Lessons in the "CentralEurope" Category

The Czech Republic wants to adopt the name Czechia

The Czech Republic in Central Europe has decided to change its official name to Czechia. There are many reasons for this. One is that Czechs are fed up with people always trying to shorten their country’s name to Czecho or Czechland.

The new name will be similar to its neighbour Slovakia – that is also known as the Slovak Republic. Some people might say that Czechia is too similar in name to the Russian Republic of Chechnya.

Czechia is shorter than its former name of Czechoslovakia - before the country split in 1993 into two countries – namely The Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The EU Migrant Crisis gets worse

The EU migrant crisis is getting worse. It is out of control. The Schengen Zone is collapsing. Germany has now reinstated its borders with Austria. Slovakia and Austria have also reintroduced border controls with Hungary.

Why? Because in the last few months tens of thousands of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and parts of Africa have been crossing Europe to get to Germany.

The Hungarians have now built a 180km long 4m (13ft) high fence along their southern border with Serbia to stop them. At midnight, on the orders of its prime minister Victor Orbán, Hungary sealed its southern border with Serbia.

Red double-decker buses to be considered in Bratislava!

SMS message – ‘I’ve just been for a free ride on a brand new red double-decker bus in Bratislava’. It’s true I did! The red bus was, to say the least, an unusual sight as it travelled around the historic old town of Bratislava in Slovakia.

Why is it in the city? The new Slovak built and designed red double-decker bus is on loan to the city to see if its citizens would like to have them in the future. Why not?

Category: Transport / Double-decker Buses / Bratislava

Czech alcohol poisoning scandal

Central Europe has been rocked recently by an alcohol poisoning scandal. The government of the Czech Republic was forced to ban the sale of hard liquor with more than 20% alcohol following the death of 17 people who drank bootleg spirits containing poisonous methanol. Hard spirits across the Czech Republic were cleared from shelves. Exports of hard liquor were also halted. Sales of Czech spirits were also banned in nearby Slovakia after some of its citizens were affected by the poisoning.

Category: Czech Republic / Alcohol poisoning / Economic

Europe freezes – coldest spell in 30 years

Sunday – The big ‘Siberian like’ freeze continues to tighten its grip on Europe. Most of the continent remains under a huge blanket of snow. The result is chaos in many places.

Ukraine has seen the brunt of the bad weather where more than 160 people have now died because of the cold weather. Nearly 1,600 have been hospitalised with hypothermia. Hundreds of heated tents have been set up across Ukraine to help the country’s homeless keep warm, with hot meals being handed out at the shelters.

Temperatures in Ukraine have dropped to minus 33ºC. Huge areas of Poland and Slovakia have also been affected by the bad weather with temperatures there dropping as low as -35ºC. So far 20 people have perished in Poland because of the cold snap. There have been further deaths in Russia and right across Eastern Europe.

Category: Europe / Weather - Snow / Disruption

Family feud over Czech castles and palaces

An interesting article in Britain’s Daily Telegraph recently was about a family feud between the Czech Foreign Minister and his sister for their castles and palaces in the Czech Republic. Elizabeth von Pezold is the daughter of one of Central Europe’s most aristocratic families. She has begun a legal battle for the castles and palaces worth hundreds of millions of euros that were expropriated by the Czechoslovakian state in 1947. However, her adopted brother, Karl Schwarzenberg, the Czech Foreign Minister, apparently does not.

The homes include the Czech Krumlov castle, a jewel in the crown of Czech tourism, which towers over an ancient town in southern Bohemia. But Mrs von Pezold claims her brother has blocked her case. She argues that the Prince of Schwarzenberg, to use his formal title, has failed to the wishes of their father, whose will asked that his successor should fight to get the property back.

“It is a question of justice,” said Mrs von Pezold. “After the end of communism he kept promising that he would claim property restitution but then at the last minute he changed his mind. Maybe he thought a big restitution was incompatible with his political career.”

Category: Czech Republic / Castles and Palaces / Restitution

World Ice Hockey Championships 2011

The 75th International Ice Hockey Championships in 2011 will be held in Slovakia. The tournament takes place between 29th April and 15th May 2011. It will feature the world’s top ice hockey nations taking part.

Slovakia’s capital Bratislava and the country’s second city of Košice will host the tournament. The newly refurbished Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava and the Košice Steel Arena (U.S. Steel is a major sponsor) in Košice will cohost the event. Both cities are major bastions of ice hockey.

Organisers are hoping to attract more than 350,000 ice hockey fans to the matches. Fans will be able to see live action of this exciting game that is said to be the fastest collective game in the world. There are 16 teams participating in the ice hockey tournament. A total of 56 games will be played.

It all starts with a preliminary round of four groups each containing four teams. This leads to a qualifying round before the quarter and semi finals, followed by the final that will be played in Bratislava.

Category: Sport / Ice Hockey Championships 2011 / Slovakia

Bratislava old and new

Today we are looking at the Slovak capital Bratislava. Let’s start with its Old Town. Dating from the 15th century, its centre has largely been preserved and is a positive delight to see. It has charm!

Since the collapse of communism and gradually since independence the Old Town has seen much reconstruction. Today it has many highly popular coffee shops and bars to visit. During the summer months the streets are packed with bar terraces, which bring the Old Town alive. One can sit, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or have a beer and watch the world go by.

There is also the Bratislava Summer Festival where one can see street entertainers, exhibitions, open air opera, orchestras and music festivals. In wintertime when it snows the Old Town becomes a winter wonderland. The narrow streets give one a glimpse into the past right here in the present. December sees the Christmas market in the Old Town. It offers visitors a multitude of unusual gifts to buy, hot wine and excellent foods.

Category: Central Europe / Slovakia / Bratislava

Sky Europe finally goes bankrupt

Ailing low cost Central European airline SkyEurope has finally gone bankrupt. After struggling for months it finally admitted defeat at the beginning of September. The airline that existed for 7 years has had ongoing financial problems. It is yet another casualty of the economic recession that has seen other low cost carriers recently slash routes and jobs.

The collapse left thousands of passengers stranded abroad. The airline that flew across Europe from its hub bases in Prague, Bratislava and Vienna ceased trading after airports banned SkyEurope planes over non-payment of debts at the beginning of September.

Having been banned from Vienna Airport in August the airline shifted its flights to nearby Bratislava in Slovakia. It faced a similar ban at Prague airport unless regular payments were made. A day later Slovakia revoked its operating licence as a result of the bankruptcy. Previously SkyEurope had had planes impounded in Paris and Bulgaria over non payment of airport fees...

Tragedy at 13th Slovak music festival

Tragedy struck in Slovakia recently at a music festival attended by over 33,000 music lovers. The 13th open air music festival called Bazant Pohoda was being held over the weekend of July 18th-19th at a military airfield near Trencín, Slovakia when the gig was hit by freak weather conditions.

A massive thunderstorm and gales ripped down the main tent that covered the main O2 sponsored arena. The result was that tragically a 29-year-old man from Piestany was killed. 52 people were injured. Another 40 people were hospitalised. At the time the disaster occurred inside the collapsed canopy more than a 1,000 people were watching a concert and sheltering from the storm...