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Czech Republic

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| currency=Czech crown (CZK) - "koruna"
| area=''total:'' 78,866 km²
| population=10,235510,455 000 (July 2006 Sep 2012 est.)| language=[[Czech phrasebook|Czech]](official), [[Slovak phrasebook|Slovak]]
| religion=agnostic and atheist 59%, Roman Catholic 26.8%, Protestant 2.1%, other 3.3%, unspecified 8.8%
| electricity=230V/50Hz (European plug)
===Historic regions===
===Bohemia====
Although the modern adjective ''bohemian'' refers to Bohemia, that usage was based on a broad stereotype and also a poor grasp of geography, so don't expect the Bohemians you meet to be nomadic or anti-conventional artistic/literary ''bohemians'', or to see anything out of Puccini's "La Bohème". And no, ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' (its lyrics sprinkled with Italian and Arabic) is not a local anthem!
==Regions==
The Czech Republic has 14 political regions which can be grouped in eight historical regions:
{{Regionlist
| regionmap=Czech-regions.png
| regionmaptext=Regions of Czech Republic
| regionmapsize=450px440px
| region1name=[[Central Bohemia]]
==Cities==
[[Image:Kvary.JPG|thumb|[[Karlovy Vary]]]][[Image:ArionOlomouc.JPG|thumb|[[Olomouc ]] Square at dusk]][[Image:opa.JPG|thumb|[[Opava]]]]
These are at least '''nine''' ten interesting cities selected to represent variety of Czech urban areas. For other exciting destinations, see the individual regions.
*[[Prague]] — the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic with a large and beautiful historic centre
*[[Brno]] — largest city in Moravia with several excellent museums, and the annual Moto GP Grand Prix
*[[České Budějovice]]– attractive large city in South Bohemia
*[[Český Krumlov]] — beautiful old town in South Bohemia with the country's second biggest chateau
*[[Karlovy Vary]] — historic (and biggest Czech) spa resort, especially popular with German and Russian tourist groups
*[[Bohemian Paradise]]: (''Český Ráj'') A region of towering rock formations and isolated castles located north-east of [[Prague]]. The gateway city of Jičín is an interesting destination in its own right, but Turnov is closer to most of the castles and rock formations. The twin towers of the ruined castle Trosky are a symbol of the area and can be climbed for the views
*[[Dvůr Králové nad Labem]]: A small town circa 20 km from Trutnov with the ZOO and Safari
*[[Františkovy Lázně]]: A traditional spa town in Western Bohemia.
*[[Jaroměřice nad Rokytnou]]: A small town circa 50 km from Jihlava (towards Znojmo) with the Baroque Castle and Church of St. Margaret
*[[KarlstejnKarlštejn|Karlštejn Castle and the holy cave monastery]]: Hiking trip to the famous castle as well as an off the beaten track monastery
*[[Krkonose|Krkonoše]]: (''Giant Mountains'') The highest mountains in the Czech Republic along the Polish border. Most popular Czech skiing resorts are situated here, such as Špindlerův Mlýn, however considered overpriced by locals...
[[Image:Litomysl.JPG|thumb|Litomyšl monastery gardens]]
*[[Litomysl|Litomyšl]]: A beautiful small town in East Bohemia. The renaissance main square and chateau are among the Czech Republic’s prettiest and the town has been home to many important and influential artists, including composer Bedřich Smetana, sculptor Olbram Zoubek and painter Josef Váchal. There are two international opera festivals at the chateau each year.
*[[Luhačovice]]:One of the best known Moravian spa town
*[[Mariánské Lázně]]: A spa town in Western Bohemia.
*[[Moravian Karst Caves|Moravský Kras]]: Extensive karst area between Brno and Olomouc with the deepest abyss in the country and, in the Punkevní Caves, the opportunity to take a boat ride along an underground river.
*[[Mutenice Wine Region|Mutěnice Wine Region]]: Some of the best vineyards in the Czech Republic and totally off the well beaten tourist path
*[[Nové Město na Moravě]] : Cross country skiing resort. The race of Tour de Ski takes place here.
[[Image:Telc.JPG|thumb|Main Square of [[Telč]]]]
*[[Terezín]]: A red-brick baroque fortress 70km north of Prague beside the Ohře river. It was used during WWII as a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp.
[[Image:znojmorotunda.JPG|thumb|Znojmo Rotunda]]
*[[Znojmo]]: The Rotunda of the Virgin Mary and St Catherine with the oldest frescoes in the Czech Republic.
*[[Chomutov]]: Town with historical center, ZOO specializing in Eurasian fauna and Kamencové jezero (Alum lake - the only one in the world).
==Get in==
'''Vaclav Havel Airport''' [http://www.prg.aero/en/] – located about 10 km west of the centre of [[Prague]], (''Praha'' in Czech), is a hub of Czech national carrier – '''Czech Airlines''' (ČSA), a SkyTeam member.
Other international airports are in [[Brno]] (with flights to [[London]], [[Moscow]], [[Rome]], [[Bergamo]], [[Eindhoven]] and Prague), [[Ostrava]] (flights to [[Vienna]] (suspended), [[London]], [[Paris]] CDG and Prague), [[Pardubice]], [[Karlovy Vary]] (flights to [[Moscow]] and [[Uherské Hradiště]]).
There are several low-cost airlines going to/from Prague (e.g. EasyJet from [[Lyon]]). [[Ryanair]] flies to Brno from [[London]] and [[Bergamo]] and to Ostrava from [[London]]. Other nearby airports are [[Nuremberg]] (300 km) and [[Munich]] (320 km) in [[Germany]], [[Vienna]] having a bus shuttle to Brno city (260 km to Prague, 110 km to Brno) in [[Austria]], [[Wroclaw]] (200 km) in [[Poland]] (might be a good idea if you want to go to the [[Giant Mountains]]) and [[Bratislava]] (280 km to Prague, only 120 km to Brno) in [[Slovakia]].
====Airport transfers====
===By train===
International train service runs from most points in [[Europe]] with direct connections from [[Slovakia]], [[Poland]], [[Germany]], [[Netherlands]], [[Denmark]], [[Switzerland]], [[Austria]], [[Hungary]], [[Serbia]], [[Ukraine]], [[Belarus]] and [[Russia]]; in summer also from [[Romania]], [[Bulgaria]] and [[Montenegro]].
====From Germany====
The Czech Republic is a '''zero tolerance''' country. It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of any amount of alcohol, and violations are heavily punished.
In order to drive on the well-kept motorways, however, you need to purchase a toll sticker. These stickers cost CZK 310 for ten days (for vehicles lighter than 3.5 tonnes, price as of September 2012), but can be purchased for longer periods of time (1 month or a year). If you do not have a toll sticker on your car when you drive on the motorways, the fines can be very steep (CZK 5000 minimum). Make certain that you purchase the correct toll sticker: there are those for vehicles under 3.5 tonnes in weight and those for vehicles between 3.5 and 12 tonnes. Vehicles larger than 12 tonnes in weight must use an on-board unit ("premid" unit) to pay tolls based on distance.
Make certain that you purchase {{disclaimerbox|Unlike most of the motorway network, the correct toll sticker: '''D1 motorway''' between [[Prague]] and [[Brno]] is in bad shape. Although reconstruction is slowly underway, there are those for vehicles under 3still long sections of misaligned concrete blocks, which cause a bumpy ride.5 tonnes in weight Combined with heavy traffic, reckless driving style and those rapidly changing weather due to higher elevation (as the motorway crosses the ''Bohemian-Moravian Highland''), it makes the D1 motorway notorious for vehicles between 3crashes, even fatal.5 and 12 tonnes. Vehicles larger than 12 tonnes in weight must use an on-board unit ("premid" unit) to pay tolls based on distanceDrive carefully, the 130 km/h speed limit is sometimes too fast for this route, if you do not know the terrain well.}}
The condition of many roads is continually improving, but to be economical and fast, drive on the motorways as much as possible, although if you want to get to remote parts of the country you will not avoid side-roads that may be a little bumpy sometimes.
====Train tickets====
The normal train ticket price can be discouraging (roughly CZK 1.40 per km), but Czech Railways (ČD) offer plenty of discounts. Return ticket gives you a 5% discount, and when travelling in a group of travellers (even two travellers are considered as a "group") is treated roughly as ", the first person pays full price, second gets 25% discount, others pay half price"get 50% discount. Therefore ask for "skupinová sleva" (group discount) and/or "zpáteční sleva" (return discount).<!-- a note by OtoValek TO THE CZECH RAILWAYS GROUP DISCOUNT:- there were attempts here to describe the group discount as "two persons pay 75% of full price, others pay half price"- yes, this is technically correct (Czech Railways official "TR10" tariff defines the group discount like this)- but this is a page for foreign tourists and description of "first person pays full price, others pay half price" is much simpler- the eventual difference is only caused by rounding - a maximum of one CZK, no foreign tourist will care about it-->
For journeys between larger cities you can buy a discounted ticket called '''Včasná jízdenka Česko''' [https://www.cd.cz/eshop/acquisitions.aspx], which is generally of the same price or even cheaper than bus. The earlier you buy it, the cheaper it is. The ticket isn't bound to particular train, only to a specific day and route. You'll buy it online (it is bound to your name and Passport/ID number) and print it yourself(or present it on your notebook/tablet or tell the conductor the 6digit ticket number). You can buy these tickets directly at station counters too, but at least one day in advance. Group discount does not apply to these tickets.
The ČD e-shop offers also international e-tickets called '''Včasná jízdenka Evropa''' [https://www.cd.cz/eshop/acquisitions.aspx], which are often much cheaper (sometimes more than twice) than tickets purchased at a train station. However there are limitations: only major destinations are subject to this discount, tickets cannot be used to travel to the Czech Republic, but only for one-way or return trips starting in the Czech Republic, they must be stamped by Czech conductor, purchased at least 3 days in advance, bound to the specific train and passenger name, they are non refundable and you must print them before the journey on your own printer.
Regular travellers can use a '''ČD loyalty card''', called ''In-karta IN25'' [httpshttp://www.cd.cz/eshopen/inkartavyhody-pro-cestujici/inkarta_select.aspx], for CZK 150 (3 months), CZK 550 (1 year) or CZK 990 (3 years). It offers a 25% discount for normal and return train tickets and 5–25% for the ''Včasná jízdenka Česko''. Its price will pay for itself quickly. You have to fill in an application form at the ticket counter and provide a photograph. You will get a temporary paper card immediately and start using the discount. After three weeks you will get a plastic chip card.
The complete list of discounts can be found at the ČD website [http://www.cd.cz/en/vnitrostatni-cestovani/jizdenka/default.htm].
Note that if you intend to travel on the '''RegioJet''' or '''Leo Express''' train, a special ticket is required. The ČD tickets and international tickets (including [[Eurail#InterRail|InterRail]]) are not valid on these trains. If you combine private and ČD trains, you have to buy two separate tickets. Both private companies offer a comprehensive e-shop and have ticket offices at major stations at Praha–Ostrava route. They have similar ticketing system to airlines, so the earlier you book the ticket, the cheaper it will be, and the ticket is bound to a specific train.
====Travel tips====
There is an unofficial English page [http://captainoddsocks.blogspot.com/2008/04/czech-republic-train-tickets-how-to-buy.html] about Czech train travel tariff, but not quite up to date. And consider a calculator of domestic [http://jizdenka.idos.cz/NT.aspx] and international [http://jizdenka.idos.cz/IT.aspx] ticket prices. It uses same system as cash desks at train stations, so its interface can be a bit user-unfriendly for a newbie.
If you travel in a group on weekends, you can use a daily pass ''Skupinová víkendová jízdenka''[https://www.cd.cz/eshop/netticket.aspx?type=1] for unlimited travelling on Saturday or Sunday. It is valid for group up to 2 adults and 3 children. The pass is valid in all ČD trains including EC, but in SC you need a compulsory reservation. The whole-network variant costs CZK 600 650 and regional variant costs CZK 200 225 to 275300. Buying online and printing the ticket yourself gives you a small discount of 3% and you'll avoid the queue at the station.
Although many train stations were repaired and modernized, the rest is still like a trip back in time to the communist era. There is no need to be afraid but try to avoid them in the late night hours. Trains are generally safe (there are regular police guards assigned for fast trains) and very popular mean of transport and they are widely used both by students and commuters. Therefore especially the principal rail axis Praha–Pardubice–Olomouc–Ostrava is crowded during peak times (Friday and Sunday afternoon) and seat reservation is recommended.
====Taking bikes or pets on the train====
The basic ČD ticket for a bike costs from CZK 25 for one train or to CZK 50 for whole day75 depending on the distance. You load and unload your bike by yourself. Trains with such possibility are marked with a bike symbol in the timetable, as well as carriages suitable for bike transport.
Some long-distance trains (with a suitcase symbol in timetable) have a luggage wagoncar, where the train staff will care of your bike, but for an extra charge of CZK 10, payable at the ticket costs CZK 30 for one train or CZK 60 for whole day.
Some trains (with square-framed bike or /suitcase symbol in timetable) require compulsory reservation for bikes for CZK 15 at counter or CZK 100 at train staff20.
More on bike transport on [http://www.cd.cz/vnitrostatni-cestovani/zavazadla-a-zvirata/preprava-kol/-8893/ ČD website] Smaller pets in cages or bags may travel for free. Bigger dogs must have a muzzle and must be on a leash. Price is from CZK 15 for one train or to CZK 30 for 50 depending on the whole daydistanceMore on dogs transport on [http://www.cd.cz/vnitrostatni-cestovani/zavazadla-a-zvirata/-8897/ ČD website]
No bikes or bigger dogs are permitted on private trains of RegioJet and LeoExpres.
==Talk==
The main language spoken is, not surprisingly, '''[[Czech phrasebook|Czech]]'''. The '''[[Slovak phrasebook|Slovak]]''' language can also be often heard, especially in big cities, as there is a sizable Slovak minority and both languages are mutually intelligible. Czech people are very proud of their language, and thus, even in Prague you will not find many signs written in English (outside of the main tourist areas). Many older people, especially outside the large cities, are also unable to converse in English, so it's good to learn some Czech or Slovak before your arrival. However, most young people speak at least some English, as it has been taught in most schools since 1990.
Most Czechs speak a second and often a third language. English is the most widely known, especially among younger people. German is probably the most widely spoken second language among older people. Russian was taught very extensively under communist rule, so most people born before c. 1975 speak at least some Russian (and often pretty well). However the connection with the communist era and the Soviet led invasion in 1968 (as well as today's Russian-speaking criminal gangs) has given this language some negative connotations. It is also not very useful with younger people, as it is not, despite the common misconception, mutually intelligible with Czech (beyond some similar words and simple sentences). Other languages, like French or Spanish, are also taught in some schools, but you should not count on it. People may also understand some basic words or simple sentences in other Slavic languages (Polish, Serbo-Croatian, etc).
The Czech and Slovak languages are very language can be difficult for English-speakers to grasp, as they, like their sisters, can be tongue-twisting languages it's not easy language to learn (especially Czech) and take time and practice to master, especially if you're not really familiar with the other Slavic languages, including Russian. However, if you can learn the alphabet (and the corresponding letters with accents), then pronunciation is easy as it is always the same - Czechs and Slovaks pronounce every letter of a word, with the stress falling on the first syllable. The combination of consonants in some words may seem mind-bogglingly hard, but it is worth the effort!Czech people also generally apreciate foreigners who learn Czech or at least try to, even if it is only a few phrases.
The Czech language has many local dialects, especially in Moravia. Some dialects are so different that they can be sometimes misunderstood even by a native Czech speaker from a different region. However all Czech people understand the standard Czech (as spoken in TV, written in newspapers and taught in schools) and should be able to speak it (but some are too proud to stop using their local dialect). Some of them are even unable to speak standard Czech but write it correctly.
Czechs have Compared to Slovak language Czech has different writing style, and the Slovak language is softer. The vocabulary is similar, with occasional words not understood, which are completely different or the same but with different meanings. The younger generation young people born after the dissolvent of Czechoslovakia are growing apart and sometimes have problems to understand each other.
''See also'': [[Czech phrasebook]], [[Slovak phrasebook]]
==Buy==
* [[Prague]], the capital with its incredible historic center (and famous monuments such as the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle). Member of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
* [[Olomouc]], a vibrant university town with the second largest historic center after Prague. Member of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
* [[Český Krumlov]] - beautiful city with castleand picturesque downtown. Member of UNESCOWorld Heritage list.* [[Kutná Hora]] – medieval silver mining town contains, except well preserved mining shafts from 14–16th century, a lot of Gothic and Baroque sights. Member of UNESCO World Heritage list.
* The '''Macocha Caves''' [http://www.moravskykras.net/en/macocha-abyss.html], north of Brno, are definitely worth a visit. You can take a guided tour into the caves, which will take you through a myriad of winding tunnels, with close up views of stalactites and stalagmites. The tour ends with a boat ride on an underground river.
* The '''Battle of Austerlitz''' - (''Slavkovské bojiště '' in Czech) – is one of the most important events in the history of Europe in the early 19th century(Napoleonic Wars).
* Technical museum in Brno (nice and modern)
* Lakes under Palava (mountains)Pálava hills. This lakes are actually river dams but good for sailing and fishing (you must have fishing licence) it's full of big fishs.
* Mikulčice archaeological site, site of the former capital of the Great Moravian Empire (c. 900 AD).
Try also '''svařák''', hot mulled wine served in all pubs, and outdoors at Christmas markets, '''grog''', hot rum and water served with a slice of lemon - add sugar to taste, and '''medovina''', mead, again usually served hot, and particularly good for warming up at a cold winter market. Finally, if you are heading into Moravia, try '''burčák''', a speciality found only around the end of the summer, or early autumn. It is extremely young wine, usually white, and is the cloudy, still fermenting stage in wine production when the wine is very sweet, and very smooth to drink. It continues to ferment in the stomach, so the alcohol content at the time of drinking it is unknown, but it is usually high, creeps up on you, and it is very moreish. Czechs say that it should only be drunk fresh from the vineyard, and many small private wine makers are passionate about it, waiting up into the night for the moment when the wine reaches the ''"burčák"'' stage. You can see it at wine festivals around the country, and sometimes in markets or wine bars too.
 
==Work==
 
Citizens of EU can work in the Czech Republic without a work permit otherwise you'll need a work visa. The easiest way to live and work in the Czech Republic as an English speaking person is to teach English. Several institutions offer English teaching certificates, and it is possible to earn your certificate in Prague or other large cities in the country.
For instance, http://www.teflcoursereview.com/ has many different TEFL course reviews where you can obtain a TEFL certificate.
 
Finding a job at a school should not be difficult as knowledge of English is in high demand. The work does not pay well, and the top end entry level jobs at schools will pay around 20,000 KC per month($1,000). This is more than enough to live comfortably as long as you do not over extend yourself.
 
In order to become legal to do this you must either obtain a work visa or a Zivnostensky list. The work visa allows you to work for one company and require a university degree. The Zivnostensky does not require a degree, but requires a bank account balance in excess of 110,000 KC($5,100 roughly). This "Z list" will allow to work as a freelancer doing whatever you wish.
 
Other work in the tourism industry is possible. Hostels, hotels, restaurants, city tours, and others are always looking for English speaking staff.
 
Prague is probably the best place to foreigners to look for a job because there are many multinational and English speaking companies.
 
The most popular websites to search for a job are Jobs.cz[http://www.jobs.cz] and Prace.cz[http://www.prace.cz]. These websites are free to use.
 
There are many flexible office solutions in Prague and other large cities that enable you to rent office space for a short term. See for example Regus[http://www.regus.cz]. There are also coworking spaces in every large city. See list of coworking spaces [http://navolnenoze.cz/blog/coworkingy/].
==Stay safe==
==Respect==
The Czech Republic, along with its neighbours Slovakia, Austria, Poland and HungaryGermany, is part of Central Europe. Often in Western Europe and North America it is incorrectly referred to as an "Eastern-European" country, and most Czechs are very sensitive about this- many will even pre-empt the ignorance of some foreigners by asking "What part of Europe would you say the Czech Republic is in?" Get on their good side by answering "Central Europe", not Eastern!
Czechs don't appreciate when foreigners incorrectly assume that their country was part of the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire – both definitely false – although it was part of the Soviet Bloc and, until 1918, an Austro-Hungarian territory. Commenting about how "everything is quite cheap here" comes across as condescending about the country's economic status.
When entering a Czech household, always remove your shoes. Czechs usually wear slippers or sandals when inside a house and never their outdoor shoes. Depending on how traditional the host family are, they may insist you change immediately into house shoes as a hygiene precaution, though this is rare. At the very least they will offer you some to keep your feet warm.
Never mention the Czech towns and places with their former German names, when asking for directions (e.g. referring to Karlsbad instead of Karlovy Vary etc.) or while chatting with the locals. Czechs will be offended and they will regard it as ignorance and a lack of respect towards themselves. Though you may know your history, under no circumstances use the word "Sudetenland".
===Moravia===
==Contact==
There are three main mobile phone operators using the '''GSM standard''', their coverage is very good (except in some remote, mostly uninhabited areas). If you find using roaming with your own operator too expensive or you want to have a Czech phone number, you can buy an '''anonymous prepaid card''' from any of the three main operators. However, the pricing schemes are usually quite complicated and some investigation may be necessary to find the ideal solution (even with the prepaid cards, operators offer various schemes including various additional 'packages'). GPRS and EDGE is widely supported, 3G networks support is in its beginnings every bigger city (provided by O2, Vodafone and T-mobile, mostly in Prague). The fourth operator (U:fon) uses some custom standards and you have to buy special hardware from them. Also there are lots of virtual providers (Mobil.cz, Blesk Mobile, Kaktus).
There are still some '''telephone boxes''' available, but they are gradually vanishing since the advent of mobile phones. Some still accept coins, but most of them require special prepaid telephone card.
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