Lake Lipno in South Bohemia boasts the longest natural ice-skating track in the Czech Republic and possibly the longest maintained skating track in the world. A Czech potato grower congratulates US President Barack Obama on his inauguration, and Czech anglers take to frozen lake fishing. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.
A parade of veteran trams and cars brought several hundred people out into the streets of Prague last weekend despite the freezing cold weather. The old trams (the oldest dating back to 1915) rolled slowly out of the depot with the conductors leaning out of the back door as they used to in the old days. In fact older people still recall riding on the bottom step and hanging onto the handlebar on the door. In each car there was an accordionist playing one song after another – many of them well-known twentieth century hits by the legendary singer and songwriter Karel Hašler about beautiful old Prague. And at each stop the conductor rang the bell, occasionally helping people in and out of the car. Those who tried it say it was a memorable experience. The only small disappointment of the day was the cancelled parade of veteran cars which were not allowed out for fear that that the generous amount of salt sprinkled on Czech roads by road maintenance crews in the wake of a snowstorm would damage their chassis.
Valentine’s Day is due to come round again in a week’s time and despite the fact that many Czechs prefer to celebrate the Czech version of Valentine’s Day on May 1st, the shops are well stocked with Valentine cards and fluffy toys. And for those who want everything perfect the Milostín post office says it is once again ready to stamp all Valentine greetings with a special rubber stamp. The tradition started back in 2002 when the imported holiday was slowly taking root in the Czech Republic. Young people liked the idea and so every year the Milostín post office stamps thousands of love letters with a different Valentine motif devised by the Czech Postal Service. Last year it was the image of a girl’s face, this year it is a picture of St. Valentine holding a heart in each hand. The town of Milostín with its 250 inhabitants was chosen because of its name which is suggestive of something or someone dear. In the same way the post office in the town of Kraslice – meaning "painted egg" – stamps Easter cards and letters, and the mountain town of Boží Dar – God’s gift – stamps Christmas greetings with a different Christmas motif every year.
Roasted goose with cabbage and dumplings, photo: archive of Radio Prague
Czech food catering firms which deliver party food to companies around Prague say that the fashion of serving caviar canapés or sushi appears to be over and that many Czech firms are going back to traditional Czech food such as beef with a cream sauce, cranberries and dumplings, roast goose with sauerkraut and plum dumplings or poppy-seed mini cakes. The food is served in tiny portions and is cooked and arranged to perfection by Czech chefs, together with a variety of Czech wine and beer. Reportedly foreign guests are enthusiastic about the menu, describing it as heavy but delicious and taking a small sample of everything. Some firms have even served the specialties that are usually made at a Czech pig-slaughtering event – pork scratchings, liver sausage or head cheese. Foreign guests said they tasted excellent – though it is dubious they knew just what they were eating.
Lake Lipno in South Bohemia boasts the longest natural ice-skating track in the Czech Republic and possibly the longest maintained skating track in the world. When the lake freezes over skaters can cover a distance of over 10,000 meters. Currently the world’s longest natural skating track is reported to be in Ottawa measuring 7,8 km. The Czech agency for records and curiosities is hoping to win an entry in the World Guinness Book of Records. The ice track snakes around Lake Lipno which covers a territory of 4870 hectares and is the biggest man-made lake in the Czech Republic.
Fishing is a popular pastime in the Czech Republic and the fact that many lakes freeze over in winter is not considered a drawback – there’s always frozen lake fishing for those who are prepared to brave the cold. Now a few adventure-loving anglers have gone a step further – they are organizing frozen lake fishing sessions at night, which is said to be far more exciting. However unlike Finland, where frozen lake fishing is a popular sport, the mild winters in Central Europe with frequent thaws make this pastime a bit risky. Understandably the local authorities are not very happy about the interest in night fishing and it is only allowed in a few selected places in the Czech Republic where the state of the ice is checked every few hours. Last weekend several dozen anglers turned up for a night of fishing on Štičí Lake in central Bohemia and they all left with a fine catch and what they described as a memorable experience.
Can a Czech potato grower congratulate US President Barack Obama on his inauguration? Why not, says Jiří Pleva, a potato grower from the suburbs of Ostrava in Moravia. After all he points out, potatoes are of American origin. Pleva, a 65-year-old is a big fan of Barack Obama’s but he figured that if he sent his congratulations directly to Washington no one would bother to read his message and it would get lost among millions of others. So for the price of 800 crowns he took out a large ad in one of the local papers, expressing his great admiration for the US president and saying that he regretted the Czech Republic had no politicians like him.