20 October 2013

Notes from my trip to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy

Well, I just returned from a 2 week trip to Europe.  On October 2nd my mom and I flew to Munich, Germany.  We tried to go to an archive in Munich, but it was closed for a holiday so we drove to Rothenburg, Germany – a really cool medieval walled city with these really cool old houses all squeezed together and little cobblestone streets and alleys.  That’s a really fun place.  We then drove to the Czech republic, and the genealogy fun began.  :)   We visited many home towns of our ancestors, and got to explore the places where they lived.  We got to see some of the churches they attended or they were baptized in as infants (and even got to go inside a couple of the churches).  We got to visit some archives and a town hall to search for records.  We rushed from town to town, searching for cemeteries and hoping that we might find an existing headstone or two with familial names.  And maybe the best thing of all: the birth, marriage, and death records for German Catholics in Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic) in the 1700s and 1800s often included house numbers for the people.  As I understand it, in these small towns many of the original old house numbers were assigned in the order that the houses were built in the town (not in order by each street) – so an address may have just been a number and a town name.  Some of the towns have since re-numbered the buildings, but fortunately for us in the Czech Republic many of the buildings have both the old and new house numbers still posted.  So we spent hours driving through winding streets of little villages searching for the homes that our ancestors lived in.  Some of the houses are no longer there – some were bombed in the war, and others have been demolished since the Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.  And I’m assuming that some of the houses may have been there, but they weren’t marked with numbers or we just couldn’t find them.  But we did find a lot of them.  (Some had been refinished or entirely rebuilt, but some were definitely the original buildings that our ancestors lived in in the 1800s, 1700s, and earlier).  How cool is it that those buildings still exist?  Anyway, my sister, Michelle and her little boy, Robbie, joined us for some of the ancestral house hunting.  And after our fun week of genealogy detective work we spent a couple days in Prague, the capitol of the Czech Republic.  Then we flew to Rome, Italy and met my Dad and Grandma Faun there.  We spent the last couple days of our trip in Rome before Michelle, Robbie, and I flew home. 

I had never been out of the United States (except beach camping in Baja as a kid, and visiting Niagara Falls and Toronto in Canada), so it was pretty exciting.  It was a great trip.  I am really grateful to my mother in law, Debbie, for helping with the kids while I was gone to make it possible!  And to Michael, of course (now that I’ve traveled, I can’t wait until the next time I can go somewhere and Michael can go too).  I’m getting back into “real life” here at home, and fortunately avoided jet lag for the most part.

While I was gone I emailed Michael to let him know everything we got to do on the trip.  I especially included a lot of details about the places we went and the things we got to do on the genealogy portion of the trip, thinking that I would use those emails as my travel notes when I got back.  So that’s what I’m going to post here (and on my genealogy blog, www.stephsgenealogy.blogspot.com).  So here goes:

No comments: