Brno: An Expat’s Impression, Then and Now
One of Brno’s best kept secrets? That there genuinely is something for everyone here, whatever your cultural tastes. Brno Daily’s Natasha Price reflects on how her impression of the city as an expat has changed since the first arrival. Photo: The panoramic wellness centre at Kravi Hora. Credit: M. Schmerkova / Brno City Municipality.
One of the first questions every expat gets asked when meeting someone new is “Why did you move to Brno?”. This question is usually paired with an extremely puzzled look when coming from a native Czech, as though they can’t believe we’d actually choose to live here. For most people, there’s one of three reasons: They originally came to study at university and decided to stay; they fell in love with a Czech and followed their heart all the way here; or they got a job opportunity. For me, it was the latter and I, like many others, hadn’t even heard of the city beforehand.
I did barely any research before I packed my whole life up and moved here. The few things I was told by friends and relatives that had previously lived in Eastern and Central Europe made me feel quite apprehensive that I would be moving to a very traditional place without much influence from outside cultures. Even my new employer, himself a Brit that had been living here for over 15 years, made out like I was travelling to the backend of nowhere!
As someone who has always had a very active social life and who loves to try new things, I was worried I’d not only be very bored but also living off lumps of meat, potatoes and dumplings for the foreseeable future. It’s safe to say that Brno has proven me wrong on all of these preconceived notions and three years later, I absolutely adore the vibrancy of the city alongside all the interesting food and cultural events that you can find here.
From festivals like Ponavafest in Lužánky Park, to Opera Season at the Janáček Theatre, to Burlesque shows at Cabaret des Péchés and ArtBar, there genuinely is something for everyone here in Brno. And that’s one of Brno’s best kept secrets in my opinion. Before moving here, there was absolutely nothing online that would indicate just how varied the social and cultural events in the city would be. While I feel a lot of it is down to our amazing expat community, creating a little taste of home in the Czech Republic, the locals themselves put on their fair share of events too, or are at least involved in planning some of the bigger parades and festivals. I come from a city In the UK with a population almost three times the size of Brno and it’s nowhere near as culturally diverse as Brno is.
The same can be said for the choice of food here in the city. It was such a pleasant surprise to find that I can get almost anything I could possibly want to eat. Is there an abundance of Czech food? Of course! We are in the Czech Republic after all. But it varies in quality from carb heavy grub in a dive bar (perfect for hangovers) to elevated dishes in high-end restaurants. Then we have the immense quantity and quality of international restaurants here too. I have never lived anywhere where I could order some pretty decent sushi at 10pm, or Vietnamese food in those cute little cardboard containers. I felt like I was living a Sex and The City dream when I first moved here!
Even to this day, I still discover new things about the city. For example, I just recently found out we have a Korean BBQ place in Slatina, as well as a Wellness centre at Kraví Hora with views of the entire city from the outdoor pool (watch this space for some reviews when I get round to visiting them). I feel like Brno is the city that just keeps on giving and I, for one, can’t wait to discover what more it has to offer.