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Are you into high heels? Check out the “Chopin” shoe at the footwear museum in Zlín. Why do some Czechs expect their dogs to turn vegetarian – and desperate drivers create a map of the worst potholes around the Czech Republic! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

Photo: Vít Pohanka
Women with a passion for shoes should not miss out on a visit to the footwear museum in Zlín. Among the wide variety of shoes on display is the platform shoe which was all the rage in the courts of Europe in the 15th to 17th centuries. The “Chopin” as it was called was neither practical nor comfortable –soaring to a height of up to 40 centimeters which made walking impossible without the help of mandatory walking sticks or two servants to help one along. It is said to have originated in Venice and soon became the calling card of the nobility and those who aspired to a high place in society. Health-wise it was a serious hazard and Venice eventually passed laws against the highest of these shoes, relegating them to history. From what we know there are only twenty pairs of them left in the world today. The Museum in Zlín has just one pair of these platform shoes – given pride of place and kept in a glass case – so do go and admire them –but don’t expect to be allowed to try them on!

Meanwhile, the town of Uničov currently offers visitors a glimpse into the history of fans and non-verbal communication. The exhibition displays a fascinating collection of fans from the 16th through the 19th centuries – bone and bamboo fans mounted with rice paper, painted silk, feathers and embroidery. The entire collection is on loan from a private owner who has collected fans from the age of 13 and boasts more than 300 of them. The curator of the exhibition is also well versed in the art of neon-verbal communication with a fan – demonstrating an angry flutter, a timorous flutter, an expression of invitation, and a series of other non-verbal statements for the opposite sex. You never know when such an art may come in handy.

With every passing year Czechs take Valentine’s Day a little closer to their hearts and salespeople are doing their best to support the imported holiday. This year young people have been invited to send in short love messages –the best of which will appear on billboards around the country and even a TV add broadcast on February 14th – all as publicity for an unnamed company. Though some people prefer to do things their own way – last year a thirty-year-old-man from Kladno near Prague had a construction firm fill a five meter wide heart with concrete in the middle of the property he’d just bought - into which he etched the message “I love you” for his wife. The heart served as the foundation of their future home.

Some Czechs are taking health fads a bit too seriously. Not only do they turn vegetarian, and bring their children up as vegetarians – but some expect their dogs to become vegetarians as well. Vets say they are amazed at the number of cases they have come across where dogs are given vegetarian left-overs with their owners claiming that if it’s the healthiest option for them and their children it must be the best thing for their dog as well.

Photo: CTK
The town of Mikulčice hosted a brandy-tasting event last week that left many visitors gasping for breath. People could choose to sample any of 1360 types of brandy –among them more uncommon varieties made from pineapple or pumpkins, tangerines, medlars and quinces. The jury selected a traditional plum brandy from Hodonín at the absolute winner –though after tasting more than several hundred samples you wonder if they can even tell what they are drinking. Either way, visitors had a great time.

Many Czech roads are in a pretty bad condition after another harsh winter and although potholes abound austerity budgets give little hope of seeing them filled in the foreseeable future. Czech drivers have addressed the problem as best they can – creating an internet map of the worst potholes around the country. Anyone can take a snapshot on their mobile phone, and send it stating where the pothole is. For the time being the map is serving drivers, but hopefully come spring the local authorities will take a closer look at it as well to see how best the little money they have can be spent.