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October 4, 2006


We were to meet Dan and Julie in Brno on our way to Bad Blumau via the
stellar border town of Mikulov (pictured here). Brno is like stepping back in
time to Prague as it was 12 years ago--surly and rundown. Granted, we
didn't see much beyond the train and bus stations, between which lay a
surreal new mall which was globalization incarnate, exhibiting not a trace
of local culture. It really felt like the US, from brands to interior design it
presented a perfect consumer climate. The train station smelled like vomit
and the bus station featured a gloomy Soviet designed canopy covering a

huge expanse--40 bus stops--with not a single skylight. At the ticket counter,
the clerk openly mocked a man who said he'd gotten schedule information
from the internet and wanted a ticket. The clerk refused, saying she didn't
know anything about it--for that he'd have to go to information. There they
don't have computers either, rather read schedules off laminated cards kept
in a tin box. What they don't tell you is the box is for only one of the many bus
companies which serve the station, so there's really no telling anything. Dan
and Julie's connection was late so we got on a bus to Mikulov and saw them
rushing down the sidewalk just as we were pulling out. That was OK, they
caught up with us soon thereafter and we stayed with their friend Jackson who
works for a bike tour company. He showed us around. We ate dinner in a former
synagogue and had drinks with Jackson's friends, an archaeologist and historian
who, like most Czechs (myself included), were quite adept at complaining.