Jalta Hotel celebrates its 50th birthday in communist style, the first space travel agency opens in Prague and, that’s not a helicopeter – its a snowglider! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.
People who passed by Jalta Hotel on Prague’s Wenceslas Square last Tuesday were in for a shock. The hotel sported a banner from the communist days reading “we will not let anyone undermine our socialist republic”. At the door guests were being greeted by young boys and girls in light blue shirts and red scarves – the one-time uniform of the communist youth league. Red carnations and red tablecloths created the unmistakable atmosphere of a communist party gathering and waiters even served a bright yellow lemonade aptly dubbed “yellow death” – one of the few non-alcoholic drinks available on the market in the 60s and 70s. The stunt was of course an April Fools joke – since the day coincided with the hotel’s 50th birthday. “We thought it would be nice to recall what things looked like when hotel Jalta opened to the public back in 1958” the manager explained. Of course at the time it was a hotel reserved for the top brass – the common folk only got to look inside through the polished glass doors.
On the other hand a much younger restaurant by the name of Jáma celebrated its 14th birthday in different style. Jáma was established in 1994 when Czechs were no longer drinking “yellow death” – instead they were embracing the western concept of fast food. Jáma traded in a traditional birthday cake for a huge hamburger with candles. The outsize hamburger took the chef an hour to prepare, weighed 15 kilos and birthday goers said it was the best they’d ever tasted.
Czechs who have over three million crowns lying around and don’t know what to do with it can now consider making a trip to space. Virgin Galactic this week opened a space travel agency in Prague. The money covers a health examination, a three day training course and a three-hour flight to space during which passengers will be able to enjoy gravity-free movement and take holiday snapshots of Planet Earth. People who sign up now can expect to fly towards the end of 2010. Twenty five Czechs have already put their name on the list – thought they wish to remain in anonymity for the present time. Too expensive for you? The head of the Czech space travel agency Jan Kolář says it will not be too long before prices go down and Czechs plan trips to space the way they now plan trips to exotic holiday locations. Just twenty years ago nobody dreamed of that either.
He lived between 1856 and 1916 but many people today feel like they know him - at least those who drink Březnák beer. Viktor Cibich, the head of a railway sation in Velké Březno, first appeared on a beer label in the act of downing a frothy pint of beer in 1906. The label was a huge success and Cibich later appeared on many beer labels the world over. Today you’d find his face on beer labels in Uruguay, Costa Rica, Italy or Romania. Beer lovers in the town of Velké Březno where he spent his entire life, make an annual trip to the cemetery in March to pay homage to his memory – and to let him know that the Březnak brew is as good as ever.
The Czech Senate has opened a gifts gallery in Valdštejn Palace. The gifts gallery is a permanent exhibition of gifts that Czech senators have received from their foreign counterparts. Some of the gifts were first shown to the public a year ago when the Senate organized a small temporary exhibition. However it turned out to be such a success with the public that the Senate decided to expand it and give it permanent status. Among the gifts that attract the most attention are an icon made of tiny coloured stones from a Georgian patriarch, a collection of daggers from Yemen and a silver bust of Mother Tereza from an Albanian parliament representative. A showcase of various national costumes also attracts plenty of attention.
It looks like a little helicopter on three skis with a propeller at the back. The snowglider doesn’t fly but it can whiz across snow and ice at a speed of 120 kilometres per hour. Václav Zahrádka, who spent five years perfecting it with his friends, says it’s a dream come true. “I always wanted to make a snowglider but there was nothing to go on –we had to work everything out for ourselves,” he told journalists. Mr. Zahrádka says he was inspired by specially constructed sleighs which he saw Russian soldiers using in mountainous terrain during WWII. “They were fast, but I wanted something much faster, something more operable and altogether more modern” he explains. There are now three bright yellow snowgliders whizzing around in the Krkonoše Mountains. As for Václav Zahrádka he is working to make another dream come true – a sleigh that could glide across water as well as snow.
František and Zdenka Kopečkovy, photo: CTK
It is probably the smallest private museum in the country – a farm where life stopped still a century ago. When František and Zdenka Kopečkovy got their family farm restituted after the fall of communism they wondered what to do about it. It was in a desolate state. No one had invested in it for decades and the barns were still full of rusty old things that their great-grandparents and grandparents had used –instruments with which to till the land, churn butter or mend a broken cartwheel. Then they realized that they could turn all that to their advantage and show people how farmers lived and worked a century ago. They visited a few bazaars and asked their neigbours to look through their attics and today their little farming museum has over 800 exhibits. František himself gives people tours of the place and often they last for over two hours because he has a family story to tell about many of the exhibited items and often breaks into song – one of those that farmers would sing as they went about their work. In short –he’ll take you back 100 years and his wife will have home made pies in the kitchen to perfect the illusion.