expats

Amber ‘Ambryzy’ on MCing and childhood

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By Ryan Keating-Lambert

Unbelievably wicked sense of style and an unbeatable wit are things that spring to mind when thinking of Amber, also affectionately known as Ambryzy. She’s at the heart of expat life in Prague and all who know her will surely crack a smile reading this interview, and those who don’t know.. Well, how the hell do you not know her anyway? She’s MCing at ‘FIERCE’ party in Café v Lese this Friday night from 11pm. Be there.

Also, she’s basically from Lake Placid.. Has anyone else seen that giant crocodile movie?

Where are you from originally?

Originally I’m from a small town in the mountains of upstate New York. I grew up on a farm.

What was it like growing up there? What is NY state known for?

Well, growing up in upstate New York you had to make your own fun. I spent a lot of time outside playing pocketbook in the road and I’ve built many forts. I also built a raft once and still enjoy fishing. And just generally growing up on a farm was an amazing life experience. I learned responsibility at a young age and I’ve seen and done things that you’d never imagine. Hahaha. Also barn cats.. lots of barn cats.

I’m not sure what NY state is known for.. maybe high taxes.. ha, but where I’m from it’s known for the Adirondack mountains and Lake Placid is pretty popular as it was the site of the 1980 winter Olympics. I miss the mountains.

What did you want to be as a kid?

When I was 11 I wanted to be a trucker, an Olympic diver and a hairstylist. I actually had it all figured out, that I could drive my mobile hair salon to each of my Olympic events.

What brought you to Prague?

My family hosted a Czech exchange student named Tereza, who became like a sister to me and convinced me to move here ten and a half years ago.

I really dig your postcard tattoo, what’s the significance?

After living in Prague for 7 years I started missing home and the mountains so I actually got a postcard of them tattooed on my leg. It shows Heart lake, McIntyre, Colden and Mt. Marcy of the Adirondack mountains.

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Tell us about your music and MC work..

I got into rapping after hanging around my friend’s studio for years and just being around the music. I was also fortunate enough to collaborate with the Czech artist named Klara and since then different opportunities have opened up to me including MCing the upcoming ‘FIERCE’ vogue party this Friday night.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Either the love child of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey or the little girl who played Annie in the original movie.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

I’ve thought about this and… I’m going to keep it simple and say I wish I could have seen the Notorious Big in concert.

What’s your favorite word in Czech and in English?

Favorite word in English is ‘wonderful’, because it can be used in so many different ways… and in Czech my initial thought was ‘pivo’.. because I love that stuff… so I will go with that.

 

Photos from Amber Sayward

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25-year-old Marek owns a candy store!

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As I sit here typing away yet another successful interview with another of Prague’s inspirational characters, I’m munching away on a bag of ‘Flipz’, small chocolate covered pretzels that create a land where both salt and sugar can exist in harmony – an uncontrollable party for your tastebuds. This is not a food blog, but these things definitely need a mention. I ate the whole bag in one sitting so that’s saying something.

Marek is a 25-year-old entrepreneur that has successfully opened ‘The Candy Store’ – a brightly coloured and eccentrically decorated store that reminds me of that Robin Williams film Toys, not to mention Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The store is exactly how it sounds, filled with sweet sweet candy and chocolate from both the US and UK – every dentist’s nightmare and every child’s dream. Marek has also recently combined forces with ‘Robertsons’ to supply people with quality cuts of meat and other imported products that every expat misses, and every Czech wants to try. Halloween is coming up, get in there and support a young guy making his way with an original idea and fresh attitude to life in general. Marek’s interview is one of remarkable modesty and taste. Read below for what makes this candyman tick.

Are you from Prague?

No, I was actually born in Pardubice, about 70-80 km from Prague, and I lived there until I was about 8 and then we moved to the Netherlands because of my father’s job. I stayed there until I was 16 and then came back here and finished high school.

Where abouts in the Netherlands?

The Hague, by the sea.

Nice.

It sounds really nice when you hear by the sea, but it’s all really grey.

I’ve never actually been to the Netherlands.

It’s an awesome country to visit, but I enjoy the Czech Republic a lot more. It’s a different mentality in Western Europe and in Holland. It’s all very restricted, even in terms of business. I’m not saying it’s all better over here, but at least they are a bit more leniant.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I always really liked sports. My Dad played ice hockey a lot when I was a kid and I actually played tennis professionally until I was about 17, so I always thought I was going to be a tennis player. Around that critical time – 16, 17, 18 you have different interests that start to come up. Those are the most important years. It’s when you need to focus more and I kinda lost my focus. I trained less and it got worse and worse and then there was no point to do it anymore. You need to invest so much money and so much energy into sports. So yeah that’s what I wanted to do, which is really tough on me now because I sit in an office all day (laughs).

And how did you get this idea to open The Candy Store?

When I lived in Holland, I saw a lot of these shops selling British and American stuff. I mean, British stuff was already here because of ‘Robertson’s’, but no American stuff on a bigger scale. There were SOME shops that existed, but not many people knew about them. The shops that tried to do the American thing before, only aimed it at the expats, so we aimed it at the Czech people as well. There is a surprisingly large amount of Czechs that have visited the States or lived there long term. It’s been much easier to get there in the past ten years than it was 20-30 years ago. I started and I thought no one is going to know these products or what this is about, but slowly and surely in the first year we saw that most of our clientele was Czech. I saw it work in Holland, I saw it work in Germany and all these places and I couldn’t see a reason why it wouldn’t work here. Especially with these younger generations who watch American TV and movies and stuff like that. I mean, there is a reference to almost every product in our shop in South Park, like pop-tarts!

I saw them before and something tingled inside me.

Exactly! People see these movies and TV shows and they want to try it out. So we just thought, why not? So we found a little shop and the rent was good so the risk wasn’t that bad… and that’s basically how it all started!

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How old are you?

I’m 25 now.

25? Wow, and what are people’s reactions to being so young and having your own business?

Expats react pretty well. Czechs… it’s a bit tough.

How come?

I don’t know, there’s this perception that you need a certain amount of experience, let’s say 10 years, before you do something like that. I don’t know whether it’s still from communism when no one could start up anything or something like this, I’ve never really thought about it. It’s still much better in the last five years because there are so many more young entrepreneurs that try something new in Prague. But there are still a lot of people that ask you “oh did someone give this to you? Did your father give you this shop?” It’s a bit hard to swallow sometimes, but most of the time people’s reactions are all good. It’s my baby, it’s what I love and I will do anything for it. When people see that you take it seriously, it’s a little better. At the start is was really tough – I was 22 when I started and when someone has a meeting with a 22 year old, they don’t really take it seriously. They just think “oh you want my money to spend on booze”. Overall though, I can’t complain.

Halloween is coming up soon, is that a popular time in the shop?

Halloween is pretty popular, it’s mostly popular with expats. I mean, young people know it but it’s a typical western tradition. Christmas is our main season of the year because people always want that little extra present. Even Easter, any holiday involving chocolate.. Valentines as well. But we don’t just do candy and chocolate anymore, most of the things we sell are little delicacies so we do pretty well all year round.

What typical American candy would you recommend trying?

I think they’re really good with the sweet and salty combinations. You know Reese’s cups, obviously.

YES. I do know them, but I don’t think I could eat more than one…

Yeah, they’re intense! That’s one of our bestsellers. We carry the most known candy, anything you try is going to be different to what you’re used to.

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Do you have a favourite product?

I stay away from most things (laughs). I like Flipz, they’re milk chocolate pretzels, not the big ones but the small ones. I think besides Flipz I love the meat that Robertson’s still supplies us with. The sausages, the steak. I love this stuff. Cheddar as well.

How many places around here sell cheddar? 

Not many places sell the really good stuff, you can get the slices but that’s like gum.

Yeah it looks like plastic.

I live off that stuff now, it’s really good.

The interior is amazing! Was that all you?

Yeah, basically me and my colleague. Once you have really colourful products and walls, it kind of just goes by itself. We never really had any outside help, not even marketing. I like to do this stuff myself.

Have you ever made your own candy?

Not yet, but we’re thinking about it. Hopefully by Christmas we’ll have our own thing.

Have you ever seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Did you think about this when you began?

A lot of people think it’s like that yeah (laughs). I thought the movie with Johnny Depp was a bit freaky, I never really thought of that as a children’s movie. I don’t know, I saw it once or twice but never again, it was quite intense.

How would you describe Prague?

Beautiful, laidback. Full of opportunities, but most of all beautiful.

If you could go back in time, what would you choose to see?

I’d like to go forward in time, not thousands of years but hmmm… I’d be interested to see myself at 80-90, just so I know what to expect. I was talking about this with my friend the other day; things are changing so quickly in the world right now with technology. You never know what’s going to happen in a week or a month or in a year’s time. It’s something that I ponder a lot.

If there was a movie about your life, who would you choose to play you? Obviously not Johnny Depp after what you’ve just told me.

(Laughs) Yes, true. Wow, that’s a good question. I want someone that at least looks a bit skinny (laughs). Oh man.. I’ve always loved Kevin Spacey – that would be an honour if he could play me. If not him then someone who can play a simple role like myself. Nicholas Cage or something like that.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

At home, I really like the peace and quiet. I used to go out a couple of years back a lot. But since I’ve made that jump to 25.. I’m nearly 30!

Well I’m 28, so what does that make me??

(Laughs) I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’ve tried to slow down a bit. I love this area around Náměstí Míru, it really has an atmosphere, it’s alive. There are so many new places around here now.

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Check out the Candy Store’s selection here.

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating-Lambert. Photography by Ryan Keating-Lambert.

 

Sarah on Mozart and her 9/11 experience

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English/American Sarah Coffey recently invited us over for a home cooked meal and to also have a chat about Mozart, books, and a chilling account of 9/11. With two beautiful cats and an old bookshelf full of character and memory, this flat was the instigator for a number of our questions that brought out some fascinating stories about the Drew Barrymore look alike.

Thanks for lunch, Sarah! Firstly, I have to ask you about your surname.. Coffey? Do you pronounce it like the delicious morning beverage?

You do pronounce it the same as coffee, but it’s spelt different, as the guy in The Green Mile said.

Nice! Sarah, how long have you been in Prague now?

3 years.

Ok, and why Prague?

Probably because I’m such a nerd. I came here on holiday once and wanted to come back. I just fell in love with the place, it’s so beautiful. I’m such a history and music freak. It’s a very musical city. So being able to see Don Giovanni in the same theatre where Mozart premièred it in 1787… That was such a big “nerdgasm”. Mozart was very popular in his day in Prague – he said Prague understands him.

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Tell us a bit about your job at the university.

I do a mix of things; I prepare visa paper work for incoming students at NYU (New York University), and I’m also involved with organising trips and cultural events for them.

That sounds really nice. I understand that you’re half English and half American?

My Dad is American, but his Mum was English. I was born in Ipswich, which most people only know because there is a football team there. It was good though, I had fun growing up there.

What do you miss the most about there?

Hmm. It’s kinda funny because I spent time there and also time in the states. I’m not sure where I kinda fit now! Of course I miss my friends, TV shows, food. At the time we moved to the States there was no internet or anything, you had to write actual letters so it was hard to keep in touch. But generally I feel like I don’t really know England any more.

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How long did you live in NYC?

12 years. I worked for a newspaper called the Village voice in East village and before that I worked for a dot com company in 1999. It was a video service, we still had VHS then. You could go on the website and order a movie and it would be delivered by a bike messanger within the hour. There was also a huge porn collection, this was before the free internet porn, not that I know anything about that (laughs).

I bet you had some interesting people calling up….

Yes. There was this one guy who called every Friday and he would say ”just send me two gay porn.” There was 2 hour and 4 hour and he always wanted the 4 hour ones. So I would go and pick the ones with the stupidest titles (laughs). Then he would call back all thetime and ask to speak to me. Apparently he liked what I picked.

You do have a beautiful phone voice.

It’s funny you should say that, because I was offered a job doing phone sex. But I was afraid that I would just start laughing. It was during the boom of the dot coms. It was young and edgy and fun back then.

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Were you in New York for 9/11?

Yes, I was working at the voice then which was a safe distance, but close enough to see everything. I had just gotten to work and a friend sent me a message with the news – I didn’t believe him. We went outside to look and I saw at that point the hole in the north tower, and the smoke pouring out. My first thought was “How are they going to fix that?” We didn’t know that something was happening, we thought it was an accident. I remember thinking that so many people were dead in that moment, so I went in and didn’t want to look any more. We were trapped there, they closed all the tunnels and bridges so we went to the park across the street, smoked cigarettes and drank beer. We didn’t know what else to do. That’s when we started to see this long column of people walking from downtown covered in dust.

That must have been horrible.

It was so so quiet, a very heavy atmosphere. The most painful thing was seeing the home made posters looking for family members and friends, it was strange that they all adopted the same format. They were everywhere, and you would start to see the same faces and names all over the place. It was very hard to face that every day. Thankfully, I didn’t lose any friends in that. Everyone had someone or they knew someone that had died there. The smell was also really bad because of the smoke and maybe some other things. That smell was on me for a long time.

What other things do you do here?

I teach piano to kids and I also sing in some choirs. I was just accepted into a professional choir actually. We’re going to sing at Municipal House soon. I also got to sing Beethoven’s 9th at Rudolfinum a while ago which was great. And in New York, I sang Mozart at Carnegie Hall – another nerdgasm.

When did you discover that you could sing?

That’s a good question because I never really thought that I could. I’ve always been an instrumentalist. Flute, piano and violin. I would sing in my car, you know. But I didn’t discover it until about maybe 5 years ago when I auditioned for a choir in New York and got in.

Do you sing in the shower? And if so, what do you sing?

Of course. Umm, I think it depends on my mood, whatever is stuck in my head. From Dvořák to the Clash, maybe ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys (laughs).

I love your cats. How long have you had them for?

Thank you! I’m a proud cat Mum. Lola is 15 but she was already a year old when I adopted her, and Diablo is 12. I probably pay more attention to them than maybe a normal person might. But what is normal?

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You’ve got a lot of incredible books on that shelf. Which books do you love the most?

Definitely this one by Art Speigelman, ‘In the Shadow of No Towers’, I knew the ‘Maus’ books from when I was younger, and I was lucky enough to meet him and get the book signed. I also love this copy of Dickens’ ‘Our Mutual Friend’, I think it’s from the 1800’s – very old! And I also have some old editions of ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘The Prose of Oscar Wilde’. This one is maybe the most morbid, ‘Pictures of the Ghetto of Warsaw’, they were taken by a German soldier.

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You also have a lot of Titanic stuff!

Yes, since I was a girl. I have several books along with a replica of the menu and china, as well as posters and things like that.

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If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

Hmmm, god this is really hard. So many things. I would like to meet Mozart and definitely see some sort of performance by him, but most of all I would really want to hang out with him. He had a really dirty sense of humour like me. If I ever had that opportunity, I think my head would explode – that’s how much of a nerd I am.

How would you describe Prague in adjectives?

It’s definitely weird, but in a positive way. It’s interesting. I’d say rough, not as in dangerous, but more rough around the edges. It’s really random. It’s like a bizarreness with fun underneath it. For instance I was on a bus one night and there was very thick fog and the driver was watching TV whilst driving – that type of stuff is just really odd.

Would you ever go back to the USA to live again?

No, I don’t think so.

Why not?

I don’t think I’d live there again. I’m more suited to the European lifestyle. It’s more relaxed and the healthcare system is much better.

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Thanks so much for having us today Sarah!

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating. Photography by Petr Kurečka.

Charisse talks art and the “wayback machine”

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Petr and I were blown away when we set foot in Charisse’s studio apartment. It was as if New Orleans’ legend Marie Laveau herself had decorated and imprinted part of her voodoo queen soul on the walls. We were now in Charisse’s world; one dedicated to the mystic, and the sublime. A candle lit art studio that brought some fascinating tales into the light.

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Where are you from originally, Charisse?

I’m originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I went to a regular school and we were some the first kids that went to an all white school. That has really shaped my whole entire life, I think.

Do you miss it back home? What do you miss the most?

No, I don’t miss it (laughs). I do miss my Grandmother and her house though. I don’t miss the city, I never want to move back.

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What do you miss about your grandmother?

I miss her love and her aura – you know that grandmother’s aura.

How did you get to Prague, Charisse?

I flipped a coin. It was a toss-up between here and Seville in Spain.

No way! That’s cool!

It was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done. I was living in Minneapolis and I was thinking, do I actually do this? I went to the window and it was raining, and I thought oh god! There was a double rainbow! The only thing I knew about the Czech Republic at that point was Alfons Mucha…

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What were your first impressions of Prague?

I got into the wayback machine and went back 20 years.

A wayback machine?

The cartoon TV show Rocky and Bullwinkle. Peabody and Sherman had this time travel machine called the wayback machine (laughs).. Lots of parts of Prague remind me of Milwaukee actually, because of the Polish. We have a big Polish community over there too.

Where is your favourite place to hang out in Prague?

It used to be this bar Hush on Lublanska before it closed. Now I like Vzorkovna bar.. I had some of my paintings in a show there too.

If you could describe Prague in adjectives, which would you use?

Random, Grey, lost but found opportunities. It’s very new. Everything is a rebirth. Definitely a renaissance. Freedom.

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Are you religious?

I’m spiritual. I’ve discovered a lot of stuff since I’ve moved to Prague. That’s why I think of it as a rebirth.

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You’re a very talented! You paint and make your own clothes and jewellery too. Anything else?

Anything! I just like to make shit! Whatever I want, I guess. I like to spend my time being creative. Pretty much everything you see in this room has been done.

What inspires you to make these things?

I like different cultures. I like the mystic and I love the sublime. I like the underdogs, the people that nobody seems to like. The person that makes you question yourself, I like that person.

What designs or projects are you most proud of? Anything you can show us?

I’ve done all of these paintings. This is my Mary Magdalene (pictures below on the far left), she is my Mona Lisa and she comes everywhere with me and I WON’T sell her!

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How would you compare Czechs to Americans?

Hmmm. You can pretty much say whatever you want to Czechs, and they will leave you alone and go home and bitch about you there, American’s will do the opposite. The people here are not aggressive at all.

What makes you laugh?

I like dirty humour; stuff that sneaks up on me. Quirky and random things make me laugh, the odd and the mundane.

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If you could go back in time, when would you go?

I’ll be cliché. I would go and stand next to Buddha under the Bohdi tree.

Who has made Prague especially great for you?

My friends definitely. I’ve met the most inspiring people. We’re like honey and flies; we stick to each other. This is what I was looking for in Minneapolis, and it took me years to get it there.

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Do you think you make friends faster when you’re an expat?

That’s when your human instincts kick in. Especially when you travel alone. You’re forced to meet people.

Can you speak Czech?

(Silence) Ambiguity is the best. Wink, wink.

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(Laughs) Very good answer. How multicultural do you think Prague is? The US must be quite different on that level. Do you miss this?

Yes, I do. I miss the diversity. I actually find myself watching a lot of television shows from when I was a kid just so I can see some diversity again (laughs). Otherwise, everybody basically looks the same…

And do you think that Prague will change in the future?

Yeah, dude! Prague is changing a lot already. Look at the fashion for example, 5 years ago it was socks and sandals central, but now everybody has stepped up their game. It is the younger generations that are changing things now.

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Thanks so much for letting us crash your pad, Charisse! We loved every minute of you company.

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating. Photography by Petr Kurečka.

Dawn talks about life on the sea and building a ‘hurdy gurdy’!

Last Friday afternoon, Petr and I spent some time with English expat Dawn, who stole our hearts with adventurous tales and photos of a life on the sea and a very quirky medieval musical instrument that has captured her curiosity recently… Dawn, it was an absolute pleasure.

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What brought you to Prague originally?

Well,  I didn’t want to go to Asia or Western Europe. I’d never been here before and I had some Czech sailing friends too. But the bottom line is, they gave me a job here.

Great, so you used to sail? Tell us about that.

Yes! For 20 plus years… We lived on a boat for 20 years and travelled around the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

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I heard a funny story about a cat on your boat once? Tell us about that.

Yes, well that was in Spain, Cabo de Gata I think. It was a tomcat that we rescued from some other cats. It would sit on my lap on the boat and just knead and claw at my legs. And you know, do cats do that horny thing that dogs do? You know when they hump your leg?

I don’t know actually. I thought they just sprayed everything!

Anyway, it seemed to be humping my lap. That was the impression I got, so I told it to bugger off! And then it spat at me, scratched me and then pissed on my bed! (laughs)

Sounds like he did it on purpose! (laughs) Ok, and who were you travelling with?

My ex and later on the dog too – a Pyrenean sheep dog. Very cute.

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What do you miss most about this kind of life?

Just little things really, I suppose… The community spirit and constantly meeting new people was nice. And little things like rummaging through the bins, doing your dishes over the side of the boat (laughs).

So you teach English in Prague then?

I do and I like it a lot.

What would you say your favourite English word is? You are actually English so I’m curious to know.

Well I know what it is in French, but not in English. And in French it’s ‘ronron’ which is an onomatopoeia for a cat purring. But in English? Hmmm.

I prefer words that are nastier actually.. Like ‘insidious’!

Ohhh yeah, that’s a nice word.

‘Vilify’! (laughs)

How would you describe Prague in adjectives?

Hmmm, ok gothic, magnificent, clean, quite clean, cozy. Ummm, I always think of dogs too (laughs). Dogs in coats during winter.

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So tell us about this interesting little project you’ve got going at the moment. You’re making a ‘hurdy gurdy’?

Yes! I first heard it from the hurdy gurdy man who was a bit of a travelling troubadour. So I went to his website and found that it is actually an old medieval musical instrument. Then I saw some clips on YouTube of all different sorts playing all different sorts of music and then of course I came across Jimmy Page playing one!

Great! And are you a Led Zeppelin fan?

I was yeah, absolutely!

And then I found that people were making them from scratch or making them from a kit. So I bit the bullet and ordered the kit!

Thatll be fun. And what about Summer? You usually go away, but you have stayed once, haven’t you?

Yes, the first year I stayed and worked on a farm in the country, but it was so bloody cold there! I also worked on a pig farm when I finished school years ago. Just for three months, I studied agriculture, you see.

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Wow! A pig farm! Ok, now it’s time for a bit of a random question, Dawn. If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

I would’ve liked to have seen the volcano Mount Pelee erupt. The whole town was destroyed, and only one man survived, and that was a prisoner – poetic justice.

That’s fascinating.

NOT the Titanic though (laughs)

Yes, that’s a common one. What about celebrities or icons from history? Who would you love to meet?

My immediate thought would be someone like Darwin… but I’m not sure how interesting he would actually be. All of his observations and stuff were just so fucking boring! (laughs) Maybe the writer Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins. And maybe for fun, Isadora Duncan. We could dance together! She was an actress/dancer and used to wear this long scarf and she went for a ride on a bucatti and her scarf got caught in the wheel and she died!

That’s a bit of an ironic death!

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And tell me are you going to stay in Prague or will you travel some more?

I don’t think I’ll go back to England. The pension is terrible there. If worst comes to worst – a caravan or a canal boat would be nice for the future.

That sounds like a nice plan, best of luck Dawn! Thank you so much for your time.

Check out incredibly open-minded blog: Random Tales and Stray Thoughts, which also includes a hilarious article on a new ‘female urinary device’. Read more about it here.

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Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating and photos by Petr Kurečka

Expat Lukasz on his love of Prague and bad words in Czech

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Written by Ryan Keating

Polish expat Lukasz and I recently sat down in a typically smoky Czech bar with nothing but quirk and mulled wine to entertain us. The perfect bar atmosphere to engage each other in an endless discussion about everything… and nothing. With a slight Irish twang in his accent, Lukasz’ story is quite an interesting one. Read on to see for yourself.

So! Your surname translates into English as “good”, do people ever make fun of your name?

Not really, because gut is German, and these things are quite normal I guess. But, if I was brought up in an English speaking country, probably they would.

(Laughs) “Lucas Good”, I would probably make fun of you… sorry! This is a German surname, do you have any German ancestors?

Yes, my grandfather is German and I have some family there but I’ve never heard anything from them, just seen some pictures and that’s it. It’s a pity that there was none of the language in the house, my grandfather spoke fluent German, but he never spoke it to my father.

So where are you from in Poland, Lukasz? What was it like growing up there?

Very small town or village kind of close to Krakow, about an hour away. It was nice, huge gardens, a lot of animals around me. We didn’t have a farm, but my grandmother did. So after school, instead of going home, I would usually go to my grandma’s and playing with the animals and then come home at about 9 in the evening, covered in mud (laughs). I would sometimes bring animals home too.

Like what?

Frogs, lizards, some exotic insects, hamsters, parrots. I also had a dog at home and I had some fish too.

You had everything!

I was basically taking anything that I found on the street (laughs)

And how did you get to Prague? How long have you been here for?

Well, I’ve been here for three years. I had actually never been to Prague before I moved here. I had been living in Ireland for a couple of years and I just wanted something, I wanted a change. The opportunity actually came one summer when I had a job offer. I actually had two job offers at the same time. One in Berlin, and one in Prague. And I chose Prague.

That’s great, I think most people choose Berlin.

Yeah well I chose Prague because I had heard a lot of nice things about it. I think it’s a beautiful place, man. I actually came here and knew no one. I went from no one to quite a few great friends, so I’m very happy here now.

Did you find it easy to meet people when you first came here?

For the first few months it was a bit difficult, I came here with, I think the Irish way of meeting people still in my head. You know, when you’re waiting in a queue or something you’re just naturally talking to the people in line, and that doesn’t really happen here. For the first few months, people were looking at me in a funny way (laughs). So that’s when I thought ok.. this isn’t exactly what you’re supposed to do. But then when you meet people and meet people through other people it works very well. This is how I met all of my friends.

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Photo: Lukasz Gut

Great, let’s backtrack a little bit.. Why Ireland? How did you end up there for two years?

Well, I needed a change in my life and Ireland was quite popular at that time. So basically, I gave notice to my boss and in two weeks I was already in Ireland. It was all very quick.

Wow! That was quick.. And you went to Dublin?

It was very quick! Yes I went to Dublin, and I only knew one person there but after some time I made some really cool friends. Friends forever 🙂 Not just Irish people, but other nationalities too.

As I understand it, sometimes there is a bit of a conflict between the Czech Republic and Poland. It’s a common stereotype that Czech people hate you guys! What do you think?

I have never had any trouble living in Prague. We like Czech people. We like the attitude, the beer and we like Prague too. There are a lot of Polish people here in Prague. If you ask anybody back home about the Czech Republic they will say it’s cool and that it’s really nice. I wouldn’t say that the Czechs hate the Polish. I think this negativity is more common in Ireland or the UK.

What are the main difference from the Czech Republic to Poland? What do you miss?

Well I always miss family, but I don’t miss anything else. We are quite similar. The food is pretty much the same as well so I don’t miss that. I also left Poland straight after college so I didn’t have any really strong relationships with my friends. But yeah there is never a time when I’m sitting on my couch and thinking “Oh my god, I really miss this…” That doesn’t really happen.

One thing that’s weird about going back is that everyone speaks your language! And I can hear people talking about me. Always strange after being away for a while.

Great. Now I want to ask you about the language. I know that Czech and Polish are very similar, but there are some words that are the same but have extremely different meanings. Tell us about some of them.

I think there is even a website with a list of them (laughs). The word čerstvé means fresh in Czech, but it means old in Polish.

That would have made an interesting trip to the supermarket.

(Laughs) Well luckily I already knew about that difference when I came. But there are others, for example šukat means to look for in Polish but it means to f@#$ in Czech (laughs). I was at the office once and there were a lot of Czech people there and a Polish friend was here. And I kept saying Magda I was looking for you and everyone thought it was a bit weird. I mean, they know about these differences, but it’s still sounds funny.

If you could describe Prague, how would you do it.

Ok, I need to tell you something…. This isn’t my opinion, but my friend’s. They said that “Prague is like a prostitute, it’s so beautiful on the outside, but underneath it all it’s dirty! And used! Hahahaha. But she said that because she had some issues with the foreign police and visas and everything, she wasn’t from the EU. Sometimes it can be hard. She’s a lovely person though, I miss her a lot.

Yep, I know what she means and a lot of others do too.

But for me, I really like Prague a lot. I do avoid the tourist places and those bars that everybody goes to. But when you know where to go and live, it’s so beautiful. It’s green and has a nice vibe. I also think that Prague is one of the safest cities in Europe. It’s really fun!

For expats and other people who are thinking of living in Prague, what advice would you give them?

Well, there is some advice I can give that is the same for any country that you move to… Understand the culture, it’s the first thing you have to do. After that, everything is going to be ok.

How tall are you?

190cm.

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Photo: Lukasz Gut

This is a stupid question, but a lot of people want to be taller to see the world from a different perspective or to be above people etc. How does it feel to be tall Lukasz?

Well, I’m not that tall. 190 is not that tall. I’ve never thought about that actually (laughs). I actually wouldn’t mind being a little shorter.

Tall people have it so good! Where do you like to chill out in Prague?

Riegrovy sady! I just love it. I live very close so I spend most of summer there.

I like it to. Very nice atmosphere. Who would you say has made Prague really worthwhile for you?

Well I’ve got a couple of Czech friends, American friends, Polish friends. Friends from everywhere really! I have a lot of active friends here which is nice. Whenever I want to grab a bike and go somewhere or go to the gym etc, there is always someone who is up for it.

You’ve travelled quite a bit, tell me about a crazy travelling experience.

Definitely Africa, it was so different. Lots of people are offering you things; hotels, hostels, tourist attraction deals etc. It really opened up my mind. I was sleeping in a tent with animals walking around – right in the middle of the Serengeti. There were a lot of hyenas around, and that was a bit scary.

Great! Thank you for your time Lukasz and enjoy your time in Prague!