A Travellerspoint blog

Terezin Concentration Camp

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14 September 2015

Brenda and I started the day in Old Town Square, a quiet place early in the morning. The town just starting to wake and so were we.

Early Morning Prague Old Town Square

Early Morning Prague Old Town Square

The Face

The Face

Wedding Photo on the square

Wedding Photo on the square


Much of what we've seen and heard in and around Prague is very warm and comfortable - the sites, the food, the beer. But that was not always the case in Europe. There is a tragic history that cannot be ignored or glossed over. Brenda and I decided that to learn more about the Czech people and their history, we should explore that past.

We've all heard about the most well known Death Camps of WWII - Dachau, Auschwitz, Mauthausen (which are really only three of 20K). But we were not traveling to those areas, so we did a little research , We found that we could tour a concentration camp near Prague called Terezin. What we learned boggled the mind. Our tour guide from Prague was a young man named Felip Huta with Sandeman Tours. We were very, very lucky to take the tour the day he was to be the guide. His passion and knowledge made both Brenda and myself feel the depth of depravity the Nazi's served on the Czech people.

I will give you a brief version of the Terezin history. If you have an interest, please take the time to research Terezin. It is one of those hidden stories that shouldn't be hidden.

Terezin was an actual village that served as a fortress from the late 1700's. Over the next 100 years it would decline and in the early 1900's it was used by the military as a prison for political prisoners. There were also a number of people who lived and worked in the village. In June of 1940, the Nazi's took over the town. People living there were given six months to relocate. Terezin was to be used as a "Transfer" point internment camp for Czech Jews being sent to the Death Camps. That information was a closely guarded secret. Terezin was also to be used for major Nazi propaganda purposes. The "outside" world was told that the town was being set up so that Jews would have a place where they could live, work and govern. But in actuality it was run as a work camp by Nazi's. Although no Jews were ever executed there, over 35K died from hunger, disease and injuries. (Note: Upon entering the camp, many possessions were taken from the prisoners including medications. Not able to take their medication was one of the reasons that many died). The first prisoners were brought in June 14th, 1940. Terezin would exist for the next four years.

In 1944, the Nazi brought in the International Red Cross to observe the camp's operations. What was set up for them to see was a complete rouse. The Red Cross left and then reported that the Camp was exactly what the Nazi's stated - an internment camp. A film was made of the conditions but never distributed.

In total, approximately 140,000 Jews, not only Czech, but from all over Europe were sent to Terezin. 35,000 died at Terezin,about 88,000 were sent to Auschwitz and about 17,000 survived.

I've attached some photos to my Shutterfly site, I won't say to "enjoy" - these are more for thought and reflection.

https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com/

Posted by pjburke 01:01 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

Prague Jewish Quarter and Cemetery

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13 September 2015

By coincidence, we decided to visit the Jewish Quarter of Prague during the day prior to Rosh Hashanah. The area has history dating back to the 13th century.

We started the day traveling by Metro for the first time. The tram was our mode of transportation for most of the trip since it was very convenient to our apartment. But the metro seemed to be the easiest way to reach the Jewish Quarter. At first we thought that we were in the wrong area. On a map the Quarter looked like a really long walk but in reality - it was not. Small lanes and winding trails, surprisingly brought us right where we wanted to go.

Also surprisingly, the Metro was one place where there was absolutely no graffiti - unlike the rest of the city. The Art Deco vibe reminded me of the stained glass at St Vitus Cathedral.

Prague Metro

Prague Metro

Our time in the the Jewish Quarter was for learning and actually feeling the history of this area, especially the Cemetery. I don't know how to say this without sounding a little "off" but I love cemeteries. They are such a reflection of lives lived and lost. To me, cemeteries are history and as a result the future also.

Spanish Synagogue

Spanish Synagogue

Star of David in the Jewish Quarter

Star of David in the Jewish Quarter

Feel free to give me feed back as to how this change is working. Also - you should not need to log in to Shutterfly to see the pics. Live and Learn!!!

Our travels this day also took us to a special place for the Czech people - St Wenceslas Square.

St Wenceslas

St Wenceslas

St Wenceslas with National Museum in the background

St Wenceslas with National Museum in the background

I'm going to try something different. Eastern Europe is a photographer's dream. It's easier to download to shutterfly. Not sure this will work but it's always fun to experiment.

So, saying that - here goes: https://pandjs2015europetrip.shutterfly.com/

.......tried the link myself - it doesn't work....I'm working on it....Patty

Posted by pjburke 06:41 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

More of Prague

Prague Castle and the Loreta...nothing tells a story like pictures

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11 and 12 September 2015

Friday and we're off to tour the Prague Castle. It's a huge complex. The tickets are 350Kc (about $14.50 USD) and the tickets are good for two days. We took in St Vitus Cathedral, saw the changing of the guard and wandered through the vast complex. It must have been nice to be reallllly rich back then!!!!

Enjoy the pics!!!!

St VItus Cathedral

St VItus Cathedral

Stained glass in St Vitus Church

Stained glass in St Vitus Church

Stained Glass inside St Vitus

Stained Glass inside St Vitus

Castle Guard Band

Castle Guard Band

Jim enjoying a bit of Czech food

Jim enjoying a bit of Czech food

Prague from the Castle

Prague from the Castle

View from Prague Castle

View from Prague Castle

View from Charles Bridge

View from Charles Bridge


How did they do that

How did they do that

Saturday we decided to head back to the Old Town, take in the Loreta and finish off the parts of the Prague Castle that we didn't see the day before. We actually thought, being Saturday, that it would be busy but we must have caught both sites before or after tours because they were both less than crowded. Before culture we started with food (we do have our priorities) at a place called Maly Buddha (an Asian type cafe which was very good) and just around the corner from the Loreta.

From Wiki:Loreta is a large pilgrimage destination in Hradčany, a district of Prague, Czech Republic. It consists of a cloister, the church of the Lord’s Birth, a Holy Hut and the clock tower with a famous chime. . We almost bypassed it but I'm glad we didn't.

Loreta admission 150 Kc (about $6.25).

Maly Buddha

Maly Buddha

Inside Maly Buddha

Inside Maly Buddha

Spring Rolls - Unlike any I had ever had

Spring Rolls - Unlike any I had ever had


Loreta Courtyard

Loreta Courtyard

Loreta Alter

Loreta Alter

Jeweled Monstrosus

Jeweled Monstrosus

Creepy Cherubs

Creepy Cherubs

Courtyard

Courtyard

And then it was back to Prague Castle, again at a leisurely pace.

Light post Prague Castle Style

Light post Prague Castle Style

Entrace to the Castle

Entrace to the Castle

Looking Up

Looking Up

P1150496

P1150496

St Vitus from sunken garden

St Vitus from sunken garden

We stayed down in the Old Town and took in a Mozart Concert at the Klementinum Mirror Chapel. There were two musicians and two vocalist - three of whom play for The Prague State Opera. I'm really not an opera aficionado but this was just lovely. Such a nice way to end a great day in Prague. ....I just love this city!!!

Klementinum Mirror Chapel

Klementinum Mirror Chapel

Mozart

Mozart

Posted by pjburke 11:00 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

Our first day in Prague...

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10 September 2015

We all slept very well but were excited to start our tour of Prague. We'd heard so many good things. We agreed that the first one up would find the grocery store (we were told it was just around the corner) and grab something for breakfast... it just so happened it was me. I felt very at home stepping outside the front door of the apartment building. There was a lady who walked out with me and she appeared to be carrying a shopping bag so I followed her. She lead me right to the small store. After picking up a few items, I stopped at the bakery that was across the street - homemade apple strudel made it into my "Wegman's" shopping bag.

Front of our apartment building in Prague

Front of our apartment building in Prague


View from out patio in Prague

View from out patio in Prague

We decided that our first day would be an adjustment day. The three of us had a month to travel and we didn't want to end up sick. We had breakfast, found a Tabak store to buy our tram tickets (110 Kc = about $4.50 for a 24 hour ticket) and we were off. We wandered to the Old Town Square to see the Astronomical Clock and "who did we run into???" Judy Lawler and two of her Irish friends, Sue and Emma. It really is a small world!! It was then on to Charles Bridge, a little lunch, back to the apartment for a rest and then back to the Old Town for a Vivaldi Concert at St Clementine's Church. The music was lovely and the acoustics great...even if we did get a little lost on our way there.

Prague really is about the people and the sites. Enjoy the photos from our first day - there will be many more to come.

Old Town Square Astronomical Clock

Old Town Square Astronomical Clock


Astronomical Clock

Astronomical Clock

First lunch in Prague

First lunch in Prague

First PEG Picture in Prague

First PEG Picture in Prague


Prague from the Charles Bridge

Prague from the Charles Bridge

Old Town Square

Old Town Square

Memorial to John  Hus in Old Town Square Prague

Memorial to John Hus in Old Town Square Prague

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

Prague Castle at night

Prague Castle at night

Vivaldi Concert at St Clementines

Vivaldi Concert at St Clementines

Posted by pjburke 09:26 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

Prague ....I love this city!!!!

Off to a great start

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16 September 2015

I've been meaning to sit and get this blog started but Prague was such a beautiful city and for the most part the weather has been stellar. Right now we are south of Prague in the beautiful little medieval town - Cesky Krumlov. I was trying to write before breakfast today but breakfast was delivered (yes, delivered) and then it was off to the Castle before the tour groups arrived. Hopefully, I'll have a post before the end of the day.

First things first...We left the US last week (Tuesday) and the trip really wasn't too eventful. We're off!!!

We're off!!!

The short version: The trip from Rochester to Toronto wasn't a problem but we did get an email that morning indicating our flight from Frankfurt to Prague was cancelled - Lufthansa pilot's strike. We made it to Toronto and after two hours in line at the Lufthansa desk we had tickets leaving Frankfort at 8pm the next night after arriving from Frankfurt at 0800. That would mean a 13 hour wait in the airport after traveling for a whole day. Not too happy!! We connected with Brenda who arrived from DC shortly after we did and decided that we'd take the train instead of waiting. Fortunately, we had only checked our bags through to Frankfort and Brenda had done carry on so it was off to catch our train. Two stops to change trains along the way, enjoying the beautiful German countryside, catching some zzzzzz's and arriving two hours before we would have even taken off had we stayed in Frankfurt. Taxi from the train station was a breeze as we went to "Travelers Point", a tourist office, in the train station (recommended by Rick Steves). We had booked our accommodations, six nights in an apartment (residential area about a 10 minute tram ride to the Old Town) with Airbnb.com.

Upstairs Bedroom

Upstairs Bedroom

Kitchen

Kitchen


We were welcomed by the owners step dad, given keys and told to make our selves at home. Also, got a recommendation for dinner close by. After dinner at Waikiki, it was back to the apartment and we were more than ready for a good night sleep.

The next couple of post will be mostly photos. Prague is such a great city - we absolutely fell in love with it.

IASW (if you've followed my blog in the past, you know that I definitely think this world is getting smaller and smaller. So when those "moments" happen, I will often refer to them as "IASW"...we had our first one on the very first day of our trip- I think it was a good omen.) We had just gotten to the Rochester airport and tried to find out how we'd get to Prague when we met a small group that was traveling on our same flights. They were heading to a river cruise. Travelers tend to be a friendly group so we chatted on and off. We were in line together while boarding the plane for Frankfurt when one of the ladies asked Jim what he did for a living when we were in Rochester. When he told them he was a cop - we got a couple of very stunned looks. One of the ladies asked if we knew a Officer Lawler - I said "Bill?"..."no, Tim - he's my husband". NO WAY!!! Of course, Jim not only worked with Tim but Tim also worked on two of our kitchen rehabs. And, one of the other ladies is the mother in law of Marv Patterson. So you see, it really is a very small world!!!

Posted by pjburke 07:57 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

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