On Tuesday morning, we woke up early to go get our rental car from the Prague Main Railway Staton. I have to give Prague an A+ in ease of public transportation. It was clean and on time. Before we left for the trip, I realized that Google Maps would only tell me bus routes, but not metro or tram options. I downloaded the 2GIS app, and it made it very easy to get around. We rented an AMAZING apartment through VRBO on Karoliny Svetle and it was super convenient to everywhere we wanted to go. It was also beyond gorgeous and the hosts were amazing. Seriously, if you ever want to go to Prague, stay at this place. It was two bedrooms, two baths (with heated floors!!), had a large kitchen, and living space. Also, Chandeliers!!
Once we got the car, we loaded up, then drove to the National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror at the Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Mehodius to see where the heroes of Operation Anthropoid took their final stand. A few years ago, I read the book HHhH and that sent Prague way up on my travel priority list. When we started talking about going to Europe again, Prague was the first city I mentioned because of that book and Operation Anthropoid. I am glad I got to see the movie first because it gave me a better understanding of the semantics of the fight and I could more easily identify what I was seeing in the church.
The first thing we saw when we got to the church was the memorial where the Nazis shot up the side of the building by the only window into the crypt where the parachutists were hiding. It is also the window where they shoved a water hose through to try and drown them.
It was sobering to see. I just can’t imagine the bravery that it takes to not only parachute into an occupied city to assassinate a terrible and ruthless man, but to be trapped in that crypt knowing that you won’t get out alive is unimaginable.
The church wasn’t open to visitors, but we could somewhat see inside through a glass door and we were able to see the balcony area where they fought off the Nazis and the stairs that the parachutists tried to block to keep the Nazis from getting up to them.
In the church crypt, they have a room set up with information about the Czechs in World War II, the occupation of the country, and Operation Anthropoid. They covered all of the people who died to house, care for, and protect the secrets of the parachutists. People who were true heroes in the face of unspeakable danger.
After reading the material in the museum, we entered the crypt through a special steel door.
I know a lot of people believe it’s bullshit, but we could feel the heaviness of history in that room. It was upsetting to see where these brave men had lost their lives in the hope of saving others. You could feel the desperation, especially when looking at the space where they valiantly tried to dig out of the crypt.
The window from the inside:
The secret passage where the priests had originally dropped the parachutists down into the crypt.
The stone (to the right of Ashley) that the Nazis broke through to finally access the stairs down the crypt:
It was a very solemn space. It was much smaller than I thought it would be, and I felt the weight of sadness being in a place where young men lost their lives because of the egomaniacal actions of a dictator and his followers. It was even sadder reading about the professions and families of these men who were totally ordinary people before enlisting. One was training to become a cobbler, another was a confectioner, and another was in law school. They and the men and women who helped them were just ordinary people who did extraordinary things in the face of terror.
I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to go at all because it is closed on Sundays and Mondays, but everyone agreed that it was worth the stop before leaving town, and I am thankful to have seen it. If you don’t know at all what I’m talking about, I can’t recommend watching Anthropoid enough. It’s a truly extraordinary tale of a network of brave people trying to save their country from evil.
We left Prague after the museum, and drove toward Budapest. We stopped in Bratislava for a late lunch, and much to our absolute surprise, the Christmas market was up and going. We were going to walk around town for a couple of hours, but we decided instead to cruise around the markets and eat. What little we saw of the city was so pretty, and the food was delicious. I hope to come back and spend more time in Slovakia and the Czech Republic because there is so much here and I have been so impressed by the beauty and history of this region.
Sari and I both got potato pancakes, and I tried honey wine. It was a bit too sweet for me, but the hot red wine that I tried later was excellent.
I don’t know what this is, but it tasted like a crepe. I had one with Nutella and one with cinnamon, sugar, and honey. Both were A+.
Then it was time to head to Budapest for the night, so we left just before four so we didn’t get in too late. I can’t wait to go back one day!
We arrived in Budapest around six, and checked into our apartment. We decided to walk over to the Christmas market at Vörösmarty tér for the evening. It was big and beautiful!! We cruised around there shopping and eating for a few hours before heading back for the night.
A new mug for my hot toddies!