Friday, December 31, 2021

Dinner For One

Dinner for One, or Der 90. Gerburtstag (The 90th Birthday), is a black-and-white television comedy sketch that was released in 1963.  It was adapted from a British stage skit that was performed by Freddie Frinton and May Warden.

It enjoys cult status in Germany and is shown every year for New Year's.  Since 1995, it is the most frequently repeated television programme in Germany ever.  It is also very popular in Austria and Switzerland, plus in Scandinavia - Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.  Despite coming from the UK, it wasn't broadcast there until 2018.  

What's remarkable about the show is that despite it being broadcast in English, and without subtitles, it is still tremendously popular.  Even Germans who can't speak English will still usually be able to quote lines from the comedy in English. 

The basic premise is that Miss Sophie is celebrating her 90th birthday and, as in every other year, invited her four closest friends.  Unfortunately, she has outlived everyone so her butler, Mr. Winterbottom, gives a toast by proxy.  He gets tipsy and there's a bit of physical comedy.  All in good fun.

Here's a short Meet the Germans video that talks about this cult classic.

©DW Euromaxx

Here's the show which is out on YouTube.

Retro TV

Thursday, December 30, 2021


Šťastný nový rok!  

Happy New Year!  

PF 2022 

It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone.  Since 2009, I always visited at least one new country a year but that streak ended in 2019 because, due to Covid restrictions, my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia was cancelled.

This year I only managed to visit Germany and Poland.  I didn't even make it to Slovakia this year and I had been to Slovakia every year since I moved to Czechland.

Fingers crossed that I've have a few more travel adventures in 2022.  Although, it may be harder with only 8 public holidays next year.

A couple of things that will be interesting in 2022 have to do with the Czech government.  First of all, there's a new prime minister.  Then in July, Czech Republic takes over six-month rotating presidency of the EU Council

Tonight the boys are coming over for a few drinks.  Sort of a pre-Silvestr get together.  But nothing for me to drink tonight since I received my booster yesterday.  Tomorrow night is a New Year's karaoke party at the cottage.

From yesterday until 2 January, there are new tighter Covid restrictions in place.

  • There's a maximum of 50 people allowed at indoor parties
  • Only people who have a first vaccination or those who've recovered in the past six months are allowed in restaurants, dance clubs, etc., with a maximum of four people at a table.
  • Cultural events where people are seated can have a maximum of 1000 participants.  However, events where people mingle can only be up to 100 people.
  • The good news is that bars and restaurants don't have to close by 10 pm and there's no longer a ban on drinking in public.

Update:  It was great catching up with the boys last night.  

Martin, Vilém, Martin, and me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Got My Booster

I received my first Covid vaccine in May and six weeks later I received my second vaccine at the end of June.  Now I've been waiting to get my Covid booster shot.  The boosters are rolling out based on age.  

On 2 December I was finally able to register online but then I had to wait to receive my PIN code in order to make an appointment.  Two weeks later I received the code, the day before I headed up to Berlin.  So the day before I left I was able to book an appointment for today which is why I came back to Brno yesterday.

My first vaccines were the Pfizer BioNTech but when I arrived this morning I was told that the recommendation was to mix it up so I received the Moderna booster shot.

Just today the government announced that as of 4 January, all adults regardless of age will be eligible for a booster if it's been at least five months since the second vaccine.  No more having to wait six months.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2022 Public Holidays

It doesn't look good for public holidays in Czechland this year.  I thought that this year was bad with only 9 public holidays but we only get 8 in 2022.  We don't even get to start the year out right as 1 January falls on a Saturday so we don't get a day off.  Four other public holidays next year also on the weekend.  No bueno!

It's going to be a long wait until April for the 4-day weekend for Good Friday and Easter Monday.  Then in October, there's a 3-day weekend with Czech Statehood Day falling on a Friday.  In December we only get a 3-day weekend because Christmas falls on the weekend but St. Stephen's Day is on a Monday.  

Let's hope that we get more in 2023.

Weihnachten im Tierpark

The Tiergarten is the most popular park in Berlin.  It is 210 hectares (520 acres) which makes it the third largest urban garden in Germany.

It was founded as a game and hunting area for the aristocracy back in 1527.  Eventually it became a public park.

There are over 8500 trees so it's a great green space in the city.  The Tierpark gets more than 1,7 million visitors a year.

Claudia surprised her parents, Tünde, and I with a trip to the Christmas in the park event.  It was so nice.  There were Christmas lights everywhere. 

The Czech Bear

As you entered in to the park you passed an exhibit of Berlin Bears where each bear is decorated to represent every country and the bears are lined up holding hands as a symbol for peace and tolerance.

The USA Bear

Of course I had to get a photo with the Statue of Liberty Bear.

It was cold last night so which was the perfect excuse for some Glühwein along as we walked along the path.

This was a nice surprise and a fun Berlin family outing in the city.  

It was a perfect way to end my Christmas holidays.  Maybe going to the park will even become a new Christmas tradition for us.

Here's the 30-second German commercial that I found out on YouTube.

©Weihnachten im Tierpark

Monday, December 27, 2021

2G, 2G+, 3G

In Germany you'll see signs everywhere that say 2G, 2G+, or 3G.  These have nothing to do with Internet speed.  This has to do with the public health requirements for Covid.  

A person has to either be vaccinated, tested or recovered which in German is geimpft, getestet or genesen.  The 3 G's.

3G is the least restrictive.  For entry to a 3G place you have to either be vaccinated, have recovered from Covid, or have a negative test.  A rapid test can't be older than 24 hours.  A PCR test can't be older than 48 hours.

2G means that you have to show proof that you're either fully vaccinated or you are recovered from Covid.  Showing a negative test isn't enough for entry.

2G+ is the most restrictive.  You have to either be fully vaccinated or you are recovered from Covid and you have to show a negative test.  If you've received a booster vaccination then you do not need a test.

I heard that there's now a 2G++ which is vaccinated or recovered with a test and you need a respirator.  This one just seems redundant because it's 2G+ with a mask and you have to wear a mask everywhere in Germany anyway.

The 3G requirement is for public transport, supermarkets, at work, at school, and outdoor events.

The 2G requirement is for hairdressers, beauty salons, retail shops, museums, galleries, libraries, and hotels.

The 2G+ requirement, the most restrictive, is for restaurants, bars, cinemas, clubs, and theatres.

We don't  have this 2G, 3G thing in Czechland and not just because the Czech words don't all start with a "G".  In Czech it would be očkovaný, testovaný, uzdravený.  

In Czechland, since mid-November, negative tests are no longer accepted as sufficient protection from Covid.  You have to be either vaccinated or recently recovered in order to go to pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, theatres, and sporting events.  Right now only about 58% of adults in Czechland are vaccinated.

Austria had the 2G/3G thing before but it's even tougher there.  If you're not vaccinated then you aren't allowed to leave the house except for essential reasons.

Today I had an appointment for a free antigen test in Friedrichshagen.  I don't need it for the train back home tomorrow but I figured that I'd tested and have the test results with me just in case.

It was easy to register online.  I queued up and waited my turn.  I took the test and about 15 minutes later I received an e-mail with a negative test result.

I've been waiting for my booster shot in Czechland. They are rolling them out based on age and I was finally able to register online on 2.12. It took two weeks but on Friday, before I left for Berlin, I received my confirmation and I was able to book an appointment for the 29th.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Czechs vs Santa Claus

Again, 24 December in Central Europe is Christmas.  In the USA, and the UK, the 24th is Christmas Eve and the 25th is Christmas Day.  In the UK, the 26th is Boxing Day which isn't a thing in the U.S.

In Czechland, and Germany, the 24th, the 25th and the 26th of December are public holidays.  Like all public holidays you hope that they don't fall on the weekend because then you lose the free day off.

In Germany, the 25th and 26th are Erster Weihnachtstag and Zweiter Weihnachtstag, respectively the First and Second Christmas Day.  The 26th is also Stephanstag (St. Stephen's Day).

In Czechland, the 24th is Štědrý den.  The 25th is první vánoční svátek and the 26th is druhý vánoční svátek, the First and Second Christmas Day with the 25th also called Boží hod vánoční (the Christmas Feast) and the 26th also being Svátek svatého Štěpána (St. Stephen's Day).

Today we started out with Oma's typical German breakfast.  This is coffee with fresh bread rolls, meats, cheeses, butter, home made jams, and hard-boiled eggs.

We went for a walk around town for a couple of hours and then just relaxed for the rest of the day.  There are always fairly tales on German TV and of course we had to watch Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel which is the German version of Popelka.  It's always on TV in what used to be East Germany.  It's not as popular in Western Germans.  Also for some reason, in the east, Cinderella is "Aschenbrödel" but in the west they say "Aschenputtel".

This afternoon Oma put out another Christmas feast.  

We had duck and goose, with potatoes and gravy, dumplings, red and green cabbage.  It was delicious!  

Dinner was way better with everyone here in Berlin than it was during last year's Covid Christmas where I joined them for dinner on Skype.

While we were celebrating Christmas last night with the Weihachtsmann it seems that the Czechs were fighting with Santa Claus.

On 24 December, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defence Command) tracks Santa Claus' trip around the globe.  They've been doing this since 1955.

Řízení letového provozu ČŘ, Air Traffic Control of the Czech Republic, is responsible for the airspace above Czech territory.  They put out a video on Twitter that Supersonic Ježíček submitted his flight plan and was doing Mach 9 (11.113 km/hr or 6905 mph) through Czech airspace.


Remember that Santa doesn't bring the presents.  Ježíček does.  In the following video I found out on YouTube, the Czech military shoots Santa out of the sky and then tanks surround him.  At the end of the video there is a disclaimer that neither Santa or any reindeer were injured in the making of this video.  You'e got to love the dark Czech sense of humour.


The Czech police went even darker.  They put out a public service video to illustrate the dangers of driving while SMSing (texting).  In the video, Santa gets distracted while driving and has an accident.  The Czech police come to the rescue by taking over his delivery route.

©Policie ČR

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas 2021

Veselé Vánoce!  Fröhliche Weihnachten!  Merry Christmas everyone!  

We went over to Oma and Opa's place for coffee and sweets.  In the early afternoon we usually go to church where the local kids put on a Christmas pageant.  Due to Covid restrictions in Germany the pageant was held outside.  

The rain was on and off, so with everyone's umbrellas no one could really see a whole lot most of the time unless they were in the very front.

Then it was back to the house for dinner.  Our typical Christmas dinner is sausages, Buletten, and potato salad.  I was happy with the Buletten I prepped yesterday.

Der Weihnachtsmann showed up later at the front door.

Tünde sang a few songs and she ended up with a sack full of presents.  We then opened presents.  

I must have been a pretty good boy this past year because I did pretty well.

Later we watched some Christmas movies.  I'm sure that tomorrow we'll be watching Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel which is the German version of the 1973 film Popelka.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Dark Matter

Dark Matter is a former factory in Berlin where they show light and interactive audiovisual exhibits in pitch-black rooms.  This year they have their first open sky light installation called Winterlights.

It's a 1000 m² (~10,800 ft²) area outside with 200 Christmas trees and 80.000 LEDs.  Lights, music, and smoke that repeats every 30 minutes.  It's pretty neat especially when there's a bit of icy rain in the mix.  

Although it is cold outside there's coffee and mulled wine to help keep you warm.

Here are a few videos I took.  

Getting Ready for Christmas

Tomorrow is Christmas over here in Euroland.  Sometimes people forget that this isn't my first Christmas in Euroland.  Tomorrow will be my 13th.  Maybe people assume that I fly back to the U.S. every year or something but without fail, someone will always point out to me that Americans celebrate Christmas on the 25th.  Which is true but not always.  

In the U.S., it's Christmas Eve which is still basically Christmas because in the USA we usually celebrate both.  As a kid, I remember going to one part of the family for Christmas Eve, the 24th, for a big dinner, presents, and usually midnight mass.  Then on Christmas Morning, the 25th, it was presents with the immediate family, and then lunch and presents with the other part of the family.  Nowadays, with so many people getting divorced and re-married it's not that uncommon for some kids to have two sets of parents and four sets of grandparents.  

Let's not forget that not everyone celebrates Christmas.  I know many people who celebrate Hanukkah and some celebrate both which is Christmakkah or Hanumas.

There are a few more differences.  Americans put up the Christmas tree usually right after Thanksgiving and it stays up for over a month.  Some take it down around the 26th, or just after the New Year's.  Usually no later than the first weekend after New Year's.  Anything after that is tacky.  The same goes for outside Christmas decorations.  

Czechs, and Germans, normally decorate the Christmas tree during the day on the 24th.  Sometimes the day before.  Claudia's mom finished decorating the tree this morning.  The tree will say up until 6 January for the Feast of the Three Kings which ends the Christmas holidays.

In Czechland it's Jezíšek, and in Slovakia it's Ježiško, Little Baby Jesus, that brings the gifts.  It's the same in parts of Germany (and Austria) where it's the Christkindl who brings the gifts.  In other parts of Germany, we wait for the Weihnachtsmann, Father Christmas.  Tünde is excited about der Weihnachtsmann coming tomorrow.  She's planning on singing four or five songs for him.

Today Tünde read me a Christmas story called Das Geheimnis der Zuckerstrange.  It's the German version of The Candymaker's Gift which tells the story of how the candy cane was created.  I'd never heard it before but it's a cute story.

Somehow it was decided that I was making the Buletten for dinner tomorrow.  Buletten are traditional German meatballs made out of ground beef, ground pork, onion, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.  They are panfried but can then be eaten either hot or cold with good mustard.  I think that they turned out fine but we won't know until tomorrow.  Hopefully they will be better than the frozen Ikea meatballs I had last year.

Later we went to check out Dark Matter.  Maybe this was my reward for the Buletten.