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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Tomorrow evening I'll be in Rome for a few hours, waiting for an overnight train that will take me down to Calabria, where I'll be staying for about three weeks in the village of Gioiosa Jonica. At the end of May I'll be flying to Denver, Colorado for a few days for a friend's wedding. I'm pretty sure this means that in May 2005 I'll have spent fewer days in Prague than in any month since 1996.

I plan on having a cheap dinner in Rome at a place called Albrecht, a restaurant specializing in Austro-Hungarian cuisine located near the train station. Last time I made this trip, I found this restaurant owing to a recommendation from Georgina Masson's The Companion Guide to Rome.

Thing is, the guidebook didn't actally recommend Albrecht. It recommended another restaurant at the exact same address:

It will now be one o'clock; for good Tuscan food we should try Nino's at 52 Via Rasella, a street leading out of the Via Quattro Fontane opposite the Palazza Barberini gates.
See, the version of the book I'm reading was published in 1965. It's a great little paperback with pages that smell like your grandmother's attic. When you're reading a book about Rome, the important stuff hasn't changed in a thousand years, let alone 40.

So I figured I'd see if this Nino's was still there and still serving good Tuscan food, and I found Albrecht's instead. It was excellent.

Yet for some reason I'm curious whatever happened to this Nino's. Is it the same Nino's with the famous Tuscan bean soup located near the Spanish Steps, frequented by Rome's smart set and recommended by numerous Fodor's readers? If so, when did it move from 52 Via Rasella? A birreria founded by the Albrecht clan claims to have been at that address for 130 years.

It sort of pains me that this sort of history never gets written down and ultimately fades away. In order to learn about the history of Opatovicka 3 (now Tulip Cafe) in Prague, for instance, you have to talk to the neighbors, who remember is as a U Stromecku (U Strome?k?), that is, "At The Little Tree." I believe a pub of that name existed at that location during the time of the First Republic, and while I'm not sure if it was there during the war and under communism, it made a brief return after the 1989 revolution. The tree is still there but it's no longer little. The elderly neighbor remembers going there with his father when he was seven.

Other random Prague stuff I'd like to know: Why is the spot in Prague known at the intersection of Zitna (Žitná) and Belehradska/Skretova (B?lehradská/Škretová) known as Deminka? And where exactly were the two gates referered to by the street named "Mezibranská" ("between the gates")?

Anyway, I'll be posting occasionally for the next few weeks, but I'll have to run down to the Internet cafe on the piazza in order to access the web.

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Also, I was lucky to have found this interesting web site -- a research project dedicated to studying the family history of Calabrians, in particular those born in the villages of Gioiosa Jonica and Martone -- via a commenter on my previous post about Calabria. Of course I'm not the least bit Italian, but my brother-in-law was in fact born in Gioiosa Jonica.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I'm not exactly sure what made me flag this today of all days, but here's a travel blog written by a friend of a friend. His name is Conor and he used to live in Prague. Maybe you know him, or once did. He's in Sri Lanka now.

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Say, this is a real long shot, but does anybody out there have any tips on getting an Iranian visa?
OK boys and girls, Google's satellite mapping turning up some bizarre shit, like this bizarre formation in the deserts of Nevada. Attempt at an explanation here (bottom one). (Via Sploid, which is growing on me.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

So I'm reading this post on Gridskipper about an experience at a restaurant in LA with horrible, horrible service, and I keep thinking to myself: When do we get to the part with the really bad service?

The tipper writes:
I have eaten at holes in the wall, and I have dined at the chic chic frou frou swanky joints. I have had great service. I have had bad service.

But I have never, ever had as bad a service experience I had at Axe on Abbot Kinney this past Friday.
I don't suppose this person's ever visited the Czech Republic.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Seems like European Parliamentarians Alejo Vidal-Quadras and Jo Leinen made a few good points in their assault on Vaclav Klaus's opposition to the EU constitution.

How does Klaus react? By playing the victim, crying "censorship!", demanding an apology and basically acting like an all-around cry baby.

Call me old-fashioned by I would have thought it'd be more productive to respond to a few of their arguments.