Thursday, August 16, 2012

Colour Blocking

Frydek-Mistek, Moravia, Czech Republic

Well Gentle Reader,

It seems that you have found your way to my latest blog – I most heartily welcome you!

A wee introduction is perhaps in order? I am a Finn who has recently relocated to the Czech Republic for work and, on these pages, I shall ruminate on all things Czech and, as the name of the blog implies, report also on my travels in this lovely part of Europe.

My Czech friends complain that Finns consider the Czech Republic to be a part of “Eastern Europe” even though the Czech Republic is on CET (Central European Time) and Finland on EET (Eastern European Time). I believe that what my fellow Finns mean is that the Czech Republic belongs to that group of countries that those from outside those countries refer to (a bit rudely in my opinion) as “former Soviet Block”.

Well yes, the Russians were here and few here liked it (to put it mildly). But nowadays, the Czechs are all about moving forward with economical development and those days are not on their radar at all. The Western eye does see signs of those times here and there of course, in things such as Soviet style apartment blocks. But even those buildings look completely different these days because they are painted in lovely pastel colours instead of all being the same sombre shade of grey.

It also seems that half the people I know are currently renovating their apartment or house (including yours truly). It’s as if there’s a huge backlog (pardon my foul IT language – occupational hazard) of un-renovated apartments and now everybody finally has the means to fix them up. To be honest, our own apartment is in a condition that would be unacceptable in Finland, but then again our standards are unusually high. Compared to most other countries in the world, Finns (and Scandinavians in general) are perfectionists when it comes to housing. But, lucky for me, my hubby is quite good with his hands and so our apartment will be all spic ‘n span in no time….must say I'm really looking forward to it.

I welcomed you to this blog heartily and that choice of wording was quite intentional. If I had to describe the Czech people and lifestyle in one word, that would be it: hearty. They have hearty appetites and enjoy hearty meals consisting of copious quantities of meat, potatoes and dumplings, they drink hearty pints of beer (obviously!), take hearty hikes in the fresh country or mountain air, and have hearty humour, hearty handshakes, smiles, you name it.

There is a positive openness to the Czechs; they have a vigorous energy, a brisk walk. They wake up early, get to the office or factory early and leave early so as to enjoy hearty sporting activity with their friends or to cook hearty meals with their family. They are family-oriented and attached to their places of birth. Their values and hearts are in the right place.

I must confess that I have been living here in Ostrava less than 5 months, so these musings must be taken as first-impressions-only. Yes, I am the new kid on the block (pun most heartily intended). But there is more to come as the months and the years roll by. I mentioned that I came here for work, but I did not come here as an expat with a ridiculously lofty salary and benefit package: I am here on a local contract, so yes, we are here to stay…perhaps not forever (for that’s a mighty long time), but long enough to have plans of buying a house here. Czech language lessons too will soon begin…

Stay tuned.

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