Summer holiday (UK)/vacation (US)


Central Europe
Czech Republic

I was nearly finished writing an article entitled "Not on holiday." After lines and lines of experiences of men, women and students doing summer jobs to put food on the table, pay for driving lessons, save for university studies, etc.., I decided not to go ahead with it. I realised that my thoughts were all over: from the economic crises, social evolution to work ethics, and these issues are boring as a summer reading. So, I'm going to talk about my tomorrow's visit to central Europe instead.

From Metz (the capital of Moselle in the north-east of France where I live) to Prague (the capital of the Czech Republic where I'll stay for 4 days) is 7 and a half hours by bus. From Prague to Bratislava (the capital of the Slovak Republic where I’ll be for 4 days), is 3 and a half hours by bus.

The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union (EU) but not of the Euro Zone (thus money exchange will be a bit inconvenient -- about 28 Koruna to 1 Euro); has a population of slightly over 10.5 million; has a multi-party democracy with the Prime Minister as head of its government; and has varied landscapes and temperatures. The warmest month is July and it’s sunny and festive in August.

The Czech Republic depends on Russia (through Ukrainian pipelines) and Norway - to a lesser extent - pipelines through Germany for its gas and energy. I hope that the conflict with Russia and blockage by the EU won't escalate and sabotage my first central European circuit (above all, that this doesn't lead to a bloodshed).

One of my Belgian students said that in the Czech Republic beer is not an alcoholic beverage, and he & his friends go there to party because holiday is much cheaper than in the Euro Zone. Though their national language is Czech, many inhabitants speak English and German.

Slovakia is a member of EU and the Euro Zone; has a population of about 5.5 million; and is headed by a President. It is quite not self-sufficient in energy so imports from its neighbours. The rate of its economic growth is one of the fastest in Europe thus earning a nickname of ‘Tatra Tiger.’ The Slovakians speak Slovak and Hungarian. I have been told that they make delicious potato pancakes; get easily offended and are heavy drinkers. This week, I’ll find out if these stereotypes hold true.

The Czech and Slovak united in 1918; but in the 1980s, they had already been drifting apart; and when state communism crumpled down in the 1990s, they officially separated (known as 'Velvet Divorce' because of the peaceful manner in which this happened). I can't wait to visit these historically- and culturally-mesmerising nations and share my thoughts with you in my next blog.

From Bratislava to Metz is 10 hours by bus; then 30 minutes by train to my city. You probably have a good guess on what I'll do during this long trip home.

(from my website BRolade Societal Blog -


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