Czechoslovakia - Csehszlovákia
Prague - Prága Karlovy Vary Telc
Selected photos of Czechia Most of the pictures, demonstrated here are not mine (unfortunately for me, fortunately for you). Therefore I expect my daughter and my son-in-law to put down their reminiscences as well. It will be in Hungarian. I shall try to be short.

My first (official) visit to Prague took place sometime around 1965. I was lucky enough to spend a week there then and on a couple of occasions too before the Prague Spring was suppressed by the "coalition forces" of the communist-socialist block in 1968, in which Hungary also played its shameful role (like it does now in Iraq). I was lucky because Prague - though the city looked grey, half-restored, without lights - it preserved its basic values, was so nice, one could fully enjoy. It was and is similar to Budapest in the sense that both are divided by rivers into practically equal parts, one of which is flat, the other hilly, that the hilly sides used to be the centres of power. It did not suffer too much during WWII, the historical monuments and Prague's "old city" remained almost untouched and wonderful. But the most important phenomenon that assisted in enjoying life in Prague was the population of the city: they were open, kind and cheerful. The culture of hospitality was on high level, especially the handling of their national drink, beer. One of my famous sayings is that "Hungarian Tokaji,  Russian vodka and Czech beer could not be spoilt even by communism". Once strange thing happened to me: I was consuming my dinner in a restaurant in the downtown, when a group of young guests started dancing a Czech round dance, inviting more and more foreign to them people, finally me too. I danced with them probably more than half an hour and was very much impressed by this friendly attitude. Another nice occasion when I could marvel at the ability of Czechs to enjoy life was an official dinner in the pub of Svejk, the soldier, U Kalicha, during which my counterpart consumed 13 mugs of beer. Read my letter to a friend. I should not bore you with alcohol (the salt of life), but I cannot hide my satisfaction at the fact that Czechoslovakia was the only country in the red block where you could get grog at every corner, in every place of public entertainment and since Prague is usually much colder at winter-time than Budapest, I used to sacrifice one or two grogs a day as offerings to the God of good life. Oh, one second more about Czech drinks: I almost forgot about Becherovka, the spirit-raising concoction of yellowish-golden colour invented by an unusual pair of wise people, a Britisher (you know, a part of them invented the not so ugly whisky, too) and Mr. Becher (what kind of name is this?), who is said to have been Czech and happened to live in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). Youngsters of today created beton (Becherovka+tonic) which supposedly will bring new, unlimited fame to Chechia. All this reminds me Cuba, the nicest country of the communist world, where cocktails and light music were born and after returning from which I composed my best saying: "Mojito, ergo sum", which not everybody understands and which is hated by my wife. Now, let us return to our original subject, Prague, which I had to visit soon after the Prague Spring was killed. I - as Hungarian - was afraid of this trip, afraid of the hatred of Czechs towards the occupants, but they did not bother about me, about anything. For years after the invasion not only Prague, the city, but also the inhabitants of it looked grey, pale, in black mood. Simply looking at them one could understand how important for them the philosophy of Prague Spring was. My good God, never invade others, you can harvest only hatred and sorrow.

I visited Prague years later again and found it recovered from the shock: the "old town" is more beautiful than ever, the pubs live their cheerful life, beer is as Czechish as it should be, but I do not feel so close to the people I did in the sixties. I wonder why? One of the secrets of life. Age? Fight for money? God only knows.

Besides Prague I have paid official visits to a few places, factories that needed material handling systems. Neither the cities, nor the factories impressed me much, though the Skoda car and truck plant (now owned by the German Volkswagen) at Mlada Boleslav was one of the best industrial undertakings in Czechoslovakia. I also recall Nymburk and the factory ŽOS there. Faint memories remained of Jihlava, though the ancient parts of the city must be exciting.

As tourist driving to Prague or as visitor of Brno Fair I have spent a few hours in Brno. It was then a mixture of industrial establishments, so called socreal buildings and grey, very grey living quarters built in the last decades of the 19th and first decades of the 20th century. I would not repeat my visit.

I have seen a lot of places in Slovakia, none of them comparable with Prague. Still, the overall feeling about it is probably not worse than about Czechia. One of the reasons must be that the country is full of Hungarian monuments, since Slovakia for some time was part of Hungary (sorry, Slovakian friends, it is fact). You can select a route - as we did with our friends - just for visiting such Hungarian forts, castles, museums, cities, villages. One of the most important is Bratislava (in Hungarian Pozsony , once capital city of Hungary), the capital of Slovakia. When I first saw this town, only a few ancient monuments manifested themselves out of the growing blocks of  socreal, like the fort on top of a hill. This building not only dominates the scene, but represents one of the best preserved forts of the once glorious history of Hungary. The downtown is still unable to hide that for almost three centuries the city was the centre of Hungarian administration, culture and of the aristocracy. You find Hungarian monument at every step, though the town grew ten times bigger during Slovakian rule.

I have made two-three official trips to the country. I recall the shipyard of Komarno (the Slovakian part of the torn apart city of Komárom). The fort of Komárom (situated in the Slovakian part) was one of the Hungarian strongholds in the defence fightings against the attacks of the Osman Empire. Another trip I made to the (if I remember well) textile factory of Lucenec.

Much more exciting journeys were made by us with friends to Hungarian monuments, places. I believe I cannot do more here and now than to indicate the names of (I hope almost all) places we have seen during these excursions, sometimes adding a few words. Krupina (Korpona) is one of the best places soon after crossing the border at Sahy, because the church there is the proud owner of a wonderful winged altar.

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Selected photos of Slovakia
Pozsony - Bratislava '86 Kosice - Kassa Chopok (Hungarian) Drienica Other places of Slovakia

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