International Tattoo Convention, photo: R. Rambousek, MFDnes, 26.5.07

Has your car been stolen? Well, steal it right back! The incredible story of an Austrian lawyer in Prague. Give a cow a pint of Pilsner and she'll give you two pints of milk - but will it be beer flavored? And, who is stealing all the manure? Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

A thirty year old lawyer from Salzburg, who currently resides in Prague, had the most unnerving experience here some time ago. He'd just bought a new car in Linz, got it registered and drove it to Prague. He left it parked outside his flat where it survived just one night. Within 24 hours of arriving back in the Czech Republic the poor man had to call the police to report a car theft. Two officers arrived, filed a protocol and left, giving him little hope of ever seeing his Peugeot again. They were wrong. Eight weeks later the police had not made any progress on the case but the lawyer, who was now using public transport in Prague, recognized his car from a night tram on his way home one evening and promptly "stole it back". He took it to a guarded parking lot and called the police in triumph to tell them he had got his car back. On hearing the news the police swung into action. They arrived at the parking lot - three police cars in all - and vehemently started investigating the case. The car was confiscated so that the police could search it for "clues" and the poor Austrian lawyer was asked to prove that the car was really his. "Really it would make your hair turn gray" he told the Austrian regional daily Salzburger Fenster. "I was warned by friends to get a Czech registration and a Prague license, but somehow I don't think it would have made much difference." He is probably right. At least this way the thieves thought they were stealing a tourist's car and did not expect the owner to recognize it on a Prague street two months later. And they certainly did not expect him to "steal it right back". Neither did the police, obviously.

Meanwhile, police in the western border town of Cheb are working overtime to try to solve the mystery of disappearing manure. Believe it or not someone is stealing manure in the region - whole piles of it. Tons and tons of manure have disappeared from a private farm. The farmer said the thefts had been gradual -from three different manure piles - and it had taken a while for him to notice. The damage is estimated at 1,2 million crowns and if the police catch the thief he could spend up to eight years in jail. Maybe they could sniff him out...

Two small towns east of Prague are fighting over a 19th century fire-engine. The fire engine is really a wooden horse-carriage with a hand-operated water pump dating back to 1886 which spent most of the twentieth century sitting in an abandoned warehouse in the town of Vysoka. A few years ago the town's mayor gave it to firefighters in the nearby town of Bohdasin saying that it might be of some value to them - otherwise it would end up on the junk heap. The firefighters took it and spent 4 years restoring it to its former glory. Now the "fire engine" is the pride of Bohdasin, but it looks like the town will have to put up a fight for it. The new mayor of Vysoka says his predecessor was a fool to give it up and that Vysoka has a moral right to it, because it is like "the family silver". The Bohdasin firefighters say it was "a pile of junk when they got it", but Vysoka counters "so give us our junk back". This somewhat irrational dispute is now heading for court. You'd think the outcome of that case would be a foregone conclusion, but then you never know...

Many more Czechs will be sporting tattoos after Prague hosted the International Tattoo Convention last weekend. Sixty tattoo artists from Europe and Japan presented their work and offered their services to visitors. Many people who just came to look around walked out with a tattoo. According to one of the Japanese tattoo artists - Czechs, and Europeans in general, tend to choose highly ornamental tattoos - while the Japanese go for symbolism. He must be right -a lot of women went for flowers and butterflies.

It was the subject of one of the most successful Czech comedies focusing on village life. A young student came up with the idea that cows would produce more milk if they were treated to concerts of classical music. Everyone thought it was crazy but in order to impress a Czech tv crew -they did it - and it worked. The audience loved it - but no one took it seriously. Now farms around the world are playing Mozart and Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony to their dairy cows and seeing amazing results. Czechs have yet to try this. But a farm in Frydlant has taken a different tack. They are feeding their cows a by-product of Czech beer - liquid yeast that is left over from the brewing process. This mucky brown liquid is actually chock full of B vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and proteins -well, and some alcohol. And the cows love it. Every cow in Frydland consumes around 30 liters of the stuff a day-which is like drinking 60 pints of beer! And they are all producing more milk. But would that make their milk beer flavored? Some Czechs are going to be disappointed with the answer. Cows have a complex stomach that breaks down the alcohol in beer, transforming it into non-alcoholic food energy. Their milk does not show a trace of alcohol or a beer flavor. Seeing the results - an increase of one thousand liters a day from the herd on average - other farms are looking into this practice and considering a bit of music into the bargain. There's just one thing I am not sure about. Does Mozart really go with beer?

Hauswald chapel
Sumava has its own little Lourdes - the Hauswald chapel and nearby spring which is said to have restored many people back to health and wrought a number of miracles. According to local legend Germans who lived in the vicinity before the post-war expulsions had such faith the chapel and spring's curative powers that they covered the two-and-a-half kilometer distance from the nearby village of Srni to the chapel on their knees. The spring water is said to have restored the sight of several blind people. Today people come to sprinkle whatever part of their body is ailing with the spring water and then they go to the chapel to pray for recovery. Not very many people know about it however because the communist regime razed the sacred place to the ground in 1951. Last year the Sumava National Park and the Karel Klostermann civic association joined forces -and finances - to rebuild it according to historical sources.