Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Europe -- Days Two and Three

Day two: R. picked us up at the hotel. We then traveled with her husband by car to the little village of Terezin, Czech Republic. I had requested a visit there, to see the concentration camp monument.

I could comment on each photo, but you probably get the general idea. The one that really bothered me was the pool. The prisoners were forced to build the pool by hand. Then it was used by the prison guards and their families, who lived in the fancy building across the road from the pool. Other things were way more cruel, of course, but the complete negation of the prisoners' humanity in that pool story really stuck in my mind. A sobering place.

We walked into the little village and found a local person who gave us a restaurant recommendation. It was a cute restaurant where no one spoke English, and the menu was written in Czech. We had no problems, of course, as we were with my pen-friend who is fluent in both Czech and English. I ordered goulash and dumplings. R. ordered fried cheese, which I had never heard of before. Have you? She let me taste it, and it was quite good.

You'll see a scantily clad woman who was hanging out her flat window. After I took her picture, I waved, and she waved back. Almost every home that I could see had those pretty lacey curtains, most of them ended before the bottom of the window, as you see there.

We stopped at a McDonald's, but just to use the restroom. I had to get a picture of that sign.

We no longer had our hotel room, and R now was hosting us at her house, which is in a city about an hour south of Prague. It was such a treat to stay with her, and to see life in a "regular" Czech home. She and her family were very welcoming and gracious hosts. R served us home-made plum dumplings on our first night there. Yummy! After dinner we did the regular family thing of sitting around in the living room, talking. Isn't that great?!

Day three: R and her daughter, H, took us around their city. It's the 4th largest city in Czech Republic. The city was larger and more beautiful than I had expected. Somehow I expected cities outside of Prague to be less fancy in their architecture, but that was not the case. We toured the city center, a cathedral, got special permission to see a commemorative plaque in the Town Hall (it was not officially open that day due to a state holiday - many stores and other places were closed). Traveling with a native of the area had its perks!

Of course, we started out the day with home-made peach kolachies for breakfast! The peaches grew in their own yard. R's husband has a very GREEN thumb! They have a beautiful yard and gardens.

We had lunch in a little café on the top floor of an office building, giving us a great bird's-eye view of the city. After some photo-taking, we walked to the town brewery. You may have heard of Pilsner Urquell beer? That's where it's made. The tour was interesting (it was in English), and included a free taste of beer. Then we stayed there to eat in the big restaurant they have there. Food was great. I had pork cubes, cabbage, and dumplings. Again, it was super yummy. And again we went back to R's house and talked in the living room. Oh... I also gave her a quilt. (You already saw photos of that in my post of Oct. 6th.)

The first picture below shows us at a monument to the American soldiers who liberated Plzen in the spring of 1945. During the Soviet regime there, all of these types of historical monuments were torn down, closed, removed from view, etc. After their Velvet Revolution in 1989, these monuments were put back up, things were taken out of hiding, the plethora of gray buildings were painted cheerful colors, arts and cultural events were back in production. The country is much happier and enjoying their freedom now. This monument stands on Americka Street.

This last photo is a picture of a picture.. it shows the synagogue we were not able to see. Not only were the two big pillars being renovated (wrapped in scaffolding), the building was closed the day we were there.

Next: Day Four and then on to Germany

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