Mailbox

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This week in Mailbox: British stag parties in Prague, the 20th anniversary of Skoda Favorit and a new government scheme aiming to teach school children how to manage debt. Listeners quoted: Thomas Spencer, Barbara Ziemba, Frank Miata, Trevor Ayson, Lynda-Marie Hauptman.

Welcome to Mailbox, the programme that airs your views and comments concerning Radio Prague's broadcasts and life in the Czech Republic in general.

Last Sunday's Letter from Prague by Jan Velinger about the influx of British stag and hen parties in Prague has raised quite a response among our listeners. Thomas Spencer who lives in Germany had this to say:

"I just read your article and would just like to say THANK YOU! Thank you for being honest and objective about this disgusting phenomenon. I am an American married to a Czech and living abroad with my family in Germany. Ten years ago we loved Prague and couldn't get enough of it but now we don't go there anymore. We'd rather go elsewhere where we aren't confronted with loud, drunken, even threatening English partiers who know no sense of human decency (or tastefulness) once they touch down at Ruzyne."

And Mr Spencer continues:

"When will someone decide to confront this situation as it should be, instead of playing ostrich for the sake of bringing in the English tourist money? Do the leaders of Prague enjoy having their city ranked just behind sex land Thailand in the category of 'English tourists needing consular assistance?' Didn't it ever occur to anyone that these types of tourists drive away the more desirable long-term tourists?"

Barbara Ziemba is writing on the same topic from Chicago:

"In response to your article I would like to say it would be helpful if apartments and hotels would stop advertising and renting to these hen and stag groups. Without places to stay maybe they will stay away. On my last trip to Prague I stayed in an apartment on Mostecka, although they did not rent to these parties, we spent several sleepless nights with them parading around the streets outside our windows. I am planning a trip to Prague in the fall and I cannot tell you the number of apartments I had to pass up because they advertised renting to these groups. Everything today is about making money and they do not care at whose cost it may come. Prague is a beautiful city, don't let it fall to the rabble."

Let me just add that not all hotels and restaurants in Prague accept these guests. You can see signs on the doors of pubs saying "Stag parties not welcome". If these visitors to Prague are a nuisance to other tourists, imagine what it's like for those who live in the city all year round, such as Frank Miata:

"It has been reported in the press that the mob brings with it 20 billion crowns per annum. It was not reported if that some included prostitution earnings and drug related purchases... not likely. The costs to the city for police enforcement, medical treatment for injuries sustained by or caused by these mobs have not been announced with the same fanfare. If one lives in the city for any extended period of time, one stays off the streets after ten o'clock at night, the time around which the drunks and bores seem to 'liberate' the city from its civilized citizens."

Change of subject now: Trevor Ayson listens to Radio Prague in New Zealand; he heard our story on the 20th anniversary of the Skoda Favorit and wanted to make a comment.

"While I acknowledge that post-1968 Skoda's plans to compete with top Euro manufacturers were halted, I didn't like the 'the infamous Skoda 120' remark. OK, the Favorit might have been a more modern design, but it is bulky and boxy looking. I find the late model 120s and 130s, and particularly the 135 coupe to be better looking than the Favorit. And also, at least the 120/130 were Czech designed. They also have more character than the Favorit. Also the sound of the Favorit in the item, it is rare to hear a Favorit without the accompanying timing chain rattle! I suggest that you do an item on the numbers of Skoda 120/130s still left on the road, of which there are quite a lot. My wife's cousin Jaromir is a farmer, he has a 130 and he is delighted with it, can pull a tonne behind it, and it goes well. I know because I've driven it. I'm from New Zealand and Skoda 100s were quite common in the 1970s and 1980s because they were cheap, but there are no Favorits there."

And finally, an e-mail regarding a July story on a new government scheme aiming to teach school children how to manage debt. Lynda-Marie Hauptman writes:

"I just read about the program the education ministry is planning, to teach youngsters how to handle their finances correctly, including credit cards, loans, and the like. Bravo! Here in the U.S., credit cards and 'easy money' have targeted a good portion of the poor, many of whom had no idea what they were getting into. The politicians then wonder WHY there is so much debt. If someone learns a valuable lesson at a young age, they do not have to regret stupid decisions when they are old. I chalk it up to good old Czech common sense whenever I make a good decision about anything. Thanks to this article, now I see why I congratulate the Czechs for this virtue."


Thanks for all those comments and reception reports you have been sending us as well as your answers to our monthly competition question. It's now time to repeat it for you. It's short and simple:

This month we would like you to tell us who the first official world chess champion was.

As usual we await your answers at english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099, Prague by the end of August. Until next week, bye-bye.