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Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is composed of the territorial regions of Bohemia and Moravia. It was split from modern-day Slovakia in 1993. The country has rivers, hills, and forests, and a continental climate. Starom─østsk├® n├ím─øst├¡ (Old Town Square), Prague castle, and the Charles Bridge are popular sights in the capital. You can also find avant garde theater, galleries galore, and a dizzying variety of restaurants. The rest of the country is more low-key and utterly charming. Visit the Egon Schiele Art Centrum in ─îesk├¢ Krumlov to take in some expressionist art (there's also a really nice castle in town), go to a beer museum and brewery in Plze┼ê, or see really well-preserved old Romanesque and Gothic buildings in the quaint Moravian university town of Olomouc. Czech cuisine tends to be meaty and starchy, but you can find vegetables, especially fried or in soups. cabbage, mushrooms, and cauliflower are pretty common. Pol├®vka, or soup, is an important course. Try rybi pol├®vka (fish soup) like the traditional carp for Christmas. Dumplings like knedl├¡ky can be savory or fruity. You can eat small potato-based dumplings, dumplings fried with eggs...the sky is pretty much the limit. Some consider beer to be bread, and as such a staff of life. Buckwheat, millet, and pearl barley are generally home dishes, and you can probably find them at groceries. There are lots of natural foods stores in Prague, and a few elsewhere. In the capital you can get organic and vegetarian options at Czech, Italian, Asian, and Ayurvedic eateries. In other places, you may find an occasional juice bar, macrobiotic restaurant, or vegan cafe. But if you have to get by on pol├®vka and pivo (beer) you'll probably still be happy.