He experienced the horrors of two wars and during this time he also covered an immense geographical area. The trip described in this blog is an attempt to retrace his steps from Prague across the Eurasian continent to beyond Lake Baikal in Siberia. The first part of the trip will follow the precisely described route of Josef Švejk, Hašek's inspired literary creation. I left home on April 30 2010 and was back on October 29.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Tourists in Žižkov

This blog entry is mostly off-topic and covers May 4-6 2010.
The journey from Munich to Prague was exquisite; luxury train to Nürnberg and luxury coach to Prague, all for only 33 Euro. Arriving in the Czech capital I soon found my accommodation and continued into the great unknown. Arranging a Semi-cultural Scandinavian Evening in a Chinese restaurant with the Czech name Dobrý Den doesn't seem entirely logical, that is for any person with a non-absurdist outlook. On the other hand, Jonny Axelson, part-time waiter and part owner at the above-mentioned place, might have just that ability to view the world through a clouded side window. I had first rejected the Facebook invitation, haughtily concluding that I didn't come go to Prague to meet Scandinavians, but then that was exactly how I started the visit to the Czech capital. I had even invited two of them to Prague and let them down by disappearing to Munich. But Arild Maurseth and Judith Nærland were already there, so why not all meet in the natural  place; a Chinese restaurant with a Czech name. For  the occasion Norwegian smoking regulations were introduced; have a fag by all means, but do it on the pavement.

The two days based in Táboritksá 3 were spent much as many tourist would have done; considerable amounts of liquid gold was consumed, at locations as diverse as U Jelínků, U medvídkůPivovarský Klub, U vystřeleného oka, and a few others. During one of these these pub visits, Arild informed me of the hilarious Italian variation of the German word Stockfisch, a term I discussed in the first blog entry. South of the Alps this dubious Leckerbissen is called stoccafisso. He also astutely remarked when seeing an election poster for the Green Party: Ivan Klíma is a very fitting name for this poster. The same poster also included former president Václav Havel. Ivan Klima is actually a writer of considerable international repute, although  less known for his contributions to a sustainable future.
When saying that this blog post is mostly off topic, there is one exception: Žižkov does have a link to Jaroslav Hašek. Down the road in Jeromymová 3, he wrote the first part of Švejk, when staying with his anarchist friend Franta Sauer. The idea of writing the novel was conceived in this area in February 1921 and on 13 March the first instalment appeared. Žižkov is mentioned time after time in Švejk's anecdotes but this part of the city never figures directly in the plot.

Žižkov was known as a working-class area, and still is, although it is slowly being gentrified and has also acquired a "cool" reputation. The number of hostels and English language menus testify to that.  The area had a reputation for radicalism, the term "Red Žižkov" was often used and it was together with Karlín a communist stronghold in Prague. It is also an area with a large number of gypsys. For admirers of Hašek there is the added attraction of an semi-equestrian statue, at Prokopovo náměstí, the only statue of him in the country apart from the one at Lipnice nad Sázavou.

In the morning of 6 May I was completely shattered, and it was time to move on to Hanspaulka and continue on Hašek's track in a more focused manner.


  1. No matter how one views the apparent "fall of Communism", the one definitely positive outcome is the ability of people to move across borders. For people who have not lived in a "closed society", that is something very hard to appreciate. This entry is a wonderful illustration of the result of the freedom of movement.

  2. Hostels will usually always put out milk to with your cereal, tea, coffee, etc.

    Buzios Pousadas