Country number: 36
Territory number: 38
When? April 1990, coming from Vienna, last leg
How? On the train
Who? With friend Jenny
‘The Czech Republic, severed from its old Slovak half, sits in apparent landlocked contentment, inside the European Union but outside the troubled Euro Zone, set into the new Continental mosaic like one of the small sturdy paving stones, just a few inches square, that form the sidewalks under the visitor’s ambling feet.’
Last stop on our ‘When the Wall Came Down’ trip.
We stay with some relations of Jenny – they are poor, the economy is stressed (Lech Walesa is now in power, living in a very small flat to set a good example) and very Stasi conscious.
Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia at this time, and known as the ‘City of a Hundred Spires,’ is a cross between Warsaw and Vienna, but now we’re on the Vlatava River. I’m hearing Dvorak in my head. I used to play his river symphony when I was teaching. Prague has a developing café culture, around its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings and Gothic churches, but insufficient means as yet, to supply the trade effectively. Nevertheless, there are already numerous tourists admiring the famous clock the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. They move on to stroll across the pedestrian Charles Bridge, lined with statues of Catholic saints and ogle the turreted castle beyond. Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. It’s bigger than seven football fields combined.
The Czech Republic’s official formal and short names at the United Nations are Česká republika and Česko in Czech, and the Czech Republic and Czechia in English. All these names derive from the name of the Czechs, the West Slavic ethnic group native to the Czech lands.
The Czech Republic is almost entirely surrounded by mountains
Historically, the Czech Republic was composed of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the March of Moravia, both part of the the Holy Roman Empire (800-1806), then also within the Habsburg Empire (1526-1918)
Czech people are the world’s heaviest consumers of beer.
The currency used in Czech Republic is the Czech Crown (Koruna).