This year’s trip was May 8 – June 11, the fifth variation of visiting family and exploring new places. I stayed with cousins Lenka, Ivo, Oto and Eda in their Prague flat, explored new destinations in the city and traveled during the week. After two years, I was afraid that the boys would be shy around me, but I was still “Teta Joan” and it was like it had been two weeks instead of two years. Five and seven year olds are great like that.
Two active boys and plus two working parents equal one BUSY family life. I remain This time I made beef stew and macaroni and cheese along with my chocolate chip cookies as part of the American menu. I am always amazed at Lenka and Ivo’s energy and attentive parenting skills in the face of a very demanding schedule. I’m very grateful to be able to slip in and be a part of it for a month.
On weekends, like many residents, we left Prague for the countryside. Tchorovice, population 200ish, in South Bohemia was the destination for the first two weekends. Except for one big traffic jam on a return trip to Prague, the 60 mile drive is beautiful, especially when you leave the highway and weave your way through, fields, forests and villages. Whenever we arrive at the family home and open the gate, it strikes me that I can’t believe I’m really there. It’s been 15 years since my first discovery visit and it is always a peaceful thrill. The surprise this year was a large gazebo shelter next to the wall.
Sumava National Park is 38 mi/60 km South of Tchorovice, on the German and Austrian borders. We hiked on a trail out of Modrava and saw Kasperk Hrad/Castle on a day trip during our second weekend. The terrain is forested with small mountains and beautiful rivers. It’s a popular weekend and holiday bicycling and hiking area. Oto’s social life kept him and his mom in Prague, so Alena Drnkova (Babicka/Grandma) joined us for the day. The same day Eda mastered riding his bike. Jirka (Deda/Grandpa) went hunting and brought home a trophy.
The following weekend I went to Plzen and spent the weekend at the chalupka/cottage of cousin Jarda Drnek. I was there there in 2016 and found a magical place. It is in a forest preserve area near Manetin. His friend Liba once again translated and we laughed a lot when she would speak English to me, forget and continue in English to Jarda. We had a great time. Saturday was rainy so we toured Manetin Zamek/Manor House. The next day we hiked there through the forest for lunch. My fitbit told me I had 19,000 steps for the day. It was an easy train and metro ride back to Prague. Jarda is a good host.
The weekend of June 1, we went to Desna, North Bohemia near the Polish border. Lenka and Ivo own a second weekend house there and use it as a rental property. It is near Krokonose National Park, and another popular mountain location for hiking, skiing and cycling. This time, Tanja, Ivo’s mom, spent the weekend with us. We hiked in the Jizerka Hory area. Sapphires and rubies are found here and people were panning in the stream we followed. Most of the trail was paved and flat, until the climb at the end. It was a beautiful day. This time my fitbit recorded 13.000 steps.
June 8 was the date for the 6th almost annual Drnek family party in Tchorovice. It’s always an honor that the extended family gets together when I visit. This year the party started at 2pm and ended around 2am. The weather, food, drink, music and guests all contributed to another wonderful time. People continued to come after we took a group picture and we missed others who could not come. We even Facetimed with Jana Drnkova, Jr. in New Zealand. Lenka and Ivo know how to throw a party! I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
We made good memories during my visit (which is long, but always speeds by). Now we it is back to Facetiming and staying connected on Facebook until we meet again. Hoorah for technology!