Thanks to the loyal and dedicated reader who drew my attention to this inspiring story, which shows how the love of baked goods is stronger than the hatred of some ethnicity or another, regardless of whether people agree as to how the object of the hatred should be labelled, and what all this has to do with real estate.


... a pivo voli nas

How to strike up a conversation with Europeans in the US: join in the complaints about top-loading washing machines and American beer. On the washing machines, point granted. The old saw that American beer is bad applies pretty much to the mass-marketed national brands, which are uniformly watery, flavorless, and pretty much only good for marinating beef (even then, a proper beer would be better). People with longer or tastier experience in the Statiunitima know that there are a lot of very fine small-production and local brews. Personally, I'm a fan of the products of the Ommegang brewery in Cooperstown, NY. Americans are moving away from the stereotypical product as well: domestic sales are stagnant, while imports are growing rapidly.

The most representative of the domestic mass-market bunch, and object of innumerable jokes (one of them involves canoes, but that is as far as I am going), is the flagship product of the brewery giant Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser (introduced in 1876). For over a hundred years, Anheuser-Busch has been in a trademark conflict with the Czech Budweiser Budvar brewery, which has marketed a far superior product under the same name since 1895. A-B claims exclusive rights to the Budweiser name, which kept the Czech product out of US markets for a very long time and may cause some easily resolved confusion in Europe.

Now Anheuser-Busch and Budejovicky Budvar have reached an agreement, whereby A-B (which already has marketing agreements with several international producers, including the Belgian giant InBev), agrees to market and distribute the Czech product in the US. It will continue to be sold under the deeply unsatisfying compromise name Czechvar.

It is one small step.


Where was the previous Provence?

Travel and Leisure magazine declares that Istra is "the next Provence," whatever that may mean. This may well be the case, althugh it remains unclear just what this may mean for the present Provence or for any of the Provences which may have come after it. Before the next Provence pops up, though, they note the construction of some new sites for mass elite tourism and the intrduction of cheap air routes from the UK. My advice would be to avoid the better-known "beaches," which "sparkle as brightly as those of the better-known coast to the south" (why would you want a beach to sparkle?) and head inland.