21.08.2010 - 28.08.2010
We spent six nights at the ‘Drusus Campsite’, half an hour by public transport from the centre of Prague. We had about three hours relaxing under the warm sun before the winter weather returned. Two days of miserable rain, storms and mud! We weren’t going to let it spoil our enjoyment of Prague the way it did in Lyon, but our second full day there – Sunday 25th – was spent inside the van. It was just too miserable.
We travelled by train and metro on the other days into the city, and I must say it is a very impressive place (read about it on Wikipedia if you like). It’s a very ‘happening’ place, hell-bent on extracting the most from tourism that it can; and I’m sure Prague makes a fortune in summer.
Ann spent an absolute fortune on rings and Faberge-style eggs – and she had a ball doing it. All I bought was a pair of cheap canvas shoes (I’m a man of simple tastes). We walked to the majority of the must-see places as did the swarms of American, Japanese, Italian, French, English, Australian and other tourists.
I’m probably going to put a few noses out of joint here, but tell me something. What is it about famous buildings and bridges, sculptures and paintings, that brings out the moron in tourists (what am I saying – tourists are by definition morons?) They’re all out snapping away indiscriminately with their rinky-tinky little digital cameras, images that are for the most part redundant and probably poorly taken anyway. I can understand if you take a picture of a famous building that includes some human interest, say one’s travelling companions (at least it personalises the scene and will, in the future, evoke strong memories of the trip). But why oh why take a characterless snap of something when you can get a postcard of it or, easier still, download the image off the Net?
The happy snapper will try to justify that by taking the picture yourself, you somehow imbue the image with a bit of your own personality, or that you feel somehow more connected to the place. What a crock!
I agree that forty years ago a photo of whatever it is would have meant more to you as an aide-memoire of the trip because a) there were no internet images and b) postcards of the particular scene were usually a century out of date, or so poorly coloured that they offered no real substitute for a good photo.
Listen morons – either include human interest in your photos or put away your bloody cameras and enjoy the experience of just being there!
Sorry about that – I just hate tourists!
Back to the blog. The weather only slightly improved during the time we were in Prague, but it didn’t spoil the enjoyment. The campsite however was a disappointment, and in hindsight we should have moved to one of the others in Prague. It was not cheap, but it didn’t justify its cost by providing great facilities as do many other sites. As it was a small site, it had no poor-weather facilities, like TV or a games room. If it was wet (as it was) you were stuck in your camper. The dish-washing facilities were lamentable; and the waste-water next to them provided a round-the-clock reminder of what rotting vegetables and ordure smelt like. It was made worse by the fact that the torrential downpour on the first night flooded the drains.
Worst of all (and I do apologise if I sound a bit obsessed with shower facilities) but they were a complete rip-off. Having recently come from a site where the ablution block reminded me of something out of a concentration camp, I was happy to see that a near-new, hi-tech, bright tile and glass structure had been built for the campers. It was clean and light – it even had a Romanesque-style tessellated floor mosaic in the foyer – and I heartily approved.
I was disappointed though to learn that you had to pay 20 krone for a shower – OK, get over it – it’s only 80 cents. What did raise the hackles was when I learnt that, as soon as you inserted the curiously shaped token into the hi-tech automatic shower coin slot, a digital read-out counted down second-by-second from three minutes to OFF! And you practically had to run around to get wet, the water pressure was so low.
Now, I’m prepared to accept that when you just want a quick shower to clean off the day’s grime, three minutes seems ample. But fair go – in the morning when you want to shampoo your hair and wake up slowly under a steady stream of hot invigorating water, then five minutes is an absolute minimum.
Now I know how they managed to keep the shower block so clean – no-one could afford to use the showers!
The Czech Republic, what we saw of it, was pleasant enough; but the attraction for foreigners must be Prague. It probably props up the country’s economy on its own. With its endless shopping, wonderful old buildings and many squares, it is a real tourist mecca.
I wouldn’t rush back to the Republic on what little we’ve seen of it, but it has been a lesson in the differences between the rich west and the less affluent former East. You can tell from people’s dress, their housing, the roads and the general feel of the country, that the Czech Republic has a way to go to catch up with the wealth taken for granted by Western Europe.
Oh, I have to say that so far the Czech girls are the best looking sol far in Europe!