My favourite Aunt is Czech and she tries to bring my cousins to Europe to visit her family every couple of years. This year was the first time we were able to join them and the first time I had been to the Czech Republic since my Aunt married my mother’s brother 20 years ago. We were all very excited to visit, but my visit was made very special by my Aunt’s family, who remembered me. Even though they did not speak English, many of the ladies managed to express memories of me being there as a baby. One night, a photo album of my Aunt’s wedding was brought out and I was shown photos of myself as a baby in the Czech Republic, with my grandmother and my Aunt’s mother. I will admit, I teared up, it was special.
My Aunt’s family lives in a very beautiful rural area called Strakonice and we spent most of our time there outdoors. We spent the days picking wild blueberries or visiting castles, and the nights singing and eating in the outdoor kitchen beside a fire. We fed the bees that my Aunt’s dad keeps and collected vegetables in the gardens for our meals. We tried to tame the wild cat and her kittens that lived under the porch and watched the sun setting over the hills. It was a magical experience and I could have hidden there happily forever.
During out stay in Strakonice, we somehow found ourselves at an International Bagpipe Festival inside of a medieval castle. While it was extremely unexpected, it was equally spectacular and we had an amazing day. We drank beer, ate traditional Czech food, went to a parade, and watched performances from all over the world. Some of us went dancing and those of us who watched will cherish the memories (and photos) for a very very long time. Afterward, my Aunt drove us out to a castle that she used to camp in with her friends as a child. It had already closed but we were determined and my cousins, siblings and I nearly managed to make it over the walls.
Cities and Culture
If you google things to see and do in the Czech Republic, almost all of the results that you will find will be in Prague. However, there is so much more to see and do in the country. Even though it may no be the popular way to visit the Czech Republic, a rural experience, rather than the stereotypical visit to Prague, will leave you in awe. The ability to leave the big cities and partake in a more cultural experience is my favourite thing about living in Europe. Cities are where all the tourists go and visiting them is fun and interesting, but there are far more enriching experiences to be had in Europe if you seek them out.