While Mariana Firbasová was on a work placement in Belgium a business opened up that made great whipped-cream waffles. As it was in a back street, under normal circumstances she would never have found it. She was able to enjoy this treat thanks to a special tourist's map made by locals who knew their city well.
On returning home, Firbasová – then a student at the Faculty of Social Studies – decided to work with her friends on a similar guide for travellers who come to Brno. And now the work of this eight-member group of enthusiasts has resulted in a grant from the European Union's Youth in Action programme. A map will be published in spring bearing the logo of the Europe-wide USE-IT organization.
The map will be available at information centres in Prague and Brno and also at the organization's headquarters in Brussels. “At the moment we have money to print about 20,000 copies," says Firbasová. “But if there's a lot of interest in the map, we'll try to get more money. We're not against the idea of a reprint."
And why should people be interested in the map? One reason is that it supplements existing guides and aims to take tourists to places popular with local people that are difficult for tourists to discover for themselves, because they are either hidden or out of the centre, where tourists tend to be.
“The purpose of this map is not to show the city's main landmarks," Firbasová points out. “Although these appear, we try to leave space for other things."
This USE-IT-approved cartographic aid prefers to focus on businesses with good food and drink, cafés, clubs and walking trails. Recommended restaurants are not of the kind one tries only once because no money remains for a second visit. The map is especially attractive to travellers on a limited budget; none of the venues it recommends will ruin the customer.
The selection of venues on the Brno map was made in a number of phases and in a number of different ways. Users could vote for their favourite music and dance clubs on the Facebook social network or by e-mail. As to the final choice of what to include, the creators of the map were able to follow a number of simple guidelines that USE-IT has used since its inception.
“There are eight questions. If the answer to at least one of these is yes, the place belongs on the map," Firbasová explains, citing the question which asks if the proposed place is exceptional of its type.