KGB

As the final day in Prague came round, Jack and I used our 24hr hop on hop off pass to get us round the city again and to the KGB Museum (his choice but this was indeed a treat).

The KGB Museum is of all places, situated in between the US Embassy and the German embassy.

We arrived at the door just after 12 noon and fortunately we were let in to the guided tour that was taking place.

Man, I wish had taken video of this guy because it was very entertaining, to put it mildly!

We are talking about a good Russian boy here. He had all the history down on all the gear.

In my efforts to intently listen to his broken English/Russian accent it took me all I knew to concentrate on what he was saying and at times translating for Jack! Haa haa haa

I didn’t make any notes during this hour and a half ‘show’.

His flamboyant style of history portrayal also included some very animated displays of weapon use along with sound effects and facial expressions!! I’m still laughing about it now. 🙂

He spoke of spy camera’s, watches, bullet pens, poison. Showed us knives, guns and garroting saws. The latter came with demonstrations, noises, movement and eye rolling!

After this we got back on the bus and down to the wharf for a 1hr boat cruise on a different section of the river.

Thanks for having us Prague!

Kat xo

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Communism Tour

Thursday 17th August, whilst in Prague, Jack having an interest in history of past wars and effects chose to do a Communism Tour.

Not having known a great deal about it (history was not one of my subjects at school despite my obvious and very keen interest in it now) I thought this could be an interesting diverse look at Prague.

Now Katarina, our little tour guide, is only 30years old and has lived through part of this as a very small child. Her parents and grandparents however, lived through those turbulent times.

She was a wealth of knowledge. At this point it is now your turn for a history lesson in what I have recounted from her imparted information as we walked for, yet again, miles of Prague. (a little tram travel as well)

As previously mentioned in other blogs, originally Czechoslovakia was part of the Austrian Hungarian empire until during WWII it came under the Munich agreement.

Germany occupied CĹľech until the end of the war when Russian troops moved and took it over. Czechoslovakia, disenchanted with western countries at the time, cooperated with the Russians.

They later came to find that power was being misused and the following elections communist parties were not being considered.

Along came the ‘Bloody 50’s’ and the ensuing protests came with imprisonment. One notable woman was accuse of treason and subsequently executed. She is said to be the only woman in the country to be executed for political reasons.

Ten others were executed and 48 imprisoned just for being associated with her. Another 248 ‘inconvenient’ people were executed and 2500 imprisoned around the 50’s. (Think a good majority of us can take a moment and be very thankful for the lives we have lived and are living)

I’ll try now to shorten some of the other notes I took down from this tour but I think you will find it interesting nonetheless.

  • In 1953 Stalin died with another (I had Kleenex and ?mark, I’m sure autocorrect took over here) people though it suspicious and wondered if they were poisoned.
  • After his death, for some reason they thought it a good idea to mummify his body! It wasn’t done well however and soon started to decay.
  • There used to be a large statue of Stalin situated on the opposite side of the river (to the main part of Prague). It was blown up in 1962 and not one scrap of it is left, apparently everyone wanted a piece of him!
  • During the 60’s liberation, hippies etc, CZ experienced a short period.
  • 1968 borders were opened, mostly to Yugoslavia. If you were a good worker you may have been allowed to go on vacation with your family to Greece for a week or two.
  • There was no more censorship of artists. Katarina’s grandmother was arrested for dancing to the Beatles and Rock’n’Roll music!

During our visit to Prague there were display boards of photos, a tank and a nightly cinematic display at the front end of Wenceslas Square. The anniversary of Russian tanks being sent in to ‘liberate’ the country on 21st August, 1968.

This caused massive protesting and 100 people died including a young Jan Polak who set himself on fire in protest of the occupation. He died 3 days later. His death mask cast in bronze is installed in his memory on the side of a building.

It is sad to think that someone would think protesting in this fashion would do them good by harming themselves in such a dramatic fashion. But like Polak, 13 others attempted this method of protest.

The 80’s brought with it another revolution around the time of the wall coming down in Berlin in 1989. At the start of the revolution in ’88, Katarina’s parents brought her to Wenceslas Square where hoards of people protested shaking their keys. (I got nothing….I have no explanation written for the significance of this)

Did you know?

17th January, 1939 – students who protested were sent to concentration camps. To this day that anniversary has been known as the Day of International Students.

A memorial for this is prominently placed in the city where the most conflict between students and police took place.

The year 1990 saw the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. Velvet as smooth as the fabric is, to indicate a smooth transition to peace.

The Velvet Revolution came to conclusion in 1993 when the country split and became CĹľech Republic and Slovakia.

In our travels Katarina provided other, somewhat trivial information as we passed different places. Like;

  • The Rock Cafe where in 1994 Bill Clinton was given a saxophone to play during his visit.
  • The beautiful garden that once belonged to Franciscan monks who along with nuns, were imprisoned or disappeared during the communist regime.
  • CĹľech Republic is one of the most agnostic countries in the world because it was not worth your while to speak of your religion for fear of persecution.
  • The last point reminds us that despite being churches in every town here they remain as a symbol and most are concert halls etc or are only used for Christmas services and the like.

So next stop on this tour is a visit to the bunker. Yes you read it right, a bunker.

The metro system was designed as an underground bunker but could really only hold half of the city’s people.

We head to one of the bunkers entrances through a bizarrely graffitied, gated, outdoor bar in semi suburbia??!!

As Katarina unlocks the door she explains the bunker. Built in 1952-1955 it features a 4000kg/4t door, stairs take you to a 60m depth and could accommodate 5000 people. That would give each person around half a square meter of space.

Now it is supposedly ready as a shelter for 2000 people. Probably a two week stay is all that’s possible. It you wouldn’t be any better off other than living a few days longer as there would be no supplies etc up top for replenishment anyway. She said she would, in what I would call true Czech tradition, head to the nearest pub and live out your last days drinking beer!

The last sections of tunnel we went into had some displays of older gas masks, hospital supplies and their practice propaganda for such an event.

There are 5 entrances in total, decontamination rooms and a 3stage filtration system for clean air. (Wish I could insert my surprised, wide eyed emoji in here)

On a final note before we headed back up above ground to appreciate the fresh air and sunshine Katarina told us that The Rolling Stones were the first band to play in CĹľech Republic after the Revolution in 1990. They gifted money for electricity to be installed in the Prague Castle for the presidential offices.

Bet you didn’t know that bit of trivia!?

Kat xo

TerezĂ­n

(Tour – Wednesday August 16th)

TerezĂ­n was in fact, an Austrian fortress during some 400 years of Austrian rule.

In a much happier time of its use, TerezĂ­n was built to guard against the Prussian armies.

Construction started in 1780 and was completed 4 years later. 15,000 people, seven brick factories, 200 million bricks and TerezĂ­n never saw its intended use.

Other wars had come and gone, allied forces had been formed with Prussia and so on.

The moats, now not in use, could be filled by a number of locke’s in a matter of 24hrs. Underneath the fortress and within it’s walls are a labyrinth of corridors.

They have opened up a 500m section for tourists to go through but there is a network of some 30km under there.

Charles, our tour guide for inside TerezĂ­n, spoke with such heartfelt detail and respect during the tour.

TerezĂ­n as you may or may not know, housed around 5,800 soldiers in 1939 and later became a concentration camp during 1941.

It had been part of the Jewish ghetto and was used primarily as a holding cell before transferring Jews to the other ‘death’ camps such as Auschwitz.

Families were separated, children of various ages were put in kindergarten or schools. Once they reached 16 years they were treated the same as the adults.

As we saw in a couple of places , when the International Res Cross came to these camps, a different story was portrayed. Soccer games were organised for the prisoners, larger dormitories and showering etc. If asked how they were being treated, they were to answer ‘I am feeling very well’. If they didn’t they knew they would be killed.

Gustav, our tour guide from Prague and for the rest of the tour told us figures on people in the camps, how many perished, the conditions they endured, and more.

He told of a group of women who had been sent to Auschwitz but due to failings of the system they were made get dressed again and were sent back to TerezĂ­n. They were able to warn others that they were not being sent for showering but to be put to death (he kept using the word liquidated – I find this odd and don’t like that term). The next evening the same women were sent again and gathered together singing their Jewish and CĹľech national hymns which certainly surprised the Nazi’s, proving that they could not take away their pride and bravery in the face of death.

After TerezĂ­n we were bused into the Ghetto to the once kindergarten and school buildings to a museum.

The museum houses many photographs, names and statistics. Of interest are the children’s drawings on display.

The school teacher upon finding the children were being sent to Auschwitz had packed a suitcase with 4,500 of the drawings and buried it on a courtyard. It was found 2 years after the war had ended. Some are on display here and others are displayed in a museum in New York.

There were also works from skilled Jewish men that were used for propaganda programs, architectural drawings, music, portraits and artwork used for souvenir’s for the Nazi’s.

A very humbling experience. We can think ourselves lucky we have not had to experience hardships like this and that is in fact, way too light a description. Trust me.

Kat xo

THE Day of Truth

'Days of Truth 2017' has come to an end with a long day of 9 stages yesterday to complete the match.

We enjoyed the match with great stages, targets and distance, good mix of movement as well. Colbert and the AWS team put on a great match.

Last night we changed and headed back to the range for the dinner, awards and costume contest.

Speaking of the latter, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people really dressing up and while standing there waiting for my turn, listened to them talk about their costumes and how the military guys were very well informed.

Best Dressed Man, Lady, Couple, Military and Junior cogratulations to all contestants and winners.

 

Ladies – Cruzan Confusion 1st, Kathouse Kelli 2nd, Edentate Oppitorá 3rd

 

Mens – Catweasle (aka UK Dane) 1st, Lommy 2nd, Tiff 3rd

 

Military – Wreckhouse Paul 1st, Sherman McMasters 2nd, Had 3rd

And I didn't get a photo of the couples or juniors! Congratulations though to Cherry Poppins & Captain Woodbury Kane 1st, Harry Long & Crazy Lady 2nd, Jarka & Mgrda KredoĂ­bovĂ­ 3rd in the couples. For the juniors, Little Sure Shot 1st, Black River Belle 2nd and little brother and sister Jan & Ludmila 3rd.

The Ladies Of Cowboy Action Shooting, Cowgirl of Honor Award was also presented and it was with congratulations to Crazy Lady from CĹľech Republic 3rd Place, Jessie Belle from Germany 2nd Place and Wonder Bibi from Italy in 1st Place.

 

It was well after midnight when we got back I know.

The results, as I'm sure you want to know, so the 10 in the rifle and the shotgun mishaps cost me dearly but am pleased to say 5th lady overall and still managed 2nd behind the lovely Mad Cat With Gun finishing first for the Lady Wranglers! Congratulations to my other Lady Wrangler competitors, Misty Moonshine 3rd, Black Velvet 4th and Katie Scarlett O'Hara 5th.

 

Jackaroo finished very well overall at 19th and 2nd in Silver Senior category. Congratulations to the other Silver Senior's, Captain Wildbeard finishing 1st, Lash LaRue 3rd and Ace Heart 4th.

 

This year's SASS European Championship, Days of Truth, overall Man and Lady – Hell Hound and Mad Cat With Gun! Congratulations to you both.

 

This morning we got sort of a sleep in, packed everything and headed out for Prague via Kutná Hora. Well…….that was the plan…..we made it as far as Kutná Hora and checked into a Hotel. The boss has had a sleep and we feel kinda normal again – if there is such a thing for us.

Time to head out into the street for dinner and have a quick look around.

Na zdravĂ­!

Kat xo

 

Days of Truth – Part 1

Monday arrived in Oparany for Days of Truth. All checked in, caught up with others then made our way to Apartmany Lhota following Colbert. We would never have found the apartments on our own and believe me we did try.

Very neat accommodation sharing apartments with Americans and French. There is a common kitchen, dining and tv room with a billiard table. (Jack and I are 5 games even as of last night) A pool – pity we decided that we wouldn't need our swimmers – sauna and hot tub. We are really only there to sleep after shooting anyway.

 

The campground is reminiscent of Chisholm Trail, heaps of campers and nightly parties! Just different flags, and many many different accents!

The range is set for a great match. Target sizes and distances are great and some fun stages. We did a quick walk through them all yesterday after registration and now this morning, have organised gun cart, picked up ammo and ready for warm up.

 

Five warm up stages on Tuesday to iron out the rubbish! Wednesday was a great sleep in day, do a workout, relax, write postcards, do washing and then out to the range for speed events and then dinner and

16 countries were represented at the opening ceremonies which included Australia.

 

Thursday was first day of main match which resulted with ammo not going off in the rifle so 10 misses for me. The shotgun does not seem to be liking one lot of the lighter ammo here so we have both had some false starts with shotgun also. Very frustrating indeed but it is what it is.

Friday, rain is forecast. We were up at 6am and it's starting to rain. As we get to the range there is already thunder, lightning, heaps of rain and wondering how this match is going to be.

They decide a delay is in order due to the weather, thankfully, and we will sport for another start at 11am. This too does not occur with a delay now until 2pm and approval to shoot late.

Come 2pm it is still bucketing down with thunder and lightning and a foot of water to be wading through on range. Decision comes through that it is cancelled for the day. Others have been consulted and a decision has been made that the previous day's stages have been scrapped and that now we will start fresh tomorrow with 7 stages.

Posses will now be formed into 14 instead of the original 15 (which means we will be shifted into a new posse because we were in 15). Two posse's will be together, 1 shooting, 1 working so we all get through in a timely fashion and can be finished ready for awards and dinner.

Looking forward to a better day tomorrow, let's just say a second chance for me.

……..a few hours later…no, it now appears they have changed their minds again and we will now shoot 9 stages tomorrow and complete the match!

Kat xo

 

Days of Truth – The Truth Is In The Packing

One, two, shuffle my shoe

Three, four, just a corset more

Five, six, ammo in the mix

Seven, eight, pack them straight

Nine, ten, weigh it again!

Cowgirl packing, minimalist style. (she says rolling her eyes)

 

The truth was definitely in the packing. 4 bloomers, 5 tops, 6 corsets, saloon skirt, petticoat, 1 pr shooting boots, 1 pr cowboy boots, 1 pr saloon boots, casual clothes, jewellery, a wig, 1 hat, rig and 5kg/11lb of ammo.

Think I did pretty good actually, phew, that was tough going!

Now ready for SASS European Championships – 'Days of Truth' in Oparany, Czech Republic. We don't leave until 2nd August but we are ready!

 

A busy week ahead, wishing you a good one too!

Kat xo