12 Surprising things about Prague & the Czech Republic

24 Jan

1) Everyone is in a Relationship

I teach about 40 Czech people, with a median age of about 28. Ninety percent of these people are either in a relationship or suffer from full-blown marriage. Hot and unhot alike. In Tokyo, it seemed like almost no one was in a relationship or had time for one. Little dogs were replacing the role of husbands. Most of friends in Vancouver were single too. It's doubtful the Czechs have unlocked the secrets of lifelong love though, considering the divorce rate is one of the highest in Europe.

I was going to insert a Jemini & Dangermouse song into the section, so I googled it, and a few curious clicks later I ended up at the above pic. Still suitable.

2) Dogs

Absolutely everywhere — in the metro, tram, pub, restaurant, workplace. Fuckers run the city. Generally well-behaved; I've only witnessed one dogfight in a restaurant so far.

I was at a pub tonight, and there was a huge husky dog,. When no one was looking, it stuck its head on a table and licked someone's birthday cupcake.

3) Dog shit

As the snow thaws on a lovely Prague morning, the moist dogshits of yesteryear reawaken to greet you on your way to work. Maybe the European is accustomed to public excrement. Last year on a stroll in Brussels I saw enough turds to be able step on one, every step, for 1 km. I've heard Paris is the dogshit capital of the world, though. I wonder how Prague would have competed a few years ago before the ordinance was passed forcing owners to pick up shits. Apparently the situation has improved, but cripes, I feel sorry the blind. If you are coming from outside of Europe, this will be one of the first things you notice. Thank god piss isn't solid.

4) Dreaded Whitey – The CR has the highest population of white people with dreads I've ever seen.

5) "Dumplings" = pieces of bread

When I saw the word dumplings on a menu here, I thought of gyoza/dimsum/or something perogy-like. So I was surprised to get 5 pieces of bread. But take one of these things in your hand to dip in the goulash, and prepare to hear "IT"S A DUMPLING, NOT BREAD. WE DON'T USE OUR HANDS!!!!!!!"

6) Warriors & Magic Cards

In fall I saw longhaired fat dudes on the tram carrying  swords and shields. The occasional fair maiden too. Medieval times/battle reenactment seems to be a hobby for a lot of people. It might even be normal behavior. I guess it's more understandable here, since there actually were knights and epic battles in Czech history.

Check this hilarious Prague street skirmish, known as "Aragorn vs. the Red Monster" for the resemblance of the characters to actual historical/mythical figures.

Many of my male students are also heavily into Magic Cards. In North America, magic cards are, stereotypically, a hobby for the ultimate nerd. Fuck it though. Maybe. At least people are actually "gathering" for Magic the Gathering, instead of being at home eating their toenails or looking at pron in their gitch.

Medieval Times clip from The Cable Guy

7) Metal – In connection with #6, metal still seems pretty huge here.

this guy scares the shit out of me

8) Respect the Rohlik

This little skinny guy, Rohlik, gets props out here. We don't really have a major rohlik scene in North America… probably because they are too thin to really do anything with, e.g. make a sandwich. I speculate the popularity of the soft rohlik is a result of the crappiness of regular Czech chleba (bread), which is hard and unforgiving, but I shouldn't say that too loudly. Considering the regular chleba, I'm glad we got the rholik. I guess they are  useful for dipping in soup.

3 rohliks, together

9) Adidas Popularity – Adidas seems like the most popular brand with Czech youth here, even above Nike.

r.i.p. jam master jay

10) No Voice Mail here

I missed a few calls on my phone from an unregistered numbers. I didn't have voice mail here, and they didn't send me a text message, so I thought nothing of it. Later I found out it was my employer, and they asked me why I didn't call them back. "????", I thought. But now I've learned to call (even unknown) numbers back and say the retarded "Someone here called me". I guess if this is the accepted norm in a society, maybe it is more efficient than checking voicemails.

11) Female Ass Cracks

Visiting Prague for a week last February, I noted to my friend about the high amount of female ass cracks I saw that day. Now that I live here, it's the same, albeit there are fewer in winter. I'm not sure what most dudes think, but in my opinion, 90% of the time, it's nasty. Here, try it:

* asses not to scale

(third pic is beer)

12) Czechs don't mind if you suck at Czech

It's refreshing to hear many people say Czech is too hard, or a waste of time for foreigners to learn. Of course it's discouraging, but at least it makes me feel better for failing.

a "kurva"


 

These are just some observations after four months. I hope you enjoyed them. There are other things too trite to mention, and probably oodles of radness I have yet to discover. What's your word? Leave  comments, corroborations, & repudiations below.

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13 Responses to “12 Surprising things about Prague & the Czech Republic”

  1. Andra 2011/01/24 at 5:34 pm #

    I need to give thanks so much for the work you have made in writing this piece of writing. I am hoping the same effective work by you down the road too.

  2. Suzana 2011/01/24 at 8:00 pm #

    I agree! Especially with no. 10 :-) I guess, Czechs simply prefer straight conversation. And the knedlík case – i think it is a problem of the term “dumpling” Czech language has no other possibility than choose “dumpling” from English. However you can call it as you wish(for example soft-bread), please, always use knife and fork ;)

  3. light play 2011/02/11 at 9:54 am #

    this made me laugh very hard.

  4. Kelly 2011/02/26 at 7:03 pm #

    I am going to be living in Prague for a few months next year and came across this post – so great!  So how do you eat the dumplings  – with a fork?
     
     

    • admin 2011/02/26 at 9:48 pm #

      =) my czech girlfriend who is lying dead beside (re: my farts) says with a knife and fork. she said it’s best to cut them into small pieces and then use the pieces to absorb the awesome taste of the surrounding sauce.

      she mentions that when she has a dumpling, it is her duty to wrap it in sauce from all sides.

      Only then are they ready to consume.

  5. Honza 2011/03/01 at 8:20 am #

    Great and funny post. You don’t know much about Czechs but it’s nice to hear how foreigners see us :)

    Knedlik (aka dumpling) is definitely not a bread! We eat it as e.g. potatoes or rice – with sauces – it’s typical for Czech meals to have very heavy sauces (often with cream). I really like it, especially the homemade ones. Sometimes I just eat knedlik with the sauce and even forget about the meat…

    I’m not surprised that you don’t like Czech bread, but do not insult it ;-) 99% of Czechs living abroad more than 1 month miss Czech bread the most of everything!!! It’s a great food – it has it’s own taste (with slightly bitter crust, unlike the UK bread which tastes like cotton and you have to make sandwiches from it to be able to eat it), it’s more heavy (so you can eat just few slices with salami or marmalade, unlike UK bread where after eating the whole loaf you are still hungry… and sick…). Did you know that in UK they used to make similar bread, but stopped it during the wars because they lacked the grain? …so they started to make that cheap ‘cotton bread’…

    Rohliks are nice to, we eat them with soup, soft cheeses, sausages… did you tried ‘Parek v rohliku’ – it’s czech version of hot dog – we make a hole in the rohlik and put the sausage with mustard inside so you won’t get dirty when you eat it on the street. You can also make small party snacks from rohliks (see jednohubka = ‘one mouth’). I typically buy it when I want to buy just small snack or I don’t have a knife with me to cut the bread.

    Voice mail is, of course, working here. But nobody actually uses it. I also stop the call when voice mail is activated – well mostly I just prefer to call twice and wait shorter period to not activate the voice mail :) We consider it polite to call back.

    3) you are absolutely right…

  6. admin 2011/03/01 at 10:39 pm #

    Honza: diky
    thanks for the info on the chleba! but aren’t rohliks essentially white bread, e.g. similar to the cotton-like UK bread??

    i’ve had lots of the ‘one mouth’ bite-size rohlik things already =) during christmas holidays. they are awesome

    i’ll have to try the Parek v rohliku. i guess it’ll take precision though to make the deep hole though without ruining the beautiful rohlik exterior

    last time i called an unknown number back i said “hello did someone here call me??” and then click– they hungup on me. it doesn’t work so well for me cuz i’m nerozumeeming czeske

    thanks for the visit!

  7. Bobecek 2011/04/05 at 9:53 pm #

    I should add #13: Everyone On Crutches

    I’ve never seen so many people on crutches in my life. I’ve spoken with my students about this, and we surmise that the reason for the prevalence of crutch-users are:

    1) crutches are provided for free by the hospital to injured people
    2) potential wheelchair users are forced to use crutches because of cobblestone pathways (its true that I’ve hardly seen any wheelchair users)
    3) old people in prague are more active (and visible) than old people elsewhere (is this true?)
    4) people carry crutches so they can get a seat on the tram
    5) people carry crutches to look disabled and thus qualify for the disability payments from the government

    these are only some competing theories.

  8. Michael 2011/04/15 at 9:30 pm #

    Hehehe, nice article. :))

    Ad 5), there are many kinds of dumplings. As far as I know, none of those has anything to do with bread (except being sliced). Those white dumplings (houskove knedliky) may contain pieces of rohliks. I prefer potato dumplings which are denser and have different taste.

    Ad 8), rohlik is not a bread in any way. :) Recipe and taste are different from bread (even the toast bread). I don’t recommend eating too much rolls unless you get diarrhea, it gets one stuck. ;)
    I don’t know what chleba did you eat, hehe, but when it is fresh (depends on a kind, again) there’s nothing unforgiving about it, lol. :D

    And man, don’t stay in Prague only, there are many other great places, here. ;)

    • admin 2011/04/16 at 6:35 pm #

      yo thanks!
      Yes the potato dumplings are definitely not bread-like.

      But roliks are bread, aren’t they? In English ‘bread’ refers to a substance, not a shape. So, rolls, hot dog buns, loafs, etc, are all bread as long as they are made of flour, yeast, water etc. roliks are a good snack for 2 crowners ~

      and i’ve started liking czech chleba a bit more now that i’ve been here longer. usually by the time i finish my loaf though, it’s been in my cupboard for already 7 days ;|

      thanks for the comments.

  9. peter 2011/04/24 at 9:02 am #

    But roliks are bread, aren’t they?

    Not in Czechia.. Over the bakery it used to have sign

    Chléb a pečivo ==

    Bread(s) and ‘other bakery products’

    English just herds everything made from flour under bread, partly because real bread is not available or rare, in US as well as in UK.

    If it is white inside (like rohlik or houska) it is not bread but pečivo. OK?

  10. Michael 2012/07/26 at 1:52 pm #

    Wow, all your points were spot on. Especially the divine and holy Rholik, which as it turns out of nothing more than a common hot dog roll. Who the fuck would eat a hotdog roll for breakfast? Well as you say, it’s a step up from the unleaven unsliced and extremely heavy brown Astrix style loaf.

    13. Some Czechs can be tighter than a ducks ass when it comes to money. Super conservative. They’ll only buy something if it is the cheapest, then brag to their friends about the good price they got.

    As a foreigner if you want to buy something of quality, you can expect your wanker Czech family / buddies to tell you how expensive it was, and how you’re actually the fool because you didn’t by low quality cheap ass goods.

    14. Indoor shoes and a false sense of cleanliness. Don’t you even dare walk into someones house with shoes on here. They’re extremely holy it would seem about how clean their houses are inside, so much so they have indoor only shoes. Highly logical, until you see the carpets in the kitchen – Ouch!

  11. Bruce 2013/03/24 at 11:48 am #

    Sorry to break it to everyone but CZ is a shit hole. They are still living as though it was back when Karel IV ruled. It might have been a little better back in those days because not as much consumerism existed. Everyone walks around listening to English music, has a bag with the Union Jack on it but nobody speaks English. CZ is such a Euro whore. CZ does everything so it can be a part of the EU except upgrade the country. Czech diet= bread, beer, and cigarettes. The most surprising thing is that I realized time travel exists. I found this after landing in CZ considering these people are so far back in time. Okay, I won’t hate completely. Prices for prostitutes are quite good compared to many other countries and they are honest.

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