31 March 2012


If most Czechs aren't spending their springtime Saturdays enjoying a walk "in the nature" or storming the nearest Ikea, they're going swimming. Although the complex at Podoli, with its outdoor pool, is the facility of choice, the Special Assistant to the Blogger dragged accompanied me to the indoor pool in Barrandov, the area most known for its film studio.

Some impressions:

26 March 2012

Strahov Stadium: "Enduring but not endearing"

I'm not sure that words or photos will do justice to explain just how huge the all-but-abandoned Strahov Stadium in Prague is, so I'll settle for numbers. One is 240,000 -- the number of people who officially can cram into the seats. The other is 9 -- as in, when Wikipedia lists the dimensions of the playing surface, it simply says, "9 football pitches." So it is not just, as you say, a shtadium, but a masshive shtadium.

We couldn't get in, but you can see a panorama video here.
It is also pretty much a ushlesh -- sorry, useless -- stadium. AC Sparta Prague trains there, and several musical acts (most notably the Rolling Stones and most recently George Michael in 2007) have performed there, but aside from that, Strahov Stadium is a relic often bypassed by tourists and left in a state of disrepair.

24 March 2012

For anyone who forgets their keys ...

... or is a climbing wall now standard for every apartment building?

(From student housing in the Strahov neighborhood. Blog post title kinda sorta stolen from either The Professor or He Who Hasn't Beaten Me At FIFA Since The Last Time He Beat Me At FIFA.)

19 March 2012


Over the past 10 centuries, Vysehrad has been a castle, a fortress, an overtaken castle and fortress, a neglected set of ruins, a refurbished fortress, a training ground, and, finally, a place to go for a walk on a lovely day.

13 March 2012

They've got balls

Just had to show you what the Special Assistant to the Blogger showed me earlier today -- the special train that will transport Czech Republic soccer fans to Euro 2012 this summer:

Photos courtesy of Ceske drahy, the national train company.
The Czechs are in a group with Russia, Greece and Poland, and all the matches are in Wroclaw -- the venue closest to the border. Sounds like a road trip is in order with The Professor and He Who Finally Beat Me in FIFA 12.

07 March 2012

Return to paradise

The O2 Arena in Prague is a pristine, modern, NHL-quality hockey building with the Czech Republic's most impressive jumbotron, a replica of Michelangelo's David, and more than 17,000 seats. In other words, it's a huge venue with a crap atmosphere.

For the postseason, Slavia Prague decided to return to its roots, playing its home matches at the cozy, unfashionable and rather loud Zimni Stadion Eden, which was Slavia's home ice until 2004. (The Eden name comes from the former amusement park, which included a roller coaster of longer than 5 kilometers and closed in 1935, in the Vrsovice neighborhood. Locals also refer to the nearby football stadium as Eden.)

I don't know if Slavia chose this for a better home-ice advantage or for financial reasons, although I do know Slavia does have money problems and paying for Eden (where they train and hold youth team games) and the O2 Arena is not helping them. Whatever the reason, it was the right move. The atmosphere for Friday's postseason opener (attendance: just under 4,000) was brilliant. The fans in the standing section wouldn't shut up, with chants of Slavie do hoto toho! (Come on Slavia, basically) echoing throughout the joint that better resembles a practice facility than a hockey arena because, well, it's a practice facility.


After. (Or during, I guess.) These standing seats cost 50 crowns -- less than
$3 USD. Seats on the other side cost 100 crowns. There was one concession
stand, and you had to leave the area to walk to the restrooms.
Most reporters who covered the game, a 2-1 loss to Verva Litvinov, focused on the support. "The fans Friday night was a success, domestic players have less," this article says, via Google translate. I second the awkwardly-worded notion. Here are the fans singing to the players after the game:

03 March 2012

Keys to the city

The Czech Republic is known for its offbeat artists, which may have been brought up on this blog once or twice. So I guess in a land of barcodes on babies' faces, pink tanks with a middle finger extended and a traffic signal showing a man defecating, I should not have been surprised when I saw this at an I.P. Pavlova tram stop on Friday ...

The display even has occasional audio of a man yelling that a piano is falling, followed by a crashing sound.

A quick search of the Internet revealed nothing, despite attempts in English and Czech, which means I have little choice but to rely on the analytical skills of the Special Assistant to the Blogger, who after much deep thought informed me: "We have people who do strange things."  So there you have it.