Thursday, July 8, 2010


This may be the city that inspired this entire trip. In 1984 I had a friend take me to see Amadeus. I have been in love with Mozart's music ever since. I have always related more to Salieri as a character, but you can't deny Mozart's talent. I've watched the movie countless times and saw the play on Broadway. A few years back was Mozart's 200th birthday. I read about he celebrations and such and wanted to be a part of it all. It wasn't possible at that time, but as soon as I could put the deal together we built this trip. The first half is walking in the shadow of Herr Mozart.

Most of the movie Amadeus was filmed in Prague, even though the setting is in Salzburg or Vienna. Prague is such a well preserved town that the director Milos Forman was confident he wouldn't need to make many changes to get an authentic look. This movie was filmed when Prague was still under the scourge of communism. If you ever have chance to watch the making of Amadeus on the directors cut of the DVD you'll learn of the challenges in making a movie behind the iron curtain.

So, we start in Prague. Mozart visited Prague 4 times in his life and was always well received. More so than even in his native Austria. He premiered his opera Don Giovanni at the Estates Theater. In the Movie, the main opera scenes are filmed in this theater. It stands as it did in the 18th century. Sadly I wasn't allowed to go inside as there are no tours. One has to have tickets to a performance to go inside. But I did get to see it in person and know that Mozart conducted his Don Giovanni from its pit.

Prague is a stunningly beautiful city. You can keep Paris. I was more impressed with Prague.

I'll have the webshots album up soon.

So, let me share with you our continuing camper adventures.

We leave our impromptu campsite outside of Frankfurt and begin what we know will be a longer drive to Prague. We expect about 4.5 hours. Everything packs up nicely and we make it out of the narrow campground streets. About 2/3's of the way there on a 2 lane divided highway we start to see trucks and cars towing camper trailers stopped in the right lane. We move to the left and cruise on by. Literally this goes on for miles. We are very puzzled. I took awhile for us to figure out that the trucks and towing cars cannot drive in the left lane, so whatever is causing this jam is going to keep them there in that position for quite a while. Just as we were discussing our good fortune our lane begins to stop. We can't see ahead of us, except to see people getting out of their cars and walking around. Never a good idea on a busy freeway. This delay was about an hour. It turns out there was an accident on a bridge ahead and the road had to go down to one lane. This was all it took to create a 10 mile backup. Poor Frederick was dealing in stop and go traffic in a standard vehicle. You don't appreciate how easy it is to drive an automatic until you have to control the transmission. After the long wait, we were on our way to Prague. A bit delayed yes, but we just had to be in town by 7PM for our tour. It's now about 2:30PM. We are about an hour and half away. As we cross the border in to the Czech Republic we have to stop at "Czech Stop" (that's for our friends who travel I35 to it). We have to pick up an electronic tolltag due to the size of our vehicle. It records the actual mile you drive and bills your credit card accordingly. You think DMV forms are fun in English....try them in Czech!

We have survived our first border crossing. Horray! If our RV wasn't so large, we would have just crossed the border like you'd cross into any different state. However, the roads were a mess. The concrete that was not level, so every bump was magnified. Things look very different. I'm very intrigued by the pop art subculture of marketing and such. A drive across the US and Canada will show you that most all the adverts are the same. There is a tone and texture to our ads. The tone and texture of the ads and building signs in Czech were very foreign. It never ceases to amaze me how many different, totally unrecognizable words can be made with 26 letters a few other odd characters. The roads were oddly connected, the inclines were not to the code you are normally used to. Thanks to our handy GPS we were taking the turns like a pro....until we weren't. Somewhere about 4 miles from our campsite we took a wrong turn. "Recalculating" Ok, we'll just follow where it says and that will get us back on track. Oh contraire mon amis. Our GPS detoured us right through the Mala Strana. This is part of the old town, built for horses and people, not 27 ft RV's. Now we could not know this until it was too late. Frederick's Dad has some video that I need to post, but just let me tell you Frederick was a savior behind the wheel. Everyone stopped dead in their tracks to simultaneously mouth in whatever language the spoke, "what the hell is that RV think it's doing?" or "where are they going?". We were the Griswolds. We had to back up twice and go the wrong way on 2 one way streets to get out of dodge. Ok, we know where the campground is, but we have to cross the river to get to it. The GPS wants to send us through plague spreading tight quarters and that just won't work. Eventually we drive around larger streets and do the Columbus thing of going one way to get to another. We make it to the campsite and all is well. They have a big spot ready for us, no need to back out. The tram stop to get to downtown for our tour was just around the corner. A short ride and a short walk and a trip to tourist info gets us where we need to be. All is well, but it was a bit of a adventure. We know that we have to be careful about wrong turns, as you don't have as many options as you do in a car. After this we told the GPS we were a bus, so we are hoping it will now route accordingly.
This isn't one of my pictures, but it gives you a sense of the size of street we had to negotiate. There were also many more people when we were there.

Next up, Prague Movie Segway Tour!

1 comment:

Packey said...

Love the TX sticker. Frederick did not mention the that it had Texas flags on it! Wow what an RV adventure (and you are just getting started)! I told him that I felt like I should have player the National Lampoon theme song for ya'll. The Mala Strana story does sound like it is a Griswold European Vacation!