SW-68-69 My stay in SWITZERLAND and trips to FRANCE and LICHTENSTEIN between 1968 to 1969
Date of stay: Aug 21, 1968 – Apr 2, 1969
After the invasion of Warsaw Pack members into Czechoslovakia and temporary closing its border on Aug 21, 1968, the Swiss authority secured accommodation and jobs for Czechoslovaks, who were caught in the situation in SWITZERLAND. I got a job at Grundig as a TV repairman. The accommodation was secured at houses and apartments of local citizens. I got a room in an apartment of one older lady. Immediately I started working on my German language, which needed a lot of improvement.
On Sep 20, 1968 I took part in a yearly trip with Grundig employees. By train from Zurich to Lausanne on Lake Geneva, then crossing the lake by boat and several hours stay in Evian in FRANCE. My first visit to that country. The return was the same as entrance to France but in a reversed order.
On Mar 16, 1969 I took a car trip with two Czech friends to the eastern Switzerland and LICHTENSTEIN. We visited a Lichtenstein ski area, the capital Vaduz we saw its castle there and drove the lengths of this small country to its southern point, where is another castle.
During the year I visited many places in Switzerland. Among them: Geneva, Lausanne, Berne, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne, Schaffhausen, Constance and other and learn German pretty well.
I left Switzerland on Apr 2, 1969 for my trip to Paris, Luxembourg, Iceland and United States of America.
CN-69 Abbreviation of Czech “Cesta z nutnosti” (A Journey of Necessity) to France, Luxembourg, Iceland and USA to show that my year stay abroad after the Soviet Invasion was correct for my traveling aspirations.
Date of travel: Apr 2 – Aug 11, 1969
I left Switzerland by train late on Apr 2. By early morning Apr 3 I got to FRANCE specifically Paris where I spent 4 days sightseeing the city including Versailles. Early on Apr 7 I got by train to LUXEMBOUG and was a day there. Overnight flight took me to ICELAND for Apr 8 and 9 (visiting its capital Reykjavik and Selfoss). Another overnight flight brought me to New York in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in the morning Apr 10. In next 4 months I visited the following places by bus there: New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC, Niagara Falls, NY; Cleveland, OH; Chicago, IL; Kansas City, KS; St. Louis, MO; Huntsville, AL; Chattanooga and Knoxville, TN; Great Smoky Mountains, NC; Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral, Miami, Key West, Everglades National Park, St. Petersburg, all in FL; New Orleans, LA; San Antonio and El Paso, TX; Tucson, Phoenix and Grand Canyon, AZ; White Sands, Gallup, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos, all these in NM; Denver, CO; Cheyenne, Yellowstone National Park, WY; Salt Lake City, UT; Reno and Las Vegas, NV; San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Eureka, all CA; Seattle, WA.
Travel office: No specific travel office used, but a student travel agency in Zurich, Switzerland gave me number of good suggestions, which I used during this trip. Not to close my possible return to Czechoslovakia, I asked and got the Czechoslovakian government permission for travel to USA.
Who took part: I traveled alone with only rudimentary knowledge of English. In spite of that I had very little problems. In Europe I used the train, to Iceland and USA I took a plane and in USA I traveled by bus. In Paris I slept in a students’ college, on Iceland in a house of Salvation Army and in USA I slept mostly in YMCA or on the bus itself during overnight rides
Date of travel: May 19 – June 2, 1998
Early on May 19 I left Vista in rented car for San Diego airport. From there I flew via St. Louis and New York to Barcelona, SPAIN, where early in the morning on May 20. It took 3.5 days sightseeing of Barcelona on my own visiting all the interesting places incl. Sagrada Familia, a cathedral by Gaudi, which is being built since the 20th and is still far from finished.
In the afternoon on May 23 I took a bus from Barcelona to ANDORRA high in the Pyrenees Mountains to visit a Czech family living there for years. In the next 4 days with their help I saw most of Andorra la Vella, the country capital, visited over 2300 m high mountains and took a trip to Llivia, a Spanish enclave within France close to Andorra.
On May 28 this Czech family took me on a 5 day trip in their mobile home around the Pyrenees Mts. After passing Pas de la Casa we entered FRANCE continuing to Foix, St.Giron and Tarbes sleeping in campings. On May 29 we reached Lourdes (here I spent a part of an afternoon visiting the holy place of Catholics). After that we drove to Oloron and Bedous. On May 31 we crossed the Pyrenees to SPAIN and going through Jaca and Huesca we came to Lerida. Then to Tarragona at the Mediterranean Sea.
In the morning on June 2 I took a plane from Barcelona via New York and St. Louis to San Diego. To Vista I got in a rented car.
Travel office: no travel office used
Who took part: I traveled by plane and visited Barcelona by myself. In Andorra and during the trip around Pyrenees Mountains I traveled with the Czech family.
Pa-00 Paris, FRANCE
Time of travel: Aug 28 – Sep 1, 2000
On Aug 28, 2000 at 4:30 PM I leave Prague-Florenc on a bus crossing Germany and coming to Paris, FRANCE at 8 AM on Aug 29. I leave my things in my “Royal Montparnasse Hotel” and go for a sightseeing walk of the city. I take video and pictures at Jardin Marco Polo near Jardin du Luxembourg, at and in Pantheon, I pass near Sorbona to island in the River Seine with Notre Dame, then I continue to Pompidou Centre. Walking past the Opera House and when taking a peak in Eglise de la Madeleine I reach Place de la Concorde. After taking a picture of the Egyptian Obelisk on the square, I return to my hotel.
The following day I walk to Hotel des Invalides where I see the tombs of Napoleon and General Foch while in the rest is Musee de L’Armee. Then I walk the length (2 km) of Champs-Elysees to Arc de Triomphe (I climb to its observation point). The metro takes me to Bois de Boulongue. From there I get to the Eifel Tower taking the elevators to the top. After 10 hours sightseeing I return to my hotel.
On Aug 31 I take metro to Montmartre and explore Basilica Sacre Coeur followed by Place de Tertre full of artists mostly painters. Little downhill a there is Moulin Rouge in front of my cameras. Another ride by metro to Place de la Concorde. From there through the Jardin des Tuileries with Art de Triomphe du Carrousel behind which is the famous Louvre Museum. There I spend the rest of the day.
In the morning on Sep 1 I take metro and train to Charles de Gaulle airport. A TWA plane takes me to St. Louis and then another plane to Orange County airport in California. After picking up a car at AVIS I drive home to Vista where at 10 PM.
Travel office: I arranged all by myself.
Who took part: I traveled alone.
F-01 A more or less comprehensive trip through France with a day stop in Monaco
Date of travel: Jun 18 – Jul 2, 2001
On Jun 18 I flew from Prague, Czechoslovakia via Munich to Paris, FRANCE, where I joined the Globus group mostly American tourists. During next 12 days the group visited: Paris with Versailles, Rouen, Caen, Normandy, Bayeux Tapestry, Mount St. Michel, Chateaubriant, Anger, Saumur, Blois, Amboise, a castle Chenonceaux, Poitiers, Cognac, Bordeaux, fortress Carcassonne, Montpellier, Roman bridge Pont du Gard, Avignon and Nica. On Jun 27 I spent a day in MONACO alone. That was followed by more French places: Cannes, Aix-en-Provance, Lyon (the second biggest city in the country), Beaune and Dijon in Burgundy, Reims with its Notre Dame Cathedral, where French kings were crowned, and back to Paris on Jun 30. Flight from Paris to Munich on Jul 1, where I missed a plane and spent night and returned to Prague the following morning, Jul 2.
Travel office: Globus (through a local travel office in California)
Who took part: a group of about 20 mostly American tourists, our leader Zuzana (originally from Hungary) and local guides
AF-02 This trip was to the heart of West Africa with Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin in 4WDs
Date of travel: Feb 27 – Mar 20, 2002
On Feb 27 by a rented car from Vista to Los Angeles Airport (LAX) and then by overnight plane to New York (where I visited the American Museum of Natural History in the Central Park). Another night flight to FRANCE where Mar 1 (sightseeing the center of Paris). It was followed by a flight to Bamako, MALI. From Mar 1 to Mar 8 we were in this country visiting: Timbuktu (flying there, having a Blue Man of the desert, a Tuareg, as the local guide and took a camel ride in the desert), flight to Mopti (where a boat ride on Niger River). From here we continued in 4WDs to Djenne (probably the most interesting city in Mali), then we spent some 3 days exploring the unforgettable Dogon Country. Last town visited in Mali was Segou. Then we crossed border to BURKINA FASO (used to be Upper Volta) where from Mar 8 to Mar 14 visiting: Bobo Dioulasso, Banfora, Gaoua, local villages and the capital Ouagadougou. On Mar 14 the third country BENIN (used to be Dahomey). This is a voodoo country, has fascinated villages and a royal history. We visited places like Natitingou, a royal town Abomey, Cotonou, Quidah and Lake Nokoue, where people live in villages on stilts. Late on Mar 19 overnight flight to Paris then New York and LAX and by rented car back to Vista, where Mar 20.
Travel office: Spector Travel of Boston
Who took part: Total of 7 people traveled in Mali, 6 in Burkina Faso and 4 in Benin. In addition an African guide was with us in all 3 countries. Two 4WDs and their drivers in the first two countries and only one in the third.
WAF-15 West Africa trip – Niger, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Chad (unexpected stops in Paris, France and Douala, Cameroon)
Date of travel: Nov 20 – Dec 7, 2015
On Nov 20 at 4 AM I left Vista in a rented car for San Diego Airport. From there I was to fly via Atlanta and Paris to Niamey in Niger. However, due to terrorist attack in Bamako, Mali on Nov 20 the flight from Paris to Niamey was cancelled. Air France put me in a hotel near the CDG airport with room and board for two days.
The flights resumed on Nov 23, when I departed for Niamey, NIGER. The following morning I had a sightseeing tour of the city. Due to a mix-up with air tickets I left for Abidjan instead on Nov 24 a day later.
In the evening on Nov 25 I came to Abidjan, IVORY COAST. Not booked hotel there forced me to find one myself.
On Nov 26 I am back to the original trip schedule going in a car north from Abidjan to Abengourou. Here I was present to a “voodoo” ceremony and visited a Royal Palace.
On Nov 27 a drive to the country administrative capital, Yamoussoukro. The following day sightseeing of the world biggest Christian cathedral consecrated by John Paul II., Grand Mosque and a lake full of the Nile crocodiles.
On Nov 28 going south to the first Ivory Coast French capital and now the UNESCO site, Grand Bassam. The colonial buildings are empty and dilapidated and it will take a lot of money to make the site presentable.
On Nov 29 flight from Abidjan via Lome (Togo) to Lagos, NIGERIA. The day started with a canceled air ticket and ended with no accommodation in Lagos, which I had to solve again by myself. The following day a visit to a pretty good museum in the city and a drive to the Atlantic cost to once a slave city Badagry. Quite interesting remnants of that era. On the drive back there were unsuccessful police attempts to extort money from me solved by my driver.
On Dec 1 flight from Lagos via Cotonou, Benin, to Malabo, EQUATORIAL GUINEA on the Bioko Island in the Gulf of Guinea. Again a little problem because nobody was waiting for me at the airport. By taxi to the hotel. The next day sightseeing the E.G. modern capital, Malabo with its extremely high humidity. The day after a drive around the Bioko Island with its beautiful green jungle covered mountainous countryside.
Dec 4 should have been flight from Malabo via Douala, Cameroon to N’Djamena, Chad. After flight to Douala the following plane was broken and was delayed until early next morning. All passengers got a hotel and dinner in Douala, CAMEROON.
Dec 5 very early morning departure from Douala to the capital of CHAD, N’Djamena. That day sightseeing of the city which is laying in a flat sandy desert with a monument of independence, some ministerial buildings and few large hotels. The day after a visit to a fish market and a mud house village few miles outside N’Djamena with a collection of excavations by French archeologists.
Before midnight on Dec 6 flight from N’Djamena to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon to change the flight crew for which sleeping in N’Djamena was too dangerous. Then to Paris and via Los Angeles to San Diego. From there in a rented car home to Vista where at midnight of Dec 7.
Travel office: Spiekermann Travel Service, which gave it to one British company who gave it to a company in Bamako, Mali, where many problems of my trip originated.
Who took part: I was the only traveler, but from Niger via Ivory Coast to Nigeria I had a guide from the Bamako travel agency. In the following places I had guides in the individual countries.