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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Photos from Brno

The hotel we are staying at is like a strange fusion of Ikea and 'neauveau Russian'. Strong masculine lines, with out of place bright colors and plastic furniture. I guess this hotel really kinda feels like a Northwest Hipster--it doesn't really know what to wear, so it wears it all at once. Other than the visual clash it is clean, comfortable, and close.

The thing that strikes me most about Brno is this eclectic mix of countryside that is littered with what looks like dilapidated Communist 'Titan of Industry' buildings, eastern European 'gothic' architecture (not sure if I'm using gothic correctly), and modern high tech glossy enterprise. It doesn't have the architectural charm of Prague, but at least at the city center Prague didn't seem to have the modern businesses that Brno has.

I absolutely adore some of the pubs and restaurants that have beer taps on the tables. The portions are metered, so you only pay for what you pour, and the price (from what I was told, I didn't pay) worked out to be ~$2.00 a pint for some spectacular Pilsners. I mentioned this to a few colleagues (okay, a lot of colleagues) but Czech beers really do taste different here. I am not one that thinks the location matters, except that Pilsner Urquell likely gets the freshest hops and best of the grain--and this makes a difference. Or it could even be more deliberate than that--Coke makes different versions of their soda for different regions, so do large breweries do the same?

This particular treat was a pork knee that looked SO MUCH BIGGER IN REAL LIFE! It also looked very delicious, and was duly consumed by two outstanding citizens. Out of the photograph was the steak tare-tare with raw egg on top, a mountain of schnitzels, and some steaks covered in cheese-sauce-and-butter. There is no such thing as a light meal here :D

I have conflicted opinions right now about this area, probably mostly to do with the angst of the travel I just went to, but even though the people can be a tad gruff on the outset they turn to be funny, friendly, quirky, and most definitely awesome.


  1. The beers taste better because (a) they're fresher; (b) they're commonly cask-lagered rather than the force carbonation used for exports; and (c) they haven't been horribly shaken and abused by a long trip.

    I loved my trip to Czech Republic. If you get to Prague, you gotta hit the Monastery Brewery (Klasterni Pivovar) near Prague Castle. It's the best of the best.

  2. that is on my list of places to go, and it really is amazing, even though I brew myself (and maybe that gives me some myopia), that the quality is so striking.

    one other beer related note is in Brno a pint (0.5 liter, but close enough) of Urquell is 35 crowns, and a pint of Starobrno is 25 crowns. That works out to $1.85 per pint and $1.35 per pint respectively. So basically beer in Brno is cheaper than soft drinks, bottled water, gasoline, or virtually any other beverage.

    At this hotel in Prague, which isn't very swanky, pints of beer are almost 3x as much. So basically, if you wanted to go to a pub for a few nights, it would be cheaper to catch a train to Brno to enjoy some Pilsner Urquells and return, even including the train fair, then to purchase the same in Prague.


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