Czech / German border, a cultural no man's land

Ugly prostitutes and vietnamese markets

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jeremy
Anyone else experienced this strange part of Czech/Germany?

Drive over the border (for example near to Weiden where I lived for a year) and you will see this strange sort of what I can only describe as a cultural no mans land.

There are these brothels or "24 Hour Hotel" or "Non Stop" (a commonly seen neon sign)

There are ugly prostitutes with awful bleached hair hanging out on the road junctions waiting for business.

There are Vietnamese markets selling shit - garden gnomes and those blue plastic balls which sprout up in German gardens to attempt to make them look pretty (awful). The Vietnamese came over I think during the communist era and never went back. They are not very friendly.

The cultural difference when you cross the border is striking, Czech buildings are poorer and falling down. Driving back through to Germany you notice how well kept rural German houses are, e.g., in Bayerischer Wald.

We were there a year or so ago when we went to Prague (amazing city - see the film The Unbearable Lightness of Being for its atmosphere).

Jeremy.
Jimbo
Saw exactly that with Foxy, Hellcat and Pao when we went to Prague in February - an incredible shift from Merc E-classes and BMW 535i's to brothels and shit fake football shirts. Prague was nice tho!
VDB
true enough, but remember it's one of western Europe’s most wealthy regions on the border of eastern Europe, what do you expect to see? Hopefully it will improve in a couple of years now Czech is part of the EU.
Katrina
Hiya
I went to Cheb once on a Schönes Wochenende ticket.
We walked out of the station and saw a naked women lying on the grass outside of the station.
Maybe she wanted to sunbathe but unfortunately it was raining.
Anyway, Cheb has a nice castle but you won't want to see it as it is surrounded by possibly the scariest place in Europe (and I include Basildon after closing time in that survey). It is well-known as a centre for child prostitution.
The charity Karo (site in German) does excellent work in helping people (particularly children) and is worth your support.
Katrina
Bubble Gum
It's weird cause once you cross the border into the Czech Republic, even the air feels more polluted.
grtho
I travel in this area a LOT.

The reason that the Bavarian villages look "so nice" is that until very recently ie until April they got regional / structural funding from the EU due to their *) Poor industrial base *) Poor Infrastructure and *) marginal position next to the border when it was largely closed.

The western Czech towns didn't get the same level of funding (though they are now it through Brussels) and suffer *) Contiuing effects of de-population since the ethnic Germans were expelled after 1945, *) Poor industrial base.

I was in Cheb yesterday.

Yes, the station is a little dodgy especialy if you look like a tourist.
Yesterday there was only 1 beggar there I saw, there was a beggar sleeping rough in my local Munich U-Bahn when I got home too! There is a fair bit of prostitution; there are brothels at most border crossings and certainly in Cheb and other towns in the region eg Zelezna Ruda (Czech Eisenstein). There is a fair bit of evidence that Cheb is a centre for child prostitution but part of the problem is that the Czech state doesn't really want to admit it and the Bavarians seem luke warm on the issue too. It has to be rembered that 99% of the punters are Germans. Incidently I saw a TV show in which a child prostitution scene IN A PUBLIC PLACE was discovered in central Munich a couple of years ago. It's a city centre location that thousands pass every day!

With wages in Czech Rep 20-30% of Germany and prices rising all the time (much stuff is CHEAPER in Germany than there) and continued restricitons of the rights of Czechs to work in Germany, no wonder that people try and get money off the tourists, particuarly the clueless ones.

Regarding the Vietnamese. After 1989 (and this also happened in the old DDR) many ethnic Vietnamese who had been "guest workers" suddenly found themselves unemloyed but settled here in Europe. There was / is a fair ammount of racism and discrimination (the Ggerman government wanted to expell all the Vietnamese as their old DDR residence permits were no longer considered "valid") so many had to turn to the self-employed shopkeeper / market trader to make ends meet. Getting some smokes in a Cheb shop yesterday (I don't do the markets) a Vietnamese shopkeeper compliemented me on my Czech, which was nice!

I've ranted here for too long...DON'T do the markets, AVOID the German day trippers, go to Prague OFF-SEASON and go to the BACK STREETS, NON CITY CENTRE areas as well. And also please DO go to the other towns and cities in Czech Republic AND Slovakia!
Renia
I had the same experience too recently much to my surprise, I really wasn´t expecting to drive over the border from Bayerisch Eisensein towards Klatovy (on what I thought might be a nice day out, but no time to go to Prague) and be confronted with endless Asia/ Euro markets, people selling cigarettes and "nightclubs". In one small town we counted 14 nightclubs.

We went over there looking for a nice meal and maybe some tourist sites...it was a disaster as far as a nice day out went. We ended up eating there (nice food) and then driving back to Bayerisch Eisenstein for the rest of the afternoon.

I was honestly expecting things to be a bit more modern, though I now think after talking to friends who have lived in Prague that my expectations were too high. I travelled extensively in Poland during the mid to late 90s (though have not been there since 2002) and the only border regions I visited there were the Belarus/Polish border and the Polish/Slovakia border. No whorehouses that I remember. Does anyone know what the Polish/German border is like (besides cheap cigarettes!)?
MonksTown
There's no brothels on the borders you mention Renia becasue of the income disparity issue.
It is most pronounced on the Bavaria / Bohemia border and possibly coupled with the Bavarian attitudes towards sex.

If you are in the area again, Klatovy is a pretty town worth a visit and there are some lovely villages to the left of the main road as you drive north.
Though part of the regions charm is that there ISN'T much there.
krostitzer
And also please DO go to the other towns and cities in Czech Republic AND Slovakia!
Two of my favorite places are Olomouc and Cesky Krumlov ... Where 'Hostel' was filmed!
MonksTown
Cesky Krumlov is beautiful but I'd reccomend to try and go off season as it is VERY popular.
Soft spot in my heart for Olomouc as it was the first town in the then Czechoslovakia I ever went to.
Renia
We did go to Klatovy and had a look around. A nice town, but it wasn´t brimming with possibilties that day for us. We were also surprised that the town square did not have any nice restaurants - there was one pizzeria (unlike Poland for example where the Rynek´s always have restaurants) and we had to drive outside the town again to eat.

I guess I would not go again without a specific destination or agenda (hiking or such).
Kazalphaville
Never been but would love to soon. What are the border crossings like now that they're in the EU? Are they as strict because they are not in Schnegen yet? Are they strict on the trains too? Or do they leave you alone now?
Renia
We had our passports checked coming out of CZ (can´t remember by who though). We were driving a French registered car. But, yes, there are still border guards there.
Just noticed the original post was nearly 3 years ago .
tom_a
Some years ago, I drove from Prague to Munich with a Singaporean friend. At the border, I held out the two passports. The borderguard looked into the car, clearly noticed the Chinese face of my friend, but still waved us on without bothering to take any look whatsoever at the two passports...
MonksTown
Until the end of this year there are still border controls for passports though they have become slightly less rigourous since the Czech Republic joined the EU.
You are still only allowed to bring 200 cigs in from the Czech Republic.

Klatovy can be a little boring at the weekends, its a small market town, not a major destination.
One of the best places to eat ever was the restaurant at the station but that has been closed for about 2 years now.

Kdyne and Domazlice are also worth a visit but you put your finger on it saying hiking is the main attraction: The Sumava (Bohemian Forest) National Park starts just south-east of Zelezna Ruda (Eisenstein).
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