Monday, July 12, 2010

Timeless Prague


This door is used in Amadeus. I'll try and grab a screen shot.
In Amadeus Mozart walks down this street.
Prague across the river.
The Estates Theater...Mozart conducted the premier of Don Giovanni here.

Once we find the Campsite in Prague the tourist part of our vacation begins. Our host, Peter at Dana Camping couldn't have been more accommodating. He had a large site set aside for us and made sure did not have to turn around to exit the campground. Just a short walk around the corner brings us to a tram stop that will take us into the heart of Prague. We have lined up a Segway Movie Tour for all of us. It takes us a bit to find the location of the start of the tour. When we do, we realize that it's exactly where we dead ended with the motorhome that afternoon. It seems impossible that we fit in that small space. Of course we hadn't remembered to bring our voucher, but technology comes to the rescue. We used remote access on the internet cafe computer to access our home computer and then email it to ourselves. From there we just had to log onto webmail and print it.

Across the street was pizza for Alex and paninis for the rest of us. Soon it was time to hop on the segways. Oh how I love a Segway! I wish we could afford to rent them for the whole trip!

Many movies have been filmed in Prague. Of course Amadeus (the only movie filmed there while Prague was under communist rule) but also Van Helsing, Borne Identity, The Prince and Me, Bad Company and the ridiculous EuroTrip. The funny thing about Eurotrip is that is the story of American teenagers visiting several cities in Europe, but the entire film was shot in Prague. Our guide Rene was from Brazil, but had been living in Prague for many years. A child of hippies, with his dreads, too hip jeans and motorcycle boots, he looked like a euro Bob Marley. The combination of a native Portuguese speaker, who has been speaking Czech and speaking now to us in English made for a very entertaining accent. Along with us on our tour was a mother and teenage daughter from Birmingham England. The Mom was at the counter asking Rene many questions before the start of our tour. Alex was quite certain he was witnessing a live Monty Python sketch. The Mom sounded just like Eric Idle in drag. We had a good laugh. They were very nice and we had a great time with them.

Rene brought along a small video player and showed us film scenes directly in front of the place where they were shot. In the photos you'll see the square that doubled as Copenhagen in The Prince and Me, the bench in “Berlin” where Matt Damon is sleeping in Borne Identity and several Amadeus locations. We took the Segways all the way up the hill to Prague Castle. We were quite thankful to have them as the trip up there is quite a hike uphill. Maneuvering the steep inclines on the segway took some skill, but we managed. I only fell once. It cost me the screen on one of my cameras (I think the cable is just loose inside) and a huge bruise on my leg, but otherwise the machine and I were one.

Prague is an extremely beautiful city. The old town has been left undisturbed by time. The segways are a great way to see the city as you can see more than what you could manage if you were walking and get to places you'd never see on a bus. We toured for about 2 hours and then stopped for a nice dinner. The guide negotiated the Czech dishes. Oh try our national's &&^%%^&*)^, OK sure. It's schnitzel. It was good, but it was schnitzel. Schnitzel is breaded and fried veal, ( or chicken or pork). It's very good. I think every culture has a version of this... in Japan its America is Chicken Mc Nuggets. I wonder if the foodies of America would hate it less if the served McSchnizel.

After dinner we made our way down the steep incline of the castle hill. It was now dark and city was even more beautiful after dark. Rene explained that the communists just abandoned the old city center during their dark rule. Prior to the liberation most of the old city center was left vacant. Now all the buildings are loving lived in and the area is a mecca for visitors. A walk back across the historic Charles Bridge and short trolly ride later we were back at the campground ready for a good night sleep. We were disappointed to find that the WIFI required a key and at midnight there was no one around to give it to us. Frederick tried all his hacking skills, but to no avail. So, if you ever stay at Haller Camping in Prague the WIFI key is 1111111111...eugh!!!! (we found this out the next AM). No TV...just go to sleep!

Next morning we woke up early and took advantage of the facilities. Unlimited hot token. Everything was spotless. It's really nice not to have to use the shower in the camper. These campsites run from 20 to 40 Euros a night. They are such a value. Electricity, showers, laundry, restaurant, grocery. I really wish I had the vision when I was younger to just travel to Europe on the cheap. I was so concerned about working and getting a life, I missed some prime traveling opportunities. I didn't fly in a airplane till I was 19 and didn't cross the Mississippi River till I was 26. I'm making up for it now. When Alex is safely on his own, I'm certain we will sell our house and become vagabonds.

We take the tram back into the city for more sightseeing. I had my heart set on seeing the Estates Theater. This is a theater that has been in continuous operation for more than 250 years. It's the National Opera house for the Czech Republic. If you have seen Amadeus, you have scene the interior. Unfortunately, the inside is only open during performances. They do not give tours. I tried to sneak in the back door, but no luck. We walked back across the bridge to see the Infant of Prague church.....

Continued when I get a moment to finish.............

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