Saturday, August 31, 2019

City and Countryside



Shall we take one last look at Prague? If I don't step this up, I'll still be posting about this trip come December! I'm choosing the highlights as there is so much we saw and did. My journal is filled with perceptions, observations, and details which you would tire of reading.

We spent a morning visiting the Jewish Quarter, choosing a self-guided tour this time. The Jewish Museum in Prague comprises a complex of buildings and sites and one ticket covers all of them except for the Old-New Synagogue, which is a separate entrance. That building is also the only current Jewish house of worship and prayer in Prague.

The Jewish Town Hall, above was built in 1586 and renovated in the 18th century. I found it a particularly beautiful building with the blue walls and white trip (I'm a huge fan of blue and white), and the dark clock tower atop. 



One of the most moving sites we visited was the Pinkas Synagogue where the walls are covered with the names and places of the 80,000 Jews taken from Prague by the Nazi regime. No photos are allowed. It is a quiet place other than for the continuous reading aloud of the names written on the walls.

In another part of the synagogue there is a display of artwork done by the children of Terezin camp, a "model" town devised by Hitler as a means of placating the Red Cross about the treatment of displaced Jews. A Jewish artist from Vienna, Freidl Dicker-Brandeis, brought art supplies in her allotted luggage and worked with the children of the camp, using art as a means of expressing their emotions. When she knew she would be transported to Auschwitz, she hid more than 4000 pieces of art in the attic where it was discovered after the war. You can read more about it here.  

When I looked at the artwork, I could not help but compare it to the lighthearted drawings my own grandchildren create. The Terezin children drew pictures of camp life where guards hover, of families torn apart, of waiting for transport to who knows where. It was a sobering sight. 



Hitler's plan was to maintain the Jewish Quarter in Prague as a memorial to an "Extinct Race" and so he brought many artifacts from other parts of Europe to Prague where they remain today. Another synagogue explained much of the daily life of the city. The graveyard is an astounding site. The Jews were forbidden to expand the boundaries of their quarter, including the graveyard, so new layers of soil were added on top of old graves, and the old stones removed and placed in the new soil along with the new gravestones. This happened many times over 3 centuries and now the graveyard is several metres higher than street level with the most amazing hodgepodge of gravestones. 



We like to get out into the countryside, away from the more touristy areas, if we can. We're sometimes asked how we do this without knowing the language. Google Maps is wonderful, and can be downloaded to use offline. Transit schedules are often on the internet, as well, and we used that a lot. 

Divoka Sarka is a nature reserve on the outskirts of Prague with a walking loop of about 3 hours. There is a lake, but you can't walk all the way around, because of a fenced complex, as we discovered, and had to back track. Going the other way we soon left the lake (where it seems homeless people like to hang out), and entered a lovely wooded area with a little stream. 



It was another very very hot day and we took our time. We had brought a lunch (sandwiches from a bakery) and sat on a bench in the shade enjoying the peace and quiet. There was a flock of goats along the way, but very few people. 



We left Prague, by train again, headed for Linz, Austria, where we met up with our cruise boat. The views from the train were lovely; fields of newly mown hay, white houses with red tile roofs, lots of trees, and the occasional view of a village in the distance. 

I find that it takes time to distill experiences such as these. Tim and I talk about various bits and pieces often. Reviewing my photos bring back a lot of memories. And it's fun to share them with you, my readers, and to read your comments, as well. 

Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Angie of Letting Go of the Bay Leaf

24 comments:

  1. So much to soak in! Thanks for sharing bits and pieces with us. Like you, we love to get into the countryside when we travel.

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  2. Your trip sounds wonderful and very interesting.
    If I'm remembering right, there is a documentary that features Terezin.

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  3. How wonderful that those drawings survived.
    It does take time to assimilate all the memories of a trip. We were recently going over some memoirs of a trip to Vienna, and both remembered little things that we might otherwise have forgotten.

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  4. I also visited the Jewish graveyard in Prague, it is very poignant to witness that chaotic jumble of tombstones - it is somewhere that I will never forget.

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  5. I was moved by the Jewish Museum in Prague. I used to read Hana's Suitcase about a brother and sister who were in Terezin to classes of children. The brother survived and came to Canada. There is so much to see in the Danube region.

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  6. I never seem to keep up with my travel posts. Definitely plan to get back on track this month. There's so much history in Europe and so much that people don't know about. It's truly awful what humans are capable of doing to each other and sadly that has yet to change. Some people just can't seem to learn from the past. I do much prefer the countryside, but these old European countries were built for walking so they are much easier to navigate and enjoy than the more modern towns of today. Happy September!

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  7. So glad that Tim was with you! (My niece loves such adventures...is on another one now...all by herself, which frightens her mother and me quite a bit. We are learning about leaving her in God’s hands since she is not a fan of listening to old women rant.)

    I had not even considered the possibility of homeless people living near a lake in the Czech Republic. I think of that problem as a Western World one, but guess that I am wrong. Seems that there is an explosion of woes in the last decade (or more) everywhere.

    How sad it would be to delve into the mindset of Jewish existence in that time frame. One cannot begin to know the depths. I, for one, usually shield myself. All I need to hear to make me turn away from any movie dealing with the topic is the sound of those Nazi sirens. Accckkk... Yet, one must know and hope to stop it from ever happening again.

    Thank you for sharing the beauty of your journey and the sorrows.

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  8. Joy and sorrow. What a very interesting trip with so much beauty and history.

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  9. Once again so interesting. Especially about the gravesite, and it reminds me of somewhere in S.A. seeing graves one on top of another on hillsides, almost like crowded apartment buildings. You probably know where I'm talking about. Just yesterday I found the little journal I kept on our three weeks in Europe on the way home from Africa. It's so interesting to read it all again and remember. And since our boys were fairly little, we did spend a fair bit of time at playgrounds and parks!

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  10. Enjoyed reading your post, I'm pleased you share your experiences and photographs... always interesting

    All the best Jan

    PS Happy September wishes

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  11. That must have been very difficult to see, necessary and unforgettable but difficult. I remember blog friend Amy writing about her visit there also and being almost stunned by the sheer sadness it represents.

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  12. Beautiful photos, and I have enjoyed your visit through the photos as I have not been to Prague, I love the very old architecture. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Lorrie - fine with me if it takes until December for you to share all this with us - so worthwhile! Yours is the second post I have read today that re-visits the horrors of the Nazis - and I do hope that we have learned our lessons. So proud of you to take the time to explore on your own - I find that is the best way to really get to know a country. Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

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  14. So many interesting places. The story of the Jews in Prague is very sad and sobering. I too like catching local transport. You get such a feel of the place by doing so. I’m intrigued by your river cruise. A possibility for the future but I’m still not sure. I’ll read about yours with interest. Have a lovely week. B x

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  15. Such an emotionally moving post. Thank you. Wishing you well!,

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  16. Thank you for the informative tour, Lorrie. The Jewish museum is sobering, but it's important to learn about this sad and disturbing history.

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  17. Such an incredible trip my friend. Thank you for sharing the beauty and history with all of us.

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  18. ...you last look was fabulous! You sound like my wife with a journal, I wish that I was organized like that!

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  19. It's sobering to learn more about that part of history. It's just hard to believe something so horrendous was done that recently. Thanks for sharing your photos and some of your observations. I always pray for the children...whenever I pray. Hugs!

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  20. I did chuckle at your opening comment I'm just like you with my posts as well, except that if I get it all finished by Christmas I will be chuffed! I am so happy to return with you for a wander in Prague, a most wonderful city which you show off so well. The trip to the Divoka Sarka is a new destination for me so I am happy to discover this through your eyes. A wonderful trip.
    Wren x

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  21. It must have been a somber morning spent in the Jewish Quarter. I am glad that the children's artwork was preserved and that so many artifacts were gathered. Such a dark time of history, and yet it's important to know.

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  22. It is always devastating to read about what the Nazi regime did to Jews. I looked also at the children's drawings. Terrible times. Soon I'll start to read a fiction by Italian Rosella Postorino. It tells about a Jewish woman Rosa who becomes Hitler's food taster. The food could be poisoned... Don't know yet how the book is.

    Your photos are beautiful. I love also the black bell tower.

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  23. You covered the interesting bits of Prague well Lorrie. We visited the Jewish Quarter also and stopped in our tracks in Pinkus Synagogue when we saw the names! The graveyard was another memorable place.
    Glad you were able to get out into the countryside - we really only saw that from the train windows.

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  24. I certainly empathized with your opening and closing sentences. My goal is just to finish blogging about our Europe trip before we leave for Florida in December. I’m still processing all we saw and learned; blogging about it helps. The visit to Prague’s Jewish Quarter must have been difficult but so important ...I wanted to cry just reading your descriptions and the link you provided. (Especially frightening because right at this present moment in history it’s a bit too easy to see how it could happen again if we are not vigilant) ......it was nice that you were able to get out into that beautiful natural area after ...

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