Sunday, October 30, 2005

We Dine in Brno

We went to a dinner in Brno on Saturday. I should back up and say first that I now belong to this gastronomy club, and you can go to events in other chapters. Well, not only do I belong, but I'm an officer. What I won't do for a good meal.

Because the Bratislava chapter is fledgling, we don't have a lot going on yet. So The Spouse and I have been hitting the road. We went to a dinner in Prague a few weeks ago. It was on the top floor of the Prague Intercontinental. The view at night was terrifc. The food was prepared by visiting Chef Viki (I'm not making this up). He's Belgian, so it was all Belgian fare, which was quite delicious. I can't remember what all of it was now, but I do remember that whatever the second appetizer was, that alone was worth the drive to Prague.

Because we enjoyed it so much, the Prague chapter invited us to come to another event they were holding in Brno. That's only about an hour drive from home, so we figured why not? It was a nice excuse for a little weekend away with no children.

Brno is about the same size as Bratislava, but it feels completely different. Some say it was modeled after Vienna with the rings of streets and Hapsburg architecture. Others explain that it has the Czech convention centers, so it was always groomed for foreign guests. There certainly is not an expat community there as there are no embassies nor much foreign investment. But all the same it has a very nice historic center that is vibrant because it has a healthy mix of shops, businesses, and residents. Bratislava's Old Town feels like a museum, and, compared to Brno, not in a good way.

We stayed at a cute little hotel called the Royal Ricc ( The dinner was held at a restaurant called U Kastelana, which was rated The Best Restaurant in the Czech Republic in 2005 ( (I offer you this website while I take some comfort from the fact that I can not only FIND the link to their menu, but I can understand most of it even if I can't pronounce it. After all this time in the region, I guess I have learned something.)

Our room was cute, but small. The ceiling had wooden beams that were stenciled in a lacy design. The windows had stained glass. There was an unfortunate painting of a crucified Christ that killed any wish one would have to rent the room by the hour. But the nice feature was a tile stove in the corner that could be used to heat the room. We couldn't figure out how to turn it on, so The Spouse had to go get Reception Lady to show us. She seemed to think we were idiots for not being able to light the pilot, but she came up and did it for us. The room got toasty and we had ample time for naps.

We decided that since the restaurant was not too far and we knew we would have lots to drink, that rather than take taxis, we would walk there and back. It turned out to be a flat and easy walk.

We found the restaurant and the Prague crowd was thrilled to see us again. The dinner was good, but not the best I've ever had. The meal in Prague was better, but this would certainly be worth trying again.

Now, unfortunately, I was wearing too many clothes as I thought the weather would be colder. I just didn't have anything I could take off. After the walk to the restaurant, I was plenty warm. Then I drank bubbly with the pre-starters, followed by two whites, three reds, a dessert white, and a shot of slivovitz (which is a plum brandy/firewater). They were all from the area and each was better than the last.

O although I had a shower before the dinner, now I need another one. It's almost midnight. We made our excuses and walked back to hotel, hoping to become sober. Got naked to take shower. Discovered there was no knob to make water enter shower/bath. The bathroom is outfitted with a big sink, a toilet, a bidet, and the bathtub, but only the bathtub is really appropriate for the sort of washing I want to do. I don't want to get my hair wet (as I said, I had already washed it earlier in the day), but I want to do some serious rinsing from the neck down.

I put my (sweaty) clothes back on and go to Reception to complain. Reception Lady sent Waiter Guy up to verify my claim. Yes indeed. There was no way to make the shower work. He hands me a key to another room. I go look at it. It is bigger and nicer than ours. There is no art involving Jesus in pain. I make The Spouse call Reception Lady. Do they really want us scampering in our towels between Room A and Room B? Won't other guests object? Well, you can't have BOTH rooms, says Recption Lady. No problem! We'll move our things ourselves!

I returned key to Room A. Got naked again, got in shower, turned on water, pulled up pin to activate shower. Pin comes off in my hand and water sprays ceiling and up my nose. It was blasting in my eyes while I flailed about trying to swat at it and turn it off. My head and the ceiling, are dripping. At least there were plenty of towels. Maybe we needed a picture of Moses parting the Red Sea in that room?


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