Trip to relive my lost youth. by Bernard

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Between 1970 and 1980 we traveled extensively in Communist east Europe in course of my job. Although the conditions out there were really grim by our standards, we did have a lot of enjoyment, especially when I had an apartment out in Brno. This year we were planning a tour of a few of the places but unfortunately Janina's untimely death put an end to that.

However, I have decided to go for it on my own anyway. Just now checking oil and water in the 75 before I head off for Harwich which was always my first choice of port as one could start off fresh the following morning just that bit closer to Germany.

I know that conditions will have changed beyond recognition since I was last there long before "The Wall" came down."

No return ticket booked as yet, I will tour around till I get fed up or the money runs out. Probably the latter but I have to be back for the Nano Meet!
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Posted 09 Jun 2015, 11:30 #1 

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(Site Admin)
Good move Bernard. Have a great trip.

Posted 09 Jun 2015, 11:51 #2 

Bernard, glad to hear that you are finding that you can move forward.

"Don't think of them as problems, think of them as opportunities."
"OK, I think I've hit an insurmountable opportunity!"


Posted 09 Jun 2015, 12:14 #3 

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Good decision Bernard.

Have a great trip.

Cogito ergo sum... maybe?

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Posted 09 Jun 2015, 12:56 #4 

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As a family we took a fibre glass shed (towed by dad's Rover P6) into Czechoslovakia and Hungary in around 1978. We visited Prague, Budapest and Bratislava.

It took an age to get through the border into Czechoslovakia, and we found that we were stopped every 20 or so miles across the entire journey for our paperwork to be checked. The crossing between the two countries took most of a day, and when we got to Budapest, the car broke down - we found a back street garage who delighted in driving the car around to "test" it, although IIRC, they didn't fix it. On the fibre glass shed site, we were watched constantly (we honestly think that one of the fellow campers was actually assigned to watch us, as he never took his eyes off us!). Apart from one West German car, we were the only folks there who weren't "local". The whole place was very run down, although we found later that we'd only been to Buda and not Pest, (or was it the other way around?) but the one we'd been to was apparently, at the time, seedier.

When we crossed the border back into West Germany, we'd never been so relieved! Still an experience I wouldn't have missed mind!

Went back to Prague about 8 years ago, and the "feel" of it has changed completely. Wouldn't say it was just like any other European capital, but getting there mind.... Good for those that are no longer oppressed of course, but sad that the world is becoming samey....

Posted 09 Jun 2015, 17:22 #5 

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It will be well worth it. I'm sure you will get to places that have changed less than others. The capital cities will be where the biggest differences are, but outside of the it varies. One thing you will find is there are many more motorways now. OK, there are motorways now.

Posted 09 Jun 2015, 17:36 #6 

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Also went to China in 1998, and from what I've seen on TV, that has changed beyond all recognition! (but as you say, I'd guess that the smaller places are much the same!)

Posted 09 Jun 2015, 18:25 #7 

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Bernard wrote:No return ticket booked as yet

That's the spirit! Bon voyage Bernard.

Posted 09 Jun 2015, 20:07 #8 

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Well, that was a most enjoyable and successful little tour.
The hotels that I picked were mostly superb, thanks to the internet and the 100% free WiFi available everywhere.
It also stopped me from booking a hotel that I had stayed at in the seventies. At that time it was the only one in town and now it is £15 per night including breakfast. Sounds likely that it hasn't improved much. Nostalgia can go too far.

The big bonus for me was tracking down an old Czech friend with whom we had had many good times but completely lost touch. It was not so easy back then to keep contact. The last time that I had seen him was in 1980 at which time he was accompanied by a policeman, I feared that he had ended up in some Gulag somewhere in Siberia. Seriously.

It didn't take long for my friend to contact another couple that we had known years ago. They were very shocked to learn that I had lost both my son and my wife, remembering every little detail of our visits. A few grand reunion celebrations ensued, involving a lot of sampling of Pilsner Urquell but thankfully I remained sober enough to resist the Karlovarsky Becherovka which had previously had such a debilitating effect on me. Vile concoction, tastes like the stuff the dentist uses to kill root infections. The Czechs love it.

They certainly have put some effort into catching up the generally lost years of hard Communist rule. The few mainly almost empty shops of way back have been replaced with McDonalds, Vodafone and Tesco. Not all good then. The place is unrecognisable but I knew that it would be so. Nobody would believe me when I told them how awful it was in East Europe in those days. I am so pleased to feel that the dreadful pall of oppression has gone from East Europe. Their lifestyle is enviable now in some ways with their weekend houses in beautiful surroundings.

Four days later and feeling that other visits to the old places were going to be a bit of an anticlimax, I decided to start to head for home. As I had never spent much time in the old East Germany, preferring to get out of the dreadful place as soon as humanly possible, I headed for Dresden and Leipzig. Had a look at Colditz Castle because I realised it was close by.

A nice steady drive over 3 days to catch the ferry to get back to take my father out on Father's Day resulted in a fuel consumption of 32mpg and an average speed for the 2150 miles of 52 mph. As I filled up with LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) in the Czech Republic at 39p per litre and Belgium at about 30p it was not an expensive little outing. The car ran perfectly throughout, of course.

I am so glad that I did it
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Posted 24 Jun 2015, 11:28 #9 

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What an enchanting tale Mr B, really pleased you managed to re establish contact with old friends :)


Posted 25 Jun 2015, 14:07 #10