2013

Started out in London. What a wonderful city. It is very current, vibrant and alive with an ancient past. It is interesting learning about the new historical finds being uncovered as they dig new subway lines and excavating for new construction. Many artifacts have been uncovered dating to the middle ages and back to Roman times.

Some of the highlights were Westminster Abbey, the Winston Churchill Museum, Tower of London, the Eye, and Buckingham Palace. At the time there was a Munchen versus Dortmund Soccer Match. German fans were everywhere creating a very festive atmosphere.

2013 was my first time at a German-Bohemian Heimat Treffen in Furth im Wald, Bavaria, Germany. These are meetings held every two years of ethnic Germans who were residents of Czechoslovakia now the Czech Republic. These families lived in the western regions of Bohemia and were expelled from their homes following WWII. The Treffens (meetings) were started for former residents to gather and celebrate their culture and heritage lost to the ravages of war and the loss of their homeland.

In the past, I read about them and visited with others who have attended since the late 1970’s. It was a much smaller venue as many in the older generation are passing on and younger generations are not attending such events. For me it was a very meaningful event and even with a language barrier, I was able to make many new connections both for others and myself. It was great to even meet distant relatives sharing different branches of the family and who once lived in the homes of my ancestors.

Following the Heimat Treffen, I met a new tour group in Munich. It was the beginning of new friendships and another great adventure connecting participants with regions of their ancestors.

Every trip has opportunities forcing one to think fast and solve problems. Our first day was rainy and the ground was already saturated so it didn’t take much for some places to flood. The second day was beautiful and ten minutes before meeting at the bus, the bus driver came in and informed me the Danube River went up over night and flooded a number of roads and we could not get to a Monastery on the river and the boat tours were closed. He asked, “What are we going to do today?”

Breakfast was over and I had to hurry and grab my suitcase, pay the hotel bill and create a plan for the day in 10 minutes when I met the group on the bus. Initially, it

was a stressful challenge and it became fun as I had a new destination previously considered. By the end of the day people were telling me I am really good with creating plan B’s. Everyone had a good time and we enjoyed our time together.

Some of the highlights in Germany were Ulm, Regensburg, Valhalla, Nuremberg, Historic Old Town and some of the WWII sites around town, and the Bavarian Forest and a Glass making museum and factory. In the Czech Republic we enjoyed the Bohemian forest (Böhmerwald) regions, Ancestral villages of the participants in the western regions of the Czech Republic and some the historic places normally not in the tour books. We stayed in Stribro, visited Plzen and enjoyed a tour, on a very hot day, of the Pilsner Urquel Brewery, and enjoyed summer weather in the beautiful city of Prague.