Well, as I said, I did not start planning on going
to see the eclipse until Monday. I called everyone I knew (I was absolutely
sure I'll find someone who would take me along) and they all told they
were full or did not go after all (the weather was supposed to be just
horrible). On Tuesday at noon my last chance died and I started reconciling
myself with the fact I wouldn't see it. According to the weather forecast
Germany, Austria and maybe even parts of France and Hungary were to have
skies full of clouds and even storms... Sadly I went home took a shower
and strated cooking the supper. Then the phone rings. It was Ales - a friend
whom I had already called the day before. His cousin decided not to go
and so Ales and his father had a place for me in their car. I just grasped
a binocular something to eat and ran. We left Prague shortly after 7 PM.
We went south through Tabor all the way down to the Ceske Velenice/Gmund border crossing to Austria. As the road passes through the village where my family's cottage is, we stopped over for a supper (myself), a tea (Ales) and a coffee (his father). Here we had some time to make our plans more precise. Ales picked a point on the map (basically at random) a little south of the town of Amstetten. My mother gave me some more food (I brought it almost all back intact) and we moved on south.
We crossed the border around 11 PM. After seeing so much propaganda about millions of eclipse-watchers congesting the roads and crossings we were ready for anything. Well, almost. There was not a soul on the crossing. The roads were empty too.
The road on the Austrian side goes through some mountains (as anywhere in the Czech Republic when one gets close to the border). It was dark and the road was winding wildly. There was one exciting point when we met a bunch of cows running along the road and not intending to let us through. They were scared of our car. We stopped. The cows stopped. We started to move slowly. They started to move slowly. We stopped again. They stopped too.
Well, I got out of the car (you guys know me - I had to have some fun!) and tried to explain it to the cows they should either leave the road or go in the opposite direction. Most of them understood. Except one. At the end I had to push this one dumb cow aside to let the car pass and then jump into the car with the cow trying to outrun us. With a view of the trotting cow behind us we went on.
Shortly before descending to the Donau river valley we found a place to sleep. Ales and me we slept outside on mats in our sleeping bags. Ales's father slept in the car. The sky was all clear and the stars were shining. We even saw two bolids dash by. It was a promising night. The time: 1'30 AM.
In the morning we got up at half past six and crossed the Donau close to the city of Grein (see the map). The dawn was absolutely clear and our spirits were high. We went through Amstetten and then Euratsfeld and a little further south close to the 1.5 minutes line on the map.
We got lucky there was a beautiful treeless hill overlooking the Donau valley and high enough to give a nice view of the surrounding hills too (on the southern horizon there were some mountains that we later identified as the Alps - or parts of it). There appeared some clouds in the western sky - an omen.
It was about 9 AM and there was noone around - we had the top for ourselves. What a magic!
Shortly before the first contact people started coming (we ran off our luck for the day I guess). At 12'42 (the second local contact) there were about 50 people around us.
We have clearly seen the first contact and the Sun disk became a crescent after a while. From the west comes a rampart of dark and rain soaken clouds. About 45 minutes before the second contact it starts raining. We return to the car where the wind does not blow and one does not get that wet. There is no Sun anymore and not even a patch of blue sky towards west...
T-20minutes: suddenly everybody is looking skywards. There is a tiny hole in the clouds and we see the crescent Sun for a while. We still had hopes then...
T-15: we decide to go back to the top of the hill. It is not raining anymore and there appear some blue spots in the sky. (If I only knew how to pray!)
T-10: we are back at our observation point. From time to time we can see the Sun being engulfed by the Moon shadow.
T-5: there is a huge blue hole coming over seemingly just in time to let us see IT! Everybody tries to push the blue hole with his own eyes...
T-1: the hole is here! We observe the tiny little sickle diminishing so rapidly that you can even perceive it now!
T: The last part of the Sun disappears and there is only the dark disk floating above our heads. Darkness creeps in and everybody is silent (I was looking forward for the women screaming). No filters any more. We can see the corona glooming around the black hole. It seems to me more vivid now than before (suddenly there was a lot of change to the picture in a short time). Now and then there are some low flying clouds obscuring the spectacle but in general we have a good view. As we only have two pairs of binoculars we have to share them. The colors are strange and everything is real dark (not pitch dark but enough). We haven't seen any flying shadows or a circle of light on the horizon as the clouds deprived us of these pleasures. I got lucky as I had the binoculars when it came to the end. On the upper right edge appeared two brighter spots that quickly changed color to magenta and brightened up. Then they coalesced and the first blinding ray came bursting through. The total eclipse was over.
T+2: we are still watching the crescent when the clouds come back on us again. We got so extremely lucky. It was a question of minutes or a couple of kilometers... We stay at the spot for another half an hour and from time to time glimpse the fattening Sun.
After a while we go back to our car and see all the fellow observers gradually take their departure. At the moment of the last contact we are alone again. We enjoy basking in the full Sun again. It is 2'15 PM when we leave.
We retrace our steps back home and make it safely home to Prague.
We did not have any cameras and so I cannot show you any pictures on the other hand later on I found some photos taken from Amstetten - they are very close to what we have seen. Except that we were more lucky about the clouds...
I also saw a couple of nice videos of the event. This one comes from the BBC. There are some more nice pictures of course (here and here and here) but you all know better than myself how to find them.
So much for this trip. I am quite sure I will try again to see this. If not for anything else than because Veronika hasn't seen this one.