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.

Friday, December 23, 2022


This evening we met up with a few people for dinner at our favourite sushi place on Bölscherstraße.  Afterwards it was on the beach at Müggelsee, where we went ice skating before, for a a Christmas sing-a-long.  

It was fun.  There was a stage with choir singers and there a few mini-bonfires and candles while people drank glühwein and sang Christmas songs.  

Some of the songs I knew but there were several German songs that I'd never heard before.  Fortunately the programmes contained the lyrics to all of the songs.

After a few hours of singing it was back to the flat.  I needed to make the buletten for tomorrow's Christmas dinner.

I still can't believe that Christmas is tomorrow.  

Ku'Damm des Ostens

Germany reunified more than 30 years ago but there are still differences, cultural and economic differences, between between what used to be East Germany and West Germany.  The same goes for Berlin.  I can feel the difference between West Berlin and East Berlin.  

Personally I prefer East Berlin.  And not just because East Berlin has trams and Ampelmännchen.

In West Berlin, the posh street was Kurfürstendamm.  Or Ku'damm to the locals.  Basically the Berlin version of the Champs-Élysées

The street was damaged during the war and it wasn't rebuilt until the 1950s.  It is 3,5 km (2 miles) long and it was the heart of West Berlin whereas the heart of East Berlin was Alexanderplatz.

Ku'damm has lots of cafes, high-end shops, and Kaufhaus Des Westens, called "KaDeWe", the Department Store of the West.  It is over 100 years old and is the 2nd largest shopping centre in Europe.

Here's a five-minute video I found on YouTube about Ku'damm.

©DW News

In Friedrichshagen, the main posh street is Bölscherstraße which is nicknamed Ku'damm des Ostens which means  "Ku'damm of the east".

Bölscherstraße is about 1,3 km (0.8 mile) and runs from the S-Bahn station all the way to the Müggelsee.

The street was named after Wilhelm Bölsche who was a local author and poet.  There are more than 100 buildings that are a mix of residential and shops.  

There's quite a bit on this street including my favourite Döner Kebab place, the spaghetti ice cream shop, and even the Union theatre where I had to watch the movie about a girl and a horse

At the Friedrichshagen S-Bahn station there are photos of what the street used to look like why back when.

Here's a 3,5 minute video highlighting the street but the text is only in German.


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Atlas Obscura & the David Hasselhoff Museum

A few years ago, Nat introduced me to Atlas Obscura.  It's an American website that was founded in 2009.  It doesn't list the usual sightseeing destinations.  Just unusual and obscure travel must-sees that would only be known to locals.  Heck, some of these, even the locals might not know about.  Anytime I travel someplace, I always looks to see what the local Atlas Obscura sights are.

One of the things on Tünde's list this time was to visit the Deutsches Currrywurst Museum.  The museum opened in 2009 on the 60th anniversary of Currywurst being created.  Currywurst and a wacky museum?  Sounded great.  What we didn't know was that the museum closed permanently back in December 2018.

Here's a two-minute YouTube video I found that at least shows what the museum was like.  I bet that the gift shop would have been fun.

©Deutsches Currywurst Museum

So instead, we went to the David Hasselhoff Museum.  Yes, Berlin has a David Hasselhoff museum.  The museum is very small.  It's basically a downstairs hallway that's located at a hostel.  The museum is free and it's open 24/7.  
There's some memorabilia from his shows Knightrider and Baywatch.

There's the cliché that Germans love David Hasselhoff.  One of the main reasons is that on New Year's Eve in 1989, he sang his song Looking for Freedom at the Berlin Wall not long after it fell, back when there were still two Germanys; West Germany and East Germany.

Here's a four-minute video that I found out on YouTube where he's a guest on the Kelly Clarkson show and talks about why he's so popular in Germany.

©The Kelly Clarkson Show

For anyone who missed it, here's his 1989 New Year's Eve performance.

©Schlager für Alle

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Fourth Advent Sunday and Hanukkah

Today is the fourth Advent Sunday and it's also the first night of Hanukkah.  I came up to Berlin last night and Tünde started working on the list.  There's always a list.  I thought that last year's list had a lot but it's nothing compared to this year's mega-list.

I'm only here for a week, so let's see how much we accomplish by the 26th.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Czechoslovak Hussite Church

Czechland has its own church.  The Czechoslovak Hussite Church (CČSH) is a Christian church that split away from the Roman Catholic Church and was established in 1920 following the end of WWI and creation of Czechoslovakia.

It started out as the Czechoslovak Church but in 1972, the name was changed to to emphasise the values of Jan Hus, the former Catholic priest who was burned at the stake in 1415, and creator of the Czech alphabet.  I understand the church is a sort of Presbyterian and Episcopal mixture.  

The most recent census results showed that there are less than 25.000 members of the church.  In Czechland the church has 304 congregations that are divided in to five dioceses - Prague, Plzeň, Brno, Olomouc, and Hradec Králové.  There are three congregations in the Bratislava Diocese in Slovakia.

The head of the church is called 'Patriarch' and clergy can be men or women.  More than half of the priests are women.  Future priests undergo training at the Hussite Faculty of Theology at Charles University.

Husův sbor, the Hussite Church building, at Botanická, is one of the first functionalist church buildings in Central Europe.  It is the oldest functionalist building in Brno and this year celebrates 93 years.

Yesterday, Kája and I went to attend an afternoon Christmas concert.  The concert was nice but I have to admit that I didn't understand everything.  

There were a lot of Czech Christmas songs that I'd never heard before.  The traditional English-language Christmas songs that I know, were sung in Czech. 


Monday, December 5, 2022

Mikuláš 2022

Today is Mikuláš Day which means that I've opened the first five days of my sock advent calendar.  So far five days and I still don't have two socks that match.  

This may just drive me absolutely mad.  Hopefully I'll get at a matching pair soon.  The absolute worst case is that I won't get a matching sock until the 13th.

Friday, December 2, 2022

New National Cultural Monuments

The Ministry of Culture was established in 1969 during the days of Czechoslovakia.  The ministry is responsible for art, cultural monuments, the affairs of churches and religious societies, and legal regulations pertaining to television and radio.

Brno's Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Eight historic buildings have been designated as národní kulturní památky (NKP), national cultural monuments.  Effective 1 July 2023, these eight landmarks will have the highest level of state protection.  

 Half of them are located in South Moravia and two of these four are right here in Brno.

  • Augustinian Monastery in Pivona (Pilsen Regoin)
  • Jezeří Castle with Arboretum (Ústí Region)
  • Augustinian Monastery in Roudnice nad Labem (Ústí Region)
  • Veveří Castle (South Moravia Region)
  • Augustinian Monastery with the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Staré Brno (South Moravia Region)
  • Moravský Krumlov Castle (South Moravia Region)
  • Rosice Castle (South Moravia Region)
  • Plumlov Castle (Olomouc Region)

Moravský Krumlov has been on my list of places to visit for a long time because I have yet to see the Slav Epoch which is on display at the castle.  Now I've got another reason to go.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

My First Christmas Sock

Here's the first sock from the advent sock calendar that I received from Tünde.  A sock a day for 24 days.  I wonder how long it will take until I get a matching pair.   

World AIDS Day 2022

Today is World AIDS Day.  Since 1988, the day has been dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV.

The United Nations is working towards its goal of ending AIDS as a global health threat by 2030.  There's a long way to go to meet this goal in the next eight years.  

Álisson Becker, a footballer who plays for Liverpool and the Brazilian national team is a World Health Organisation Goodwill Ambassador and here's his public service announcement.  

©World Health Organisation (WHO)

Czech State Health Institute

The National Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS of the State Health Institute has released the current statistics about HIV/AIDS here in Czechland.

Czech Republic has a relatively low level of HIV/AIDS infection in Europe.  This year the number of cases have been significantly affected by migration due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

For the first ten months of the year, there were 249 new cases registered in the country.

  • 201 were men and 48 were women
  • 110 were Czech citizens and 139 were foreigners residing here
  • Of the foreigners, 89 come from Ukraine, 8 from Slovakia, 8 from Russia, 4 from Moldova, 4 from Poland and 22 from other countries
  • Most new cases are reported in Prague (32,9%), South Moravia (10,8%) and Central Bohemia (8.8%)

From the start of the Russian invasion to the end of October 2022, the Czech Ministry of the Interior took in 422.125 refugees from Ukraine of which 537 HIV-positive Ukrainian refugees were registered.

Differences in HIV Incidence between Czechia and Ukraine

In 2021, Czechland had 2,2 cases per 100.000 people and Ukraine had 37,1 cases per 100.000 people.