Compact archive August 7, 2006

Petrin sights suffer because of the repairs of the funicular

Tourists visiting Prague during the current season could not enjoy the funicular ride to the Petrin Hill. The funicular railway is namely under repair as you could have read before. Despite the alternative ways of getting on top of the Petrin Hill and enjoying not only the view from the tower but also the nice park and the mirror maze, all of the attraction suffer from less interest than during the same period of the last year. The lacking funicular’s services are certainly the culprit.

Prague Information Service predicted losses up to three million crowns and sadly their estimates seem to prove right. Petrin observatory tower earned 1.3 million less than during the last summer and the number for the maze is currently at eight hundred thousand. The expected loss is also believed to rise by a further million during this month.

One of the ways to change this are the longer opening hours of the observatory tower. Till September the attraction will be opened daily until ten o’clock in the evening so that the visitors can enjoy seeing Prague being romantically lit-up by the many historical lanterns.

Czech state still fights for St Vitus Cathedral

Despite the decision of the municipal court in Prague, which decided that the cathedral belongs to the Church, the state still refuses to accept the verdict and plans an appeal to the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic.

According to the municipal court the jewel of Prague Castle was never properly transferred into the state ownership, which should have reportedly been attempted in the fifties. The cathedral thus according to the decision never stopped belonging to the Church.

The dispute lasts already more than ten years. The state is determined to address the Supreme Court since it believes the municipal court should not have dealt with Church’s legal charge in the first place because of the distinction between the executive power and the judiciary. The appeal to the Supreme Court is the last chance to change the current decision. No matter how the dispute ends, the cathedral should still remain open for the visitors.

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Boeing 747-400 Jumbo in Prague

Boeing 747-400 Jumbo plane could be seen landing on this Friday and Saturday in Prague Ruzyne airport. These planes could only hardly be overlooked since their capacity allowed them to bring four hundred passengers from Japan in one go.

This summer thus picks up again the tradition from the last year when the Jumbo appeared for the first time. Then, dozens of people climbed on top of the parking building nearby to have a look at the giant plane. This year there is still a chance to see it since two more charter flights are to land in Prague on the 18th and 19th August.

The Czech metropolis is pleased that Japan Airlines chose Prague as a destination for their long-distance flights. This type of flight namely contributes to the development of the airport. The charter flights can later on be substituted by a regular connection. There is a reason why Prague could become a more frequent destination of the giant planes in the future – the charges for their landing should namely be reduced.

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The XXVIth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Prague

Next Monday is the starting day of the 26th General Assembly of the IAU that will last till the 25th August. The IAU was founded in 1919 and Czechoslovakia entered three years later on. The conference returns to Prague after 39 years and the Czech metropolis is only one of the three cities (with Rome and Sydney) to host the astronomers twice.

The event takes place in the Congress Centre where around three thousand astronomers will meet to discuss the important discoveries of the last three years in their field as well as to deepen the international cooperation. The event will be ceremonially opened by the President of the Czech Republic Mr Klaus and Prague Mayor Mr Bem.

There will be a special newspaper issued every day of the assembly and the scientists can also look forward to having a very interesting programme including trips around the special places of interest related to astronomy. One of the evenings should also be devoted to a special dinner in the Industrial Palace of Prague Exhibition Grounds which should be in a style of the thirties.

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Five medals for the Czechs from the World Championships

Czech canoeists and kayakers managed to win five medals this weekend during the finals of the World Championships in Troja. They thus got the same number of medals as three years ago and confirmed that the Czech Republic belongs to the world top in this sport. The total number of medals won by the Czechs was exceeded only by the French.

The medals include two gold ones for Volf and Stepanek who were a great hope mainly after their perfect qualification. Their time was more than 2 seconds better than that of the German runners-up Becker and Henze. The bronze medal went to the Olympic winners Hochschorners from Slovakia. Stepanek and Volf have already bronze from the Olympic games, silver from the World Championships and they also won gold medals from European Championships. Being best in the world and getting the medals at home thus perfectly completes their impressive collection.

Volf and Stepanek praised the support from the watchers. On the other hand, Stepanka Hilgertova, who was laid the greatest hopes on, ended up on the fifth place. She was really disappointed and complained that she could not properly concentrate. The gold went to Jana Dukatova from Slovakia who deserved the victory given her perfect skills.

Canoeist Jezek ended up as third and won deservedly the bronze medal. This was seen as a remarkable achievement given he was starting in the finals from the sixth position. Jezek also admitted he doubted his chances to win a medal. His best placing before this weekend was the tenth place from the same competition last year. His celebrations were mixed with lots of work such as repairs of the wireless network. Jezek namely also actively helped with the organization of the championships – concretely with the IT.

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Modernization of Prague underground railway delayed

Prague tube could be moving with no drivers at all but the steps towards a more modern and safe subway are delayed by a law case.

Lines A and C do not already need any drivers. Both lines use namely modern protective equipment that is placed both on the routes as well as in the trains themselves. This safety mechanism automatically controls the driver and makes sure no mistakes are made. For example, should the speed be too high, the safety equipment can recognize it and automatically lower the speed or even to stop the train completely.

The very modern M1 trains have been providing the service for the passengers of line C since the year 1998. Tube line A has now reached the end of the trial period for the safety mechanism using the reconstructed Russian 81-71M trains.

On the other hand, the yellow B line cannot look forward to receiving the mechanism soon. There is a law case between two participants of the selection procedure for the modernization. The unsuccessful applicant took his case to the Office for the Protection of Competition. This part of Prague tube will therefore be modernized later than was expected. In other words there will be less comfort for the drivers as well as a waste of energy. Nevertheless, the passengers do not need to have any worries about their safety, which is sufficiently safeguarded.

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Mozart in front of the Estates Theatre

“Vienna Mozart Music Film Festival in Central Europe” is organised to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of the legendary music genius. From the 5th till the 19th August there will be a film-music performance shown on an open-air screen (six by eight metres) in front of the Estates Theatre every evening.

The programme includes recordings of the best performances and concerts as well as choreography accompanying Mozart’s music. For example, there is a chance to see a concert interwoven with more genres such as rock and jazz tonight. There is no entrance fee and the organisers prepared seating for 320 people as well as stalls with refreshments. The popularity of this film-music festival was proven during the weekend when more than a half of the prepared seats were taken despite the rainy weather.

The location of the festival is also very important. The screen can be found in front of the Estates Theatre where Mozart conducted his famous opera Don Giovanni. The musician loved Prague which is clear from his famous quote “My Praguers understand me”. The festival, aiming to introduce Mozart’s music, will also take place in Vienna, Bratislava and other cities but programme in Prague will be the longest one.

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New record in crossing La Manche for Yvetta Hlavacova

The famous Czech swimmer became the fastest woman to swim across the channel separating the French coast from England. Thirty-one-year-old Yvetta needed 7 hours and 25 minutes to overcome the distance measuring approximately 36 kilometres. The previous record was held by American Penny Lee Dean who needed 15 more minutes to cross the channel 28 years ago.

Hlavacova’s time is very impressive indeed since it is the fourth best achievement in the swimming history ever. She was very close to beating even the absolute (male) record of 7 hours and 3 minutes. After 6 hours and 15 minutes people accompanying her on a ship shouted excitedly that there were only 20 more minutes to go. Nevertheless, the swimmer lost a lot of time because of strong currents.

Hlavacova also attempted to cross the channel both ways but after 14 hours in the water, during which she managed to swim 60 kilometres, she had to give up. The reason was her complete exhaustion and hypothermia. There were still 11 kilometres remaining which would mean about three more hours in the cold sea with 17 degrees only.

La Manche was conquered in both ways by 20-year-old David Cech on the very same day. He needed 19 hours and 54 minutes to swim approximately 80 kilometres in total.