Our Saturday started with a guided tour of Uherský Brod. Walking around this town makes me feel so connected to my grandmother and her family.
We discovered that the birthplace of Jan Amos Comenius is Uherský Brod! This is serendipitous because John is teaching at Comenius University in Slovakia- named after the great Czech scholar, Protestant religious dissident, and educational reformer. There are many important sites dedicated to him.
The museum was incredible. There were interactive areas for the kids and detailed and interesting accounts of Comenius’s life.
The visit to the museum was really special and we learned so much about the history of the city and Comenius.
We took a lovely walk to go and visit Vera’s 96 year-old mother. Although she is bedridden, her mind is 100% intact. She remembered my visit 13 years ago with my mom and Veronica in my belly. It was so fun for her to see me again and meet John and the kids. Her granddaughter is also named Veronica and after the visit when I was pregnant, the decision to give Veronica her name was final.
Outside her door is a painting of my Great-Great Grandfather Rudolf.
Next we walked to the cemetery where my family members are buried.
Seeing Marie and visiting the grave of my family was overwhelming. It is hard to describe what that feels like and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been there and to show my kids their roots.
Walking around UB brought up many stories that Vera shared with us. The reality of her life under communism came up frequently and although the kids attention would frequently wander off, they listened fully when we stopped here.
Vera told us a story about how when she was 16, she had been walking up this street with her girlfriend and her parents trailing when they heard some shouting from across the road. This was in 1968, the year The Red Army had forcibly occupied Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring. There were Soviet soldiers literally all over the country, even in little Uherský Brod. Soviet soldiers were yelling at them, and the girls decided to not turn their attention but to keep walking. Frustrated, the soldiers started shooting and Vera and her friend rounded the corner to hide where the garbage bins are. Why did they shoot? Because Vera had on jeans- a gift to her that was very uncommon.
We ended up on this corner a few more times over the weekend and each time the kids remembered the spot and acknowledged what had happened there.
We had walked many miles and learned many things that were more interesting to adults so we promised the kids that we would check out the Aquapark near our hotel.
After swimming, Vera insisted we come back to her house for more food and drink.
We thought it was hilarious how useful the slivovitz is. Are you cold? Slivovitz. Are you sick? Slivovitz. Everyday greeting? Slivovitz.
Our kids discovered the Czech version of “sorry” while waiting to see Marie (below) and so when we were at Vera’s, they got the game out again. The adults thoroughly enjoyed conversation while the kids got their sibling aggression out by knocking each other off the board.
We said goodnight and planned to meet up the next morning at mass.
The kids were so good during mass in Czech. Again, I felt so connected to my family.
Vera told us that there is a small social gathering after mass outside. The kids were really excited for donuts. Better than donuts, there were many home baked goods and hot drinks. The kids were hoping for hot chocolate so they bounded up to grab some. There wasn’t hot chocolate. But there was hot mulled wine!
Before we left, Vera wanted us to see the folk dancers that were dancing all over the city. It was a celebration that only happens once a year- the weekend before Lent. Sadly, it was raining so the dancers were packed in tightly. However, the music and dancing were terrific! Ladia, Vera’s husband was a member of that folk band and so all of his friends were there.
Sadly, it was time for us to board our train. We had a spectacular weekend even though the kid cousins couldn’t come. The great news was that we would see everyone again!