Who are the girls from the Czech Nuclear Power station photo shoot

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The Temelín Nuclear Power Plant is the largest power generator in the Czech Republic. I previously wrote about the sexism row caused by the light-hearted competition run to choose the next intern. That resulted in so many complaints that the whole thing has been removed from the Temelín Facebook page.

But who are the girls featured in the Temelín photo shoot? First you need to know something about the Czech education system. The majority of students stay in the system until 18 years old – many in vocational colleges. At 18 you graduate – it’s more than a high school graduation, more like a college graduation. The next step is University. These girls are all graduates and entered a beauty contest run each year specifically for graduates: Maturantka Roku.

Here are the finalists, still in bikinis but not in the nuclear power plant. Each has a separate page under Maturantka Roku  with more details – just click to see each one:

Dominika Rozmajzlová

Radka Erbanová

Aneta Nováková

Lucie Šlezingrová

Radka Podlahová

Kristýna Vávrová

Markéta Kozáková

Štěpánka Vaňková

Aneta Kunteová

Dominika Hubálková

You can also vote under Maturantka Roku currently Markéta Kozáková has most votes.

Win two return flight tickets (worth up to 5000 Euros) – ends July 17th 2017

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Airbus are running a competition to win two return flight tickets worth up to 5000 Euros. Contest begins at 10:00 AM (Paris time) on June 15th 2017 and ends at 23:59 (Paris time) on July 17th 2017.

Airbus are a manufacturer and not an airline, so the prize can be used to book tickets on any one of the 13 A380 operators (Air France, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, China Southern Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International). You don’t actually have to fly an Airbus A380.

You can spend up to 5000 Euros – no change is given.

To enter you need to choose which of the following are most important when flying:

  • Smooth
  • Quiet
  • Comfortable
  • Spacious

There’s no wrong answer as Airbus claim all of the above are benefits of flying an A380.

They also want your name, email address and country of residence.

After you enter, they’ll provide a unique url that you can share with friends and obtain up to ten more entries. I used the one they sent me in this article.

Chasing Hilton Hhonors Gold with a status match challenge

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Hilton Gold Status is pretty useful when staying at Hilton properties worldwide. You’ll usually get an upgraded room, free premium wi-fi and mostly access to the Executive Lounge where you can enjoy free drinks and snacks. Getting this status the hard way means staying at least 16 nights.

Hilton are offering a status match challenge here: https://statusmatch.hiltonhonors.com/

You are matched (for 90 days) to the same level you have in another program. Your status will then be extended all the way through to March 2019 if complete four stays. If you’re matched to Diamond, you’ll need eight stays. So you need to plan at least four stays, not four consecutive nights, before applying for the status match.

I applied and was matched to Diamond on 11th April 2017 and 90 days meant that I have until July 10th 2017 to make at least four stays. That was my mistake as my next Hilton Hotel Paddington stay was 6th May and the one after that 29th July. So the perfect match date would have been 5th May.

I completed my first stay but need three more before the 10th July. That should have been easy, but my travel plans changed and it was clear that I wouldn’t be staying at a Hilton before the match expired.

I started looking for the World’s least expensive Hilton. Somewhere I could book, check into online and record a stay. The first place I found was the Hilton Petaling Jaya in Malaysia – with a rate of around £30 per night, non-refundable rate. I checked in via the Hilton app – I’d been upgraded which was nice.

A few days later, I found my stay registered as ‘LateCancel’. I emailed the hotel to say that I’d booked a non-refundable rate and would like the stay to be credited. For some reason they couldn’t do this and they emailed HHonors to ask if my stay could be credited. After a few weeks, the points for my ‘stay’ appeared in my account, although the stay still shows as ‘LateCancel’.

I decide to book the Hampton by Hilton, Cali in Columbia. Partly because it was slightly less than the Malaysia hotel and partly for the novelty of virtually staying at unusual locations around the World. This time I added a note to the booking to say that my plans may change last minute, but please check my in as normal as this was a non-refundable rate. Another ‘LateCancel’ appeared. There was no email for the hotel and so I emailed Hilton – who replied that they would need to ask the hotel. I chased them last week as I hadn’t heard for 10 days and the said they’d chase the hotel.

July 10th isn’t far away. I have one stay shown, two stays shown as ‘LateCancel’, one with points credited, one without anything yet. The question is: Do I risk another £30 booking some exotic low-cost Hilton or just give up? I think I am too far in now and have to take the risk. I can always argue with HHonors that as I’d paid for all four stays then that should count.

The alternative is no Hilton Gold Card – although it might be interesting to try some other hotel brands for a change.

Travelzoo UK-only Competition – Seven Nights in the Maldives

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The UK Travelzoo site is running a competition to win a holiday in the Maldives. Competition is only open to residents of the United Kingdom.

The prize:
Seven nights at the Kuredu Island Resort & Spa, in a Beach Villa, on an all-inclusive basis
Return flights
Seaplane transfers

There aren’t any questions to answer, you just need to provide an email and a UK postcode. It’s basically a data collection exercise with a raffle. In the terms and conditions, Travelzoo write:
Sponsor will be collecting personal data about Participants when they enter the Game by signing up for the Email. By participating in the Game, Participants hereby agree to all personal information uses and disclaimers as explained in Travelzoo’s privacy policy. The data will not be passed without the consent of the user to third parties. Please review Travelzoo’s privacy policy at www.travelzoo.com/uk/privacy/

After you enter, you’ll be sent a unique url that you can share with friends. For each friend who clicks your link and enters, you get an extra entry. I used my unique url at the top of this article.

The prize is provided by Southall Travel. Looking at their site, it looks like the prize has a value of around £4000. The flights are most likely economy and not direct.

Prize must be taken August-October 2017 or January-March 2018

Draw ends 23:59 p.m. 2 August 2017 (BST).

The winner will be determined in a random drawing by computer to be held on or about 4 August 2017.

The picture below was taken on my last visit to the Maldives in 2011:

Beauty Contest in Czech Nuclear Power Station causes sexism row

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28th July 2017 update: Plenty of faux outrage in the media has resulted in the Facebook page being taken down and this apology issued by the company:

We did not want to offend anyone with this contest. The purpose of participation in the competition was to support technical education. However, if the original concept gave rise to doubts or concerns, we are very sorry and apologize.

World media picked up on the story. The British Sun newspaper chose the best headline: Atomic Kittens.

I’ve added a new article ‘Who are the girls from the Czech Nuclear Power station photo shoot’ with other pictures and more details about each contestant.

The Temelín Nuclear Power Plant is the largest power generator in the Czech Republic.

They maintain a Facebook (now deleted) page that shows news and events. Yesterday they posted pictures, taken inside the cooling tower, of ten attractive girls in bikinis and asked that people vote for their choice. The girl with the highest number of likes will take up a two-week internship at the Nuclear Power Plant.

In reality this was just a beauty competition run by Maturantky – I’m guessing both sides thought this would be a piece of harmless publicity. However, the promise of an internship led to criticism of sexism in industry and the usual faux outrage from Facebook visitors to the page.

Of course it was probably a mistake to make it look like the vote was for a job, albeit an unpaid intern, based on mostly looks alone. But one thing I like about the Czech Republic is the innocence and lack of political correctness that has such a stranglehold on the West. I’m sure everyone thought it was just a piece of harmless fun and I hope nobody got into trouble over it.

In that same Czech spirit, I’ve linked to the pictures of the contestants below:

Bistrøt 104 Restaurant, Prague, Czech Republic

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Bistrøt 104 opened in February 2017 but we only managed to visit on Saturday 17th June. The ø in Bistrøt is to reflect the Nordic ideals of organic, local, seasonable and sustainable food. The 104 is just the street number and not a latitude or longitude point as I first thought.

The Bistrøt 104 website is pretty sleek and has a professional video and mission statement. The menu is a PDF which is okay these days as most browsers have a built-in PDF reader – no need to download Adobe Reader. You can also make a reservation request on the website, which I did earlier in the same day and received an email response within a few hours.

The exterior is modern but welcoming:

We were warmly welcomed on arrival at 19:00 and offered a choice of tables – the place was empty. At first we looked for a table for two and then realised that four was the smallest.

Chef Pavol Pavlík was in the kitchen:

We ordered a 1l filtered water (49Kc) and a Valle Reale, Montepulciano d‘abruzzo 2015
(779Kc). The waiter was professional, but friendly and was more than able to discuss the wine we’d ordered.

The waiter explained that portions were small and that we should order more than just a starter and main – or perhaps the degustation menu (1090Kc). We’d already guessed that from looking at their website. My personal view is that there shouldn’t be a traditional starter, main, pudding menu as Bistrøt 104 isn’t that kind of place. What I’d prefer is to be able to choose two starters, two mains and one pudding for a set price of, say, 900Kc.

We opted for the degustation menu:
ASPARAGUS yolk foam yolk confit nuts
OXTAIL marrow wild garlic ash-baked potatoes
FISH onion broth almonds
PARSLEY AND MUSHROOMS
LAMB KNEE nettles seaberry horseradish
BEETROOT kefir honey

An amuse-bouche plate arrived; from left-to-right – tempura crisp with wasabi, pâté and (warm) liver.

All were delicious. Bread arrived together with a second amuse-bouche (carrot).

The tomato purée on bread wasn’t to my taste but my girlfriend liked it.

The degustation began!

ASPARAGUS yolk foam yolk confit nuts
Cold with three types of asparagus; white, green and wild. Everything was nice and beautifully presented – but it wasn’t amazing.

OXTAIL marrow wild garlic ash-baked potatoes
A hot soup which had the wow factor that you look for in a place with Michelin aspirations.

FISH onion broth almonds
The waiter served the broth at the table.
The top was a kind of edible paper. The separate jar contained onion foam. It was really good but was missing something that I wish I knew enough to articulate.

PARSLEY AND MUSHROOMS
This was a bit of a disappointment considering how much the Czechs enjoy foraging for mushrooms. Perhaps when the season enters full swing this plate would improve.

LAMB KNEE nettles seaberry horseradish – broth served at the table. I forgot to take a picture of this course but you can rest assured that the presentation was another delight. This dish was excellent and had the wow factor that we were looking for.

BEETROOT kefir honey
The small kefir (like a drinking yoghurt) was delicious. The beetroot good but nothing special for me.

I checked the bathroom.

Modern, clean, stones in the washbasin, towels for hand drying, tissues, a small box containing toothpicks and cotton buds. Perfect.

We declined coffee and digestifs and asked for the bill. So it was nice to still receive some lovely petit fours.

The bill total was 3107Kc plus tip. I was disappointed to see an additional 50Kc per person cover charge and that our second bottle of filtered water (49Kc) had also been added. This at odds with the generousity of the amuse bouches and petit fours. It’s really unnecessary at this level to add a cover change and water should be free.

We enjoyed our dinner. The staff were knowledgeable and friendly. Some plates were exceptional, some not – although all were beautifully presented. It sounds as if I’m being over-critical, but at this level I expect to be wowed.

Nickel and diming on the bill and inconsistent menu aside, this place does represent reasonable fine-dining value. I wouldn’t surprised if Bistrøt 104 receives a Bib Gourmand in the next Michelin guide.

However, there are plenty of great restaurants in Prague and Bistrøt 104 would need to do more to tempt me away from the likes of Sansho, Yuniku and Cicala.

Bistrøt 104
Korunní 810/104
Praha 10
+420 272 660 837

Opening Hours
TUE-SAT 11.00-15.00 18.00-23.00

bistrot@livingvenues.com

http://www.bistrot.cz/

Operation Anthropoid Events, Prague, Czech Republic June 17th and 18th 2017 – review

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Operation Anthropoid was the code name for the assassination of SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei Reinhard Heydrich.

I previously wrote about the events to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Operation Anthropoid in Prague on May 27th. I then wrote about my visit to the event. I thought that was it as the date had passed. But then another group organised an event this weekend of Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th of June.

We aimed to visit Karlovo náměstí at 15:00 to see shots fired from a canon at 15:10. But we missed the tram and arrived at 15:12. I don’t think the canon shots were that loud as we weren’t far away and didn’t hear anything.

We then walked around what the organisers call:
A period camp of the Czechoslovak Brigade in Great Britain showcasing a number of period techniques and historical artifacts.

 

This man looked like a Nazi spy using a futuristic communication device:

Past the camp were some vintage military vehicles:

And some people in costume:

But there weren’t many people in civilian costume as the previous Anthropoid event, the majority were soldiers.

There were a few tents selling beer (slightly over-priced at 40Kc and food:

It was all interesting enough, but really only took 20 minutes to look around and we were ready for the 15:40 – Rehearsal for attack on Heydrich’s car. This wasn’t a reconstruction of the actual attack, but a demonstration of how the soldiers trained for various scenarios; shooting, grenade.

The first attempt was reasonably successful, although one soldier’s gun didn’t fire:

The second attempt was a complete fail when the grenade failed to explode:

The event continues today and you still have time to see:

12:40 – Rehearsal for attack on Heydrich’s car – hopefully more successful than yesterday!
14:00 – 16:00 training demonstrations
15:10 – shots fired from a canon
15:40 – Rehearsal for attack on Heydrich’s car – last chance

All events are free.

Sisa Feher & Fehero Rocher – Jazz at Le Bouquet, Vinohrady, Prague, Czech Republic

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Last night we were lucky enough to spend the evening drinking great wine and listening to really excellent live jazz. The venue was Le Bouquet. The jazz performed by Sisa Feher & Fehero Rocher. The band name being a play on Sisa’s surname and the chocolate.

Le Bouquet doesn’t usually open on Sunday so this was already a special evening. I knew there would be live jazz but wasn’t prepared for how great it would be. Here’s a picture before I post the video:

My phone took a reasonable picture, but the video is really dark. Don’t let that put you off as the music is well worth listening to:

There aren’t any current plans for a repeat performance at Le Bouquet – although it’s still a great place to visit.

If you want to find out about Sisa Feher go to http://sisafeherova.sk/

There is also Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/feherorocher/

If you’d like to see Sisa Feher & Fehero Rocher tonight 12th June they’ll be at https://www.facebook.com/AVOIDFloatingGallery/ which is a boat moored on the Vltava River near Výtoň.

On the 15th June they play Jazz Dock https://www.jazzdock.cz/en/

Church Night, Prague, Czech Republic

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Church Night this year was Friday 9th June. We had dinner in the garden at Pizzeria Grosseto, by Náměstí Míru and then went on a church tour. None of the churches we visited had a queue or wait to enter.

First was the Church of St. Ludmila at Náměstí Míru.

Next we jumped on a 22 tram all the way to Malostranské náměstí. The plan was to visit St. Nicholas Church. We joined the swarm of people heading the entrance. At the entrance was a sign that said ‘Entrance’ with an arrow pointing back from where we just walked. We walked the entire circumference of the church and decided it was shut – shame on you St. Nicholas Church.

We walked back one tram stop to the Church of Our Lady Victorious:

Next was a walk across Charles Bridge to St. Salvator Church.

This was the best visit so far. There was eerie music being played:

You could climb up to a gallery:

And take pictures looking down:

It was now just after 11pm. We walked along Karlova Street to the Old Town Square, then straight into the Church of Our Lady before Týn. Was good but the church is so much more impressive from the outside:

That concluded our Church Night. Thanks to all the churches that opened their doors.

Church and Museum Nights in Prague, Czech Republic – 9th and 10th June 2017

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Prague churches and museums open their doors this weekend.

Church Night Friday 9th June: Almost 3,000 places of Christian worship will be open in Prague and Central Bohemia. Some 145 are in Prague and range from St Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle to small chapels and rotundas. Most churches also arrange a concert evening. Admission is free. More information: https://www.nockostelu.cz/index.php?pg=aktuality&id=712

Museum Night Saturday 10th June: 49 museums, galleries and other cultural institutions in 79 buildings will be open. Many have entertainment programs or tours. There is free admission to all museums except the Vyšehrad National Cultural Monument which will charge a symbolic entrance fee of 1Kč. More information: http://www.prazskamuzejninoc.cz/2017/index.php?l=en

There are also free buses on Saturday 10th June between 18:30 and 01:00:

1 Staroměstská – Vítkov – Staroměstská

2 Staroměstská – Troja – Staroměstská

3 Staroměstská – Muzeum – Vyšehrad – Staroměstská

4 Staroměstská – Hradčanské náměstí – Staroměstská

5 Staroměstská – Švandovo divadlo – Malostranské náměstí – Staroměstská

6 Staroměstská – Letecké muzeum – Ctěnice – Staroměstská

7 Staroměstská – Malostranská – Muzejní – Staroměstská

8 Staroměstská – Dejvická – Obora Hvězda – Dejvická – Staroměstská

9 Staroměstská – Výtoň – Albertov – I. P. Pavlova – Florenc – Staroměstská

10 Smíchovské nádraží – MeetFactory – Smíchovské nádraží

and the Prague metro runs until 01:00.

The popular places often have long queues. My advice is to avoid places that you can normally access anyway for a fee and visit unusual places or those that are only open for Museum Night.