19-07-2008

A hotel owner in the Šumava mountains has a small replica of the Iron Curtain, a dolphin attacks a Czech tourist in Cuba and Winnie-the-Pooh appears in a field in Moravia. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

President Klaus’ hip joint was up for sale at a Czech internet auction shortly after he underwent replacement surgery at a Prague hospital –in what is said to have been a tasteless hoax. In the add the president’s “authentic” hip joint was on offer for the price of 35,000 crowns but the offer was quickly withdrawn after it attracted the attention of both the media and the police. The police launched an investigation into the matter citing gross violation of the regulations on Internet auctions which ban trading in human and animal organs. Meanwhile, the hospital where the president underwent hip-replacement surgery was outraged at the mere idea of such a thing, saying that after the operation the president’s joint had been disposed off in the usual manner – and that it was impossible for anyone to have acquired it.

 

Swimming with dolphins at exotic holiday locations is an experience that many Czechs treasure for the rest of their lives. Not so Marek Němec who signed up for the treat while holidaying in Cuba. The group of swimmers were taken out to sea where they could swim alongside the dolphins and even reach out to touch them. Dozens of people do it every day but in Marek’s case the adventure ended badly. He was swimming with the group when a woman at his side started to panic. “She was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the dolphins and started screaming and thrashing her arms about in the water,” he recalled later. He thinks that this is what may have set off the attack by one of the dolphins. It swam straight at him and hit him with its tail throwing him further from the other swimmers. Before Marek had time to draw breath the dolphin had come round again and this time hit him hard in the region of the heart. It even caught his leg and pulled him underwater for a few moments, leaving deep scars. With hindsight, Marek thinks that the dolphin may have been trying to protect the screaming woman – thinking that the man nearest to her in the water was trying to harm her. But no one will ever really know for sure what made the dolphin attack a man. Some Cubans who saved him from further harm when they saw what was happening said they’d have never seen anything like it before. Whatever the reason, it is an experience that Marek will not want to repeat any time soon.

 

Placing bets on the outcome of sports events may give you a good chance of making easy money in the near future but some gamblers like a broader scope. They regularly bet on the outcome of elections but also on whether Czech fugitive Viktor Kožený will be brought to justice, on whether pop singer Karel Gott’s fourth child would finally be a son, or on the speedy demise of the totalitarian regime in Cuba – which cost a lot of people a lot of money when Fidel Castro’s health deteriorated following intestinal surgery in 2006. The fact that betting companies allow people to place their own bets means that anything goes and people are even placing bets on the weather.

 

Hotel owners have various ways of attracting tourists – but František Talián’s attraction is unique. His mountain chalet in the Šumava mountains offers a view of the Iron Curtain – to be precise a perfect replica of the Iron Curtain which for over 40 years presented an insurmountable barrier separating Czechs from the democratic world. Hundreds of Czechs died trying to cross it. The mock Iron Curtain is 100 metres long and Talián plans to add a copy of the look-out towers from which soldiers scanned the border on the look-out for illegal migrants. The chalet owner says that his objective in not just to attract more people to his mountain resort but, as the owner of a publishing house that specializes in school text-books, he says it is important for the young generation to have an idea of what went on under the communist regime.

 

The so-called crop-circle phenomena – crop circles made overnight by extraterrestrials in various parts of the country – get plenty of media attention in the cucumber season. And the best of this years’ ET art appeared in a sleepy Moravian village this week. Villagers on their way to work reported strange circles out in the field and when a TV crew went up in a helicopter for the obligatory shots of a series of interwoven circles that would make the prime time news – they were treated to the unexpected sight of Winnie-the-Pooh – or so the teddy bear’s head has been dubbed. Not even the staunchest believers of ETs and UFOs can swallow that one, but Winnie-the-Pooh has put the town of Hluk on the map and tourists are going out of their way to take a snapshot of the bear’s head before the upcoming harvest.

 

The town of Jablonec went wild this week at the news that the town’s choir Iuventus Gaude had won the World Choir Games in Graz. The choir which was founded just three years ago competed against more than 400 ensembles from 93 countries, including some of the best and most prestigious children’s choirs in the world. The choirs demonstrated their abilities to 71 international jurors in more than 600 performances in 28 different categories, including folklore, popular choir music, gospel and spiritual. Iuventus Gaude went to Graz hoping to get noticed – they returned as the best children’s choir on the planet. The entire town turned out to welcome them home and threw a huge party to celebrate their victory. As one of the kids said they felt like the Czech national hockey team after the Nagano victory in 1998.

19-07-2008