I have safely returned home after travelling around several European countries including France, Spain, Czech Republic and Switzerland.
This is the eighth installment in my adventure travel series when I decided to step back into the past to fuel my memoir “Greenwich Meridian, where East meets West.”
Lost in Brno- Czech Republic
I had one entire day on Sept. 25th to relive it all in post-revolution Brno, while my friend Jane worked her post-revolution work for an Austrian firm.
“Just follow the tram tracks into town,” she said.
Now, that was easier said than done. Brno was and is a pulsing metropolis that has cleaned itself up, so it is completely en par with Prague, Paris and Geneva. As I got into town, I found myself caught in an entire web of pedestrian zones surrounding a big park; they all seemed to lead onto Jost Boulevard.
I never heard of Jost Boulevard, and I didn’t recognize any of the huge buildings that graced it. When I asked my friend Jane about the name of the boulevard, she said it used to be Boulevard of the Freedom Defenders. I still find that fascinating the resemblance of what Alexander Dumas once wrote in reference to the French Revolution.
“The difference between patriotism and treason is only in the dates.”
One of Brno’s famous fashionable promenade aka corzo is Czech Street where high-end stores are located as well a high-end restaurants. I stopped at Stopkova Pivnice for classical Czech fare, that is pork, sauerkraut and dumplings. The dish is still reasonably priced compared to the other European countries that I have visited.
Just to make sure that we could find each other, Jane and I had a rendezvous at Mc Donald’s on Svoboda’s Square. Not only did the name of that square didn’t change, it still, after all these years, served as a podium for politicians.
As I approached the square, there were police vehicles everywhere. I paused to look what was happening. Czech president Milos Zeman was giving a speech. I remember standing in similar places during the week that led up to Velvet Revolution in 1989.
Czech Republic now is part of the European Union. The country has chosen not to have the Euro currency, but accepts Euro money for historical and cultural preservation projects such as the one we visited in Brno, that is Castle Spilberg.
I marveled at the beautiful vistas from the castle. It was a perfect bird’s eye view on a beautiful sunny evening.
Jane and I looked at each other as we took in the “Great successes of socialism,” the apartment mega complexes at a distance that give living space to 50,000 people each. Brno is surrounded by them. They stand as quiet sentinels to socialist policies under which all people were entitled to work and housing.
That night, as we met up with our foreign student friend, Ismael, we raised the half-liter mugs of excellent Czech beer, that hasn’t changed its quality. We were in a retro pub “U Jenika” with old taps for beer, that was fully packed to the rafters with a band. We ordered some strong cheese called “tvaruzky” on bread with butter.
“To all the socialist successes, and we’re part of them,” we laughed.
Yes, we have lived the socialist dream that never quite fully materialized.
Copyright © 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova