Pies and Prejudice: Girl in Czechland hits Manchester

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A signpost in Manchester. The blogpost gets more exciting than this, I promise.

I have a confession to make. Ever since my sister’s wedding, I’ve been feeling a bit homesick.

It’s easy enough to buy real English muffins, some Cadbury’s chocolate or an overpriced copy of the Guardian here in Prague these days should I feel the need to. However, I think the fact that I really might spend the rest of my life in a foreign country — albeit a rather nice one — has finally sunk in, with the result that I crave the company of family and friends in England more than before.

Fortunately for me, the nice people at jet2 came to the rescue by offering me a free flight home in exchange for a post about my adventures — so here it is.

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What are all these taxi drivers waiting outside the airport? Crying their eyes out because Girl In Czechland refuses to give them any business! Ha!

Reason Not To Take A Taxi to the Airport #2194

After Taxigate, I went to the airport on public transport.

The bus was super-crowded and I had to stand but I focused on the fact that I was saving at least 400 CZK. I spotted a woman on board with a huge carrier bag rather than a suitcase. It was obvious she’d been sleeping rough. Most likely she was only heading to the  terminal to spend the day somewhere warm. When we all got off, I dithered, then decided to chase after to give her some stravenky (luncheon vouchers).

The motto of this story? Don’t bother with taxis — you might miss the chance to do a good deed. Even Czechman approved.

jet2′s safety announcer is Northern!

I recently interviewed David Cerny, the infamous Czech artist responsible for “>that floating obscene hand gesture. He was sweary and hungover.  Between expletives, he remarked on my “very British English. You know, like someone on the BBC.”

This might sound like a compliment. Except it’s not. I don’t speak English like a typical BBC news presenter. I sound Northern. I say ‘bath’ rather than ‘barrrth’. My Salford-born mother might have said that we were ‘upper working class’ but she’d disown me if I started trying to ‘sound posh’.

Anyway, the safety announcements on planes are usually made by BBC sounding types. Not on jet2. The voice asking you to stow any hand luggage in the overhead lockers is Northern! In fact, it was Dave Spikey who shot to fame on the cult British comedy series, Phoenix Nights.

Thanks Jet2 — I felt one step closer to home, even before take-off!

Me-time in Manchester

What did I do when I actually made it to Manchester?

Not a lot really.

I had grand plans. A day trip to Liverpool to visit the Tate and the Beatles museum. Some retail therapy in the massive Arndale Shopping Centre. Exploring Manchester’s hip and happening Northern Quarter.

Ok, I admit it. Most of the time I sat on my friend’s sofa, watching bad British TV, drinking tea and eating cake. Here’s the photo evidence:

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Tea + Cake = Heaven.

I did make it out on a few occasions. There was Sunday lunch with my parents — who paid, naturally. I took the tram to Piccadilly Gardens, popped in a couple of shops, then decided my break was supposed to be just that — a break — not an exhausting shopathon. I did have a bit of a wander around the Northern Quarter. I can report it does have some rather nice shops and cafes.

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A very nice knitting shop with lots of squigey yarns made of real wool rather than nasty acrylic.

I did take advantage of the generous 22kg baggage allowance by stocking up on a few hard to get bits and pieces: lots of British magazines, some special toiletries and paracetamol (a complete bargain at only 16p a packet). However, the main point of the trip wasn’t retail therapy. I wanted to spend some extra time with family and friends face-to-face, not tons of cash. The fact that my visit happened to coincide with one of the worst storms in Britain for decades made staying indoors all the more appealing.

Check out the grey sky — and the cotton mill converted into fancy apartments, one of many in the city:

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One Final Plug for jet2 — and a Question

I was pleasantly surprised by the generous amount of legroom on those Jet2 flights — which I’m also happy to report, both ran on time.

Commercial break over.

Czech readers, I have a question. On the plane journey home, I read Stuart Maconie’s very funny book, “Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North”. He’s from Wigan. You might not find that fact particually amusing but if you’re from the South, the very mention of the word ‘Wigan’ would make you chortle. Loudly. It’s something to do with the fact that they’re fond of pies, apparently.

Is it possible in the Czech Republic to make people laugh just by telling them where you’re from? Enlighten me in the Comments section.

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Image by davey_flex (Creative Commons).

This post was sponsored by jet2 who very kindly offered me a free flight home to Blighty in exchange for a bit of publicity. However, all my opinions remain as ever, my own. Just in case you were wondering.

 

 

 

41 Comments

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41 Responses to Pies and Prejudice: Girl in Czechland hits Manchester

  1. IainGambles

    My wife and I have a “must visit” when going back to the UK and that is the Atlantic Fish Bar in Chorlton (Just down the road from Manchester airport), best fish and chips in the world! It’s one of the silly things we miss living in Prague

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Iain,

      I have to say I miss good old British chips with salt and vinegar more than the fish part of that equation. Have you ever been to the Fish and Chip place on Dlouha? I must say I’ve heard mixed reports.

      Isn’t Chorlton rather a posh spot for a decent Fish and Chip shop? :)

      GIC

      • IainGambles

        Crazily enough it’s actually the mushy peas we miss :) We’ve been to the place on Dlouha and although expensive the fish is nice (if small) but their interpretation of mushy peas is definitely not what we would call Manchester caviar.

        Chorlton is where we lived in Manchester, I don’t know about posh but the Atlantic Fish Bar was pretty awesome…look it up if you’re ever driving through ;)

      • …In Copenhagen…When? Where?Will that be anything like your seiossn at OpenWorld San Francisco?(I’m going to OpenWorld and plan to catch your seiossn there – but if you talk of something else somewhere here in Denmark, then I might get myself two doses of Kyte in one year :-)

  2. Mark

    As always a fantastic read and glad you enjoyed your trip home. Have you come to terms with spending the rest of your life in the Czech Republic now? Being away from England do you think more or less of her or has your opinions not really changed? Looking forward to your next blog entry and hearing about your Christmas. Take care.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Mark!
      Wow, big questions! Yes, I think I have come to terms with the idea of spending the rest of my life here (gasp!) although sometimes I am a bit apprehensive about the idea of bringing up children in a foreign country. Czechman and I are already arguing about names — apparently anything English would sound pretentious! The fact that I *am* English cuts no ice, apparently…

      I’m not sure my opinion of England has changed all that much. I do look forward to trips home — and as I said, experience the odd twinge of homesickness — but generally I’m satisfied here in Prague. Viva Czechland!

      I will, of course, be keeping you updated with my antics pre- and post-Christmas (hopefully a bit more regularly than before).

      GIC

      • Mark

        Well, I shall look forward to reading all about your Christmas celebrations. I hope you managed to smuggle back a Christmas pudding from your trip home and do try not to eat too much Carp :-). Hope you and Czech Man have a great Christmas take care.

      • girlinczechland

        Hello Mark,

        I’m actually in Very Big Trouble as I’m abandoning Czechman to spend Christmas with my family in England. Still, I might make some more cukrovi to take with me — but my festive season will be carp-free in 2013!

        GIC

      • tgm

        GIC, ohledne jmen deti, doporucuji model ktery zvolil muj kamarad a jeho Nemecka zena: jmena a identitu muzskych potomku zvoli otec, jmena a identitu zenskych zvoli mama.
        Uz maji podle daneho medelu dve ceske a jedno nemecke dite:)

      • czecharev

        My son’s dad is English and I’m Czech and it was a bit of a nightmare to pick a name we both liked. In the end we picked a name that sounded good (and familiar – we didn’t want a Brooklyn or Peach) both in English and in Czech – Alexander.

        Other options for boys – Martin, David, Adam, Daniel, Pet(e)r, Mar(e)k etc.

        Natalie, Marie, Helen(a), Barbora(Barbara), Alice, Anna, Eva etc. for girls. :-)

      • girlinczechland

        Hello again Czecharev,

        I think it is a bit tricky to find names for children which work in both English and Czech. Czechman and I have discussed this (hypothetically — I’m not planning any big announcements on the blog just yet!) and we both agree that there’s a better choice of what you might call bilingual names for girls than boys. I’m no fan of all the Brooklyn, Romeo and Peach silliness, but I do think some of the boys’ names you’ve listed are a bit boring. Alexander was my grandfather’s name, so I think you picked the best one out of a less than appealing range of options.

        Ach jo!

        GIC

  3. Matt

    There’s a small town called Prčice a couple kms south of Prague, I would probably chuckle or comment if I was introduced to someone who lives there as there is a phrase ‘Do Prčic’ meaning something like ‘Darn it’ in czech. Cant really think of anything else

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Matt,

      Yes, ‘Do Prčic’ is a phrase that I’ve heard Czechman say when annoyed — and some far worse ones! So there really aren’t any towns which might make you laugh if someone told you that’s where they are from? In England there are *tons* more than just Wigan. Grimsby might raise a chuckle. Ramsbottom is another. I once taught some students in Prague who laughed when someone said they were from Ostrava — were they just terrible snobs?

      GIC

      • Matt

        Hello, wow you reply fast.
        Well, it depends really. Some people from Prague will laugh at or be a little reproachful towards people from Ostrava (or Moravia in general), but thats mostly caused by their accents and sometimes their genuine fascination (borderline infatuation) by things like the metro, not their origin in itself. Where did you teach if I may ask?
        Also, after a google research I found some which would IMO look pretty funny on official documents and stuff, eg. Polipsy, Řitka, Šukačka, Pičín, Onen svět, Brloh or Křoví, but unfortunately I doubt that any of them have more than a few hundred people living there. I wonder if you can get the meaning behind them :)

  4. MikeInBohemia

    Hi GIC,
    Nice article, tnx.
    I have never been to Manchester. Although a Southerner, I love the North and have explored it extensively. Folks are so genuinely friendly and helpful up there and I love the dialects and accents (mine is standard bookish English, good for teaching in Czecho, but rather boring linguistically for me)
    Our next trip to Blighty will be a Northern one, so I will include Manchester for sure.
    BTW, you may live in Czecho a long time, but you can visit home quite easily and Skype and Facebook etc are always there. Not so bad really.
    Best wishes
    Majk

    • girlinczechland

      Hello there Bohemian Mike,

      You are, of course, right — in the age of Facebook and Skype, it is so much easier to keep in touch with friends and family while living abroad. And I’m always grateful for the fact that compared to other English native speakers (Australians, South Africans, Americans…) it’s so much easier to pop back home for a visit. I’m sure if you ask Jet2, they’ll tell you the point of the post was to encourage more British expats to do just that!

      GIC

  5. lucie

    Hey,
    Brloh (near Prelouc), Bahno (near Kutna Hora)…there will be definitely more. Near Prelouc are 3 villages, relatively close to each other named Dedek, Nerad, Brambory(grandfather doesn’t like potatoes)…

  6. Hello GIC,
    As always, it’s good to have a new post from you. As your post has been sponsored by jet2.com, I hope their management will both read this comment & not tell you to delete it.

    Jet2.com, have recently started flying twice a week from East Midlands Airport to Prague. As my son lives in Nottingham, I recently went online to book flights so he & his girlfriend could come to visit me in Prague for four days in February 2014.

    First I tried to register with ‘myjet2.com’ to benefit from all their special offers etc. However, their system assumes you must have a British address in the format of house number or name, followed by street name. As you will know, a Czech address has the street name first, followed by the number. Nor can they cope with two numbers, divided by a forward slash such as mine which is 2614/11A. Please note jet2.com, some of your potential customers might just NOT have an address in the UK.

    Then when I made the reservation for my son & his girlfriend, I booked and paid for one checked-in bag of luggage for them. But I then discovered that if you have checked-in luggage, even checking-in online costs a further £7.00 for each flight!!!! I was NOT impressed.

    I’m pleased to know that jet2.com gave you plenty of leg room for your flights. However, if you are a paying passenger and want extra leg room – you’ve guessed it – that comes with an extra fee as well!

    In answer to your other question, like you with your students, I’ve heard Czech people living in Prague, make fun of someone from Ostrava. I gather it’s a combination of accent & being from the ‘industrial north’.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Ricky,

      Obviously I didn’t have to go through the apparent trials and tribulations of jet2′s online booking interface to reserve my tickets but I know from past experience that it is frustrating when a website outside CZ refuses to accept a CZ address. It has, on occasion, made me want to bash my head against a brick wall!

      As for the leg-room, I was a little suspicious that I’d been given the blogger VIP seats but I had a good look around on my return flight home and it did seem that there was a bit more space in all the seating than on certain other airlines.

      It seems Ryanair will start flying from Prague to London and Dublin next Spring, so I suppose we can always give the competition a try — although if I remember correctly, didn’t they want to charge customers for using the toilet during the flight at some point? Madness.

      GIC

  7. Michal

    I come from Bruntál, which does cause a few laughs, if you are familiar with one very well known Czech joke about that town – just ask your Czechman.
    The joke is dirty, very funny and, unfortunately, even more accurate :)

  8. Kev

    Hi GIC,

    Just came across your blog whilst I was trying to fill my feedly account with some nice new reads. I spent the first half of this year living in Czechland and working at a primary school and utterly fell in love with the country, I even had my own little blog about it like you do! Your blog’s making me miss living there very much, hopefully I can find a way to go move back there for longer or even for good if I’m lucky. For now I guess I’ll make do with reading your blog and fighting my wanderlust back/being jealous!

    Kev

    • girlinczechland

      Hello there Kev (aka theonlyenglishmaninthevillage),

      Just read some of your old blog posts — really interesting stuff! I *love* cukrarnas, especially the Italska cukrarna which I even gave a shout-out to in my On the Groud Easyjet article. Woo!

      Anyway, good luck with Blighty — and your eventual plan to return to Czechland. I’m not surprised it got under your skin: it does tend to have that effect on people!

      GIC

  9. czecharev

    Hello GIC,

    There’s a bit of a rivalry / animosity between Czechs and Moravians, so I can imagine people from Prague may feel a bit superior to Moravians (Silesians) and Brnovians feeling a bit resentful of Praguers – as is demonstrated by this (rather racist – apologies for that) joke:

    Je pražák v Brně a pije na zelňáku vodu z kašny. Po chvíli k němu dojde brňák a říká:
    - “hele kemo nechlemtej tu vasrovku z téé kašny vždyť do toho chčijou morgli.”
    - “Pražák se otočí a odpoví: hele já vám nerozumím , já jsem totiž z Prahy”.
    - “Aha tak teda pi pomalu a je to studený ať se nenachladíš.”

    Approximate translation:

    A man from Prague is in Zelny trh in Brno drinking water from a fountain. After a while a Brnovian comes up to him and says (in Brnovian slang): “Look mate, you shouldn’t drink that water. Gipsies pee in it.”
    The guy from Prague turns around and says: “Sorry, I can’t understand what you are saying. I’m from Prague.”
    And the guy from Brno replies: “I see, I was just saying you should drink more slowly, the water is cold. You might catch a cold.”

    As the joke demonstrates, some Brnovians consider people from Prague a bit stupid and stuck up. So, as has happened on some occasions to me, you may get a reaction if you are in Moravia (particularly Brno) and say you are from Prague and vice versa.

    Other than that people will find some names of villages funny because they mean something funny (as some people have mentioned above).

    I also have a feeling that the north of Moravia, particularly Ostrava and Havirov are sometimes considered uncultured as it is an industrial (hence working class) area.

    To sum up, if someone laughs at someone else mentioning where they are from it’s not likely to be a warm chuckle. They are much more likely to be sniggering.

    Czecharev

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Czecharev,

      Thanks for sharing the joke (both in Czech and English) which made me laugh despite the fact it may not be 100% politically correct. I couldn’t understand the Moravian Czech at all though. I’m also a bit confused because I thought Moravians were supposed to speak better Czech than Praguers…?

      It did make me think about the time Czechman and I went to visit some wine cellars just outside Znojmo. He told the vinter guy that he was ‘from South Bohemia but now I live in Prague’ — which resulted in a frosty reception. When I told them that I was from England, however, I was treated like royalty! Ha! When in darkest Moravia, it’s better to be English than from Prague…

      GIC

      • czecharev

        It’s definitely better to be English than from Prague in South Moravia :-)
        Did they make you both really really drunk? Most cellar owners in South Moravia consider it their personal duty to make outsiders (foreigners and especially people from Prague!) completely slaughtered. My dad once took his English co-worker for a tour round South Moravian vineyards and cellars. When you taste wines, you only pour a tiny bit in a test glass (which is no more than 40 – 50ml big) and you have a sip or two. If you think you have had too much in your mouth, you are allowed to spit it out. My dad’s colleague thought it was rude and despite my dad’s warnings drank everything that was put it front of him. Needless to say, this resulted in him getting totally legless and nearly hanging himself on the seat belt in my dad’s car as he wasn’t able to sit upright :-)

        With regards to spoken Czech – Moravians do tend to speak more “proper” Czech as they don’t tend to use the -ej endings of obecná (common) Czech – e. g. mladej instead of mladý. However, this is not the case in Brno. Brno has its very own kind of slang called “hantec”, which has its origin in mixing of lower class people, often criminals, from Czech, German and Jew communities. It is sometimes considered a sort of an “underground” or secret language of crooks and conmen. It flourished in between the wars and nowadays people don’t speak it as much. However, some expressions like “šalina” (tram), “šalinkarta” (travel card), “prygl” (reservoir – there is a rather big one in Brno) have become common words. Some of them are so well known that even people elsewhere will understand them but most are completely incomprehensible to people outside of Brno. If you want to learn more, look here and see if Czechman can understand them: http://www.hantec.cz/ and here for more examples: http://www.hantec.cz/hantec/povidky/spovidek.htm

        Czecharev

      • tomas

        Hi GIC,

        as to your question about Czech spoken in Moravia:
        It is a bit more complicated. In some Moravian regions there’s a strong tradition of local dialects – in Haná (Olomouc and its surroundings), Valašsko (Vsetín and its surroundings), Slovácko (Uherské Hradiště and its surroundings) and some others – with specific vocabulary, intonation etc. (see e. g. this “valašsko-český slovník”: http://www.divadloschod.cz/val.atheny/?id=jazyk). These dialects are spoken mainly by older and village people, however younger generation uses them to some degree too. But people from these regions are usually able to differentiate between their local dialect and “proper” Czech. Therefore when they are outside their region they speak “proper” Czech (which is really “proper” and much better than Czech of people from Prague and other Bohemian regions), but they can easily “switch” into their local dialect. Plus there’s a special case of Brno with its hantec (already described by czecharev) and Ostrava with specific pronunciation.

        You can find many references to these local dialects and to stereotypes connected with these regions in Czech popculture. They don’t portray Moravians in a straightforward negative way, so it’s a bit different from your example with “Wigan”, but still these stereotypes aren’t very flattering. Typical stereotype is that these Moravians are jolly and friendly, but at the same time a bit naive and dumb people. Do you know films “Jak svět přichází o básníky” a “Jak básníci přicházejí o iluze”? There you can find a typical example of such “Moravian” guy.

  10. balsa

    Hello GIC!
    I heard about the man asking four other guys where they were from, and they said ” My jsme z Rudy, já jsem z Losin a já z Loun”
    Which is translated phonetically: We are Monsters, I am evildoer and I am evilman.
    balsa

  11. awesome unicorn

    tak o vtipných městech a vesnicích nevím, ale tuším že v Český Lípě je klub “Prdel” :D

    a prosil bych víc článků, tenhle blog je úžasnej! :)

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Awesome Unicorn (which is an awesome name),

      More articles — yes, I know, I should update more often. I had this crazy idea that in December I would update the blog everyday (like an advent calendar) but we’ll see…

      GIC

  12. Janica

    Moji kamarádi rádi jezdí na tour Pivín – Hulín – Čunín.

  13. Pavel

    There is even all song compiled with sexually explicit names of czech villages and towns :)

  14. Pavel

    Sorry link is here

  15. Khan

    Well, i just read the entirety of your blog in one sitting. Very interesting and captivating, particularly love the small cultural and sociolinguistic differences you noticed throughout the years of living in the magical Czechland. I’ll be watching this (cyber)space from now on.

    Měj se hezky!

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Khan,

      Thanks so much for leaving such a lovely comment — it just goes to show the internet isn’t only populated by trolls! I’ll be trying to post a bit more often in the run-up to Christmas so please do keep an eye on this (cyber)space!

      GIC

  16. coll

    Hi girl in Czechland ! I’m a Manchester student currently studying here in Prague and I’m dying to get my hands on some proper Cadbury’s chocolate but I can’t find any! You mentioned it in your post, so please share your secrets as to wear you are buying it! Many thanks xxxxx

  17. Nigel

    Ahoj/Hi. I’ve been to Prague with Jet2 for the last 3 years, and will try the new route from EMA next May (unfortunately they changed the time of my return flight, so I miss at least 6 hours in Praha on my last day). All has gone OK, except this year, when there was a 4-hour delay while they got a replacement plane (and then had to re-allocate seats, manually, because it was a bigger aircraft). They did give out vouchers, but at airport prices, it didn’t cover much.. I missed the last bus 119, and got a 100 to the Metro ‘B’ terminus. I’ve never taken a taxi, or even the airport express coach; the public transport is much better than in the UK!

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