Slivovice: The Unofficial National Currency

The Czech Korun is the Czech Republic’s national currency. But do you know that they also have an unofficial currency? Yes, folks. It is the Slivovice (plum liquor).

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Slivovice is a distilled wine spirit made from plums. It is widely produced everywhere in Czech, but primarily in the region of Moravia, where my husband is from. To produce slivovice, the plums and their ground kernels are initially crushed and pressed. Yeast, starch, and sugar may be added to the juice, and the mixture is then allowed to ferment. After some time, it is brought to a government-certified distillery for the final step in the process. In the olden times, the whole processing of slivovice used to be done at home. However, to prevent errors in the distillation process (production of methanol), home distillation is now banned. Besides, it is also a good opportunity for the government to collect taxes on the product.

On our first year here in Czech, my father-in-law brought us to a private distillery where he brought his own fermented products ready for distillation. It was interesting for me to witness the distillation process, but equally interesting to witness the eager faces of the men waiting for their final product. They take pride in the percentage of alcohol from their mixture. The usual strength of privately-produced slivovice is 50%. Most commercially-produced products have lower strength. On that particular event, ours had 55%. My father-in-law was beaming with pride.

Since my father-in-law is a slivovice hobbyist, we need not make our own as we regularly have a constant supply of this product.  He makes gallons of it for his own private consumption and for distribution to his 2 sons.

This past weekend, my husband and his father were working on our driveway. We don’t own a cement mixer and had to borrow one form our neighbor. It was such a big help and we were very lucky to have such kind neighbors who are ready to lend a helping hand when needed. As a sign of gratitude for the favor, I asked them if I should bake a cake that they may bring with the mixer when they return the equipment borrowed. They were both laughing, as they said: “What do you mean cake? Slivovice. That’s what we’re bringing. It is the Unofficial national currency.”

That day, I had another lesson in Czech culture.

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Impressive Innsbruck

As mentioned in a previous post, our main goal for last weekend’s trip was to visit  friends in Innsbruck, Austria.

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Melba is one of my closest friends from the university.  Since we had the same bachelor’s degree and lived in the same dormitory, it was only natural for us to be in the same group of friends.  All through our college years, we have shared endless discussions about our families and life goals.  Together with a few other girls, we were like a family- lending an ear and supporting each other.

After obtaining our degrees, we parted ways to follow our dreams.  While I was pursuing an ambitious goal in a manufacturing industry in the States, she went to Japan to obtain her Phd and go after her scientific pursuits.  It was during this time when we met our husbands – both Central Europeans (mine Czech, hers Polish).  Little did we know that we would end up in the same continent to raise our families.

I’m glad that we made this trip out to see them.  It was a great time for our families to bond and for both of us to catch up.

Their place is situated in a suburban location close to the mountains and not too far from the university where her husband Cez teaches.

That Saturday morning, we started our day with a full breakfast on their balcony.  It was very refreshing to be just around nature and inhale its beauty.

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We were lucky that the powers-that-be gave us good weather during our stay there.  There was nothing but sunshine which allowed us to go for a short hike and tour the downtown.

I will do a separate post on the hike because it was a pretty interesting one.

Meanwhile, here are photos of this beautiful city.

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The inner streets of the city is full of impressive buildings with a typical European feel.

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The succeeding picture is a view of the Old City watchtower, which is a popular landmark.

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Going further into town, there lies a more modern square normally used for social events.

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Innsbruck’s public transport system is very well-developed and accessible.  Trains, trams and buses can be seen moving in and around the city.

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Being in the highlands doesn’t mean it’s short of fun.   During our stroll, I was lucky to snap a quick photo of these youngsters parading the streets.

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Although, if you live in a place like this, it would be crazy not to go on a hike.  The alps are just breathtaking.

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When Melba told me that they were thinking of giving up a great opportunity in a major city in exchange for a quiet life in Innsbruck, I didn’t fully understand why.  But after experiencing this beautiful city, I now understand.

I was very impressed with this amazing city and wished it was closer so we can do more frequent visits.  But most of all, we had a great time in the company of great friends.

If you would like to learn more about Innsbruck, you can check out this page.