prescription and it is currently only available at eight HIV help centres in Czechland.  Hopefully the cost will decrease and it will become more readily available for people who need it.

Update: In 2020, PrEP costs 1100 Kč (~$50) per month in Czechland.