Vadim Erent runs Insight Cities, a tour company that promises to give visitors a deeper perspective on the cultural and political histories of more than half a dozen cities, including Berlin and New York. The firm began here in Prague, where the Russian-born US citizen has been living for the last 11 years. And our tour of “Vadim Erent’s Prague” begins near his Letná home, specifically on a bench overlooking Stromovka Park by the Místodržitelský letohrádek, or Governor’s Summer Palace.
Amid the tourist bustle of central Prague this week a tour with a difference was taking place. Czechs turned up in their droves when development company Flow East opened the doors to some of its historic buildings. But the developer’s first initiative of its kind is linked to its ongoing battle with Prague planners and politicians.
Some restaurants in Prague’s central district discriminate against foreigners, according to the Czech Trade Inspection Authority. The agency says that in several restaurants in the area, English-speaking inspectors posing as tourists were automatically levied with a service charge – unlike their Czech-speaking colleagues who dined in the same place at the same time.
Czech inspectors have found that more than half the restaurants they checked up on discriminated against foreign clients. The inspectors from the Czech Commercial Inspectorate found that eight out of 13 restaurants they checked up on added extra charges to the bills of foreign customers compared with Czechs. Agents went undercover for the inspections by pretending they could only speak English. Other shortcomings were found at nine out of the 13 restaurants. The inspectorate pointed out that Prague is highly reliant on tourists with the aim that they should be treated fairly and not exploited. The inspectorate said it would continue checks throughout the tourist season and beyond because restaurants also served ex-pats living in Prague.
Centre right party TOP 09 has a high chance of retaining its position as the biggest party in the Czech capital when Prague City Council elections are held in October. A survey by the polling agency SANEP suggested that TOP 09 would be the strongest party with 21.3 percent support. A three way coalition of the Christian Democrats, Mayors and Independents, and Green Party could win 14.2 percent of votes. The ANO party would come in third place with 12.4 percent followed by the Social Democrats with 11.8 percent, Civic Democrats with 11.1 percent and Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia with 7.6 percent. The Pirate party and Free Citizens Party would also get more 5.0 percent of the vote according to the survey. TOP 09 currently govern Prague City Hall in coalition with the Social Democrats.
Prague and National Geographic have reached a written agreement putting to bed a case concerning a controversial episode of a TV series broadcast by the National Geographic Channel in 2012. The city maintained that the show Scam City, focusing on the darker side of tourism, had hurt Prague’s reputation, faking some sequences which consequently cast the city in a poor light. Criminal investigators later confirmed some scenes had been staged. Scenes that were reportedly faked included tourists being ripped off by a taxi service or by workers at a sex club (which in reality had long been closed). In the agreement, National Geographic admitted some scenes were staged and agreed to block the episode’s further dissemination. A formal apology, which the city previously sought, was not part of the deal, the Czech News Agency reported.
The Prague Vitruvius is an extremely useful website for anybody interested in perhaps the Czech capital’s greatest asset: its unparalleled wealth of architecture. The blog is the work of Englishman Alex Went, who has created close to 300 entries taking in both tourist sights and largely unknown gems in the suburbs. When we spoke at the Vinohrady Pavilion – designed by one of his favourite Prague architects – I asked Went what had brought him to the city in the first place.
This Wednesday saw the launch of the new Prague USE.IT map, the fourth edition of a map which takes visitors off the beaten path. USE.IT, with a history dating back to the late 1960s, represents “no nonsense” tourism for young people interested in getting closer to the heart of the city and real life.
Around 4.89 million people are set to visit the Czech capital this year which makes it the ninth most attractive city in Europe, according to the MasterCard Index of Global Destination Cities for 2014. London, with an estimated 18.7 million visitors, tops the global index, followed by Bangkok, Paris and Singapore. Prague, which last year ranked 10th among Europe’s most popular destinations, is supposed to attract 400,000 more visitors than in 2013, and 1.1 million more than in the previous year. MasterCard CEO for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Miroslav Lukeš said that in total, tourists are expected to spend around 3.8 million dollars on each day of their stay in Prague.
The district of Prague 1 is not happy with a network of Tesco-owned Žabka convenience stores located in buildings owned by the municipality,, the district’s mayor, Oldřich Lomecký, told a news conference on Wednesday. Mr Lomecký said the local town hall was dissatisfied with the stores’ standards, the choice of available products and their quality; as a result, the authorities will cancel a rental contract with one of the stores, and would like to discuss the issue with Tesco management. If the situation does not improve by the end of the year, the municipality will consider renting the facilities to other firms, according to the mayor. Tesco acquired the nation-wide network of 135 Žabka convenience stores in 2011.
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Czech teenager builds second-largest ever Millennium Falcon LEGO model
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
Press: Era of 100-crown lunch special is over, as food prices rocket
HN: Developers aiming to sell co-living concept in Prague