Czech Republic, you say? Where is that? There is a Czechia on the map, but no Czech Republic! Well….there are disagreements over the country’s official name dating to 1992, when in the so-called velvet divorce, Czechoslovakia divided into two independent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Czechia was put forth as a name, but rejected as sounding too much like Chechnya. But in April 2016, the country’s president pushed through a bill officially changing the name to…Czechia. The only problem is, citizens still call it the Czech Republic, or, like our Czech friends Filip and Milada, just call it Czech. The president’s own website, more than three years later, still refers to the Czech Republic! So, we felt entitled to use it in our title, too!
Our friend Filip picked us up on Saturday morning and drove us to his family’s summer/weekend home, just over the Austrian border in….well, Czech! They bought a former pension, a small hotel with a few apartments, but only for their own use. It is in the town of Slup, and has several apartment buildings and barn in addition to their home, a huge courtyard, and lots of acreage, with peach and apricot trees (they just made a batch of apricot schnapps that was quite powerful!), and two resident wild boars who are very friendly and calm. In fact, the boars tend to run when they see the two older children, as they like to jump on, and ride their backs!
So, first up in the photos is the idyllic back of the family’s property, with a small pond, bench, and part of the fence whose posts are topped with hundreds of upside-down mugs! It is also the area where the boars reside, and they forage food for themselves when the family is back in Vienna, where their main residence is. After these first two photos is an ancient water mill in the town of Slup, built in 1512 in the Renaissance style. Also shown are three of its four undershot water wheels. It is built on the Dyje River, also shown in the pretty scene following the shots of the mill.
The beautiful church, up next, is St. Nicholas in the city of Znojmo, built high up on the bluff a short distance across from Znojmo Castle. It contains what is said to be the remains of St. Boniface, excavated from the Roman catacombs, and they have dressed the skeleton in bejeweled period clothing. The photo following the full glass casket is a closeup of his skull. After that is a unique painting, that of a pregnant Blessed Virgin Mary, which is seldom depicted in art. The photo after that is of the adjacent St. Wenceslas Chapel (St. Wenceslas is the patron saint of the Czech Republic). On the ceiling are actual statues, not paintings – you can see that they cast a shadow! And the highly stylized date is there, 1602. From a walkway along the right side of the chapel are breathtaking views of the mountainside covered with houses and vineyards, looking down to the Dyje River.
The last nine photos are just typical scenes of the city that we enjoyed…buildings, streets, flower-filled homes and windows, walkways, a male angel looking over his kingdom, a fountain honoring St. Wenceslas with the clearest water we have ever seen, and a checkered eagle that is part of the Czech Republic’s coat of arms, depicting the Moravian eagle. After 10 months away from the US, it was a very special day with a great family showing us around and allowing us a day of play and laughter with their three children, who never once cried, whined, or complained. It was one of our most delightful days of travel so far, sheer delight.