Prague – the trip!

Alan H’s thoughts on the trip – A Personal Memoir.

Kelsborrow Choir trip to Czech Republic

Excellent flight arrived 20 minutes early. Highly recommend Jet 2 as the plane has loads of leg room and that is unusual for me to say that I was comfortable!
Double deck bus to hotel Astra. Superb bus, very smooth ride. The country round Prague is very flat and all arable very tidy fields. Did not see any animals at all.
Hotel about 3 stars I guess. Bed very comfy and room adequate. They give you the TV remote along with the key. Excellent evening meal of soup followed by roast pork, bacon, egg and chips with enough chips to feed an army.


Got up at 7.30 and made a cup of tea for Nick and me. Went for a swim which was lovely. The shower at the pool is very hot and powerful so that is good as there is no way I can get into the shower in the room. It is over the bath and the bath is tiny.
Breakfast was an adventure with loads to choose from. I had a sausage and egg with pâté and a roll. Lovely coffee.

Coach into Kladno and walking guided tour of centre of town. Saw statues of Smetana and Dvorak, who both came from the Czech Republic. Sang “Sanctus” to Dvorak – I wonder if he enjoyed it? Walked on to town square to see church and town hall and then on to castle. Here are kept 2 bears in an enclosure. They were left as cubs by a travelling circus and the townsfolk, not wanting to have them killed, are now paying for their keep.

Lunch of soup and venison stew with rice. Coach back to hotel for a rest and change ready for leaving for concert in Prague. We are realising how long it takes to get a large party of 72 people on and off the coach.

Concert in Prague at 6.00 pm in the Sandgate, a part of a castle which was a bit like a railway tunnel, with the walls covered in paintings of nude ladies. Great concert well received but please no more Hymnfest – it is such hard work! Journey into Prague very slow due to roadworks and rush hour.
Back to hotel and buffet but not hungry due to lots of food after concert. Very tired and early to bed.


Up at 7.30 for a quick cup of tea and a swim before breakfast. Coach at 9.30 for free day in Prague.
Took a bus tour of the city including the castle which is the president’s residence. We passed the hotel in Wenceslas Square where Donald and I stayed in 1964. Beautiful buildings everywhere, quite a different city from 1964 when everything was so drab and grey.
Back to hotel and evening meal with camp fire songs led by Margaret. Is there no end to that lady’s talents?


8.00 am start to go into Kladno to meet the Lord Mayor in what I assumed was the Mayor’s parlour. A large room at the top of the building with the end wall covered with splendid paintings. Elaine presented the present and greetings from the Lord Mayor of Chester and we sang Sanctus. A brief encounter but nonetheless an important part of our schedule.
Back to hotel to pick up rest of the party and quick turn round then off to the glass factory at Beroun. Travelled through a lot of forests and much more upland country. There seems to be a great deal of timber grown in the area. A very interesting visit and the most noticeable thing was the lack of health and safety precautions taken by the workers. The craftsmanship was very evident and fascinating to watch.
On to lunch in a fairly modern hotel in Beroun, which was ok but not exciting. The one consistency with the meals was the soup which was always excellent but rarely served with bread though. On this occasion we did get a roll
An hour free time to spend in Beroun, but all the shops were shut on Saturday afternoon so a bit boring. Some managed to find the river which they said was worth the walk.
Back to hotel to change for concert in Kladno. This was all 3 choirs and we went down a storm right from the first piece, which was Hymnfest again. The choir sang at their very best and we were received with rapturous applause. We were preceded by the ladies choir from Prague and followed by the Smetana Slovanka from Kladno who all sang their traditional Czech pieces and were well received. It was a wonderful evening in a superb hall with excellent acoustic. All three choirs finished the evening off with a rendering of World in Union – so suitable for such an international occasion and we gave them an encore. We all went back to the hotel buzzing with the success of the evening.
It was followed by a barbecue banquet for all three choirs starting with a champagne reception. It was a great evening for all with plenty to drink and eat and finished off with songs round the camp fire. All went to bed with the satisfaction of a truly wonderful day. Quite one for the entire choir to remember for a very long time to come.


Up early for a swim and a shower. I shall miss their lovely pool and power shower.
A real buzz at breakfast as everyone was appreciating the success of the previous evening, and a few were nursing sore heads! All through the trip it has been so plain that everyone is mixing well and getting to know everyone else, much more so than during weekly rehearsals at home.
On the bus at 10.30 with suitcases packed for the journey to the castle at Lany which is the summer residence of the President. We were able to have a quick walk round the gardens before getting back in the bus to travel to Krivoklat to see another castle. This was a long walk down the valley from where the bus was parked and although there was not much to see there was an excellent coffee shop which was patronised by many of our party. It was a further walk down the valley to the hotel where lunch was served. A good lunch and quite different from previous menus, except, of course, the soup which was delicious as usual. Luckily for us all the bus driver plucked up the courage to come down the valley to pick us up, which was a great relief to those of us with mobility problems.
The final visit was to Lidice, a small village where, in 1942, the Nazis murdered all the men, took all the women to concentration camps and took the children away and later murdered most of them too. The day we were there was the 70th anniversary of the massacre and so it was a very poignant visit. All the houses in the village were destroyed also. The village has since been reconstructed but the site of the original village is now a memorial to those who lost their lives. We had hoped to be able to sing there but as it was raining decided not to.
From Lidice it was a short run to the airport to catch the evening flight to Manchester.