Last week was the time to check out Prague’s ghosts, lovers of good food are having a ball, and set your own price: a café owner finds a way to drum up business. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Hundreds of people joined in Prague’s annual ghost hunt last week. The event, called Prague full of Ghosts, has a 27-year-long tradition and is

extremely popular. On one late afternoon of the year –when twilight falls and ghosts are particularly spooky – the narrow cobbled streets of Prague’s Lesser Town come alive with ghosts. The aim of the ghost hunt, in which the organizers draw inspiration from a book of Prague ghosts, is to sight as many ghosts as possible. The hunt starts on the embankment of the Vltava River where participant are given maps and have to decipher hidden messages to point them in the right direction. Those who are unlucky and fail to sight any of them can look forward to a closing street party in the Lesser Town where all the ghosts assemble for the best-looking ghost contest. Each ghost has his or her unhappy tale to tell –for instance Lascivious Ašant who had an affair with the fiancé of a Holešovice butcher. The butcher came upon them together, grabbed his hatchet and smashed it into Ašant’s skull. From that day the unhappy ghost roams through the streets of Old Prague with a hatchet wedged in his skull.

Lovers of gourmet food and fine dining in the Czech Republic are looking

Photo: CzechTourism
forward to the event of the year –the month-long Grand Restaurant Festival that kicks off on January 15th. The event showcases 42 of the country’s best restaurants in eight cities. There is a variety of events to choose from but those who want to cover several restaurants in a day can hop on the gastro bus and for the price of 2,000 crowns get a whistle stop tour of 3 exclusive restaurants in the course of just 3 hours. At every stop they are welcomed by the chef who will serve them sample portions of his most exclusive wines and dishes.

January is clearly a time when people are obsessed with food, because coincidentally the Prague Information Service has launched a gastro competition called “Discover the taste of Prague” asking people to send in family recipes with a story. The organizers say they are not looking for family recipes of roast pork, sauerkraut and dumplings or a hundred ways to cook goulash –they want to hark back to the days when the people of Prague ate snails, salmon and asparagus. Well, that sounds pretty good –now let’s see if anyone remembers.

The organizers of Prague’s annual State Opera Ball have similar

ambitions – to create an atmosphere reminiscent of the days of the First Republic when the ball was an exclusive event attended by film stars, politicians, celebrities and entrepreneurs. This year the event will take place on February 5th, under the joint auspices of the mayors of Prague and Vienna. The patron of the ball is Cambodian princess Norodom Arunrasmy, sister of King Norodom Sihamoni who studied ballet at the Prague Conservatory. The proceeds of the charity tombola will go to the Tereza Max Foundation for orphaned children and charity institutions in Cambodia.

The Justice Ministry’s decision to make public a list of judges and state attorneys in active service who were members of the pre-1989 communist party has caused a stir in the judiciary. While a number of judges and state attorneys have demanded they be taken off the list because they were never Communist Party members, one judge who was not on the list demanded that his name be added to it because for some reason he had been left out.

And – a café owner in Prague has come up with an unconventional scheme to drum up business: scrapping the price list. Customers are free to set their own price for drinks and food and most try to give an appropriate sum of money. The risk paid off and the coffee house which was ready to close down is now packed every night. Big Lebowski in Prague 3 claims to be the only café/bar in the Czech capital where you set your own price.