I’m really enjoying the look of the perfect, nearly-untouched snow in my backyard:
While the snow on the streets has gotten brown and dirty, making us almost want to swear off snow in every way, this backyard is a safe haven for the peaceful, pure version of it. 🙂
Ondra and I went into Brno this weekend with the intention of checking a few things off our to-do list. On the roster was:
- visit the cat café, Kočičí Pelíšek (Cat Bed Café)
- have ramen for dinner at the newly-opened Shoyu
- go to BalkanBar to take a lesson in Bachata dance
We did even one better, also visiting one of my favorite places because of its unique atmosphere, Pivní Burza, or the Beer (Stock) Exchange.
When I got off the train in Kralovo-Pole, I noticed this advertisement for a carpet cleaner/manufacturer on the side of a tram:
It reminded me – and now I have the proof – of one of my favorite Czech “false friends,” namely how impregnovat actually means to waterproof.
If you’re an English speaker and don’t know much Czech, that is really confusing, weird and funny to see just out in public 😀
I was so excited to start the night with two of my favorite things: cats and coffee. I mean, really? Even one of those things is enough to bring me ridiculous happiness (yes, I apologize, I am an unabashed cat person), but both at the same time?!?!
And it didn’t disappoint.
When you walk in, you can see on your immediate left a board with snapshots of the kitties. The ones on the bottom are the cats that are currently in the shop, so I assume the ones on the top are those that have been successfully adopted! That’s the best part about this place – they really push the idea of giving the cats a home.
The best part of this board is reading the names of their cats. They give them very funny and creative names, most of them foods, including European chocolate brands (Kinder, Fidorka, Orion). A selection of my favorites: Lentil (Čočka), Sushi, Ketchup (Kečup), Corn (Kukuřice), Lilac (Šeřík), Celery Root (Celer), Lil Onion (Cibulka)… They even had Celsius and Fahrenheit! 😀
The cats have this wonderful “tree house” which takes up a full corner of a room. And it’s pretty smart that they have at least one bed out of easy reach of the customers…
The cafe is full of these little gems of wisdom. My favorite was this one:
Very, very true.
They have a few shelves of books here, so you have something to do while you pretend to be a stationary object attractive for cats to jump and sit on. The coffee was good and not terribly overpriced for such a novelty – there are some interesting offerings like maple cappuccino and chai latte, in vegan versions as well. And there were a variety of cakes (a requirement for good cafes in my opinion). We tried the chocolate cheesecake, which Ondra said reminded him of the Czech quark dessert Termix.
We looked at our watch and it was time to go- we had to walk about 15 minutes to the ramen place. So we took some farewell photos and left the kitties in peace for the time being.
This kitten sat in one place the whole hour we were there. And when I came to pet it, it could NOT have cared less about my existence – it was very zen.
I did succeed, however, in getting it to look at me in this photo:
We were lucky to get a reservation at Shoyu for its opening night. Their current offering is very simple: Shoyu ramen with either fattier or meatier brisket (it sounds better in Czech).
I wish there were more broth in the bowl, but the meat was absolutely delicious, and when you broke the egg yolk into the broth, it was great. For the first ramen spot in Brno, it’s a good deal for 150 czk!
After we finished, we had an extra hour, and went down the street for a stop at The Beer Exchange. I love this place for its unique concept.
There are eight beers on offer, which occasionally change. (These are mainly established Czech brands, not the place for those devoted only to craft beer, though there are always at least a few good ones.) Screens inside and just outside the bar (for those on their cigarette break) show how the prices of the beer go up and down with demand. When people order a beer, its price goes up a couple crowns (shown by the red arrows). You have to pick just the right moment to grab your brew.
The screens also show the historic maximum and minimum prices, as well as the daily maximum and minimum.
You order your beer from a screen on the table, which has accounts for all the chairs at the table. When you touch a beer, it will show you whether it’s light or dark, the bitterness, and the alcohol content.
There’s a lot of interesting beer-themed art decorating the wall by local artists. This picture shows a (very male-centric) beer stock exchange, but Ondra pointed out that on the opposite wall is a scene showing the bar itself with men and women enjoying beer together. Can you see how their taps spell out Pivní Burza?
For people who prefer spirits, there is an extensive offering including a lot of different rums. I actually tried absinthe for the first time here back in 2014!
After this interlude, we made our way to BalkanBar, about another 15-minute walk. According to the Facebook page, it opened recently, in the end of 2017. You have to walk down an alleyway and look for a discreet door on the left. However, it’s a really nice space inside and downstairs. Waiting for us were a dancing duo, from Netherlands and Czechia, to teach an hour-long Bachata course. Entry for this course, and a bachata-themed dance party afterwards, was only 50czk each! It was a deal.
The course was great and we learned a lot in a short time. When the official dance party started, a surprising amount of Czech couples came in perfectly schooled in the art of dancing Bachata. I know Czechs are natural ballroom dancers, but I was amazed. And jealous. We didn’t exactly master Bachata in one hour, so we awkwardly tried to fit cha cha to the music that was playing 🙂
All in all it was a wonderful night, and I’m so happy to have fit in so many awesome things. Cats, coffee, a savory dinner, a cool pub, and dancing… for me, that’s heaven.