THE RETURN "HOME"
In April, 2005, my grandfather, Charles Schad, and I traveled to Europe. We visited many cities, including Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and Munich. While there was much to see, our reason for taking the trip was to see our ancestor's hometowns and to gather information about the people who lived in them. We stayed in the city of Olomouc for four nights and toured the area and surrounding towns for two full days. One could say Grandpa and I flew by the seat of our pants on the trip, but we didn't want to be tied down with a schedule. We knew what we wanted to accomplish on the journey and we had a loose timeline. When we got to each city, I would book a hotel room for the next stop and lookup the train schedules. This made it very interesting, especially when we got to Olomouc.
Having flown into Vienna, we were spoiled right off the bat. We had exchanged dollars for euros before we left Minneapolis. Also, because of the number of tourists in Vienna, many of the people spoke enough English to effectively communicate. After two nights in Vienna, we assumed things would be the same when we got to Olomouc, after all, Olomouc is a city of roughly 100,000 people. How wrong we were! We learned that the Czech Republic, a new member of the European Union, had not switched over to the euro. We arrived in Olomouc with only euros and dollars; no koruas, the Czech currency. We arrived at the train station in Olomouc and our first goal was to get a taxi and go to the hotel. We walked out of the station and couldn't find any taxis. We didn't know what to do. We walked a block or so down this seemingly busy street and saw a cab drive by. So we waited at an intersection hoping another taxi would drive by. No luck. So we crossed the street and Grandpa went into a grocery store called Alberts. I stayed outside and watched the bags. So he goes in and walks up to a gal stocking produce. He starts talking and all she does is shake her head and wave her arms like she has no idea what he is saying. So he goes up to another person in the store and he is confused too. The guy comes outside with Grandpa and we try to communicate that we need a cab to get to the hotel. He keeps pointing back towards the train station, and we assumed he was pointing us to the hotel (we'd shown him a paper with the hotel information on it). At this point, we didn't know whether we were going to have to walk to the hotel, or what. So we started walking back to the train station. As soon as we got back to the road in front of the station, we realized there were at least 30 taxis sitting right beside the station. Turns out, we had used an exit that went under the main road and came out the other side. Had we used the main exit, we would have seen all the taxis waiting for us. We got a cab and the cab driver spoke a little, and I do mean little, English. We explained all we had were euros and dollars. We gave him 5, got to the hotel, and managed to check in. We were relieved to be in our hotel room, but knew we needed help. We decided to go down to the restaurant and have a couple beers. We went back to the room and I pulled out my laptop and decided to run a program I had bought that contains a basic lesson in the Czech language. We learned basic words like "please", "thank you", and "beer". We couldn't remember them all, so we made a list, spelling each Czech word as it was pronounced. Later, we showed our waitress the list as we were trying to say something and she got a real kick out of it because we had spelled everyting wrong and butchered the pronunciations.
After making the list of words, I decided our best bet would be to contact Jiri Osanec, a professional genealogist from Olomouc. Jiri had responded to a few of my emails on the Rootsweb mailing lists over the years, and when he saw my posts in early April about traveling to the Czech Republic, he said to contact him if we needed anything. We called the front desk and tried to communicate we wanted to call someone. I started reading the number, and then we got a knock on the door. It was the manager. She wrote down the number and connected us. No answer. We then decided to go down and try Jiri's cell phone and home phone again. We got through! Jiri knew who I was right away and I explained to him our situation. I also told him we wanted to go to Auschwitz the following morning (Sunday) and then meet with him either Sunday night or Monday morning. I had Jiri talk to the hotel manager and asked that they get a train schedule to Auschwitz for us. While we were eating supper, a man brought over a little piece of paper with the information on it. We made it to Auschwitz the following day and because we got back to Olomouc late, we met Jiri Monday morning. We were desperate, so we commissioned Jiri to be our tour guide for two days. We went to the archives and found out our ancestors were not from the town of Moletein (Maletin) as we originally thought. They had lived in the towns of Wojes (Svojanov) and Ohrnes (Javori). Jiri drove us around for two days, answered any questions we had, and even got us into the church in Moletein and into the house that was owned by my great-great-grandfather in Ohrnes (Javori). UNBELIEVABLE! He took pictures the entire time and put them on a CD and the end of the second day. It was so awesome! I would definitely recommend Jiri to anyone who has ancestors from the Olomouc area and is planning on visiting or just wants research done. The current email address I have for him is email@example.com. His prices were reasonable and I guarantee you won't regret it!
All 773 of the pictures from the trip are online at http://www.relativelyunknown.com/europe/. Not all of the pictures have captions yet, but I'm working on it. If you see any pictures you would like a copy of, or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just note the picture number and let me know.
page last updated: 8/15/2014