It had been almost six years since my last visit to Czech Republic, so I used my January vacation to pop on over to my father’s homeland. Dad kindly agreed to accompany me. It’s much easier to visit people when I have an interpreter. Despite the fact that I have a super-Czech name and and a super-Czech father, I can barely speak the language.
When we arrived in Veletiny, my grandmother’s village, there was a nice layer of snow blanketing the surrounding hills. Did Mother Nature want to prevent me from being homesick for Canada? How very kind of her It did make for some lovely scenery.
My Strýček (Uncle) Petr took us on hike through the hills behind Veletiny to show us the feeding station for the local deer.
We visited my Dad’s cousin Josef, who also lives in Veletiny. Josef had created a miniature Czech village, complete with a nativity scene.
We also went to see Strýček Petr’s daughter in Vlcnov, one village over. My cousin Veronika and her husband have two daughters, Adelka and Betti. When I spoke to Betti, she responded in fluent English. I was absolutely flabbergasted. She didn’t even have a Czech accent! She had learned English as a toddler using apps, then perfected her skills by watching videos online. When she spoke, she used all the lingo and inflections of a typical American teenager. It was truly astonishing.
The main purpose of my visit was to spend quality time with family, especially my 92-year-old Babička. My father told me that she once lamented to him “I just wish I could talk to her!” That breaks my heart a little. We’ve only ever been able to communicate through my father. The language barrier prevents us from having a true heart-to-heart. Regardless, the love is there, and that’s what matters the most.
After our whirlwind visit to Czech Republic, Dad and I took the train to Vienna. I have a newfound interest in knitting, so picked up some supplies at a store in downtown Vienna. And of course, we couldn’t stop in Vienna without feasting on schnitzels at Gasthaus zu den Drei Hacken, one of our favourite restaurants in the city.
The next morning, we left central Europe behind to begin part two of our winter adventures: the Alps!