Today in Mailbox: the first state visit by President Václav Klaus in 2003, Czech kosher beer, nasal spray relieving the symptoms of common colds, announcements on Prague public transport. Listeners quoted: Jonathan Murphy, Howard Barnett, Steve Price.

Václav Klaus,  photo: CTK
You are tuned to Mailbox, the weekly programme for your views and comments here on Radio Prague.

Let’s start reading from your e-mails. In connection with the main domestic topic now in the Czech Republic, the presidential elections, Jonathan Murphy from Ireland sent us this question. He was responding to Letter from Prague by Jan Velinger:

“I agree that the presidential election is an important contest to hold, some years ago no one wanted to go against the incumbent here and there was no contest. Can you tell me where Klaus' first visit was on becoming president five years ago - I'd be interested in whether it was to a neighboring country like Germany or one of the big powers such as the US.”

Five years ago, on March 18, 2003, the then newly-appointed Czech President Václav Klaus paid his first state visit to Slovakia, the Czech Republic’s former compatriots. President Klaus spent one day in the country in talks with his Slovak counterpart Rudolf Schuster and other senior Slovak officials.

Howard Barnett from Northampton, England, sent us two questions regarding our broadcasts. The first one concerns a not so recent programme:

“I was listening to the programme Insight Central Europe via Polish Radio External Service about the subject of kosher beer brewed in the Czech Republic. I wrote to Polish Radio and they suggested that I write to you direct. And could you help me on this subject? I would like to know the name of the beer and any other details you have would be appreciated.”

The story by Ruth Fraňková was first broadcast in November. The kosher lager is called Nitro and is brewed in the town of Nymburk east of Prague. It received a kosher certificate from Menachem Kalchaim, a representative of the chief rabbinate of Israel. The beer can’t be bought here in the Czech Republic as it’s made exclusively for export to Israel.

Howard Barnett’s second question concerns a recent story by Jan Velinger:

“I was listening to your broadcast yesterday Wednesday 23rd January where I heard a report on your current affairs section about colds and influenza. You were interviewing a doctor who reported of tests done on children between the age of 6 to 10 years old. And what was discovered by Brno teaching hospital was children given a spray consisting of sea water had far less symptoms and fared better with their health than children given conventional drugs. What I like to know is, is this or will be a new treatment for this illness or is it just an experimental exercise? And I notice that these tests were carried on children and not adults. Is there a reason for this?”

The tests were carried out as part of a study by the Brno Teaching hospital. The results suggest that sea water, in the form of a nasal spray, can alleviate the symptoms of influenza and the common cold, to which small children are especially vulnerable. It is used along with conventional medicines. You can try it for yourself: sea-water nasal sprays can be bought over-the-counter – certainly in this country - and are also recommended to relieve dryness of the mucous membrane in the nose and prevent common colds.

Steve Price writes from North Carolina:

“As an American who does business in the Czech Republic I think that steps should be taken to have all the public transports and more announce in other languages besides Czech. If the Czechs want to have the Olympics, they will have to ‘ramp up’ on certain common items for the traveler. There are many here in the U.S.A. who would like to visit to see the ‘old sod’ where they came from.”

Visitors to Prague will have noticed that the important announcements, especially regarding safety, in the Prague metro are read in more languages, English included. If you visited the Czech capital very recently, you might have been confused by an announcement played frequently on the trams in the centre of Prague. It is a warning against pickpockets. The Prague transport authority says it is testing this new measure to see whether there will be any effects. After they assess the outcome, they will decide whether to keep the announcement on and play it in other languages as well. If you have any other comments on how the Prague public transport works, you can address the transport authority directly at their website

And as we are running out of time, let me repeat our competition question for this month:

Our February mystery woman was a member of an old Bohemian noble family. She was born in 1868 and in 1900 she married a man of a higher social status than hers. Fourteen years later the tragic death of the couple triggered World War I.

There will be small gift for four of you who send us the correct answers by the end of February to the usual address: [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, Czech Republic. Those are also the addresses for your questions and comments. Thanks for listening today and until next week, bye-bye.