Photo: CTK

How do the Germans view the Czechs? Just going out to play: a little girl rides her scooter all the way to Poland. And, the cricket invasion in Harrachov. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
A fascinating book by a German journalist, just out, reflects how our German neighbours view us Czechs. The book by Hans Jorg Smit is called the German's guidebook to Czechs and is really a delightful portrait - please take it with a pinch of salt - and here we go: the typical Czech is of the "homo-country cottage" species, endlessly pottering around the country cottage that he has built from scratch for his family. He is great at improvisation and there is no DIY job he can't handle. He will have married late, most likely has two children and a dog, who is treated as a member of the family. Sundays are either spent at the country cottage, out picking mushrooms or shopping at the local mall. Most Czech men will leave the family decision making to the wife but on the road he is king. Czech drivers are rowdies, Hans Jorg Smit warns. Tailing you within an inch of your bumper and honking like mad is a national sport. If you are a pedestrian watch out - there are hundreds of crossings but driver don't pay the slightest attention to them. A visit to the pub may surprise you. People don't seem to order. You walk in, sit down and a pint of beer is automatically placed in front of you. When visiting a Czech you will get a great deal of hospitality - but careful of holes in your socks - your hosts will expect you to take your shoes off. If you are doing business with a Czech you will find they always come to meetings late. And they have a problem giving you a clear " yes" or "no" - which is a problem to us Germans, the author continues. They don't do it on purpose - that's just the way they are and you have to learn to read between the lines, he explains. On the other hand they have "hands of gold" and can fix practically anything they set their minds to, Hans Jorg Smit says. So there you have it - Czechs as the Germans see them. Fascinating and certainly worth buying.

Photo: CTK
Visitors to Prague can once again book a suite in the newly-renovated Hotel Imperial on Prague's Na Porici street. Prague's oldest five star hotel was built in 1914 - in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and in the 1920s it was one of Prague's most luxurious hotels. After 1948 it was confiscated by the communists and turned into a holiday facility for prominent party members, gradually deteriorating for lack of maintenance. This reconstruction - which cost half a billion Czech crowns - was the first proper reconstruction since the hotel was built. The Imperial is among Prague's thirty or so five star hotels.

A nine year old girl went missing for half a day after disappearing from her home town close to the Polish border. Her parents raised the alarm when she failed to come home for lunch after riding her scooter around the house. The police combed the countryside close to her home but the little girl was actually much further afield having ridden her scooter all the way to Poland. She covered a ten kilometer distance and was brought back home by the border police close to midnight.

A twenty seven year old former prisoner who had started a brand new life and was determined to put his past behind him was shocked to find a job offer in the post inviting him to become a prison warden in the very institution where he served time. "I couldn't believe my eyes - Martin said - the last thing I wanted to do was go back to the place where I spent three years in hell". More to the point, the law prohibits jailhouses from employing former criminals. Asked to explain the letter, the head of the jail-house said it was a terrible mistake. "We are constantly short of staff and so we ask all applicants who come to us to try and recommend someone of their acquaintance. So that's how this error must have occurred. In any case Mr. Klima's past would have made it impossible for us to employ him," the director said.

Approximately ten thousand Czech fathers annually undergo DNA tests to ascertain their children's parentage. Some of them do so because they are divorcing, others were unnerved by statistics suggesting that one in ten children have a different biological father than the one on their birth certificate. They are certainly helping to correct statistics - the DNA results indicate that statistically one in four fathers has a child that someone else helped bring into the world. And according to one of the companies which offer DNA testing it is not only fathers who come in search of answers but mothers who had more than one partner at the time of conceiving and are not sure who the child's real father is.

The town of Brandys nad Labem, north of Prague, last week hosted a stone skimming championship. Contestants of all ages -male and female - took turns to skim their stones across the Labe river -which is 80 meters wide at that point. The winner -Karel Novotny- managed to skim the river in eight perfect leaps. According to Karel skimming skills are something you hone all you life. "Whenever I come near the river - or even a small pond - I practice," he says. Selecting the right stone is also said to be an art. It must not be too flat because it would not maintain the set course, or too heavy because it would sink after only a few leaps.

Photo: Barbora Kmentová
The post office in Harrachov last week resembled a scene from a horror movie after thousands of crickets escaped from their packaging and filled every nook and cranny of the building. The insects were sent to someone by post as food for reptiles, but the person in question failed to pick up the delivery right away. The crickets, imprisoned in several carton boxes, bit their way to freedom in the night and were swarming all over the place when the first employees arrived to work in the morning. "It was really the most unbelievable sight," one of the employees said "I still have nightmares about it". The office had to be closed down until a pest control team arrived to deal with the invaders.