Thursday 12th june 2008

Our JaKL Shanty Choir has been invited at the 1st Shantyfest in Prague, an occasion we didn't let pass. After weeks of preparation the day has finally come. At 5 a.m. thursday morning 12th june we all are waiting at our bus to take us direction Prague. 


We are barely an hour underway when Isidoor's mobile phone rings. Radio 2 wants to known what we are going to do in Prague. A song sung in the bus should awake the radio listeners of Ochtendpost in Limburg. 
Unfortunate we were already too far from home to hear the recording broadcasted. 

With the necessary stops between we arrive at 17h20 at the hotel Olympic Tristar, our operating base for the next days. 
After a long journey it is logical that most of us went directly to the bar tasting the world-famous Czech pils. 
Friday 13 june 
At 8 am, Anna and Zuzanna, our English-speaking and German-speaking guides, are awaiting us in the lobby of the hotel. They will guide us today through the old Prague and will try to bring us some culture of their country. 
With the underground railway which is only five hundred meters located from the hotel, and 4 metro stops we arrive in no time in the centre of Prague. 
After the metro we change on the tram and start a 'joy-ride' to the Strahovsky convent, the part lain on top of the old Prague. Hereafter we walk further down to the presidential palace or the Prague Castle. The timing is excellent so that we can experience the change of the guard.   
Escaping the fresh wind we go inside the St. Vitus Cathedral where also the history of Prague is presented in many ways.
Noon is arriving and it is time to look for a restaurant. 
The weather was a bit chill and we had not expected that a number of us should sit outside. The patron of the restaurant quickly intervened with a cargo of blankets and a good schnapps. An offer we did not refuse. 
The Shantychoir Hermanos from Norway were so friendly to bring us a number of their songs while we were finishing our diner. 
After eating we continue our way direction Wallenstein Garden, enjoying the splendid gables and buildings. It is in this splendid garden, setting for numerous films, where the official opening of the festival will take place. All 8 participating choirs will give a presentation. 
While Andrea, the organisator of the 1st Shantyfest, crosses her fingers on a good course of the festival, everyone is being welcomed by the president of the Senate of the Czech Republic, MUDr. Přemysl Sobotka. 
The Kreunende Sluisdeuren from Alphen a/d Rijn (Netherlands) will start the ceremony,  
followed by Shantychoir Haselünne from Haselünne (Germany),
the Tjome Korforening (Norway) and  
 the Ijsselmannen from Oudekerk a/d Ijssel (Netherlands).
It is now our turn to give an impression of our are repertoire. For the last song our women join us to empower the sound and conclude the whole nicely.   
After us comes the Hermanos Choir from Lillesand (Norway),
the Scheldeloodsenkoor from Vlissingen (Netherlands)  
and the Magellan Shanty Choir from Paderborn (Germany).
After this performance we are expected at the Moldau for a boat trip to the Zluté Lazne, a splendid sports and free-time centre along the eastern Vltava river banks.   
From far we see the smoke from the barbecue fires and already pick up the delicious smell when we approach the area. 
For a moment it looks less fun when a heavy shower passes by. Luckily all passes by quickly. 
United with all the participants of the 8 groups, drinking beer and enjoying the barbecue, goblets and remembrances are awarded and soon begins this evening to evaluate in a joint singing.   
It even seems that the 'Dutch orange football microbe' will overtake the evening but fortunately the song is stronger than a football. It quickly becomes evident that music is a world language. Be the lyrics in Dutch, German, English or Norwegian, each choir sings it in melody. 
There was agreed that Frans would come to pick us up with the bus at 10 pm. A reasonable hour for a long journey. Although, without a nightcap is also but nothing and we will pass the bar before going to bed.   
Apparently we are not the only one with the same idea. Our German friends from Paderborn were already at the bar. It will therefore be nightcap and lullaby. 
Saturday, June 14 
Although the weather predictions were not too famous for the weekend the day has started with a shining sun. Hopefully this will continue because with 2 performances in open air, rain is not exactly welcome. 
The first performance is at 10 am in the garden at the entrance of the Malostranská Subway, the backyard of Wallenstein Garden.
After barely half an hour singing, we must pause to switch to our summer outfit. Meanwhile, subway travelers pass by and most of them take the time to stop a moment to listen. 
After this action we are expected at the famous Charles Bridge or Karluv most, the famous bridge in Prague that every tourist should have seen. Once our Norwegian friends have finished, we take place before the Karlova Mostu museum for the second musical part of the day.   
Also here is a continuous passing of tourists stopping a moment to listen. Who knows, with the many photos that were taken maybe we will be invited in Japan. 
The acoustics is excellent and it is clear that the voices already felt a bit lubricated. 
Once again when we see our friends from Paderborn coming, we know that our musical time is over. 
Now back to the hotel to change clothes and strengthen the inner man. The afternoon is free and everyone takes the time to Prague at his own pace to discover a city that has so many strengths in her and has seduced us enough to ensure a further backtrack. 
At the evening, everyone is tired and met back at the hotel. After dinner we have agreed with our German brothers from Paderborn to sing together to close the festival. There is a lot of fun and regular we hear a barrel rolling in the back of the bar. Are these kegs smaller in the Czech Republic or ... ? 
At a reasonable hour anyone is under the wool. The night will again be brief anyway. 
Sunday, June 15 
Packing suitcases, taking our breakfast and go. At 7 am Frans brings the bus in front of the hotel. With more than 870 km to go we did not have to worry and could still go quietly doze. 
Around 19h15 we all arrive tired but happy at the club, some pleasant and beautiful memories richer.