A Trip to Terezin and Litoměřice

It had been a very busy week for us.  This past weekend, my parents arrived from the Philippines.  Since their arrival,  I found myself caught up with household work and travelling.

Despite meeting them personally for the first time, Jakub immediately became comfortable with his grandparents.

My parents’ first 2 days in Kolin were spent resting and readjusting their body clocks.

We only started our first out of town trip yesterday.  Our first stop:  The Terezin Memorial in the village of Terezin.

Terezin is a former garrison town which was later on turned into a concentration camp by the Nazis.  We visited the Small Fortress with a private tour from a friend, Ms. Rosa Machackova, who is a tour guide in the memorial.

Growing up in Asia, I was not familiar with the names and places of the Nazi concentration camps.  Back then, Europe seemed so far away and I was not very interested in European history.  I remember learning about the Jewish concentration camps only through books and movies.  When I moved to the US, this knowledge did not change.

The visit to Terezin afforded me a whole new experience in viewing the Holocaust.

Walking through the path where those murdered Jews have tread gave me an eerie feeling.

In the main entrance, the inscriptions “Work Frees” (translated from German) is written on top of the gate.

This quarter over here used to house close to a hundred Jews.  It only had one bathroom and one heater.  Imagine living in such small space.

Being a fortress, escape was almost impossible in this place.

It is bordered by gates composed of an inner and outer wall in between a water moat.  Those who have tried and were unsuccessful were punished either through shooting or hanging in this.

But while the inmates were living in squalor, the gestapo lived in these quarters.

They even had their own pool.

The trip to Terezin left me with a heavy heart.  The succeeding trip to the Ghetto museum where it showed the artwork of the children in the camp was even more heartbreaking.

Our next stop for this trip was Litoměřice.

Litoměřice  is a very beautiful city.  It used to be called the “Garden of Bohemia” during the 17th century due to its fertile landscape.  Presently, the gothic and baroque structures surrounding the city are enough to enchant the adventurous tourist.

But for us Filipinos, the significance of this city has historical origins.  This is the city where  Jose Rizal, our national hero, spent some time to write his novels, and also formed a very close friendship with Ferdinand Blumentritt, a Czech national.   Needless to say, it was our first documented contact with Czechs.

When we got there, the goal was to find the Rizal bust, which was built in commemoration of the friendship between Rizal and Blumetritt.

But in the process of looking for the Rizal bust, I was momentarily captivated with this.

We didn’t have enough time to view the whole city, but I know that this will not be the first time I will visit this place.  I will be back.

Despite the long walk and the sultry sunny weather, the trip was very worthwhile.  It is one of the places I can definitely recommend on your visit to the Czech Republic.

More information about the city can be found here.

“Happy Day”

This past weekend, a couple of friends visited us in Kolin. There was a children’s event at Kmochuv Island and we went there to check it out.

A famous TV personality for a children’s show was supposed to show up.  But for some reason, her appearance got cancelled.    Ironically, the event was called “Happy Day.”  But I guess it wasn’t too happy for the kids who got disappointed with the TV personality’s absence.

So the organizers made sure that the kids enjoyed the children’s disco.

But for our group, it didn’t matter at all.  We still managed to have fun.

..At least the kids did.  We were there for the children’s disco.

It was fun to watch my little boy dance.

At the end of the event, everything would’ve been perfect except for a mini meltdown.  He refused to wear shoes!

Luckily, his ever-patient daddy dealt with it.  After all is said and done, it was still a “happy day.”

How was your weekend?

An Eventful Weekend

Despite the scorching heat this past weekend, it was a very eventful one.  On Saturday, friends from Prague and Brno came to visit us.

Picnic at the park

Jakub had a new favorite buddy –  Kuya Mico.

He always likes to play with big boys.

On Sunday, they bonded again because we went to Prague for the FCA dragonboat recreational activity.

While the kids were checking out the boats, we were paddling on the river.

The dragonboat activity exceeded my expectations.  In a scale of 1 to 10 for fun, it was a 10!  I got nervous in the beginning fearing that the boat would capsize because all the paddlers were amateurs.  But we amazingly did well.  Thanks to a great team and wonderful coach –  FCA President Marison Rodriguez.  The Prague Dragonboat Club were gracious enough to let us use their boat and their facilities, and the generous members of FCA brought yummy food, so the bbq portion that followed the activity was equally enjoyable.

With fun activities, good food and good friends, this weekend was one of the best I’ve had here in Czech.

Photos courtesy of Arnel Cueto and Glenn Sanchez