Coming home to Strekov castle, my childhood playground, the cottage that isn’t any more, remembering Terezin, and finally! Citizenship results.
Hello my dear friends,
I’m about to take you on the emotional ride which was my day.
Now you’ve been with me all along chasing my citizenship papers all over the Czech republic and we’ve been trying to take calm breaths together while I’ve been dealing with one department and then another, and then another, well, I may have finally come to the end of this humongous paper trail which is now two folders thick.
It seems that, wile I was born in and we lived in Prague, my mom was registered as a doctor at a hospital 100km away at Usti Nad Labem (Usti above the river Elbe), and this is where we had an apartment and a summer cottage, so this is where I had to go to get my citizenship papers recognised.
So with enormous gratitude and thanks to a lady named Ilona, I now have full, but provisional, citizenship for the next year, and have to register that in Ottawa in September, and I get my Czech passport! Get to breeze right thru the nationals line instead of the visitors line.
So with a great, big sigh of relief, I walked out of that office a different girl. I’m Czech again guys. I know it’s not a big deal, and I know that I can go where ever I like on my Canadian passport and I know it’s more of a personal journey than a practical one, but having my Czech citizenship back also means that my children can request a Czech passport and can live and work in the EU if they like.
So that was that for now. The end of my work here in Cz.
I drove out of Usti along the Elbe river to retrace my childhood cottage.
Now I know it was in a little village called Brno, but that village doesn’t exist any more. It has been swallowed up by the expanding township of Usti.
But I remembered the area and I remembered the view, the public swimming pool at the river, and what gave it away was a little grocery store which still held the village name. So this is where my cottage used to be. This is the view of the river we had…except it was a great, big field which we children used to run around in back then.
And this, this modern three story home, is where my cottage used to be. This is the place right here.
There is nothing that I recognise except the area and the fact that there were only three cottages here, one of which is still there looking like it used to.
My goodness guys, you can never go back home.
So, while I’m a bit heartbroken that I will never see that cottage again…the work of my grandfather’s and parents’ own hands, I’m happy for whoever now owns this piece of land. May they have good joy of it and many years of happiness.
But here is another place from my childhood.
This ruin of a castle is walking distance form my old cottage and we used to have picnics there and run around the battlements as children.
Now it looks like it’s being refurbished and saved as a monument.
I drove to it and walked up to the castle.
Yup, it’s a Hrad and not a Zamek. It’s waaay up on the hill castle.
So up we go and again come to the castle door.
From the first battlements, the view down the Elbe is pretty spectacular.
But there’s more of the castle to explore.
Here is the soldiers’ hall of the castle.
And here is what remains of the great hall. It also shows a couple chimney flues and the guess is this was the only heated room of the castle.
But there’s so much more to go, let’s go up to the tower.
Here’s the observation deck at the bottom of the tower.
From here you can see my cottage area and you can see how close the castle was.
Gosh, this was all forest and field and three cottages here.
Wow how this county has grown. But I can hardly blame people. This is ideal cottage country.
So come on, up higher we go.
I’m so happy I’m here. I’m so happy I found it.
(yes I know I look like a sheepdog and need to trim my fringe)
So I explored the castle and sat in the courtyard cafe and had a drink to celebrate…
…and watched a gyrfalcon fly lazy circles below me.
One more place here which I had to visit. This is my grandparent’s street in a town called Terezin, where they used to live for the winters, while summers were always at the cottage.
And this is my grandparent’s home.
I remember staying here in this golden house. In the interior courtyard there was a small stone castle…about 2 ft tall…like one of those cement garden ornaments, but as a little girl, that was so magical to pretend princesses in.
This red door was the store across the street.
And this, this is the town park where I have photos of being wheeled in in my pram as a baby.
I know Terezin is famous for all sorts of awful WWII horrors, but you’ll have to excuse me for not being a very good tour guide on this trip. Today, I want to end my Czech journey here. In the warmth of my family history, with love for my country, and with beautiful, golden memories.
Love to you all. Thank you so much for coming along.
I’ve got one more day here in CZ before I fly to England, and it’s storming up a storm like no other. The train tracks are flooded for the time being and the trains are stopped. I’m listening to the huge thunder claps and feeling incredibly happy and peaceful.