Friday, November 6, 2009

Pizza Neděle!

Pizza Sunday is my very own failed tradition here in the Czech Republic.

It started off as a great plan!

In our neighborhood there is a nice Italian Restaurant called Gusto (Found HERE). They have a large menu with everything from pizza, to pasta, Czech meals, etc. Lots of options and some pretty good food.

Overall, the restaurant has a great feel to it and everything looks very nice. Probably what one would expect to find in a nicer Italian restaurant. Located on a busy street that is frequented by pedestrians, car, and tram traffic, the restaurant's outward appearance is very bold and colorful.

Inside you will find that the restaurant is much larger than you would have thought, judging by an outside appearance. Besides normal seating (also known as the smoking section), the restaurant offers a non-smoking section, a kids section with TV, games, and cartoons painted on the wall, secluded rooms for parties of private gathering, and also an outdoor seating area in the back of the building in the courtyard area.

As with any restaurant in the Czech Republic, they also have a full stocked bar. Price wise it is a fairly expensive to have a few drinks compared to other alternatives in the area. Beer (pivo) runs around 35 crowns (~$2 US) compared to other places in the area that serve the same pivo for around 22 crowns. Even though the restaurant has a great feel to it and nice surroundings, you will not find an active local population going there for drinks. By US standards, I doubt you would get much complaint about the price :)

Now, the reason for my failed tradition is that every Sunday Gusto offers half price pizza to students. No matter the age, a student ID card is all that is needed.
One pie per student. While the pizza is no Papa Murphy's (Yeah, I went there), they taste pretty damn good! Part of the reason is that they are made by open fire in a brick oven.

The restaurant has a pretty good selection of different kinds of pies. Toppings range from what the US would consider traditional to things less traditional, like corn. Unlike pizza in the states, Czech pizza usually has very little cheese and very little grease, if any. It is pretty similar to pizza you would find in Italy. I have also noticed that the pies are not as clustered with toppings as a pizza you would get in the states.

Price wise, the pizza at Gusto runs around 150 crowns (around $8US) for a size that will confidently fill to gut of two adults. Usually we would not spend that much on pizza, since there are certainly less expensive options, but half price Sunday is a pretty decent deal!

Since the tradition was crafted five Sundays ago, we have only made it here twice. Though, there is always hope for this Sunday! :D

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Karlovy Vary! (Carlsbad)

I went my wife and some of our family to visit some extended family in the Western part of Czech. Since we were already in the area, we decided to stop by and visit Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad in German or if you are from the UK)!

A video I made showing some of the sights along with some more pictures can be found HERE, or located above in my video bar!

Karlovy Vary, located HERE, is one of the Czech Republic's famous spa towns located around 80 miles West of Prague. They city, which was founded in 1370, has a population of around 50,000 people. The city has been featured in films like "Last Holiday," and the 007 flick "Casino Royal," among others. Each year the city hosts a large international film festival, which I think would be fun to attend at some point! Carlsbad, New Mexico; Carlsbad Caverns National Park; and Carlsbad, California all take their names from Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary).

One of the things that makes Karlovy Vary so popular is its beautiful location, architecture, and warm mineral springs that flow through a number of different drinking fountains around the city. It is said that drinking from the different mineral springs is good for a person who is trying to recover from an illness or other ailment. Around the city you will find many small stands that sell a wide verity of decorated cups, usually found with a straw built into the handle.

Around the city you will find different fountains with water varying in taste and temperature. I believe the hottest fountain I saw was around 72 degrees Celsius, or over 160 degrees Fahrenheit. There is even an indoor fountain with naturally pressurized mineral water.

The Czech Republic is pretty unique from the US when it comes to healthcare. If you come down with an illness, give birth to a child, or have problems conceiving a child just to name a few, the government will at times pay for you to go to one of these spa cities to get well. When I say the government pays for you I of corse mean it is paid from taxes!

While in these spa towns, one will typically stay in a very nice hotel with complimentary food, masseuse, and other such amenities. I have heard of people staying in these places for a number of months while trying to recover. The Czech people comment that the women who come to a spa town to try and become fertile will usually find out that the cure is the men she meets there. :)

As for the architecture and natural beauty of the city,

Yeah, it's not too bad :)