Karel Gott, photo: CTK

Pop singer Karel Gott inaugurates his own museum. Czechs are crazy about sudoku and look forward to defending their world title in Prague next year. And, road safety events are not always as safe as they may seem. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Czechs are fascinated by all kinds of puzzles and brain teasers. And the latest craze in this respect is sudoku. This brain teaser fascinates young and old alike and it was a young Czech woman who won the first ever World Sudoku Championship in Italy last year. The Czech capital Prague is to host the second world championship in Sudoku next year and the organizers are hoping that the Czechs will defend their title successfully. There are certainly plenty of people practicing. Even President Klaus said he had tried his hand at it and found it extremely refreshing. "We know there's a big sudoku mind there - and we want to draw him into things," the organizers said.

Gottland,  photo: CTK
Enduring Czech and international pop idol Karel Gott last week inaugurated his own museum, "Gottland," in a Prague suburban villa where he used to live. The singer, who has crooned love songs to three generations of Czech women and gained recognition beyond the country's borders - particularly in Germany, Slovakia and Russia - was clearly feeling on top of the world as he posed for photographers. "It is a bit strange to be opening my own museum -but I'm getting to like it", the singer beamed.

Karel Gott,  photo: CTK
The 66 year old Gott, whose live-in-girlfriend has just given birth to his third daughter, said it had been "an exceptionally productive year" for him. Gott has a large following in neighbouring Germany and Russia - particularly among middle aged and elderly women.

Born in Plzen, in the west of the Czech Republic, in 1939, Gott abandoned his job as an electro-mechanic in his 20s to devote himself to music. Since then, he has produced around 150 different LPs and CDs and sold tens of millions of copies with styles ranging from rock and roll to country, blues, and even a bit of opera - in Czech, German, Russian and English. The idea of transforming the Prague villa which Gott owned in the 1970s into a museum comes from its current owner. The museum expects to get between 200 and 400 visitors a day.

Gottland,  photo: CTK
Just to test the ground - a Czech TV reporter stopped a German bus crossing the border and requested those tourists who'd heard of Gott to put their hands up. More than half the women present did and some even gave a rendition of "Maya the bee," and "Lady Carneval" which figure among the singer's biggest hits in Germany.

Picking wild mushrooms is a national pastime here in the Czech Republic - and the mushroom season is now in full swing. Not only are Czechs finding truly amazing trophies - but one needn't even go far for them. The head of the Prague mushroom society Miroslav Smotlacha said people had recently brought him mushrooms found growing on Wenceslas Square - a couple of parasol mushrooms from the middle of the square and some champignons growing just outside the National Museum!

15 year old Ladislav Panoch from the town of Sloup in north Bohemia pulled a real trophy out of the local lake last week - a huge catfish measuring 170 cms and weighing 33 kilograms. "It was a twenty minute struggle and for a while it looked like he would get away - but I pulled him out" - he told reporters. He's been fishing since he was six years old and already has plenty of catches he can boast about. A few days ago he pulled a 25 kilo big head from the Orlik dam. Some fishermen have all the luck - so can you blame the others for making up stories?

Attending a road-safety event is not always as safe as it may seem. The NGO Preventis organizes these events for kids -aiming to lower the number of children who are injured and killed on Czech roads every year. In order to brighten up the instruction course there are always games and some kind of show involved. This year it was a parachutists show. Unfortunately something went wrong and one of the parachutists landed on top of a nine year old girl who was there to learn about road safety. She suffered shock and concussion and is now recovering at home. I guess that after that experience she won't only look right and left before crossing the road but above as well, just to be on the safe side.

50 haller coins may be on their way out. Not immediately but soon enough, according to the Czech National Bank. The bank took ten and twenty haller coins out of circulation three years ago and says that the 50 hallers are next in line. Not that people are likely to miss them. A National Bank spokesman said that according to the bank's information people did not like the 50 hallers and often fail to pocket the small change when it is returned to them in shops. Even shopkeepers allegedly consider 50 hallers a nuisance. According to Jan Vitek from the Jablonec minting house their contract with the Czech National Bank on 50 hallers is due to expire in 2007 and is not likely to be extended. After that the smallest Czech coin -both in value and size - will be the crown.