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Published: July 11th 2016
We had gone to bed on one day, as Europeans. We awoke the following morning as British. The “Leave” campaign had mobilized the disillusioned masses and the some of the chattering classes. It seems that the problems of a nation were all placed at the door of a few guys from Poland who opened up a corner shop to serve the community and expressed in some form of protest vote. The events of the previous day’s referendum had yet to unravel. There is a strong possibility that after the various countries who make up the Union have had their say, we’ll be just straightforward English. Have the Scots got enough oil revenue to go it alone? Possibly not, but they might take the view that if Latvia and Estonia can make a fist of independence, we can have a go too. They have a Wimbledon mens singles title holder again, after all. The basis for leaving seemed to be based on taking control of our borders, so that we can go back to the good old days. Which good old days? The ones when we were all as poor as church mice and we made c*** cars. In some of the
less affluent areas of the UK, I think somebody forgot to communicate just how much funding for projects to regenerate came from the EU sources. The “Leavers” would counter that it was our money anyway, but whether it could ever be extracted from our own Government is another matter. Europe has been good for us and we were good for Europe (if probably a little annoying at times).
The title of this blog takes reference to a song by the Human League. The economic fall out of the UK decision will no doubt be on-going for a number of years. Stock market uncertainty, currency uncertainty and general uncertainty. It will also have an impact on travel. Whether we like it or not, cheap airlines might cut back on routes to and from the UK and focus new investment on EU routes. Ryanair, miffed no doubt at having 20 % of their share value wiped out, have said as much already since the result. EasyJet apparently have their eyes on a Euro base. Look out Luton Airport. In 1982 when the song was written, Phil and the gang talked of taking time to see the wonders of the
world to see the things you've only ever heard of and see things you thought you'd never ever see. It is sad that some of the future generations might not get the chance to follow that dream. There could be multiple reasons, but without doubt a reduction of low cost air routes, a currency collapse and the reintroduction of borders is not going to help. When I was growing up, we had a fully established Iron Curtain. As those who have read any of my blogs will be aware, football normally features. I just love the idea of rolling up to see Red Star Belgrade (Serbia), Hajduk Split (Croatia), Ujpest (Hungary) and Stal Mielec (Poland). Mythical teams from Eastern Europe. You could listen to propaganda radio from Moscow Radio and the Voice of the German Democratic Republic and wonder about visiting all these places….. but it was never going to happen. The world then changed and you could. The fall of Communism and European Union changed all that for us. As Phil said, everybody needs love and adventure!
I digressed a bit … OK a lot …… at the sheer disappointment and disbelief of the UK referendum result. We
left Ceske Budejovice on the 9.03 am bound for Prague. I was pleased once again that the First Czech tickets I had bought off the Czech Railway website, once again worked for any train on the date specified. A good service it was too! It had been 15 years, since we last visited and this was only going to be a short wander round on route to the Airport and a flight home. The first time we went to Prague was 1994. It was cheap. There was no tourist infrastructure. I recall a friend – being totally confused at the content of a menu and a lack of translation into English – ordering about 15 dishes from the page and then deciding on delivery what was to everybody’s liking. The excess order cost a total of £4. Beer even in the pricey parts of Prague was 20 pence. You couldn’t do that now. After a slight technical difficulty with a locker at Prague Railway Station, we deposited the bags and set off for Charles Bridge via the Astronomical Clock. First, we checked the bus stop to the Airport. The old departure hall in the upper areas of the station was
quite impressive and a contrast to the concrete jungle beneath. We marched off into the oppressive heat, aided by our Maps.me app on the phone.
The area around the Astronomical Clock was very busy, although the hour was not approaching. We moved off into segway world in the adjacent square. There are a few main forms of tourist transport in Prague these days - segways, river cruises and sightseeing in old cars. Segways. At every turn, there is an expert speeding up and down, touting for business. The question is how many accidents are there? The experienced make it look easy, but I doubt the stag crews and the hen parties fueled up on booze are in such control of the machines. Do they get a breath test before or after a mowing down a few random pedestrians? A group of lads had their own hurdle to get over nearby. A pair of Irish lasses were selling organised bar crawls and had eyes on this stag do as their next customers. We moved off down a posh shopping street in the general direction of the river and the Charles Bridge. The lucky, lucky men it seems have
moved on from selling sunglasses and now wait in their nautical outfits to lure those who can be persuaded on to a boat. Charles Bridge was packed in the mid-day sun. The caricature artists were neatly spaced out between the statues and doing good business - 30 Euros a pop. The Castle loomed overhead. The boats, filled by our nautical friends, sailed below. We sought refuge from the 32 degree heat with a McFlurry in the air-conditioned basement of the Ronnie Macs on the north side of the bridge.
There was time to see the hour strike at the Astronomical Clock, before we headed back up to the railway station to retrieve our bags. We stopped for lunch in a suitably back street, economic, establishment. I wasn't surprised to see the beer at 75% more expensive than it had been in Ceske Budejovice. I wasn't drinking anyway - the car was back at the airport in the UK. However, it vindicated the decision to explore the lesser known regions of the country. We paid our 60 Czech Crowns and baked on the bus all the way back to the airport. I spied Sparta Prague's Letna Stadium on
route in the leafy consulate area and hatched a plan in my mind to take in some more Czech footie before the pound collapsed even further.
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