A Long, Cold, Great Day in Prague

Trip Start Feb 22, 2013
Trip End Mar 05, 2013

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What I did
Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola
The Battle at the Cyril and Methodius Church
Memorial of the Victims of Communism in Prague

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vicky and I set out early at 7 am to tour the city. It turns out that Prague is not an early-start kind of place, but we eventually found a great little breakfast spot near the Spanish Synagogue. 
From there we walk around the city towards the Cyril and Methodius Church. This Orthodox church was built in honor of St. Cyril and St Methodius, the men responsible for the Slavonic alphabet. Most people are familiar with this church because of what happened here on the morning of June 18, 1942. Acting on information from a traitor, the Nazis discovered seven Czech parachutists involved with the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich hiding in the crypt under the church. The west side of the church was cordoned off by 800 troops from the SS and the Gestapo. Three of the soldiers died as the SS stormed the church. The remaining four fought on from the crypt and tried to dig their way out. After hours of shooting and a long stand-off which led to the German's deciding flush them out using the fire brigade, they used their last bullets on each other. The bullet-scarred exterior wall holds a plaque in honor of their bravery.
The Memorial of the Victims of Communism is a truly magnificent memorial although sad. It is a modern memorial, from the year 2002. It contains seven phases of a man living in a totalitarian state – from the first statue being a full man, up to the last statue where only a part of him remains. This evaporation represents the gradual physical and psychical destruction of a man who is ruled by any undemocratic regime. The man disappears due to censorship, secret police, no freedom of thoughts and expressions, etc. The inscription reads: "During the years 1948 to 1989, 205,486 people in the back-then Czechoslovakia were found guilty for political reasons, 248 were executed, 4,500 died in prisons, 327 died when trying to run away from the country and 170,938 people emigrated".
The Choir sang mass at Our Lady of Victory Church of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague, or as Will Ferrell would say, “cute, chubby, infant baby Jesus.” There is a 16th century wax-coated wooden statue of child Jesus inside the church. Pious legends claim that the statue holds miraculous powers, especially among expectant mothers. The mass was beautiful although very, very chilly.
I thoroughly enjoyed my much-anticipated time with Calvin that included lunch and a walk up Nerodova Street while hunting house signs. The boy ate and ate and ate! He later told me that he had a hole in his toe! 
Nerudova Street honors Jan Neruda, the famous Czech writer who lived in the House At the Two Suns. There are so many splendid historical houses with well-preserved ancient decorated doors and historical house signs such as the beautiful statues, reliefs and symbols. Symbols adorn many of the house entrances. These symbols were in the past used instead of our today´s house numbers such as At the Two Suns, At the Red Lion, At the Golden Crown, At the Donkey in the Cradle.  I could easily get obsessed with hunting these signs, Check out this blog for more examples. 
The parents and children were treated to a guided tour of Prague’s castle district including St. Vitus and Golden Lane. The tour reminded us of our boys at home since Elliott recently chose St. Vitus (Patron Saint of Dancers) as his saint name for his upcoming confirmation and first communion. The adorable cherubs in the castle looked exactly like our Max. The best one was at the entrance with Max riding a lion!
We set off for another Choir Concert at St. Ignatius Church where I nearly perished due to hypothermia. The music would have been a wonderful sendoff of course. 
The evening finished with a dinner cruise for kids and parents. Calvin was such a young gentleman as we shared a great conversation with the Lemke family. He contributed thoughtful ideas as we shared our thoughts about the visit to Terezin and the holocaust history. My boy is growing up. 
This tour has been surprisingly emotional for me, maybe my first trip abroad has me reflecting on both my past and my future. It is as if seeing these historical places and experiencing a new culture prompts a reflection of my history and future. 
After a long and very cold day, I packed my bags, jumped into bed with my laptop and proceeded to struggle with internet access until giving up for sleep in preparation for our departure to Vienna. 
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