Reality Travel

The Prague Post

The crew of a new travel show gets down to the nitty-gritty

The dream life of a travel writer: Lying on white-sand beaches. Staying at five-star resorts. All expenses paid.

Or getting peed on by a monkey and having a tapir bite you in the bum. Those are more the reality, according to the hosts of a new travel show.

The Travel Guy is currently being filmed and will air this fall on The Travel Channel International. The show’s host and crew were in the Czech Republic last week, and The Prague Post caught up with them to learn more about what they do and what they found here.

“We do things everyone can do,” explained Frank Greco, co-host of The Travel Guy. “The show is a ‘first-sight’ perspective; we do it as we go and want the viewer to experience it as well.”

The premise of the show is two people traveling, a guy and a girl. The guy likes to explore the history and culture of the locations, while the girl goes for more adventurous-type activities. These are the true personalities of Greco and his co-host, Lauren Sally, and it’s reflected in the themes and activities shown on the program. The four-person team from Canada is rounded out by sound man Matt Stronach and Jason Agar behind the camera.

The team spends about a week in each location. Countries were chosen for a variety of factors, including personal preferences and travel statistics from the World Tourism Organization. The Travel Channel International also made suggestions, which is how Greco and his team came to be in the Czech Republic.

First on their agenda was a visit to Czech Switzerland in north Bohemia.

“It was beautiful; the visuals were stunning,” Sally said. “We hiked through the national park, saw the sandstone arch and rock towns; it’s nature at its best.”

Even the nonoutdoorsy Greco was impressed. “Postcard views,” he confirmed. “A feast for your eyes.”

Then it was on to Prague, with visits to Prague Castle, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge and a boat ride on the Vltava.

“There’s so much beauty here,” Greco marveled. “St. Vitus Cathedral — man, it’s beautiful. As I learned the history, I fell in love with the place.”

The show explores a variety of regions and activities within each country. So the team wrapped up their Czech tour with a visit to the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzen, west Bohemia, and the spas of Karlovy Vary.

Though the travel agenda was set, the discoveries and reactions were not.

“There’s no script; it limits the exploration,” Sally said. “We learn something new and show it on air.”

“We’re trying to have a show that is different from all the rest,” Greco explained. “The viewers will enjoy it; they’ll learn from it and remember it.”

And everything caught on camera is fair game. Sally’s not-so-cuddly experience with the holler monkeys in Belize, and Greco’s rude introduction to a tapir named April (prompted by peanuts he was carrying in his back pocket) could all make the final cut.

“We often capture the typical tourist mistakes that we made on camera,” Sally said. “We leave them in the show; that makes it more natural.”

The bulk of each episode will be devoted to encounters with locals and seeing the sights — in short, being tourists. Pop-ups, cartoons, voiceovers and end-of-the-show pointers will provide supplementary information, so precious on-air time isn’t taken up with typical travel issues such as costs, where to stay and how to get there. A Web site (www.thetravelguy.tv) will offer detailed information on subjects such as where the crew stayed and downloadable guides to following in their footsteps.

Scheduled to debut in September, The Travel Guy will be shown in 100 countries, including the Czech Republic, dubbed into local languages. The hosts and crew have finished six of the 13 episodes, with another five due at the end of August. The final two will be completed by the end of September. Following their visit here, they went home to Canada for some post-production work, and plan to head back to Europe in the coming weeks to film shows on Croatia and Greece.

What will be their lasting memories of the Czech Republic?

“The history we had on the boat cruise,” said soundman Stronach. “Listening to what has happened in the country, the stories — it was very neat.”

“The color,” said cameraman Agar. “I had preconceptions of it being gray, but everything is green and vibrant.”

“Besides the beer?” Sally asked. “The view from the top of the trail in Czech Switzerland. The whole countryside, the sandstone, the nature; it was brilliant. You’ve worked hard and there’s this huge payoff at the end.”

“For me it is the magnificence of St. Vitus Cathedral,” Greco said. “It took my breath away.”