Friday, August 6, 2010


One of the more charming features of architecture in Russia is that they often have pairs of churches together. As Colin Thubron puts it in his book Among the Russians, – “a long one for winter worship, a tall one for summer”, like these two in Suzdal:

Perhaps it’s because of the climate. Moravia has four definite seasons – a riotous explosion of nature in the spring, a hot summer, a golden autumn, and a cold grey winter that sometimes seems as long as the other three combined – but no way is it as extreme as it gets further east, and so we don’t have anything quite like that here, at least, not in the religious line. But Czechs aren’t exactly big on religion. What they are big on, of course, is beer. Unsurprisingly, then, there are scads of beer gardens, like these at the Red Ox and Crocodile pubs in Olomouc:

And jolly fine places they are too; as ways to entertain yourself on a hot day, there are surely few better ones than assembling a few myrmidons who are capable of good conversation and sitting and refreshing oneself with good Czech beer in a place like this and watching the world go by for a few hours. But something I have noticed in recent years is that we increasingly have what almost amounts to winter and summer pubs. Not that the former cease to function in the summer, but they are complemented by temporary outdoor versions which are not just a bunch of tables but actually have their own bars and staff and, in one or two cases, even a completely separate food menu from the indoor ones, built around grilled stuff and salads. And, for those who, for whatever inexplicable reasons of their own, prefer alternative forms of refreshment to beer there are also outdoor versions of cafes as well (although, of course, you can get beer there - it just isn't at the top of the menu). Here are a couple of them from the main square on Olomouc, the veteran Caesar, which in all frankness, has been rather resting on its laurels and magnificent interior for rather longer than anyone here cares to remember, and Mahler, a nonpareil among cakeshops:

Of course, there are others too, and many people would say far better ones, but then I'd be a fool to tell you where they are, wouldn't I?


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