In our ongoing tour of Europe, we took Yan Seiner’s advice on our trip through his native land and visited the small Czech town of Tabor, maybe 60 miles south of Prague. After driving around and exploring a bit of downtown, we headed for the closest convenient camping spot I had picked out on Google Maps – Autocamping Malý Jordán Tábor a mile or so north of town. I could tell by their website that this wasn’t the typical campground, and we looked forward to seeing what it would be like away from the big cities and out in the Czech countryside.
The entrance road is narrow, winding, and canopied by large trees as you descend toward the stream and reservoir the campground is situated on – I would imagine the typical American class A would find it a tight squeeze. You drive through a residential area and follow the signs as the road forks and meanders to get to the campground. I was doing my usual eastern European thing of following written instructions copied from Google Maps – our GPS doesn’t have data for the Czech Republic, and my language skills here are non-existent, but we made it to the campground without too much trouble.
Here’s the sign that greeted us as we arrived and caught our first glimpse of the reservoir – even with no Czech at all, it’s pretty clear that “recepce”, or the reception office, is down the hill to the right, and all the “karavany”, or what we would call towables, and by extension all RVs, are to go left to the camping area. The reason for this is to prevent huge rigs from going down the steep hill into the restaurant/bar area, which is a dead end with no turnaround.
I parked near the sign and walked down, and there was a largish building with a restaurant kitchen and bistro-type service window, with maybe twenty restaurant tables on a covered patio, plus more tables out under the trees. The woman at the window hears one sentence of my English and summons a young woman working there who spoke perfect English, and walked me through the process of signing in. Like many smaller campgrounds in Europe, they take local currency only, and no credit cards – I knew that from the website, and had prepared myself at an ATM on the way in. It’s about $13 a night – very reasonable by my standards.
The camping area is two terraced grassy areas bordered by trees – we pick the bottom one because it got sun for most of the day. They had electricity available, but we didn’t really need to plug in this time of year if we’re out in the open. The restroom and showers for everybody – campers and beer drinkers in the restaurant alike – are at the far end of the camping area, so we had a steady stream of foot traffic by us throughout the evening as the live music started up at dark on the weekend nights – local performers mostly, and very laid-back and low-key. There was a vocal group of three women singing what sounded like Celtic music to me, probably local folk music, and they were surprisingly good for such a small venue. Unlike us, there’s not a sharp delineation among restaurants, bars, and nightspots. Each establishment is expected to provide as many services as possible, and all ages are welcome.
We had signed up for a couple of days, but extended that for another after realizing how relaxing it was to just sit here, people watch, and take walks. The road across the dam led through woods, under a couple of train tracks supported on ancient stone bridges, and into a huge wheat field. I stood on top of the dam and amused myself by throwing bread morsels into the turbulent water downstream, where many fish, some of decent size, had positioned themselves to see what the current would bring them. There were a fair number of children, including one five year old sword wielding boy, who was sashaying around with no clothes on. As he walked by, I said, “nice sword”, which amused the locals despite the language barrier. Few adults here spoke English, because they got their education system back from the Soviet bloc too late to give them the option, but one young woman was very taken with Fiona, and after a few attempts I realized she was saying “ragdoll”, which is the breed of cat Fiona is.
It was definitely a different type of campground- the campers were outnumbered by the restaurant and bar patrons, but it all works together. A owner’s club of Ford Probe enthusiasts came by for a couple of nights – they ate at the restaurant, some pitched tents and some rented one of the dozen or so bungalows here, and they hung out and schmoozed. This is a place of convenience for gatherings of all types, and we’re glad we got to experience it.