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It appears I have some errors in journal notes of my trip to the Czech
Republic. Dan Killoran, PhD. pointed out that I left out a decimal point in
reporting the height of All Saints Church in Kamenice. It should have been
49.75 meters rather than 4975. Also, I used chanticleer instead of
chandelier for the fixtures hanging in the church. I apologize to the
listers. I should have checked my notes before posting.
Joana Stuchlik Donovan
Our Czech Adventure
Days 1 and 2 were posted earlier.
We wake up to sunshine and a slight breeze. The window has been open all
night and not an insect in sight! Quick showers (we never did find
washcloths!) and downstairs for breakfast. We meet George's pretty wife,
she and George bring us hot tea and coffee, a basket of thick rye bread
rolls, a plate of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers on a bed of lettuce, a
of meats and cheeses, a piece of apple strudel for each, and a basket of
fresh fruit. I immediately reach for a thick slice of rye bread and a
of strudel and declare "we are in HEAVEN." A jar of honey, butter, jams and
jellies are in the center of each table. Cereal, juice and yogurt are
available. Everything is delicious. The breakfast room has four tables
with chairs, a refrigerator with bottled water and soft drinks, and a stand
that holds a pitcher of milk, one of orange juice, a carafe of apple juice,
a variety of yogurts, and a sealed container of cereal. A shelf near the
door holds books for leisure reading as well as travel and reference books
on Prague. We greet other guests as they enter in room. Conversations
taking place in many languages. Everyone is extremely friendly.
Being the brave, independent women that we are, we decide that we will
venture by ourselves into downtown Prague. Daughter, L., assumes the role
of "Guide Cat" and gives me the name of "Momma Cat.". L. carries a day-pack
on her back and I have chosen a waist pouch over a purse, since I feel a
purse is much more likely to be :snatched.". With our cameras, plenty of
film, our passports, my medicines, and our guide books, we head to the
nearby metro station. We stop at the tobacco shop and buy seven-day metro
transfer tickets (a real deal at $5. 10 per ticket for 7 days of
unrestricted travel in Prague) and, spying some attractive post cards, I
purchase a handful of them, too. We proceed to the machines that validate
our tickets and then take the steps down to the metro platforms. L. figures
out we take the red line then the green line to get to Stare Mesto, (Old
Town). Old Town was founded in 1234 and is on the east side of the river
Vltava. The metro car is crowded and this time a young lady rises and
me her seat. We found everyone in the Czech Republic to be very polite and
friendly. Although L. and I might become separated by the crowds while on
the metro, I could always find her easily. For one, she is taller than
women. But if I couldn't see her over the heads of other passengers, I
find her by looking at the floor. You see, only tourists like us wear
tennis shoes in Prague! And her white sneakers were a perfect way for
locate her in the crowded metro car. We arrive at Old Town and walk along
the tourist-filled streets, enjoying the bright sunshine and marveling at
the architecture. We wander through the cobblestone streets of quaint
neighborhoods near Charles Bridge. The Bridge is crowded with vendors who
have set up their tables - one sells watercolors of local places, another
sells handcrafted jewelry, etc. An artist sits behind his easel sketching
portraits of paying customers. A lady sings as her male companion plays
violin. A lot to look at, and we take our time. We study the many statues
on the Bridge and watch the sunshine glimmer off the water. On the other
side of the bridge, a four member street band is playing and we stop to
listen. We notice that there is a concert planned at one of the churches,
and buy tickets for the 3:00 performance. We take the tram to Petrin Hill,
and wait in line for the funicular (cable car) to take us up the hill.
listening to the different languages being spoken while waiting in line is
marvelous. Up we go. We stroll through the beautiful rose gardens and
visit the 60 meters high replica of the Eiffel Tower built in 1891. The
park is filled with young couples and families with laughing children
running among the many trees. We go by the Observatory, but it is closed.
are getting hungry, so stop on the way down at the half way point where
there is a good open-air restaurant and order lunch. Grilled chicken and
sausage, tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers and hot rolls. All of Prague lies
below us - the red tile roofs sparkle in the bright sunshine. What a
beautiful sight! I sit in the sunshine and marvel that I am finally in the
land of my Czech ancestors. What a wonderful feeling and I silently thank
husband, once again, for asking our daughter to accompany me on my trip
"home to Bohemia." After lunch we take the funicular the rest of the way
down and then the tram back to the Charles Bridge area for the concert.
church (Church of Our Lady Below the Chain) is named after the chain that
used to hang on the first bridge across the Vltana River. The interior is
beautiful and the organ music and soloist very nice. The notes ring in the
church. The Church is very ornate; gilded altar, marble floors. After the
performance, we wander back across the River to the Old Square where we sit
in an outdoor cafe across from the astronomical cloak and watch it strike
the hour. We have tea and strudel at the cafe. (Tastes almost as good as
that which my mother used to make!) We wander down more streets, stop at a
shop to pick up grilled chicken and a salad for dinner and arrive back at
the apartment by 6:15. We enjoy our indoor picnic while we get organized
for the next day, our first day to travel to the Bohemian countryside in
search of our ancestral villages.
Again, to those not interested, please
excuse this attempt to share my experiences with a few listers. Just use
your delete button when you see Czech Adventure in the subject line.
Joana Stuchlik Donovan
I have been asked by some list members to share some notes from our trip to
the Czech Republic. To all those who are not interested, please delete .
Our Czech Adventure - Notes from my journal.
(L. is my adult daughter and H. is our researcher and trip planner)
Thursday, August 24:
Left my home airport at 4:55 p. m.
Arrive at Philadelphia Airport and go to the gate where my daughter, L is
arrive. Wait for her. I am beginning to worry - her plane is late. Just
about then, her plane is announced and the travelers begin pouring out the
portway from the plane. Sure enough- there she is! Hugs and kisses.
We made our way to the British Airways terminal and locate our departure
gate. The seating area near the gate is packed with travelers.
Departed PHI at 9:00 p. m.
Our seats are in the less-costly "sardine" section, but not too bad. We
settle in for the long flight. Sleep, sporadically.
Arrive London - it is now 9:10a.m., Friday, Aug 25th. London's Heathrow is
airport. We do not have a lot of time to browse, so go to next gate for
last leg of our journey to Prague.
Arrive Prague at 2:00 p.m., a little late. The airport is
"industrial-looking", not many frills. Now WE are the foreigners. We
follow the crowd through the airport. We walk straight through customs and
arrive at the general passenger arrival area. Some anxiety - what if no one
is here to meet us - How will we get to Prague and where is the guesthouse
located? A feeling of slight panic sets in. Then, to the rescue - a young
man holding a sign that says, "Mrs. Donovan." Our hero!! We go up and
introduce ourselves. He is George, part owner of the Lida Guesthouse. We
go outside the terminal to George's red Ford Escort car. The weather is
and sunny. We "roar" out of the airport and head for Prague. We make
talk on the way. Traffic is heavy. Except for the strange Czech words on
signs, this looks like Maryland. We pass a McDonalds, ah, capitalism at
best. Lots of small cars and large flat-nosed lorries on the highways. We
wind around an industrial area and finally come to the outskirts of Prague.
The houses are mainly stucco with red or gray tiled roofs. We see trams
tram stops, tour busses, and lots of people walking. George explains that
this ride is taking longer than usual due to the heavy traffic. Finally,
at 3:00 p. m., we turn up a slight hill, and George introduces us to our
"home" for the next two weeks. It is a beautiful four-story house of white
stucco, perched on the hillside behind a wood and iron retaining-wall and
This was obviously once at very prosperous neighborhood. The homes are
large with flower gardens in between. We step out of the car, L. feels the
cool, dry air blowing down the hill, and instantly declares herself "in
love." She explains to George that she had come from hot, humid Georgia,
and that the 82 degrees here in Prague feels like heaven.
George insists on carrying our two pieces of luggage up the steps to the
house. There is one key for the outside gate and a second one for the
door. What a lovely place! George shows us the breakfast room, the office
area, and then guides us up a corner stairway to the third floor to our
room. He leaves us to get settled in. The room is small - we have two
beds, each slightly less wide than a normal twin bed. You can tell from the
single headboard that the beds push together to form a double bed, and have
been separated for us. There is a square table with two folding chairs in
one corner and an armoire in the other. On a small wooden luggage rack we
find several bath towels, several hand towels but no washcloths. The
bathroom is white tiled and compact. The commode is tucked under a
front-facing window, and the side rim of the sink slightly overhangs the
front lip of the commode. The shower, in comparison, is large. L. declares
it a multi-functional bath, as you can sit on the commode, brush your teeth
in the sink, and wash your feet in the shower, all at the same time. I
measured about 12 inches between the tiled wall and the front rim of the
sink, which means that on cold mornings, you definitely have to "suck in
your gut" so that you could squeeze between the wall and the sink without
touching either one. Cold ceramic tile and porcelain are really cold! We
laugh at the toilet paper, it is rough to the touch and gray in color. L.
names it Communistic Kleenex, and the name sticks. We unpack, choose drawer
space, set the toiletries on a shelf in the bathroom , and call it "home."
The large window between the table and the armoire is open and a cool
is causing the lace curtain to billow. The windowsill is at least a foot
and a half deep with two separate hinged windows and no screen. What - no
Czech insects? (No, we never did have any insect come in through the open
window.) I lean out of the window and look over the neighborhood. The
across the street are similar to this one, but off in the distance, I see
the old communistic cement-block, ugly, high rise apartment buildings that
make a stark contrast to the beautiful homes. It becomes obvious, at last,
that we are "no longer in Kansas," but in a country that is "foreign" to us
in more than one way.
H., our researcher and trip planner, had said to call her as soon as we
were settled, so we find the letter with her number and then attempt to use
the phone. L. finally figures it out, and I speak to H. for the first
She says she will be right over to take us for a quick tour of Prague. We
get the cameras ready and wait for her arrival. We look for her to pull up
in her car. Well, she arrives on foot and roaring to go. H. speaks
quite well AND very fast AND non-stop. We take a liking to her
George gives us keys to the gate, the door and our room, and wishes us
We are OFF!
Back on the street, H. takes us a block and a half to the right, left turn
and then one block down a slight hill to a main street. She shows us a
restaurant on the corner that she says has an English menu and serves good
food at a cheap price. We now turn to the right and climb a slight rise
until we come to the metro station. Upon entering, we go down stairs,
around the corner and then stop at a metro shop where H. buys metro tickets
for us, since we have not changed our U. S. currency to Czech krouns yet.
The little shop is a newspaper, magazine stand that also sells candy bars,
cigarettes, postcards, etc. We enter the metro area and H. shows us how
validate our ticket. Once the ticket is validated, you do not have to show
it again unless you are challenged by the metro police. You must, however,
have a currently validated ticket with you at all times in case you are
challenged. If you don't and are caught, the metro police will impose an
immediate fine. The same ticket can be used on all metros, trams, and
funiculars (cable cars) in the city of Prague. A real deal! H. shows us a
map of the metro system, explains which station we are in and tells us how
to read the posted signs to determine which way we want to go. There are
three metro lines that cross Prague, the Red, the Yellow and the Green. At
each station, the two ends of that metro line are posted. You determine
from your map which "end" you want to go toward, and then find the side of
the platform that shows that name at the top. That will be the side of the
platform on which to wait for the metro. L. catches on immediately. We
only a few minutes before a metro zooms into the station and stops. We
enter a crowded car. A young man gets up and motions for me to take his
seat. H. and L. stand and talk during our quick ride. We exit, climb
stairs and walk, briskly, to St. Wenceslaus Square. How lovely. It is not
really a square, but a wide double avenue lined with trendy shops and small
stores. We pass a Foto Lab, book stores, banks, etc. H. takes us to the
American Express office and shows us how to exchange $200 dollars for Czech
krouns. I get back 7,400 krouns. I give some to L. and stuff the rest into
my passport case. H. shows us little grocery stores along the way where
can purchase a sandwich, a pastry and bottled water for a quick lunch. We
pass a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. (No fried chicken on this trip
us!) On we go at a breakneck pace. L. is worried about me (I am 61 and a
stroke survivor.)and whether I am getting tired. I tell her I am okay, so
Prague is beautiful. Old buildings (many being restored), churches,
statues, bridges, flowers everywhere, cobbled streets, trams going in all
directions. We follow H. to Prague Castle and walk quickly through the
royal gardens; H. tells us what we will want to come back and see at a
leisurely pace. The castle is really a huge hilltop complex that consists
many courtyards, towers, houses, churches and monuments. Saint Vitus
Cathedral is huge and breathtaking. The Czech flag is flying above the
palace, which means the President is in residence. Golden Row, once the
small cottages of the 16th century castle craftsmen, are now quaint shops
and displays. We climb tiny spiral stairways to the top floors, where you
have to wait to the side for another person to pass beside you. One shop
features armor, swords, and shields. We pass through quickly, knowing we
will return another day. We exit the castle grounds by way of the castle
steps down to Lesser Town, the town below the castle. We cross Charles
Bridge and take a metro back to our metro stop. In one of the metro
stations, we encounter the metro "police' with arms out stretched to block
the flow of foot-traffic.. H. swerves to the right of the crowd that they
have stopped , we follow her, and we go on our way. I guess we did not
enough like tourists for them to stop us, or else they were too busy. H.
leaves us at the corner restaurant, and promises to pick us up on Sunday at
8:00 for our first trip to the Bohemian countryside. Hungry and bone
we enter the restaurant. The waitress responds to our greeting in English
(how lucky can you get) and brings us a menu in English. We choose wine,
grilled meats, and salads . The food is good and cheap. We can't decide,
by looking at the check, if a gratuity is included or not, so we add 15% in
krouns . We will have to ask George about restaurant checks and tipping.
We climb the slight hill to Lida guesthouse. L. decides that our first
excursion into Prague, under H.'s leadership, shall hereafter be termed
forced march from h---." I agree. I count the stairs from the street to
our room - 2, 9, 3, 8, 10,10, 10 - I stop at each landing to catch my
breath. L. stops by the breakfast room to get a "light Pepsi" and a bottle
of water, thereby giving me extra time to make it up the stairs. She is
"carrier of the keys,," but I don't have long to wait before she is up the
stairs and unlocking our door. Our little room looks so inviting! We call
home to let our husbands know we have arrived okay. After washing up, we
climb into our beds, only to discover they do not have a cover sheet. The
comforter is light and fluffy , and the pillow is soft and large. I tell
if she hears a thump in the night, it is probably me falling out of bed.
There is not much room to turn over, and when you do, you better adjust
comforter or some part of you will be sticking out in the cold. After a
of twisting, turning , and giggling, L. sets her travel alarm for 7:00 and
settles down with one of our travel guide books. I am out like a light!
More later - watch for day 3 of Czech Adventure.
If you would rather not read, just delete.
Hi i am a newcomer to this
I am researching the names ; Polaczek/ Polatschek in Bergen ( PERNA )
Me GG.grandfather Anton came from there the name was Gremanized to POLATSCHEK at the wedding of his son Franz in Austria
I have the names and dates of the siblings of Franz they moved to ? around 1835 or later ?
Franz came to Wiener Neustadt in Austria he married to Juliane Greiner.
I have no idea were
Agnes *1826, Anton * 1824, Rosalia * 1829, Josepha *1831, Johann *1835, went to ?
I have also another line including Georg P. married to Katharina Bruschin born in KWISCHOWITZ
no dates !
The decentants are Martin P. * 1855
regards Johann Schuster
Days 1,2 and day 3 were posted earlier:
L. is my adult daughter and H. the researcher from Prague who helped me plan
Up early and down to breakfast. We wait outside the house and take a few
minutes to look at the front and side yard with their various plants and
flowers. Up drives H. and her husband, V. in their little yellow Czech car.
Introductions all around and we are off. H. sits in back with L. and is the
navigator. V. drives, and sometimes even follows H.'s directions. We leave
the city and are soon out in the country. We see many small chalets, summer
week-end homes of the people who live and work in Prague. They perch on
every hillside, one above the other. The bottom story of the chalet is
built of native stone or red brick and the second story is of wood that,
from a distance, looks like pine. They have steep slate roofs and are
really quaint. H. announces we will be traveling south of Prague to the
Kamenice district from which our Stuchlik ancestors came. I have the
pedigree of my late father's paternal ancestors which H. had completed for
me and she has her copy also. At least we know which "dead people" we will
be looking for! We chat as we drive along and L. and I a lot about the
history of the Czech Republic. Sometimes V. and H. talk back and forth in
Czech, and it is music to my ears. Once again, I am a child , sitting in my
grandfather's kitchen, (my grandmother died when I was only 8 months old)
listening to my grandfather, my Uncle Frank, my father, and our neighbors,
Mr. Panuska and Mr. Madjarosy, talk in Czech as they play pinochle. It is
wonderful! And then V. says, "Ya,ya,ya,ya,ya," in quick succession and I
am enchanted. I hug my arms around myself in an attempt to hold in the
delight that this response bring to me. My Aunt Bertha used to say that all
the time. I realize how much I miss those times of my childhood, and just
how much I miss my father.
We travel almost due south from Prague to the village of Kamenice
(pronounced Kah meh nee tzeh) nad Lipa. It is a clean, pretty town with a
town square On the square we find the church of our ancestors, All Saints
Church. It is a large white stucco building with tile roof. H. says it is
okay to enter. There is a Sunday service going on and we stand quietly in
the back. It is a very pretty church, again lots of gilt and painted
plaster. Large chanticleers hang from the vaulted ceiling. Sunshine
streams in through the windows. I listen to the music and cry. Outside the
church we walk around the neighborhood. There is a sun dial on one wall of
the church, on another a large crucifix. The vicarage is nearby, as are
houses painted pink, cream and other colors with gray or red tile roofs. H.
reads a plaque on the side of the church that tells us it was established
in the 13th century. The bell tower is 4975 meters tall and comes from the
17th century. The main altar was made about 1758. The cemetery that once
surrounded the church was abandoned in 1785 by order of the Austrian
Emperor, Josef II.
So, to visit the cemetery we have to travel out of town. A local tells H.
were the cemetery is located and we have no trouble finding it. The
cemetery surrounds a white octagonal chapel with an onion-shape steeple in a
wooded area. Each grave site has a border of stones with flowers planted
within the border. Most tombstones are very ornate. We walk up and down the
grassy paths reading the stones. We find a few that contain family related
names, but no Stuchliks. H. explains that our relatives ARE buried here,
but, since they left this area in the 1800s, their graves were not tended to
and the stones were removed to make room for other burials. The graves must
be maintained by family members, or they are removed.
We next go to the village of the Stuchliks, Vcelnicka, pronounced Vchell
nich kah which means valley of the bees. It is a few miles down country
roads lined with apple trees. Locals are under some of the trees picking up
apples. We find the center of town, and see the smoke stacks of the iron
works were 3 of my early Stuchlik ancestors worked. It is now used as a
Glass Factory. The main street is unpaved, the houses are quaint. We are
looking for houses numbered 3. 4. 12, and 17. However, the houses were
numbered as they were built, so one can not make any sense of the order.
House two might be right between house 41 and house 13. We find house # 1
and decide this might be a good place to start - perhaps someone here will
know of the family or where the houses are located. We knock at the door at
house # 1; no answer. We notice that the back of the house has an addition
and is named # 65. Why not? We are delighted when an elderly lady answers
our knock. H. explains are purpose. Guess what? - the lady was a Barta and
is a distant relative. She is very kind, and goes back into the house to
fetch the town register that has the names of the town's inhabitants back to
1672. We find our ancestors listed in 1672 along with how much land they
farmed, how many livestock they had and what crops they grew. How lucky
can one get? The lady was named Helena. We take photos of her, her garden,
her flowers, her friendly dogs, and the register. She tells us there are
other relatives on the other side of the village, so we thank her for her
help, and off we go. We stop by the old train station and use the outdoor
lavatories (our pack of Kleenex came in handy!). Then we visit the farm at
house # 3. There is an old, very large barn. No one home but barking dogs.
At house # 4 we find another relative and pose for photos with him.
However, he does not remember our line of the family. We finally find house
# 12, the place where my great great grandfather was born. The house is
shaped like a little fort. No windows in the front, just a front door that
looks like a barn door. The inhabitants are hospitable and invite us in.
There is a cobbled open area/courtyard in the center. The living quarters
are on the right and the shop/barn is on the left of the cobbled area.
There is a large gate at the rear. The house is of plaster, painted white
and the roofs are gray tile. Out back there are fruit trees, a small
chicken pen and a structure for vines. The back yard is enclosed by hedges.
We learn that the original house at this location had burned down many years
ago, and the present house had been built on the original foundation. The
people who now lived here were not relatives, but were extremely kind. We
leave, somewhat disappointed. One more house to go. We had to backtrack
until we found house # 17, the home where my great grandmother was born in
1835. We finally found it, but no one was home. We take more photos of the
outside and then leave. In Vcelnicka and the village of Bohdalin we find
roadside memorials to soldiers from the towns who had died while serving in
the Austrian Army. Their pictures were cemented into the side of the
memorial and we were able to see the photos of some distant Lapka, Mimra,
and Zavadil relatives . V. and H. treated us to a county lunch at the only
inn in Vcelnicka and L. and I fall in love with the traditional liver
On the way back to Prague, we stopped by the castle of Cervena Lhota. It is
pinkish-orange in color and is surrounded by a moat on which many rowboats
were being used. The sun was shining, the air was fragrant with pines and
the atmosphere was one of families out for a holiday. It was very
picturesque. We next stopped at the town of Tabor, and had ice cream at a
shop on the corner of the main street. Tabor was founded in 1420 and is
located 55 miles from Prague. Its main square was very clean and the
buildings reminded us of Dutch architecture. We walked around the square,
took photos of the Jan Hus statue and enjoyed the surroundings.
It took a while to get back to Prague since there was a traffic jam because
of an automobile accident. After stopping in traffic, V. opened up the
glove compartment on the dash board, and flipped a switch . He explained
that this started an additional fan that helped keep the motor cool. Once
past the accident scene, we were once again heading for Praha at a good
pace. H. and V. dropped us at the corner restaurant near our lodgings where
we had a light dinner before trekking up the stairs to our room. We hung up
our clothes line in the tile bathroom, hand-washed some clothing and, after
hanging it up to dry, I made notes of where we had traveled, who we had met
and how they were related. Tomorrow we would search the villages of my late
father's maternal line. I hoped for more success.
Day 5 will be posted on Friday.
Joana Stuchlik Donovan