Br(u)no: Counting Beers to Fall Asleep

Photo credit: Freepik / For illustrative purposes.

I’m not good at meditation. I have been trying it lately because I am even worse at sleeping. I don’t think I have insomnia. I just have a strange schedule.  

Basically, I am really tired at 2 p.m. and at 9 p.m. Coffee gets me through the afternoon and I power through the evening as best I can. Then, I often wake at 12:42 a.m. or 2:16 a.m. or whatever, and I cannot fall back asleep. I just lay there listening to one podcast after another. Sometimes I doze off. Most of the time I don’t. Then, without fail, every day I am fully awake before 5 a.m. 

The problem is that my mind cannot relax. When it lacks focus in the middle of the night, the vacuum is quickly filled with peripatetic thoughts, usually stressing about the fact that I have a lot to do as soon as I get up.  

Meditation seems like it would be a good solution, but I can’t figure out how to do it right.  

Luckily, one thing that sometimes works is to ponder one of my life’s biggest questions with the equivalent of counting sheep: Have I had a beer in every bar in Brno?  

* * *  

I’ve lived in Brno for 14 years. I can confidently say that I have had a beer in at least 90 percent of the places that serve it in this city. Many have changed their names, but, if the location has regularly had a liquor license, then I have more than likely had a drink there. (Hi mom!)  

On my first day in Brno in July 2006, I had my first beer(s) in an old dingy place on Česká, which is now Stopkova Plzeňská Pivnice. I had just checked into a hotel and I had a job interview at a language school the next day. There was a dirty white table cloth. The curtains reeked of cigarette smoke. I ate Svíčková and drank Starobrno. 

On my second day in Brno, after a successful job interview, I was introduced to an American, who happened to also be from Seattle and who was to answer some questions about getting a work visa. We are both still here in Brno, married with two toddlers and doing a lot of work on our houses.  

My most recent beer was at my local pub. I brought my two-liter pitcher, drank a beer as it was being filled, got engrossed in a newspaper story on my phone, drank a bit from the pitcher and then went home to drink the rest (sharing with the wife) while assembling IKEA furniture.   

In between, there have been many beers in many places and many rides home on the night bus. I like exploring and trying new places. The center is covered. I lived in Líšeň for five years. I taught English lessons in Slatina for a decade and I didn’t always go straight home. I still teach English in Masarykova čtvrť. Královo Pole and Žabovřesky are done. I’m pretty sure that I can check off all of the places in Bohunice, Černá Pole, Lesná, Maloměřice, Nový Lískovec, Vinohrady and Židenice.  

At night, I sweep through the city with mind’s eye. Maybe I’ve missed a few pubs here and there because I never happened to walk down a particular street. But I have a geographical mind with a strong recall for the places where I have been.  

So, what are the bars that I have missed?  

• The biggest empty spot is CLUBWASH::Brno. I don’t know why. I’ll have to try it sometime soon.  

• There is also one restaurant near hlavní nádraží that I have never been to, although I’ve been to the dive bar underneath it many times.  

• And the northern part of the city, Řečkovice, for example, is well out of my way so there are probably some bars I don’t know about.  

As for the place where I have had the most beers? That would be Městský fotbalový stadion Srbská, where FC Zbrojovka plays. I have season tickets, and, well, it’s football.  

* * *  

This all begs the questions: Does having drunk a beer (or many) in 90 percent of the bars in Brno suggest some sort of a problem? Some (read: my mother) may think it is a bad thing.  

I chose to think of it as a life well-lived, especially when it is hot outside — and especially when you need a topic to focus your mind so that you can finally get some sleep.  

What is your favorite bar in Brno? Have you hit every spot? Please share.  

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