The next day the group went back to the Prague castle to see the changing of the guard. Unfortunately the ceremony was scaled down to three soldiers. If nothing else, it was again a challenge to climb all those stairs to get one of the highest points in the city. The Venturers then split up into groups to go shopping around Prague and to find some place to eat lunch. The group then met up again at the City Hall clock tower in the centre of Prague. They watched the clock do its hourly ringing and climbed up into the tower to take pictures of teh breathtaking view. After, they went back to the scout reserve clubroom where Ester sang them to sleep again.
The next day the group departed for Dub
Nad Moravou, a small village about 250 km south east of Prague.
Along the way, they
stopped and toured Karlstejn
Castle – the gothic
pearl of Czech Republic's castles.
For the next few days the group stayed with host
families, members of the Scouting community. Two Venturers stayed
together in the homes and wer provided with beds, meals, pack lunch and
an opportunity to bridge the communications gap as they tried to
understand each other. Since Dub Nad Morouva is so far from the tourist
centre, most residents don't have an opportunity to speak another
language, althought they have probably learned German and a little
English in school. After
everybody had been matched with a family they drove back to
their houses and ate a welcoming dinner. Some had hot meals with soup,
goulash stew, or roast meat and vegetables, others had rye bread with a
variety of cold cuts, cheese and fresh vegetables. That night,
the Venturers met
up at a local pub where they watched the semi-final round of the
football match and played pool. It was quickly evident that price here
were a fraction of the prices charged in Prague.
Over the next few days, the Venturers toured more
castles and churches. The first day out on this leg of the journey took
us to a centre for the largest caves in Central Europe. The first cave
travelled deep underground to a natural spring called Karsen Abyse. At
the half way point, the group got into motor boats to travel
underground for about half an hour to the outcome of the cave system.
The second cave hosted the largest underground dome, used frequently
for symphonic performances. On the return trip the group stopped at the pilgrim
place in Stara Voda, a ruined
catholic church. The interior of the church, bombed and ravaged by
Germans during occupation folllowing WWII, left an strong impression on
the visitors about the political reality of the region. The church was
surrounded once by 700 residents but all that remains today is a bit of
scrub and grass gowing over mounds of rubble. While in the church, many
of the Venturers climbed the bell tour for a view of the valley.
The Czech hosts provided a barbeque and
entertainment that evening back at the local school yard and meeting
place for the Scouts. A half pig was roasted on an open fire and the
hosts brought a wide variety of savory and sweet local treats.
The Czech Scouts made a presentation of western style square dancing,
then led the Venturers inside for a game called Ringo, played using a
The next day started with a visit to the City of
Olomouc, second largest centre in Czech Republic. The group visited
city hall and watched the clock as it chimed and the animation statues
danced to the tune of the communist era, propegating the work ethic of
the people. This medieval centre also offered a visit to the
market place, to climb up the city hall tower and to visit a typical
gothic style cathedral.
The next few days were based at a campsite near Lipova, a very small community in the mountainous region. Here, the Czech Scouts recreated their impression of Dakota Indians including staying in tepees, and dressed in hand made costumes representing the clothing of the Plains Indians. On arrival, the Venturers helped set up the tepees and build the campsite where they would be staying for the next three nights.
Throughout this time they toured
more castles and churches and they went to a place where some of the
Venturers went go-carting. They also visited an old western town
where they walked around and looked through some of the shops. The
amusement centre offered a rodeo show, cafes, and authentic false-front
facades, just like you'd see in the movies. Actors were dressed in what
can only be described as movie theme clothing.
On the first night of camp, the group went to a local home nearby, an aquaintence of Arjan’s and watched the next game in the World Cup. On the second night at camp, the Canadians held a bonfire to celebrate Canada Day. Later, they then went to a nearby pub to watch the final football game. The final night at camp, the Czech's built a huge bonfire to celebrate the Venturers' last night in the Czech Republic. The Canadians were each presented with a T-shirt and a Dakota Troop necker in celebration of their visit. Ester and Arjan were invested as honorary members of the Scouts Canada - 1st Whitby Venturers.
The next day was the Venturers last day in the Czech Republic as they drove 200 kms to Vienna, Austria. The morning stop in the mountain town of ?? offered an insite into the history of the region as interpreted by Czech's national artist Mucho Gustav. The mansion displayed 24 huge paintings and English translation of the descriptions. Next, the group stopped and toured a Morovian wine cellar just north of the border of Austria. A late lunch was taken at the border crossing to Austria. Accomodations in Vienna were offered by a local Scout group in the basement of a downtown church. The evening offered time to look around Vienna and find a place to eat dinner. After eating at the fanciest McDonald's restaurant in the world, the Venturers split up into groups. One group toured the cultural and historical centre of Vienna, while the other group went to a pub and played pool.
morning they left to go to the airport and flew back to Frankfurt,
Germany, where they were given time to eat lunch. They then flew to
Quebec where they went through customs and then flew back to Toronto
where they found their families welcoming their return.
Written by Karen
Mitchell, edited and photos by Brian Wick, c.2004