Destination: Czech Republic

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Where We’re Eating: New York, Czech Republic

Why should you care? Because we don’t want you to eat badly on the road. Based on recent visits, I heartily recommend:

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Beer in the U.S.

Hhmm…beer. It’s hard to believe now, but in 1873, there were 4,000 breweries in the United States. Brooklyn alone boasted 50. But Prohibition followed by industrialization wiped out nearly all the breweries. And by 1965 there were only a couple megalithic beer factories serving watered-down suds and just one craft beer maker in the country (Anchor Steam). This info comes to us from a recently published New Yorker piece by Burkhard Bilger on Dogfish Brewery.

Coincidentally, Czech beer buff and author of The Good Beer Guide Prague & The Czech Republic, Evan Rail, recently wrote about the numerous (and long-gone) breweries in 19th-century Prague. But let’s not start weeping in our pints of PBR just yet. According to Bilger there are now 1,500 breweries in the United States, and when I checked in with Evan Rail, he had this to say about brewing in the country that consumes more beer per capita than anywhere in the world: “When my book was published, there were about 102 (plus or minus) total breweries in the Czech Republic, counting brewpubs, micros and industrial brewers. Now it’s 122. That’s a gain of just under 20% in 18 months.”

We’ll most certainly toast to that.

Something’s Rotten in the Kingdom of Wallachia

Fictitious Wallachia Kingdom, a popular tourist venture in the Czech Republic’s Wallachia region, is having a bit of a political coup crisis. Turns out the “king”—who happens to be a trained clown—is suing the “foreign minister” for rights to rule the land. The case has made its way into the actual Czech court system. Yes, this is a supremely weird story. But what do I think is the strangest part?

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Affairs to Remember—On-Screen and Off

From "Roman Holiday" to "Before Sunrise," Hollywood has understood the appeal of the overseas fling. Eva Holland explains the staying power of the big screen Euro-romance.

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Should Czech Travelers (and Everyone Else) Leave Their Food at Home?

Nearly 10 percent of Czechs take their summer holidays in Croatia, and most of them fill their cars with groceries from home before they cross the border. So when Croatia banned the import of meat and dairy products last week, self-catering Czech travelers were incensed. But, says Guardian blogger Kevin Rushby, tourists who travel with BYO groceries are missing half the fun.

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Where in the World Are You, Justin Glow?

The subject of our latest nearly up-to-the-minute interview with a traveler somewhere in the world: Justin Glow, the lead blogger at Gadling. His response landed in our inbox this morning.

Where in the world are you?

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Prague Latest Magnet for Misbehaving Brits

Is Eastern Europe under siege by badly behaving Brits? We’ve heard about kilt-wearing, buttocks-baring Scots in Poland and sex tourists in Latvia. Now Prague is attracting attention for out-of-control “stag and hen parties” thrown by UK weekenders. A report released last week by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office says the Czech Republic sees a higher proportion of traveling Brits requiring consular assistance than any other country, citing stag night revellers for much of the mischief.

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Happy Birthday, Prague’s Charles Bridge

Prague’s landmark Charles Bridge, one of Europe’s most arresting sights, turned 650 years old this week. The Prague Post covered the city’s elaborate festivities and recounted a little bridge history: “According to legend, King Charles IV, later to become Holy Roman Emperor, laid the foundation at 5:31 a.m. July 9, 1357, after consulting astrologers to come up with the palindromic time and date sequence of 1357-9-7-531.”  A Charles Bridge webcam shows plenty of people out enjoying the bridge today. I dialed up World Hum contributor David Farley, who lived in Prague for three years and edited Travelers’ Tales Prague and ask him about his memories of the bridge.

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Caught in a Czech Funk

Caught in a Czech Funk Photo courtesy of Czech Tourism.

All David Farley wanted from the tourist information office in the tiny town of Nove Hrady was directions to the train station. Then he asked the young clerk a seemingly innocuous question: Was that funk booming from the speakers?

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Paulina Porizkova: A Model Traveler

paulina porizkova Photo by Ric Ocasek.

Supermodel Paulina Porizkova has written a novel and contributed a story to "Travelers' Tales Prague and the Czech Republic." David Farley sits down with the model-turned-author to talk travel and the writing life.

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ChodovŠ PlanŠ, Czech Republic

Coordinates: 49 50N 12 44E
Annual beer production: 2,378,000 gallons (90,000 hectoliters)
Clever advertisers may have come up with the slogan “Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach” for the Dutch brewer, but it took Czech ingenuity to turn a tagline into reality. Perhaps in an effort to cater to a local population that leads the world in per capita beer consumption, the Chodovar Family Brewery in Western Bohemia recently began offering a unique type of therapy in the form of real beer baths. Bizarre as the notion of soaking in a hot tub of yeast and herbs may sound to some, the owners certainly chose their location well—the geothermal activity beneath this forested region of the country has drawn people to its salubrious spas and mineral springs for centuries.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) is the editor of the Oxford Atlas of the World.

David Farley and Jessie Sholl: A Passion for Prague

They met seven years ago in Prague. Now, they've edited a new Travelers' Tales Prague collection. Jim Benning asks the pair about the city's unique appeal.

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