Greatest Hits Of The Ceezy (GHOTCZ)

Aaaand welcome back. New Year. All of that.

OK, so I swear I’m not writing a travel/expat blog where I try to provide you with a touching-but-funny memoir of my time among the natives. There are folks who do this in a way I can appreciate, but they’re way outnumbered the folks who churn out dreck, and I hope not to end up in the latter category.

However, I’ve been living in the Czech Republic for roughly 6 months, and seeing as this is presently a big part of my life, here are a few things/places/experiences that have really brought this place home for me, in no particular order. I’ll continue to post erratic, occasional GHOTCZs from now on.

GHOTCZ #1: Žižkov TV Tower
I will bare-knuckle fight anyone who says this thing is an eyesore. It delights me to no end. I know I’ve already rhapsodized about it, but it’s hard to stop. It’s just so big and preposterous and impossible to ignore, and it doesn’t fit in with the packaged, more tourist-friendly center of town, and I love it for all these reasons. It’s just this ridiculous, monstrous, Baby Huey of a transmission device, with a faded, Miami Vice-esque oily paint job in each of the 3 main observation towers. It would be oppressive if it weren’t so damned goofy. It has the best view of Prague imaginable. It’s got a stellar, if under-utilized, metal detector at the entrance. And the apple strudel in the cafe is, for some odd reason, the best we’ve found in the Czech Republic. Maybe it’s the extra altitude.


GHOTCZ #2:Vyšehrad
Surprisingly un-touristed, although hardly undiscovered. Vyšehrad is a massive, wonderful hilltop park, with an extraordinary history, more beautiful views, a snack bar with the nicest lady ever running it, and the most extraordinary cemetery I’ve ever been to. I’m not particularly morbid, but I’ve always found cemeteries beautiful and peaceful, and make a point of seeking them out on most trips. Partly it’s my sculpture background: there’s usually a lot of lovely sculpture to look at, too.

What I love about Vyšehrad Cemetery is the incredible variety, love and individuality put into the sculptures and the graves: the way that many are over-grown and wild, the way that some are absolutely works or art. And the way that some are just SO beyond Goth, like this one:

It’s like, “Fuck yeah, we’re dead. We’re so dead, we’re leading ourselves down into our tomb. That’s how dead we are.”

GHOTCZ  #3: Becherovka/Beton
AKA “Christmas in a Bottle”,  AKA The Beezy. It has notes of cinnamon and other spices, hence the nickname. The greatness of Czech beer is lost on me since I’m not much of a beer drinker, but Becherovka is high on my list of vaguely medicinal, herbal remedy-ish digestifs that I have a weakness for.  When you mix it with tonic and a little lemon, the flavor really shifts and lightens, and it’s called a BeTon. This past weekend, we went to Karlovy Vary, where Becherovka is from, and I made my pilgrimage to the Jan Becher (Becher-ovka…get it?) Museum, and to hug Snow White outside the castle.

GHOTCZ #4: Kavárna Slavia
It’s touristed, yes, but so what: I love Slavia. Its Art Deco design, combined with a certain Czech no-nonsense-ness CFL lighting after dark, redeems its old-school glamour by giving it a certain frumpy, Denny’s-at-3 am kind of aura. Never had a bad meal here. The desserts are super. Service has always been great. I love to sit by the window in the afternoon.

Okay, that’s the first few. More sporadic rants about excellent Czech stuff soon.

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