July 2021 – In search of more Hundertwasser.
Every adventure begins somewhere and so here is the boring preamble ….
I would just like to begin by noting that in 2019, Lucie and I enjoyed two wonderful holidays.
Firstly, in the Spring, we visited Israel and Jordan. Despite this being a more “conventional” sort of holiday to that which we usually take (we travelled a lot, as usual – but using hire cars !!!!) it gave us an amazing insight into the history, geography and stunning scenery in those two countries.
In the Autumn, we made the Australian trip you can read about, if you care to, on these pages. At the time, to do two such journeys in a single year seemed like a great extravagance to us. But, in retrospect, it was almost as if we knew that our freedom to go wherever we wanted to might not last forever.
After our “Odyssey down under”, which we completed on an Heritage Softail, we decided we wanted one for ourselves. This would, as Lucie thought, “replace” our slightly venerable FatBoy or, as I thought, “supplement” it. My thinking won !
We ordered the Softail, in “normal” life, but, before we even picked it up, the Covid pandemic had swept across Europe. We know the people at Harley-Davidson Prague well and they are a friendly bunch, but because of the imposed “social distancing”, we collected it from a closed sales room. We were practically passed the keys and documents on long stick and they waved us off from yards away !
The pandemic only worsened, so we had a nice new bike and we could not go anywhere. Well, that is not quite true, we could move around the Czech Republic, but we could not STOP anywhere. The hotels and restaurants were all closed and what rides we did do were all accomplished within a day – and they both started and ended outside of our very own front door.
In early August 2020, when Europe, mistakenly as it turned out, thought the pandemic was over, we did manage an “international” trip. I like to have a purpose behind my travels and, as lovers of the decidedly “offbeat” artist , Friedensreich Hundertwasser, we planned and executed a jaunt around those of his structural works in the former East Germany,. Again, if you wish, you can read about that here. We also made a similarly documented trip to South Bohemia, in late August and “Prague Harley Days” did take place, in a somewhat restricted form, in the first week in September.
But then Covid reappeared with a vengeance with a third and fourth wave sweeping across the continent. Everything you need, including border crossings, slammed tightly shut again. I had planned to revisit Route 66 with a couple of Irish friends, but that went out of the window and will probably not be possible in 2022 either.
Vaccination campaigns began but, thanks to the total ineptness of the Czech government (we have lost count of those unfortunates handed the “poison chalice” of being Health Minister only to drop it weeks, days or even hours later), progress took ages.
Because of Lucie being considered “high risk”, she became “double jabbed” while we still had snow on the ground and, although I had to wait quite a bit longer, being old finally paid off and I was fully immunised myself by the end of June. We made a trip or two with HOG Prague and waited for our new “status” to mean something. At about the same time, the slavish bureaucracy of the EU (one of the reasons I personally hate it !) finally came up trumps when an Electronic Covid “Passport” was agreed. With the “Tečka” (Dot) app loaded onto our iPhones we were good to go as soon as my post-vaccination waiting period expired and the QR Code display magically gained a green border. This border has subsequently been removed because clever “hackers” were creating their own. It still works though !
As I said, I like to have a purpose and we knew there were three Hundertwasser sites in Vienna and a few more scattered around Upper (which is ironically, the southern part of) Austria. We got out the maps !
Then, right on cue, came torrential rains, all over Europe. There was even a village in Moravia that was largely destroyed by a (thankfully) localised tornado ! We had a plan, but we postponed it twice. Then the skies over Europe brightened and the flooding on some of our proposed route (we would be crossing the Danube and some of its tributaries) subsided. We felt that D-Day had arrived and booked a couple of hotels in Austria. After a year, we could hardly wait to leave our beautiful and beloved city behind the rear wheel of the Heritage in the morning and not see it approaching the front wheel in the afternoon.