“On the Go in our Tourist Shoes” in the Czech Republic
Fan Reports from the Alexander Rybak & Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra Concerts in Ostrava and Plzen
Attending Alexander Rybak’s concerts always gives his fans the opportunity not only to enjoy his music, but to travel and to explore different places together. This was certainly the case last autumn when Alexander returned to the Czech Republic and he went on a mini tour with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra.
Find out more about the concerts HERE
The concerts took place in Ostrava on the 4th October and in Plzen (Pilsen) on the 5th October 2017.
Two of our “Roving Reporters” shared of their adventures in the Czech Republic with us. Read on for the fan reports of Jorunn (Norway) and Bożena (Poland).
Jorunn Ekre: Roving Reporter from Ostrava and Plzen, Czech Republic October 3-9 2017
I caught the plane from Oslo to Prague together with Maarja, we met up with Ellen and Marijke at the airport and took the airport express bus to the train station. The train journey to Ostrava took three hours. Marijke was meeting Danka and so she waited for her. Milada and her husband met us and the rest of us took the tram to our hotel. It was late by the time we arrived, around 7 pm. We had dinner at the hotel and we had a very nice time.
The next day Ellen, Maarja and I went to the venue to have a look at it in daylight. It’s a closed down industrial plant and it looks pretty horrible from the outside.
After taking a lot of photos both inside and out, we went back to town and went up the tower that Ellen and I had been to last year. It has a magnificent view over the city. It was very windy and cold, but it was worth it.
After a while we decided to go back to the hotel to relax for a while and prepare for the concert.
The concert was just great. Alex performed with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, he stated it was the best orchestra he had worked with for years and I do believe him. They started off with a medley of “Springleik” and “Fairytale”, and it was really impressive. Alex entered the stage and they played “Liebesleid”. The soprano Patricia Janečková sang a couple of songs including “Summertime” by Gershwin and she really has an impressive voice. The whole concert was just impressive and it ended too soon as usual.
Afterwards, Alex came out and he signed autographs, posed for photos and spoke to a lot of people. I had my photo taken with him, it was great seeing him as usual.
I spoke to Imre from Budapest while waiting, he wondered if we were the Facebookies and I said yes. He had seen photos of us online and he had been reading our comments on various postings. The whole thing took an hour and we went back to the hotel.
On Thursday we got up in the wee hours to catch the train to Plzen. We arrived at around noon and we walked to our hotel from the station. Ellen and I decided to stay in our room for a while to relax. The train ride took five hours so we were pretty tired.
After a while it was time to go to the venue. This venue was really beautiful and quite small compared to the large hall in Ostrava. Alex was just amazing this time too, and at both concerts he ended with Bergrosa which has always been a favourite of mine. The programme was the same, I have recorded several songs.
Alex came out afterwards this time too and we all got to speak to him. Maarja and I had our photo taken with him.
Afterwards Ellen, Marijke, Joerg, Danka ,Kirsten and I went to a restaurant to have dinner. I had a delicious tenderloin, Kirsten recommended it since she had eaten it before the concert. We had a nice time talking and eating. It was late before I got to bed.
Sightseeing in Plzn
On Friday, Ellen and I had a look around Plzen, it’s a nice city. We climbed up the stairs of St Bartholomew church, altogether 299 steps ! It was quite tiring but well worth it. We took lots of photos, it was rather windy and chilly though. Then we decided to have lunch up in the tower, we found out afterwards it wasn’t allowed but we didn’t make a mess so…
When we got down we bought some postcards and visited a souvenir store where I bought some presents to take home. By then we were tired, so we took some delicious pizza back to our hotel room, and spent the rest of the evening in our room watching TV . I managed to find the BBC which was a relief since we actually understood what they were saying.
On Saturday we took the train back to Prague, arriving at the hotel at around 2pm. That afternoon we walked around sightseeing and took lots of photos. We went near the Charles Bridge and did some shopping for souvenirs . In the evening we had dinner at an Italian restaurant that was right across from our hotel, it was good food and big portions.
The next day we went to the harbour and took lots more photos. This was also near the Charles Bridge. I saw a boat that has the same name as my cousin’s daughter, and so I took a photo of it. Then we went looking for the old Jewish cemetery, it took a long time before we found it. Ellen went there with Milada last year, but she wasn’t quite sure where it was. However we found it and I bought a ticket so I could enter it and also visit the Jewish museum and some synagogues. The cemetery was a bit creepy, seemed dilapidated and not very well kept. The graves are really old, dating back to the 15th century. The museum was interesting, I got to see various items like the four armed candle holder, Tora shields etc. visited the Spanish synagogue and it was really beautiful, impressive. I wanted to visit another synagogue, but we got there too late since it closed at 15 pm. We had dinner at Friday’s and we had yet another nice meal. Then we visited a large shopping mall and found a grocery store, so we bought some stuff for later that night and for the airport.
On Monday it was time to go home, we went to the airport together since our planes left with only half an hour in between. We waited for a while before they announced which gate my plane departed from. Then we said goodbye and I left for the gate. I got home at 4pm. I had a wonderful time attending two wonderful concerts, meeting friends and doing a lot of sightseeing. The week went by extremely fast, fortunately I have a lot of great memories from it.
Bożena Lebioda reporting from Plzen
My journey began the day before the concert in Pilsen. I picked up Ilona and Marlena and her son in Jelenia Góra and the four of us travelled to Pilsen together in my car. On the Czech border I purchased a motorway vignette (toll sticker) so we could travel to Pilsen quickly. The drive lasted three hours, the time went fast and pleasantly, thanks to Alexander singing to us from the CD player.
We arrived at the apartment on time but it was not ready yet, so we had to wait about half an hour to be invited in. We liked the apartment very much. It was exactly as it was shown on the internet.
Next we went to the city to explore the famous and characteristic Pilzno sights and the place where the concert would take place.
After some time we decided to return to the apartment to relax before the busy exciting day we had in store for us tomorrow.
The next day we met with Sofia, who came from Moscow specifically for Alexander’s concert. We visited the city together and Marlena’s son had the opportunity to show his talent, courtesy of the street violinist. He played “Hallelujah” and “Fairytale”.
It was soon time to go back and get ready for the concert. We drove to the concert by car, as we feared it might rain. The concert took place in a beautiful, baroque room, befitting a classical concert with orchestra. I already was aware of the exact programme of the concert with the in Ostrava and I was very much looking forward to hear it live in Pilsen.
The Philharmonic Janaček Orchestra opened the concert with a remarkable instrumental mix of “Springleik” and “Fairytale” Alexander came on stage and performed lead violin on many classical pieces, the programme also included performances of his own popular favourites “Europe Skies”, “Roll in the Wind” and of course “Fairytale”. I was totally charmed by my personal favourite Hungarian Suite – which was probably arranged for the first time for an orchestra. There were also two jazzy Gershwin pieces included too. In Gershwin’s “Summertime” he was joined on stage by soprano Patricia Janečková, who has a really unique voice and later sang a hauntingly good rendition of “Memory” from the musical “Cats”.
I only recorded a few songs because I wanted to focus on the music and just listen. Alex was just amazing this time, and Bergrosa was the final piece to be played. I was satisfied with the concert, but time seemed to fly so fast and I could have easily listened for another hour or more.
We waited for a long time after the concert uncertain whether Alexander would come out to the fans as always…
Finally he did appear and greeted many people, complimenting many of them. He was charming and patient, as always, despite his tiredness. When everyone had received their autographs, hugs, given their gifts and made their photo’s, Alexander took his presents, the violin and the inseparable backpack, and disappeared into the darkness of the night.
We took Sofi to her apartment and came back to ours. I had to return home the next day because this time I had my concert in the evening and I could not disappoint my listeners.
A huge thank you to Jorunn and Bożena for their reports and also to Ellen for sharing her playlists of her video’s from Ostrava and Plzen.