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USE-IT map encourages newcomers to act like ‘Brnites’

The map is intended mainly for travellers from abroad. It shows places that few foreigners would find on their own.

Don't call our country 'Czechoslovakia', take pride in our wine, and trust in the blue and white, the colours of hockey club Kometa Brno. Just some of the advice offered by the creators of the USE-IT map to newcomers in Brno who wish to blend in with the locals. The special map, which is intended for tourists and perhaps also foreign students, has been available since July at a number of places in the Moravian metropolis as well as on the web.

USE-IT's uniqueness lies in the fact that it is a map and a guide in one. It takes its owner to various parts of cities that locals enjoy but foreigners would never find on their own. USE-IT is a Europe-wide movement; thanks to a group of students, Brno is the third city in the Czech Republic to have this cartographic aid. “Originally we wanted to publish earlier," says Markéta Firbasová, a graduate of the Faculty of Social Studies who is the initiator of this English-language map. “But then we arranged cooperation with Brno City Council, allowing us to print many more copies than we originally intended."

The original plan was for 20,000 copies, provided for by a grant awarded to its creators by the Youth in Action programme. At the outset the movement's head office in Brussels indicated that this might not be enough. In the end 60,000 copies of the map were distributed, in Brno and beyond.

What can we find on the map? In addition to tips on places popular with locals, there is advice on restaurants, bars, pubs, cafés and views. There is a small dictionary of the Brno slang known as 'hantec' and notes on cultural peculiarities that include mention of the greatest Czech lie, that of going out for a (single) beer. And there are details of three recommended walks.

In the Tourist Information Centre, hostels, bookshops and the Expat Centre – all places where foreign guests, for whom the map is principally intended, are frequent visitors. “We've agreed to include the map in the welcome pack presented to students who arrive on Erasmus stays. It is also suitable for first-year students who don't yet know Brno very well," says Firbasová, who has had a great reaction to the finished article. “So far all the comments have been positive. People are happy to have it. It started gathering fans on Facebook as soon as it came out."

It will surely gather many more. In time the map will be updated, as has happened in Prague and Ostrava. A third edition of a map of the capital is in preparation, while Ostrava's second edition came out a few weeks ago. Other Czech cities are keen to join the USE-IT movement; Plzeň, for instance, is in the process of raising funds for its own map.

Where to get the map
Arcadia Book Shop, Dominikánská 15
Brno Expat Centre, Veveří 9
Jacob hostel, Jakubské náměstí 7
Fléda hostel, Štefánikova 24
Mitte hostel, Panská 11
Tourist Information Centre, Radnická 8