Czech Us Out
Our new Gadabout home is the Czech Republic as the pun-erific title suggests. To be more specific we are in Brno (pronounced Brno) which is the eager to please, sandy haired young sibling to Prague’s swaggering, heavily tattooed older brother.
We have been renting an apartment near the erotically named Cabbage Market in the city centre for a month now. This has allowed me to compile a list of local events and activities which have been split into categories – Brno or Bryes. Those of you thinking this is a lazy rehash of my recent Lisbon or Lisboff idea are completely mistaken although I haven’t time to explain why just at the moment.
Freedom Square is at the throbbing heart muscle of Brno. It is a bubbling melting jug of classic architecture and glossy modernity (well, late-90’s anyway). Upon first arrival I couldn’t help noticing that the good people of Brno had seen fit to erect a giant, gleaming black phallus in the centre of the Square, presumably while drunk. I don’t really have any more to say on the subject but am hoping key words in the previous sentence will boost search engine traffic to this blog.
There is always some sort of event happening in the Square – vintage car shows, masked parades, and on one occasion a spectacular (if overlong) performance art extravaganza called The Game. The whole show felt like the arm waving bit before a magician puts the lady in a box but I am reliably informed that it was also a savage indictment of the greedily irresponsible financial industry.
Verdict: Lisbon, sorry I mean Bryes
The Capuchin Crypt
The Capuchin Crypt lies deep in the bowels (smirk) of Brno and is home to the mummified remains of 18th century monks and dignitaries. It consists of five interlocking stone chambers decorated in a Baroque style that Laurence Llewlyn Bowen would describe as “quite nice”. I had mistakenly assumed that visitors would be eased in to the whole ‘corpse horror’ element slowly, the macabre quotient rising with each chamber and ending with a lovely comforting hug from the lady that sells the tickets. Not so.
As I took the final steps down to the first vault, my eye was quickly drawn to a large, richly dark and hammer-thumpingly solid coffin. I gingerly peered in as having just paid CZK65 to enter it seemed silly not to. I think I was half-expecting a Scooby-Doo style cartoon skeleton. Unnervingly, what I actually saw was an extremely dead body belonging to a specific human being. The ash coloured vellum skin was still shockingly clad in the remains of a Rococo shirt and crumbling toes poked through pointed boots. It was all just so last season darling.
I ventured further into the crypt, reading the histories of the permanent residents as I went. One casket held the body of a woman who died over 300 years ago. She drew my attention as her limbs were not posed in the serene style of her crypt-mates. Terrifyingly, experts theorise she was buried alive. They suspect this as she has a jolly peeved look on her face.
Each chamber revealed further morbidly fascinating details and the kind of chilling link with the past I have never experienced before or since (although it was only yesterday). Even as I dictate these words for my androgynous, gimp assistant to type I can feel an icy shiver travel all the way from the base of my spine to very slightly above the base of my spine.
I have been an Elvis fan for as long as I can remember. While my 13 year old peers were ripping their jeans to emulate Bros, I was fashioning my white Karate trousers into the flared stage pant of a late period Presley. This won me the joyous admiration of classmates who celebrated any sign of ‘individual eccentricity’ in the non-judgmental manner that gangs of Essex teenagers are famous for.
My long-standing hero worship meant I was rather excited to see posters all over Brno advertising an event called Elvis Live. In anticipation, my lip began to curl, my leg started to twitch and my hips set to swivelin’. Susie thought I was having a Stroke.
The location for Elvis Live was the Galerie Vankovka and I arrived expecting to find a plush art space of polished wood and white walls. In fact the Galerie Vankovka is a large, busy shopping mall. Exhibits of rhinestone jumpsuits and guitars were displayed in glass cases along the main thoroughfare. I couldn’t help feeling that the slightly crass surroundings detracted from the glamorous mystique of Elvis Aaron Presley. In fairness he did rather start that process himself by straining to death on the toilet.
As far as I could gather from the information available in Czech, the main event was to be an evening performance by an Elvis impersonator. I scampered along to the stage at the appointed time to discover that the ‘performer’ was actually a man with a beard (and it was a nice beard to give him credit) sitting behind a computer playing Elvis songs.
The small crowd expressed their fevered devotion in grim, glassy eyed silence. With hindsight, throwing my underwear and fainting feels like an overreaction.
Verdict: Brno thankyou. Brno thankyouverymuch
Filed under: Brno, Exploring, Things to do | 6 Comments
Tags: Brno, Capuchin Monastery, Czech Republic, Elvis Live, Flat in Brno, Freedom Square, Freedom Square Brno