This weekend I had the combined pleasure of both riding a train down the Berounka River valley and did so in one of Czech Railways’ new “471” trains.

Part of the fun of riding along the track was the old-school art-deco trains that strongly remind me of the Japanese science fiction serial “Ultra-Man,” but the new trains were soooo much nicer. The simple fact that the trains are so much quieter makes it worth it. This quiet is not just when the trains are speeding past.

Speeding along the river in this new train, past the many buildings that have been refurbished or rebuilt after the 2002 floods, I got the distinct sense that the country is heading changing for the better. Which is a pleasant feeling to have one week before official accession to the European Union.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Czech-made program of cynicism, irony and complaint.

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