24-01-2004

The Cow Parade, which has been to 18 cities around the world, is coming to Prague. And, why is it risky to steal when there's fresh snow on the ground? Find out more in this week's Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

The town of Lostice near Sumperk produces a local specialty - the so called tvaruzky -little cheese rolls which give off a very pungent smell but which gourmets claim to be absolutely delicious - especially with a pint of good beer. Visitors to Lostice often buy some to take home just like they buy Karlovy Vary wafers at the famous Czech spa resort or gingerbread in the town of Pardubice. The town of Lostice has become so closely associated with this brand of cheese that the local town hall has set up a vending machine on the towns main square -where instead of coffee or cigarettes - you can get a packet of tvaruzky twenty four hours a day. People often wrote to complain that they had come to town specifically to buy some of our tvaruzky but that all the shops were closed and they left empty handed, the mayor said. We're not a big enough town to have the shops open 24 hours a day - but this way nobody need leave without them. The vending machine has been welcomed by the locals as well - sometimes you get a craving for tvaruzky in the evening - a local said - now all you have to do is walk down to the main square and take your pick - they are right next to the pub as well - excellent planning!

 

As of next June the Czech capital will be transformed - two hundred life size cows are expected to fill the streets of Prague. Cows, grazing, cows resting and cows just standing there. The Cow Parade originated in Curych in 1998 and has since been at home in 18 cities around the world, including Chicago, New York, Sydney, London and Brussels. The mayor of Prague Pavel Bem first saw it in Brussels. "At first I wasn't really sure how I felt about it, but gradually I realized I liked it" Bem said, explaining his decision to bring the cows to Prague. I expect a strong and mixed response from the public - the mayor added, some will love it -some will undoubtedly hate it - but the cows are not likely to leave anyone cold. Each of the 200 cows costs 195 thousand crowns and will be financed by sponsors. Other cities which will be seeing a lot of cows this summer are Stockholm, Manchester and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. To find out more about the Prague project go to www.cowparade.cz.

 

Ceska Pojistovna - a leading Czech insurance company - has a very special mascot. Pepik the Eel has been the company's mascot ever since 1914 and he is at home in the company's marble fountain. Naturally it is not the same eel. The one who was set loose in the company fountain in 1914 died after 62 years of faithful service. Pepik the Second, as he is called has been in service for only nine years, after the company decided to renew this tradition, but he is already feeling self-important. When the fountain had to be closed for maintenance recently - he is said to have been most unhappy with the conditions in a temporary animal shelter. Last Thursday he was allowed to return home - to his prestigious address in Prague's Spalena street where he basks in the admiration of both clients and employees.

 

The town of Destne in the Orlicke hory mountain range is hosting one of the toughest dog and sled races in Europe this week. The race is 222 kilometres long and takes place in stages over 4 days with one night spent out in the open. 120 contestants from 12 European countries are taking part. The winner will be announced on Saturday night.

 

Some thieves simply have rotten luck. Like the one who accidentally dropped his wallet - containing all his documents and plenty of cash - in a car that he had broken into. This week police in the town of Svitavy caught a pair of thieves in record time. Asked how they had managed to track them down so quickly - one of the officers said : Easy. We followed their car tracks in the fresh snow - 30 km to their hiding place. Next time they'll know better than to steal when there's fresh snow on the ground!

 

Czech consumers are showing an increasing interest in bio-products. According to Green Marketing statistics in the course of 2003 Czechs spent 240 million crowns on goods stamped with the green bio-label. Experts say that sales would be much higher if these products were more affordable. At present there are over 700 eco farms supplying some 300 health stores and restaurants with fresh produce. The prices of their goods are twenty to one hundred percent higher than those of non-bio products. Even so health stores say they could sell more bio- eggs, butter, fruits and vegetables than local eco farms are currently able to deliver.

 

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The Czech Republic has seen quite a lot of snow in recent weeks and trying to keep the roads passable after a night of heavy snowfall is keeping road maintenance crews very busy indeed. Sometimes the situation is so bad that only the main roads are properly cleaned by snow ploughs. However much to the surprise of the inhabitants of Pelhrimov last Tuesday morning -it seemed that no one had made the slightest effort to deal with the newly-fallen snow that night.

An investigation soon solved that mystery - the snow ploughs themselves had fallen victim to the bad weather and icy roads. Five of them were stuck in ditches and snowdrifts and the local town hall had to alert the fire brigade and forestry crews who brought out with their heavy equipment and pulled them out in no time at all!

 

Czechs are getting sick and tired of ads. A survey conducted by the TNS Factum agency revealed that 80 percent of Czechs feel they are being bombarded by ads from all sides and they try to avoid them whenever possible. Even so 70 percent of respondents said ads were an essential part of the economy - they just wish there wasn't so much junk mail in their own mail box. Only a third of respondents thought that they are influenced by ads, and the vast majority of Czechs said they preferred truthful and funny advertisements. So where on Earth could they have seen the former?

24-01-2004

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