Check-out the Czech Republic in the Eurodream chocolate box! Hold that thief! A man overpowers a burglar only to find that the police can’t come because they don’t have a car. And a new tradition has been established – a procession of Prague ghosts on Halloween. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.

How would the Czech Republic have been represented if a foreign artist had produced Entropa? We’ll never know, but the Swedish presidency has just put out a kinder version on the controversial Czech art piece – commissioning a box of chocolates labeled Eurodream. The box contains 27 pralines with 27 unique flavours each inspired by a member state. The choice was made by chocolate chef John Messinger and the way to taste it, apparently, is to close your eyes –sample each chocolate and guess. France tastes of champagne of course, Poland of vodka, Sweden tastes like a cloudberry, Germany like a hazelnut and Greece is about anise. If your guess is that the Czechs must have been given a beer flavour then guess again because the beer flavour went to Belgium – along with a miniature picture of hops. The Czech Republic is pictured as a potato – which may leave you mystified –but there’s a good explanation. If you bite into the praline you will taste rum or at least the Czech version of rum which had to be renamed after the country’s entry to the EU because it is made of potatoes. Neighbouring Slovakia tastes of brandy –and Bulgaria, mortally offended by its representation as a Turkish toilet in Entropa – has been vindicated and has come out smelling –and tasting - of roses. I think the Swedes have finally made peace within the 27 member block.

A fifty-seven-year-old man from the town of Střevače has an amazing story to tell – he came home unexpectedly during the day and found a burglar in the house. The thief dashed past him to get to his car but the man –who had been trained in combat - managed to overpower him and holding him by the throat called the police on his cell-phone. An officer took the call but the police never turned up. The reason? They had no car at their disposal. After holding the thief for twenty minutes the man’s strength failed him and the thief got away. Some time later an officer called to ask how things were going and explain they still had no car. They eventually turned up two hours later to investigate the matter.

If your kids are begging for a pet –and you don’t want a permanent addition to your household, then you might want to consider what many Czech families do at this time of year. They take in underfed hedgehogs born in the late summer which under normal circumstances would have no chance of surviving the winter – feed them up and give them shelter for four to five months and then when spring comes round let them lose out in the countryside. People who come across hedgehogs in need are requested to either take them in or take them to the Union for Nature Conservation which annually finds temporary homes for hundreds of hedgehogs. All that an underfed hedgehog requires is a metre-by-metre space in a cool, well-aired room and small cardboard box to sleep in. Oh and they are very partial to meat – so don’t try and turn them into vegetarians.

The “rybička” or “little fish” folding pocket knife is something that generations of Czechs have grown up with and fondly remember. Once the only pocket knife on the market, the “rybička” is something that fathers gave their sons when they were deemed old enough. Shaped like a fish, complete with scales, fins and tail the little fish has stayed pretty much unchanged for over half a century. And despite the wide variety of top-quality Swiss pocket knives on the market the original Czech product is still going strong. In fact, some people are willing to pay huge sums of money for a luxury version of their prized childhood accessory. A “rybička” made of gilded Damascus steel and silver – selling for nine thousand crowns – has become a hot collectors’ item and you will see top managers choosing one as a gift for a friend – a gift that holds memories of the days they went fishing together as twelve year olds, proudly carrying their first “adult” pocket-knife. Mikov, the firm that has produced millions of little fish since the end of the World War II has long-since expanded its production line to high-quality hunting and kitchen knives exported around the world. But part of its production is always reserved for the little fish which only sells in the Czech Republic.

A new tram model which is gradually expected to replace Prague’s old tram park has not made a highly successful debut in the Czech capital. A short test run around the city revealed a serious deficit – the tram can only go straight. Every time there was even a slight bend it promptly got derailed. The tram was sent back to its producer in Plzeň and the company swears that it is not a systemic error but a one-off mistake affecting just one vehicle. Apparently an employee had put in a longer screw in the chassis than prescribed which prevented the bearings from turning. Let’s hope they are right because Prague is supposed to get 250 of these trams by 2017 which together with the metro should form the backbone of Prague city transport. It would be rather inconvenient if they all crisscrossed the city in straight lines.

Photo: CTK
Halloween in Prague was gloomy and drizzly as a procession of Prague ghosts made its way through the city centre, going from Powder Tower, across Charles Bridge and through the Lesser Quarter. The organizer of the event was the Museum of Prague Legends which argued that it would be a great pity to celebrate Halloween without giving it a Czech flavour. “Prague is a city rich in ghosts and legends and if anyone can organize a colourful procession of ghosts – its us,” Filip Jan Zvolský of the museum told reporters. Each ghost has its own haunt in Prague but on that night they were free to join the procession and roam around – the Turk carrying his girlfriend’s head under his arm, the headless Swede, the White Lady and the ghost who has been sighted around the cathedral of St Vitus, to name just a few. The ghosts of drowned people –and a few water goblins - joined the procession as it passed across Charles Bridge. The museum hopes that the procession of Prague ghosts will become a traditional event. The ghosts had a very good time and even ghosts deserve a proper outing once a year.