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BRNO from A to Z
Brno (Czech Republic)
Member Name: zoe_page_1
Brno (Czech Republic)
Date: 13/08/01, updated on 26/10/01 (153 review reads)
Lots of Brno is composed of some magnificent ancient buildings and sculptures. As with many European cities, the amount of work that must have gone into making it how it is is amazing.
B IS FOR BRÜNN
This is the German name for the city, and vital if you are travelling from a German speaking city. Although you can get away with saying „Bratislava“ and not „Presburg“, when I asked for a ticket to Brno, I almost ended up with one to Prague thanks to the incompetent staff at Wien Mitte station. Just remember, ask for Brünn and you have a 95% higher chance of ending up in the right place.
C IS FOR CASTLE
Spilberk Castle is just left of the station and a bit up (I would give you a north / east description if I was one of those people who always travels with a compass, but I’m not). This is a funky little place in the middle of a min-forest. It takes some effort climbing to its base, but it’s worth it. It’s free to get in, and you can either look around and then leave or pay for entry to the museum and look out tower – the latter of which gives excellent view over the city. At the top there is a restaurant and a cafe and a stage for summer performances too.
D IS FOR DEAD MONKS
Lots and lots of them. The Capuchin Monastery Crypt is the place where monks were accidentally mummified years ago, and now they charge you to see them. Nice in a gory kind of way.
E IS FOR ENGLISH BOOKS
And newspapers which seem readily available. One shop near Intersport had and especially wide range. I would give you its name if they’d given me a receipt which they didn’t. Prices are good – some were even lower than in the UK because of the current exchange rate.
F IS FOR FOREIGNERS
Of which there were not many, even on a Saturday in mid summer. I’m guessing this is because everyone
heads straight for Prague but there could be some other wonderful reason that no one’s told me about :)
G IS FOR GREEN
And how green it is! You could almost imagine you were in England again. Be warned though, before you go trekking over what looks like simply a patch of grass. Chances are their are tram lines underneath and any minute a lovely little rickety old tram will come trundling along and, well, run you over (or give you a fright at the very least).
H IS FOR HISTRORICAL MYTHS
Brno is full to the brim with these. I would recommend the book from the Tourist office (about 1.50 GBP) called “A Walking Tour Of Brno”. Available in numerous languages it details all the things worth seeing and tells you all the little stories and tales that have emerged over the years. Some are even funny.
I IS FOR ICE CREAM
Supposedly the best in Moravia, so naturally I had to sample it. Managed to have 3 on Saturday (all between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm). It is delicious even if it looks a bit off putting – or is it only me who doesn’t have an undying urge to sample fluorescent yellow vanilla?
J IS FOR JANACEK THEATRE
This is the home of Brno’s Opera and Ballet companies, but being summer they’re all on hiatus (and not getting tans I would imagine if they’re dancers – unless it’s only British companies who demand this). I couldn’t go in, but the outside was quite impressive.
K IS FOR KOMERCNI BANK
Right in the centre and therefore handy for all your money needs. They cash travellers cheques, have a cirrius ATM and give cash advances on credit cards, plus have a beaureux de change if you have cash with you to change.
L IS FOR LOW PRICES
Entrance fees are typically 17p for students, and a whopping 35p for adults. This was true in at least 90% of the places I visited. In the shops
prices were equally favourable. I only spent 10 GBP the whole weekend, which included 4 meals, ice creams, souvenirs and entrance fees to everywhere in the centre.
M IS FOR MORAVIAN MUSEUM
A very odd little place in between the station and the castle. They had standard historical displays of dirt, jewellery, coins and dead animals, but only a very limited quantity of each. And that was it.
N IS FOR NAMESTI SVOBODY
The main square which joins at least 8 roads. Home to shops and cafes aplenty, and some fountains and benches too. Find this and you’ll also find sign posts to all the attractions.
O IS FOR OLD TOWN HALL
Another very odd museum which consisted of just one room with a circle of chairs surrounding a collection of moving pictures which you spent 17 minutes (the guy was very precise) looking at. Never did really figure out what they were pictures of though. Not worth the 17p.......
P IS FOR PETER AND PAUL CATHEDRAL
Which I would have climbed had I been able to find the steps. Did go inside though and it was lovely although the ceiling was a bit plain. Here the clocks strike noon at 11am. Why? Well many years ago the Swedish army were planning on invading. The guy in charge of them gave them until 12pm to seize control of the town, and after that her would retreat. On hearing this the townsfolk moved noon forward and hour and got rid of those nasty Swedes once and for all. To this day they continue to ring noon at 11am as a reminder.
Q IS FOR QUITE RUDE CHURCH
AKA St James‘ Church. This is fabulous inside as it doesn’t have the OTT goldness most ancient churches do. Outside there are lots of figures moulded into the spire and roof, and one of these is a little boy flashing his bum at the people below. This was supposedly the work of a p***ed off stone mason when the church was being built, and they didn’t notice until it was
R IS FOR RESTAURANTS
Plenty all over, and nice and cheap. My meal was less than 2 GBP (it would have been about 80p had I not chosen to complement my pasta with an internationally branded drink – i.e. Coca Cola for which they charge comparatively extortionate rates.) The choice is varied – I say fast food chains, Italian, Czech, Indian and Mexican places among others.
S IS FOR SHOPPING
New Yorker was my favourite as they had many things for 1.50 GBP. The have shoe shops (lots of shoe shops) and clothes shops and bag shops and book shops and stationary shops and lots more. They all shut at 1pm on Saturdays though, and don’t open at all on Sundays. You have been warned..... Only exception is Tesco which sells not only food and clothes, but also toys, electrical items, stationary, books, perfume – on 5 floors behind the train station, very useful when you need something to eat on the journey and all the other places are closed.
T IS FOR TRANSPORT
Getting to Brno is pretty easy – busses and trains run frequently from Prague, Bratislava and Vienna among others, and there’s an international airport although from what I saw it seems to be on a par with Blackpool airport - so not really a place you’d want to use on a regular basis then.... Once in the city the only way to travel is by foot, and places are signposted. If you’re staying outside the city, busses and trams are your best bet. Tickets are 20p per ride, or about 1 GBP for 24 hours. The station is nice and central, and almost all trams stop outside it. Lots of taxis are around too for when you have a lot of luggage or just cannot be bothered.
U IS FOR UTTERLY INCOMPETENT TOURIST OFFICE STAFF
As you should know, I am a great believer in foreign languages and although I never expect everyone to speak English, you would think at a tourist office they would have people
who weren’t just monolingual. I tried English. I tried German. Hell, I even tried French and Italian but to no avail. Eventually though (after about 15 mins) the 3 on the desk called for the 4th to come out and she could speak pidgin English so it was ok. Why she wasn’t out there serving to start with though is anyone’s guess.
V IS FOR VORONEZ
My hotel, a 4* affair with conference centre attached. One of the most famous hotels in Brno. Look out for an op coming your way this time tomorrow,
W IS FOR WHOLE AGAIN
Arrrggghhh. I needed some music whilst heading out to the Augustinian Monastery (which I never found) and as my batteries were dying, I had to make do with the Czech equivalent of Radio 1 as this takes less power. Over and over again they played Atomic Kitten’s increasingly annoying „hit“. I get this all the time on Ö3 too (my current listening to in Austria station). Will it never end?
X IS FOR X-RATED NIGHT CLUB DISCOTEQUES
As they call them. These were everywhere, no doubt to cater for the Business men’s “needs“. Brno hosts numerous trade fairs throughout the year and so the majority of their visitors are here for corporate reasons.
Y IS FOR YVES ROCHER
Just one of several international chains in appearance here. Others include Mc Donald’s, KFC and Intersport.
Z IS FOR ZELNY TRH
The second largest square in the city. Home to the cabbage market. Enough said really.
Verdict : A nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. Brno is a "real" Czech city, with fewer tourists than Prague, but as a result there are fewer things to do. Still, enough to do and see to warrant a short break, but nothing longer.