An Unconventional Tour of Budějovice

Publikujeme zde výbornou místopisnou črtu našeho fejetonisty Toma Czabana z letního č. 2017/19. Nebojte se angličtiny, Tom píše velmi srozumitelně:

One of my earliest childhood memories is of a girl called Julia vomiting near the school entrance. I thought it was amazing that so much sick could come out of one tiny human so I invited other kids to view the exhibit. “Just look at it!” I exclaimed (like the organizer of a freak show), “Have you ever seen anything like this before!”

When a teacher noticed she told me no one was interested in a tour of the contents of Julia’s stomach. “That’s not true,” I replied, “Everyone’s saying it’s the most interesting thing they’ve seen at school in weeks.” As punishment for this “sarcasm” I had to clean up the sick myself, which felt like I was erasing the paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

Fortunately I’m an adult now and nobody can tell me what is or isn’t worth looking at. So in the spirit of the child who championed “The contents of Julia’s stomach” I give you my unconventional tour of Budějovice…

The Dark Side of ČB

Let’s kick things off at the Vietnamese clothes shop on Lannova Street. Look in the window. See anything strange? No? Look again. What’s that in between two mannequins? That’s right, it’s the Dildo of Lannova. Many people hypothesize about why a dildo has been hidden in this shop window. Personally I think the owner is pranking the town; when he pulls the shutters down each evening he catches sight of the dildo and laughs at his “classic” joke.

When you get bored of taking selfies with the dildo, head for Metropol snooker hall where you’ll find the legendary pocketless pool table. Yes, it’s a pool table with no pockets to hit the balls into. I like to think the table was built by two workers who became increasingly drunk during its construction. When they’d finished, one of them stared at the table through red eyes: “Are you sure we haven’t forgotten something?” The other puffed out a slow stream of cigarette smoke: “Nah, I don’t think so?” Today the table is mostly used by nihilists; apparently they find the pure pointlessness of hitting the balls around the pocketless table somewhat appealing.

foto: Helena Hrušová

At the next stop you may need your pool cue for self-defence, because you’re about to run into Europe’s angriest shopkeeper. I won’t reveal the exact location of this shop, but it’s very close to Metropol so if you want to find it you won’t have to try too hard. The first time I went there I bought a chocolate bar, opened it and asked the shopkeeper to put the wrapper in the bin. It seemed like a fair request, but he glared at me as if I’d just asked what made his mother smell so bad and why his wife was so enormous. I left the wrapper on the counter and walked out of the shop, at which point he chased after me shouting: “Are you stupid or something!” It’s not only me he treats in this way – just the other day I saw him throw another shocked customer out. But that’s OK because being shouted at by Europe’s angriest shopkeeper is a Budějovice rite of passage and should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you’re lucky you might even hear him yell his catchphrase too (“Are you stupid or something!”).

When you’re sick of being insulted for no reason, head for the main square. Make a point of ignoring the fountain and look for the tramp who spits instead. Confused? Let me explain. If you give this special beggar some cash she’ll respond by spitting on the ground. It took me a long time to notice this, but now I’ve noticed it I can’t unnotice it. Seriously, it’s like some kind of bizarre arcade game.

No doubt you’re tired of all this culture by now so walk to Krajinská 27 to sample the strongest beer in the world. I first discovered this deadly drink by mistake; they usually serve it in 300 ml doses but due to language issues (foreigner speaking awful Czech, barman refusing to speak anything but awful German) I ordered a pint of it. For the connoisseurs amongst you this beer has the consistency of mud and takes at least an hour to drink. During this time you will go through all the emotions you associate with a whole evening of drinking: merriness, philosophising, love, self-pity, and eventually rage when you discover one beer costs 160 Kč.

Stagger out of Krajinská and you have an important choice to make. You can head for Na Sadech and photograph the skeletons of all the people who’ve died waiting to cross the road at the slowest pelican crossing in the Czech Republic, or stay in Krajinská and visit the most unnecessary shop ever conceived. Having spent what must be about two weeks of my life waiting at that fucking pelican crossing, I recommend the latter. The shop is called “Cheap and Quality Italian Products” but don’t get too excited because they mainly stock Italian toiletries. I mean, where would Budějovice be without the toothpaste that Italians are so famous for?

But sarcasm aside, please do buy something here, because like Martin Luther King I too have a dream. When my unconventional tour becomes ridiculously popular (and let’s face it, it will), I’d like to see the owner of the most unnecessary shop ever conceived become the richest shopkeeper of the most unnecessary shop ever conceived. To help make this happen sign up for a tour with me right now. The cost per person is 20,000 Kč (to cover my general apathy), tipping is obligatory, and you’ll be delighted to hear that all proceeds will be donated to a very worthy cause (me).

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