Travel Fuels Life Podcast and Show Notes
Pete Collman | Being an Ex-Pat in the Czech Republic (S2-E4)
What is it like to leave your home country and start a life in a completely new culture? This week, I talk with Pete Collman of the Bohemican Podcast about his decision to move from the United States to live in the Czech Republic. We talk logistics, culture, history, wonderful places to visit, the process of adapting, and language barriers.
- From Washington, DC and Atlanta to the Czech Republic
- How Pete made the decision to move his life
- Accessibility in the United States versus Prague
- The moniker Ex-Pat
- Do you have to re-establish your citizenship? Dual resident.
- Renewing permanent residency
- Planes, trains, boats, ferries, and accessibility
- Establishing yourself. Getting a job, work visas, and work permits
- Prague and the Kafka
- Cost of living in Prague
- How to get acquainted before moving somewhere
- The beauty of Prague and its architecture
- A dish of fried carp - Christmas in Prague
- The unveiling of the Prague Astronomical Clock and the legend
- Underground Prague at Oldtown Square
- The origins of the Bohemican Podcast
- Emil Zátopek story
- Plzen and Liberation Day
- Polish and Czech long memories
- The other languages in the Czech Republic
- The problem of language learning
- Cultural changes from America to Czech Republic
- The beers of the Czech Republic including Budvar (the original Budweiser), Pilsner Urquell, Kozel
- Moravia, castles, the Sedlec Ossuary, and Karlovy Vary
- Šumava National Park, Terezin Concentration Camp
- Estates Theatre in Prague
- What is up with this term Bohemian? Birkenstocks and Phish concerts.
- Bohemican Podcast
- Podcastnik Website
- Past Access YouTube Channel
- Prague Astronomical Clock History (Master Hanus)
- Underground Prague
My Photos Around Czech Republic
More coming Monday night and on Facebook
Karlovy Vary: Mill Collonnade
Sedlec Ossuary: The Bone Church
Hello everybody and welcome to Travel Fuel's Life, the show we share stories, tips, and inspiration to help you live a travel lifestyle. I'm your host, drew Hamish, and have you ever thought about moving from your country of birth somewhere else across the globe and really immersing yourself in that culture? Well, that's something that I've been kind of interested in. The first time I went to Czech Republic, which is actually a country of my family's origin, I fell in love with the place and it did cross my mind a couple of times that wouldn't it be cool to move here and actually really get to know the place. So there's a lot of logistics and things you have to consider if you're going to be taking a big leap in your life like that. And I wanted to talk to somebody who's actually done that. So my guest on the show today is Pete Coleman.
He is the co-host of the Bohen podcast. And for those that don't know a lot about c check history, Bohemia is what that region around Prague was known as before it became Czechoslovakia. And then the Czech Republic. And Pete and his co-host, Travis Doo, go all into Czech history and they talk about Czech culture. And after I did my trip around the country, I actually was talking to my brother about an event that happened while I was there that we'll cover during this episode. And he said, oh, there's a podcast you should listen to cuz he's probably got the answer to the question that you're talking about. And so that's where I learned about Pete and then found out that here's a guy who is from the US who's moved over and become an expat in Prague. So I wanted to have him on the show and have a chance to pick his brain about not only becoming an expat and how he got to this point in his life, but also the experience since he's been there.
And also find out a little bit about the Czech Republic itself. So if you decided that you wanted to travel there, we'll talk about some of the hidden gems that are around and we'll talk some about the culture and we'll learn a little bit of history and maybe a couple of things that you didn't know about a city that everybody seems to have a lot of information on Prague. There's some things that I learned about on his podcast that might be interesting for you to check out next time you head there. So without further ado, let me bring on my guest guest, Pete Coleman. Pete, welcome to the show.
Hi Drew. Thanks for having
Me. Yeah, so you are coming to us from it's nighttime there. It's sunny, the sun is beaming in on me right now, but you are, you're at the end of a work day there in the Czech Republic, aren't you?
Yeah, act actually, it's more into the evening time here and no more sun for sure. It's pretty dark. <laugh>.
I wanna talk to you a bit about being an expat because I haven't really had a chance to have somebody who has moved to a different country than their country of origin and get into the whole conversation that first of all, how you get to that decision and then actually the logistics that you have to go through to make that work. So when did you first have this spark of an idea? First of all, where are you from? You're from the US I'm guessing.
Yeah I don't know if you can really consult with an accent, but <laugh> more Atlantic I guess. I grew up in the Washington DC area. Went to college in West Virginia and also in Michigan, and then lived in Atlanta for about 13 or 14 years before I moved to Czech Republic. One of the reasons that I moved was both my kids are Czech American, so I wanted to be over here their mom's over here. So I wanted to be part of the raising process. And to do that we all needed to be in the same city. So made the big decision. Now for me it's a little bit different because I'm a person living with a disability. I've got a spinal cord injury. So as a wheelchair user, oh my goodness, that's a whole new wrinkle, <laugh>,
To what you think about becoming an expat that you're leaving the safety zone of what many people in the disabled community around the world look at as in the United States as the shining city on the hill when it comes to accessibility. So you know, kind of take a deep breath saying, okay, when am I gonna have to struggle with? But you know can make things work. And Prague is not known to be a very accessible city, but you can make things work for you. And with some adaptive equipment and knowing ways around and definitely driving a car over here is mandatory in a lot of ways. If you're in a wheelchair user, if you're not public, transp transportation is fantastic, but these are all the things you kind of put together when you become an expat. For me, I never really like the moniker of ex-patriot.
I'm an American through and through. There's no <laugh>, no way for me to really hide that in a lot of ways for the good, bad, and the ugly. But there are plenty of people that I work with that are expats and they're fine with that moniker because they felt like they wanted to either leave behind the United States, they're a citizen of the world, whatever that means. <laugh>, there's a lot of different reasons why people come over to Europe or to Asia. And once you get, I would say there's a honeymoon stage of about three years, two or three years <affirmative> and around that, after that point you start getting a little cynical about what you're missing from the states and what bureaucracy you have to deal with in this new country and always feeling like a foreigner. All those things kind of really weigh on your shoulders, but you know, get to the point where you get through that third or fourth year and this becomes home. I'll always have a home in my heart with the United States, but Prague becomes a second home for me for sure.
Yeah. Well how often do you have to come back to the US? Because if you're gonna keep your citizenship I suppose there's a certain amount of trips that you have to make back to either reestablish yourself or how does that work?
Well, I don't think there's a time limit that I know of. It used to be in the past that people would always have one, one passport one citizenship, and now those rules are more relaxed, especially in the United States. You can have a lot of people wind up having dual citizenships in different places. That makes it easier in a lot of ways. I'm a permanent resident through my son who's a citizen of the Czech Republic. He's also an American citizen cause he was born in Atlanta. So as a parent of a EU citizen every 10 years I have to renew my permanent residency. So once it that's up to date, I can pretty much go back and forth whenever I want and it can stay in whatever country as long as I want which is great. <affirmative> I personally try to get back once every two years is what I can afford <laugh>. But to see my family and my friends I find those two year spans are hard to reach sometimes and they're very necessary to get back and reconnect.
Well, I'm sure with accessibility issues as well, flying across the Atlantic is not an easy journey for you to make.
It's not too bad. Once you get the situation with knowing how to travel on a plane as a wheelchair user it becomes normal. I do a YouTube show on wheelchair travel around the world and I usually find trains are the hardest thing for me cause you never know what you're gonna get with those <affirmative>. But boats and fairies can be challenging. Actually, airplanes are probably the less issue that I've got. <laugh> all in their forms of transportation, <laugh>.
Wow. All right. So you said that you also work with some people who are expats. So in their case, how do you start this journey? Do they have to have a job, some kind of employment already or somebody vouch for them if they don't have a family member that's in the country already? Or who is a citizen of the country? Well
I know I of course came over as with a family situation and so it was a little bit different. I would say probably easier in some respects. But if you do get a job over here we'll say that you come over without one, you've got three months, 90 days to get your stuff together to figure out what you wanna do, <affirmative>, hopefully you can line up a couple interviews and then once you get a job you'll be on a work permit. So just like in the States, you, you'll be people that come over to the United States as non-citizens have a work visa, <affirmative>. You'll see that a lot in folks that come from N India or from Asia or even from Europe that fill a lot of the tech sector jobs or some of the medical sector jobs that we have in the United States. There'll be limits that you have as far as all contingencies based on your employment. So that's part of the deal. I think when you come over I, there's that kind of mystique when you talk about Prague with Americans. It comes down to the idea of you're a college student, you want want to backpack across Europe, you go to Prague, you get that Kafka sort of feel. You live on someone's couch for a month or two <laugh> and you run outta beer money and you go home, right? Yeah. <laugh>
A lot of us here that treat a little bit more mature aspect of things, of starting families here or trying to invest in being here long term. And you can do all those things. Some of the things that are in the way would be you know, might as well just forget about buying anything here, especially in the major cities. It is one of the highest costs of purchasing real estate in all of Europe is in Prague and some other big parts of Czech Republic. So renting is the way to go for the rest of your life. And if that's the way you're gonna do it, how it is. If you're gonna be here for several decades, you might wanna look into saving some of your American money. Goes a long way here, <affirmative>. And people do flipping. They buy some apartments if at really high dollar rates, they fix 'em up and then they rent them. So that's one way people kind of make money here. But it is challenging. The Czech Corona is not as strong as a dollar and definitely not as strong as a British pound or the Euro. So things go really quickly when you leave the outside borders of ze public with that kind of money. So you have to adjust. I think that's the key. You adjust your idea to get your money, your mind off of what a dollar amounts to in the United States. And you kind of make those adjustments when you get here.
So how many trips did you take to the Czech Republic before you said, Hey, I want to make this my home?
I had come here quite a bit I would say from 2004 through to about the year that I moved over here in 2011. And I kind of got the lay of the land and I really like the history of Prague and there's a very unique beauty here that I think anybody's been to Prague, they would totally agree with it. <affirmative> in the winter, it's beautiful and the summer is beautiful and the fall is beautiful, the spring, everything is just fits the mood of this town. And if you get more and more comfortable with the situation, you explore the rural areas and the different regions of the Czech Republic of the nation. And for me, when I get a little homesick of from America, I go, Hey, you know what, I'm gonna go down to Shuma, which is the big national forest south of here, about two hours south of here, <affirmative>. And it looks like Virginia and Ohio. I mean it's absolutely beautiful and it really brings back that those feelings about the states and some of our beautiful parks we have back home. But yeah, I would suggest people coming here first before you start making ideas to move over some places. So it was good thing.
Well I was gonna say those red rooftops are the first thing that really draw my eye. I think part of what got me the first time I went to the Czech Republic is that I have seen pictures of Western Europe my whole life almost ad naum you, you're just so used to seeing the type of architecture and just the whole feel of the place. And it really does have a completely different feel to it when you go to the Czech Republic.
It does. Germany is neighbors here Austria's neighbors here, Poland's neighbors here. And those countries do feel very different when you cross the borders in their architecture. Of course, when you get close to the borders themselves you start feeling more of the German architecture you see, or the Austrian architecture near Vienna and maybe the Moravian city of Brunelle. But I think you probably really stands unique. And part of that is Prague was very lucky that only other than having really one or two bombing disasters here during World War ii, it was unscathed, which is very unique for World War II Europe. So what you see here is really a collection of different eras of architecture all living in coexisting with itself. And that's kind of your thing when you come to travel, you wanna get into that kind of history. <affirmative>, boy, you really have a playground here.
Oh yeah, yeah. I just walking across the Charles Bridge and then seeing the architecture on the west side as you're walking down through I don't know what that main drag is through there, but I mean, you start smelling the smells and just getting into that whole mystique of the place.
Christmas time is interesting because if you listen to that bohen podcast, every year we do a Christmas episode that's unique about Christmas and one of those things is the dish of fried carp. That is a tradition here and it's something that's interesting. You can walk downtown and on Christmas Eve and the whole place is just a wash with that fried fish smell, which is a really nice smell by the way. It's a nice smell but everyone's doing it <laugh> nice. So yeah, there's definitely some unique sort of touches that are uniquely Prague, uniquely check, and I don't think if you come here it is definitely gonna make an impact on you.
So having some heritage myself, I mean that gives me kind of a connection and makes me want to go there. And the astronomical clock is actually in our family history. My dad did some research on it and found that he could never pinpoint whether our family member helped design the clock or if he was just somebody who helped build the city hall that the clock was in. But our names actually associated with the astronomical clock. So that was something I really wanted to see. And I've been to Prague twice and the first time I went it wasn't under construction. The second time I went, it was all covered up. So I was really happy that I saw it the first time. Is it still covered or have they finish working?
No, I was just gonna say this fall they, or middle of the summer, they finished that completion. So it's bright and shiny, <laugh> nice and great for photographs already. And that's what, 2019? 2020.
Well the other thing that I, I've gone twice to see and I have yet to get in there is the museum. Is that open up?
Oh yeah, sure. And by the way, it's wheelchair accessible except for one step to get in. Oh, nice. You'd need some assistance to get in from the curb to get into that but they have an elevator, two lifts and another elevator. And you can go to the very top overlook on top of the tower there. But yeah, a little bit of history with that. Cause you brought this up and I think that's a great family history story. <affirmative> most likely the legend is that the original clock maker who made the clock was considered to be a liability by the town burgers, the ones that ran the town. So they had his eyes gouged out with a hot poker that that's the legend. But his son helped him take out one part of the clock that so it wouldn't work <laugh>. And the reason why they wanted his eyes gouged out was because they didn't want other cities in central Europe to buy his services to build a similar clock other places because this was gonna be something amazing for people to come to prom to see. And he took out that part and for about I believe 60 or 70 years, if not more, they couldn't get it to work
So maybe your ancestor was the guy that was trying to figure out how to put it back together.
<laugh>, that could be. We have to dig a little bit more into that. But yeah, it's listening to your podcast, I did not have a chance to go to Underground Prague, and I bet you that most people don't even know that that exists, that underneath that town square, there's a whole underworld. There
It is. And it's got many different sort of eras that it represents. And for one it was used in, I would say post Teenth century or so that I could know that there's some parts that were used. There were torture chambers there. The Battle of Bela Horror in 1620 was basically the benchmark of Catholicism that was going to beat out independent Protestant, Protestant folks and really started the hundred Years War. Now why I'm bringing that up is because the 27 Noblemen that financed that revolution that lost were all under the ground in Old Town Square and these torture chambers, imprisoned and tortured, but not to death yet because they all had to have a show trial in 1621 in the summer of 1621 to be executed in front of thousands to show that that's what you don't do against power. So those torture chambers were real <affirmative>. And if you fast forward into the Communist times in the 1950s a lot of those tunnels were all filled with trash or they were all kind of boarded up or bricked up because people that were against the communists were kind of using them to get around town to cause issues or have underground movement. So there's a lot of political stuff that still goes on with those tunnels, but they do exist and those tours are still given. So I would be, I'll put that on top of your list next time you're
Here. Oh, absolutely. So now that you've, I mean you've been doing the Behen podcast for quite some time now. Did you know about underground Prague before you started researching for the show? Or did the show lead you to start hunting these things down?
Well, I would say yes and no to a lot of the things that we would have to the course of our podcast. When I first started visiting here, I was just really drawn a moth to a flame, all these great legends and history and I was just fascinated by learning something. Every trip I came every few years to come to Prague. And then when I moved here I had that kind of base knowledge and that's what I was like, what can I do with this? So I met a coworker that wanted to start a podcast and we both put our heads together to come up with the Bohen Show <affirmative>. And I think that it's, answer your question, it fed on itself. So I'm always learning new things about being here and people one of the shows I'm working on for 2020 is working with some of the who's who of Czech culture.
And there's, well, there's just so many great historical figures that we haven't touched on the show in our 90 or so plus episodes. Emil Zeto is the person we're gonna do a show on next if you're not familiar, was one of the best cross country runners in Olympic history as a check <affirmative>. And his story is just amazing. I don't wanna give away too much of it, but he wound up being a part of the Prague Spring in 1968 and he paid the price for speaking out against the communist regime as an Olympic star. He was stripped of his military honors or at rank and became a Trashman basically under the new regime but still was revered for his courage and against the communists his quiet courage there and also his determination during the Olympics. So there are a lot of stories like that and I think the show allows me to go out and start digging deeper for people that are listening to the program.
So one of the fun stories I had my last trip to Czech Republic, I decided that I was gonna run a car and I was going to drive around the country as much as I could in four days, which really didn't give me much time. So I just really hit the highlights that I could find. But something happened to me that I think you'll find interesting because I actually listened to an episode of your show that helped me understand a little bit more of the history behind something that I just bumped into, which was, it was the end of May and I left Prague and I headed over to Carlo very. And then the next day I drove down to Pilsen, which people recognized that name because of pilsner beer. And sure, that's all I really kind of knew about the area. And when I got to my hotel, I was right on the outskirts of town within walking distance.
And as soon as I started talking, they said, oh, are you here for the festival? And I said, festival, what festival are you talking about? Oh, well there's a festival downtown you should go. I said, okay. So I go walking down the street and I start hearing jazz music playing and I'm like, okay, this is different. And then I start seeing red, white, and blue flags all over the place. And they're not the Czech red, white and blue, but they're American stars and stripes. And then I see Jeeps in the street and they're like World War II Jeeps. And I see all of these people dressed up in military, American military uniforms and they're all check. And I'm like, what is going on here? I look over to the stage in the main square and there's a stage that says, and I mean I don't speak check, but I could tell that it said liberation day up at the top of the That's right, <laugh>. And I said, well this is very interesting, I need to find out more about that. And it was my brother actually that listens to your show said what? You need to listen to this episode cuz it's gonna explain all about the history behind that. So it's a great story. So especially for an American traveler, can you relay some of that background?
Oh yeah. Well you lucked out because hitting that right on the time and you could walk down there I've never how it is when you leave your home you have sometimes a greater appreciation of course of other cultures and other places around the world. But you also have I think a deeper understanding of where you come from and your history. And when you go to Pils and for Liberation Day in May to remember and have remembrance of the American army, Patton's army coming in to rid the area of the Nazis <affirmative>. And I tell you <laugh>, it was to see, like you said, all these Czech reenactors dressed to the nines when it comes to the exact bootstraps, the 1944 patches on their sleeves and the type of Jeeps and armored vehicles that they have all authentic, they spend a lot of money on this and this, that's their hobby and they stay in character the whole weekend. And it really is interesting. They fly in these, while they were oxygen areas and now they're in their nineties, mid nineties or so, if there's any left former Americans and forces from Belgium, they help liberate the town <affirmative> and they're rock stars, which is really, really interesting. These guys are just treated like royalty and they never have to buy a beer <laugh>. So
<laugh> great. Yeah, for me it was like there's only two places I've been outside the United States where I felt like I was at home and PSN and the Czech Republic is one of the only one that has a foreign language where I could still feel like I was at home. It was surreal to be there and be seeing this after we hear a lot of press about how the world doesn't like Americans and so on and so forth. And then to see something like that it's encouraging and it really is a unique kind of a feeling.
Well the checks have a long memory the polls have a long memory of the two people, peoples here in Europe and central Europe. Those folks have this great strong connections with Americans. The polls definitely. And definitely the checks the Czech Republic was put together because of President Wilson. I drive down to work near Wilson Nova, which is the name of the road for President Wilson. He helped with Tgm er, the president of Czechoslovak, his wife was American. So there's those connections of the creation of the state that go back. But as far as World War ii, if we all remember our textbooks, <laugh> the Americans got as far as P in and liberated all these western parts of Emia. And Patton was begging Eisenhower, okay, we'll be in Prague by tonight. And Eisenhower said, Nope, we just got a film with Stalin, you're not going anywhere. <laugh>.
And he was ticked and Prague had to wait a couple more days and the Soviet army came in to liberate Prague and there goes the Iron curtain. So pills and what's great about, we put it in the show talking to all these checks that just remember what it meant because under communism until 1989, they weren't taught that they were liberated by the Americans. Isn't that crazy? Yeah. I mean it wasn't part of their discussion. So since 1990 or 1991, they've held this parade every year for the whole weekend and they never wanna let it go. That comes with flyovers, they have jets that fly over from the local air check force base. You're talking thousands of spectators that flock to this area. So you're right, it really is a nice sort of shot in the arms thinking that there's a big thankfulness that's still there.
Something else I found curious was when I hitched a ride with the it was nice, I was staying at an Airbnb in Prague and the guy who ran the Airbnb, so I'll just pick you up at the train station and bring you over. So we had a nice little conversation on the way over and he originally was from Carlo V very and he, as we were chatting back and forth, I was talking about using English and what languages people spoke in Czech Republic because it's in a very unique spot where it has its own language, it has Russia on one side, it has Germany so close and Austria and then English on top of that. And he brought up an interesting point that there's like a dividing line where those that are of a certain age were brought up under Russian rule. And so you will utilize Russian as a second language, but then the younger ones tend to be leaning a little bit more towards English. Is that what you're finding there?
I would say yes to a lot of that. If you're talking to somebody that was definitely educated before 1989 they were not really necessarily taught English. They were taught Russian with their Czech, the Czech sort of revival of the 1890s, 19 hundreds moved people away from only speaking Czech in the rural areas that the grandmother spoke back then and the 19th century to more of a modern thing in combination with the Germans. Cause you have to understand this country's been taken over by so many people for so long <laugh>, the Hungarians and the Hapsburgs spoke German <affirmative> then they had this little bit of time where they could speak check. And then Germany again kind of flus their muscles, new German state through both world wars. And then before you know it you got the Russians coming in. So unlike when you go to Sweden where they speak perfect English <laugh>, right the Czechs in major cities, they do start to really do pretty decent in the English language.
But I would say that the closer you get to Germany, you have more of a German understanding closer to Poland, definitely you'll be able to speak a little bit of Polish for instance. You might be able to say Den is good afternoon in check, but in Polish it dbe. So it's a little bit of a difference there. But I think checks and polls can actually understand each other without too much of a hardship <affirmative>. But as speak as an ex pat, as an ex pat, it does help to know definitely some greetings. And unfortunately, as I mentioned on my show, <laugh> been the biggest problem for me. I think I'm gonna blame age to that in my mid forties that teach an old dog new tricks. It's really hard. Both my kids are bilingual. They speak and write check and English and that's great. So I do take my son around quite a bit with me as my translator when I need it. <laugh>
<laugh>. So can you order coffee and you're doing the basic stuff or can you have very simple conversations at this point?
Once I get into the simple conversations, things go haywire pretty quick. Okay. So
And Prague speak English. English is still very quite, it's usable in a lot of places, especially hospitality industries or restaurants. But once you get outside of Prague, then you gotta kind of start working a little harder. It could be a more challenging, but that's the hard part about being the top of the show. We mentioned that it sometimes it's tough when you live someplace and you feel like a foreigner. But I gotta tell you, it gives you a whole new appreciation for people that come to the United States from other parts of the world that their transition to become an American it gives you appreciation for what they have to deal with. Absolutely. And it gives you appreciation for a lot of us that have ancestors that came over and what they had to deal with. It might be a generation or so before someone is, they feel completely Americanized if you will. But I do have that appreciation now because it can be a rough road to hoe for sure.
So culturally, were there any things that took some time to get yourself adjusted to from the way you were living as an American?
Yes and no. I think when I moved here in 2011, things became very Americanized in here in a lot of ways. Or if you're from Great Britain, there's a lot of Brits here too, and Canadians the shopping malls here for the most part are just as modern and amazing as they would be in the United States. There's several IMAX movie theaters here and Burger King and Pizza Hut and <laugh>, right? If you want some really high expensive for check currency junk food from America, you can go find it. I do miss root beer. I won't lie to you <laugh>, but the real beer here is fantastic. So I've become a beer snob living over here for sure.
Okay, so you drink Budweiser, I'm guessing.
I would never say that out loud here. I would say probably check Budvar. Okay. Which is the original Budweiser. Yes, bud. Little town south of here. They have a nice little trademark war between Budweiser and St. Louis. Yeah, kinda
Interesting. That was my first shock. I was actually in Austria and I was eating in a German restaurant and they had the little coasters that said Budweiser, but it was in a different script. And I was like, what is the deal with this? And that's when I learned that it was a check bear. And I gotta tell you, it took me seeing that logo about six times before I finally said, okay, let me try it <laugh>. Cause the leftovers from thinking about what American Budweiser is just is enough to keep me from wanting to try it. But
Well there's, so there's many great beers here. There's a couple good ones here in Prague. Of course of course. When you were in Pilsen the main headquarters for Pilsner Quill, right? Is
Right. That was one of the first pilsners in Europe. So that's delicious. And it's probably known in the United States quite well. There's one here in Prague called Kozel, which is a name for a goat <laugh>. And that's one of my favorite ones like
That one. That's good to know cuz that that's the one I fell in love with. In fact, while I was in Pils and maybe I was being a rebel and bucking the trend but backwards, I had the causal dark beer there while I was there cuz I'm a fan of stouts and porters. So that was a good one.
Yeah, that's great <laugh>.
So let's talk a little bit more about some of the outside territories around Prague, because I know a lot of people know about Prague and I had a lot of fun driving around the countryside and seeing some of the different areas. What would you say are some hidden gems around the country that really should get more attention than they do?
Well Moravia, which is if you're driving from Prague, you're going caddy corner Southeast as you're heading towards Vienna. That area there is called Moravia and it is absolutely beautiful. It's more, a little more mountainous. The towns there are very, very bucolic and beautiful. There's so many great castle that that's one thing in this entire country. This is a country of castles. There are ruins, there are castles that are still up to date and pretty well known that go back to the 11th century. I mean, it's just so many cool things to see here. And as a wheelchair guy, I have made it my point of honor to, no matter where the castle is, if it's on top of a giant hill, <laugh>, get as close as I can to it to take photographs. Nice. And I try to see new castles every summer weekend I try to drive someplace. But there are wonderful little towns. I think you said, did you go to Kona Horror?
I did, yes. And I went to the
Bone Church, the
Ossuary? Yes. Yep. I went to the Ossuary. I was trying to think what the, cuz it's just outside of Pit.
Yeah, it's in Sich. Yeah, sich. It's it's just maybe about a mile or two outside of the town of Ku Noor. It's, it is basically an old silver mining town, <affirmative>. So it goes back to the Middle Ages. And so these guys would be mining into the ground and that became a very wealthy area. And the bone church that you described is a church that in the basement basically of it is all these stacks of skeletons of femurs and skulls and those type of things set up in chandelier. It seems a little morbid, but <laugh>, if you
Get the, it's
Very cool. We're dying. Yeah, it is kind of cool though. There wasn't enough room to bury everybody and especially if they died by plague, which there were plenty of plagues in Czech Republic. I think the latest one was in the 17, 1790s. And they would clean the bones and then they would stack them up and pyramids or chandeliers or those type of things. So if you get a chance, you could definitely go see that. That's very interesting but interesting.
Well, I was gonna say, what's interesting is that before we started recording the show, I told you that I have Czech heritage and the town that my family comes from, ses, Scalise, if I'm pronouncing that correctly, is the same town that the guy who arranged those bones came from, because his name is No kidding. Yeah. His name and the town's from are both inscribed in the wall.
Wow, okay. Yeah. So the nice connection with that. Yeah, yeah, that's
Great. Absolutely. Yeah,
There's so many Greek places you know, mentioned, call it a very the spa town that west of here in Prague we've talked about. Shuma is absolutely beautiful. What's really cool about Shuma is that it's a national forest. Alright, now you're thinking, okay, what's a big deal about a national forest? Well, when the Soviets came in here and they put in the government it depends on who you wanna talk to. <laugh>, it really was a kuda. It really was a cutta <affirmative> in 1948. They messed with the election, they got communist in here and they didn't leave. So once that happened they closed off that whole southwest part of the entire country, closed it off completely. Wow. Nobody could live in it, nobody could visit it. It was a buffer zone between a freer Austria and that part of West Germany. So it was untouched and nature just kind of grew and it was absolutely, it's beautiful. So today it's protected very well and it's gorgeous because there's not much development down there in part as thanks to the communist era. That might be the only <laugh>. They only tip the hat we get to the communist here. But yeah, there you go.
<laugh>. I was gonna say there's some pretty cool spots too that I drove through. I went up to Dresden and I went to the Terran concentration camp, which was you talk about spooky and spine chilling at the same time. Went up to Dresden and then drove to along the El River, back into the Czech Republic. And there's just some beautiful areas up there as well.
There really are. You mentioned Terran. Terran is, what's unique about terrorism is that it was a fortified town during the era of Marie Therea the very famous Austrian empress. And it was these kind of like 17 hundreds, 18 hundreds star fors that you might see in the part of the east coast in the United States. <affirmative> and within the fort was a town and this town became a fortified prison area when the Nazis came in and they would take the Jewish population that would be the artists, the musicians, the playwrights the folks that made big names for themselves. And they would put them in there and let them kind of flourish, but within these walls <affirmative> for a little bit. And then things got bad. Then it became more of a, not the concentration camps you would see in Auschwitz or in Mount Hn, but it would be a debar demarcation point for people to leave to for those places. And the death of disease and everything inside those walls were pretty horrible. So with the good, you'll have the ugly. And I think that's also true with the city of Prague. There are so many really bad times here in the city, really blood ridden times that were tough throughout its entire history. But you'll also have some amazing art that's been created or inspired here and some great lit literature and wonderful people that came from this area. So you have a little bit of both.
Yeah, I think is it the estate theater? I believe that's the name of it, is where Mozart had actually first performed his Don Giovanni and they said he was so in love with the city of Prague because it was so musical that everybody in the country could play music and appreciate it.
It's that beautiful line green building in Old Town that if you remember walking by it where Don Giovanni was first opened up. And he absolutely loved I people every city claims to have him here mean Vienna loves him and of course but Barong was one of his favorite towns. And the music here is amazing. There's always something going on in this town when it comes to culture and music here. And you'll see that during the holiday season. You'll see it in the middle of the summer and the conservatories just, they crank out so many wonderful artists and musicians. So when you do get a ticket to the Prague Symphony or to see the Phil Harmonic, you're really gonna be in for a really good show.
So I love throwing a little curve ball at people sometimes when I interview them. So let's get into this for just a moment, Bohemian, but people will say, so what's your origin? And my dad did, so many has gone back so many generations that it's like, well where's the stopping point? Where do we want to say, how many generations back would I consider to be my lineage? So I like to tell people that I'm bohemian, but Bohemia actually has a different connotation in today's society. Have you figured out how it got associated with shoeless artists?
Yeah, well what what's interesting is it's a slight connection to that when we talk about Boim, which is the French version of the avan garde artistry of I believe the 1890s. 1890s. That would be the areas that you would see people kind of doing their own thing with pushing against the establishment. So when we say that La Boim or saying that you're Bohemian meant that you're today, we say, oh, Birkenstock and going to a lot of fish concerts maybe, I dunno,
Along those lines. So for our younger audience, maybe they get that, I don't get it. Yeah. But far as Bohemian is concerned, there really is no strong correlation, just guessing at this point where the original transitioned from the nation state of Bohemia of Czechia how that would be equated to this movement. And I just think someone probably looked at Bohemians as possibly not falling into the category of falling into line or being outside of the influence of the inner circle. So that might be the reason <laugh>, there might be other people that probably could tell you more to that show, but it is confusing when you say the word bohemian, what does that mean?
<laugh>. Right, exactly. Exactly. Well good. Well you handled that one. I didn't know whether you've ever covered that on your show yet or not. There's a subject for down the road, if not <laugh>. Tell us a little bit, cuz you've given us a lot of history and I know that's probably perked up the ears of some listeners here who not only love travel, but who love to learn about history and listen to podcasts about history. Tell us a little bit about Behen and some of the other podcasts that you're involved in and how people can hear those.
Well sure. Our umbrella LLC or business is called podcast Nick. Think of Sputnik if you will. And within that we have about nine to 10 shows that we do. And my business partner Travis Dow who's now in Oregon, he's been back and forth. He grew up in Munich but he is American and speaks German and English of course. And so half of his shows are in German about the American experience, which is great. Reaching a whole new level of listener. <affirmative> co-host, a show called Alchemy and a history of alchemy. And Prague was one of the front runners of that science, if you wanna call it maybe a pseudoscience to later, the foundations of the science of our chemical viewpoints, <affirmative>, and then of course Bohen. And we've been doing that for a better part of a decade. So if you go to bohen.com or you go to your podcast or your iTunes you can find it.
We also have a YouTube channel connected to that. And the Boim can show kind of deals a lot with the culture that I find interesting the history, the people, the culture, the traditions you name it. Anything that's check related to the experience I have as an American expat, we're gonna kind of cover it. <affirmative>, the newest endeavor that we're doing right now, which is taking all my time <laugh> way from the Bohemian is this show called Past Access. And boy if I could put a plug out for that <affirmative> it's a video, it's a YouTube show. They're about 30 minutes documentaries some are shorter, but it's about me traveling around Europe in a wheelchair to historic locations and such a show's about travel. This is great for people that are disabled that they can go out and still live life and experience going up to the Eiffel Tower. I'll show you how to do it. If you wanna go to the Sac Laco I'll tell you what entrance to go to that the top of the hill in Paris, you'll be fine. How to take a evaporate in Venice without falling into the canal. I'll tell you how to do it <laugh>.
Pretty interesting. We finished our first season and we had about five cities that we did. And I'm currently finishing our World War. I look back on the first great war and I had been traveling around since 2014, 2018 doing this story. So now it's taking me a year to basically get it all together. So yeah, hopefully people like that that's on our YouTube channel.
Excellent. Well I'll put all of the links to all of this on our show notes page for your episode here and we'll take care of that. And also, do you have time for social media with all these podcasts you're putting out <laugh>?
Yeah. The funny part about this is that when we say things like my staff at podcast Nick or Past Access or the staff is usually one or two people. And that's me included at Half <laugh>. Yeah, yeah.
My Twitter guy on my own.
<laugh>, you do it when you can. Right?
Do it when you can. I have a full-time job. I got kids. There's a lot of things going on. So tonight I'll be doing editing till about midnight or so. Nice. And I'll go home to bed, start all over again the next table. That's how you do it.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well Jaque,
Oh, very good Don.
It took me two trips to Prague before I finally could remember that. And it was while I was in France that I was thinking it was popping into my head. And I'm like, not now dummy. You should have had that a week ago, <laugh>.
I know you missed it.
Yeah. Well it's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show, Pete, thank you so much for your time,
Drew, thanks so much. And I wish all the best with your podcast endeavors and I hope we can talk again soon.
Same here. Thank you by the way, Jaque means thank you. And that's what I said to Pete there at the end of the episode. I didn't really explain that to you. He got it, but I know not everybody knows check. It was kind of nice to hear him say that he struggles with language cuz I've been trying to learn French since I was in high school and every time I go to France or Quebec it's like I gotta relearn it all over again. And it was really tough going to the Czech Republic and trying to remember their words because even the simple phrases that they don't relate to any other language. So it's just very unique and kind of hard to hang onto cuz I, I'm also very visual and they aren't really spelled the way that they sound. And so that's a little extra challenge.
So it was kind of nice knowing that I'm not the only one that struggles with that. If you go out to the show notes page of this episode, it is season two, episode four. I'm gonna post some pictures out there, some from my trip around the Czech Republic, some areas I think that are wonderful to go visit. And so check those out. I'll have a picture of the ossuary that we were talking about there, the Bone Church. And also I have a link because I did a little searching, I didn't wanna overly commit my family's history and its connection to the astronomical clock, but I have a link there that relates to master. Hes, I guess is how it would be pronounced, which is a name very similar in spelling to ours. And our research shows Lineage in the Czech Republic, but we do not have a drawn out genealogical line to that specific person who designed that clock. But it's an interesting story. So I put a link to it out there on Travel Fuel's Life on the show notes page. So check that out, you can learn a little bit about the history of that clock as well. So I hope you enjoyed the show and until next time, safe travels and thanks for listening. Travel Fuels Life.