In exile overnight(excerpt from diary)
Wednesday, August 21, 1968
We go along the platform. Aramis suddenly shows on a special edition of the newspaper (Blick – Extrablatt): “Mitten in der Nacht: Sowjets ueberfallen Czechoslovakia” is planted huge black letters. I was dumbfounded. I buy one copy for 20 Rappen. We are unable a word. We get on a train to the previously selected Zuerich completely mechanically.
That’s awful. I was developing my plans with our friends yesterday at Bern, I was full of enthusiasm. It is awfully difficult to me. What my parents and sister? Several years ago, I might not have so many reasons to return, but now? School, apartment and exciting life in the last half a year. All seems lost.
Aramis is considerably calmer. Always wanted to stay somewhere abroad, no flat, not studying. His bonds in the family are much looser. He calms me. He says that we have almost four days opportunity to continue in a planned way and then decide.
Noon, I buy any more newspapers at the train station in Zuerichu, I try to read it, I understand only a little. Aramis phone to our friends from Bern. They do not listened to morning news, so they also do not know anything, but we have to return.
We decide to try to hitch-hike. We have little money, and now we need them.
It is a beautiful sunny weather. A city teeming with life. We’re a little clueless, which direction to go to the highways to Bern. Aramis pushes me to ask. In Italy, he catered all in English, but since his arrival in Switzerland, it is my turn. Doing so, I can almost nothing to remember from the German.
I ask with difficulties some young man. He recommended tram no. 4, because it’s far away. Its station is just outside the railwaystation.
Around the 13th hour we are at the final on the main road. Aramis attached our flag to his bag and I attached newspaper headlines about the raid. We hope it will work.
Cars do not travel too much, just one stops us, but not going to Bern. In 3 p.m., we return to the tram station, eat a snack we got in the morning for the journey. I’m going to ask for the train ticket, it costs 16 Fr. This gives us not much left.
After returning to our friends house alternately we are watching television, talking about what is happening and what we should do. We are told that important for us is to choose the right canton in Switzerland, as in several cantons are various options. Bern is nice, but almost no industry. Best deemed Zuerich, because it’s supposedly sympathetic city and has concentrated industry. They recommend to visit their friend Czech teacher, get her address, where she teaches and recommendations, in which time to go to see her. We got a map of Switzerland, Zuerichu, calendar boards with writing paper and stamps. Also addresses other old residents of the Czech minority.
Thursday, August 22, 1968
We return to Zuerichu hitch-hiking, this time we were taken by a fellow VW immediately at the pump on the townexit.
We go to school to the recomended teacher. She calls to the immigration office and she goes with us there at 2 p.m.. We decided to ask for asylum. It seems that we have nothing left. If the situation improves we will still be able to return, we believe.
Asylum must be applied at the police, we get the address. We can live in a dormitory in Limmthausu for the moment. To our surprise, we receive every 25 Fr for five nights at the dormitory and 40 Fr for meals on those days. Tomorrow we have to bring payment confirmation for nights. Our mood significantly raises. Our teacher gives us 10 Fr, which she received for our lunch form a young teacher at the school. We have something from the past. It seems that it is not so bad, although I have only one pants after our Italian journey. I had to dam with black thread the pants holes in Florence (pants are brown). In addition, only 2 shirts, spare underwear, shirt, sweater and awful standard raincoat, tie, scarf and damaged strappy sandals, some handkerchiefs, 2 towels and a dishcloth. Furthermore, 2 cameras, sleeping bag, a backpack and straw hat from Rome. There’s not a lot of property.
We spend the evening at the rally protesting against the invasion of Czechoslovakia. On stage, alternating speakers. Mostly I do not understand. There are plenty of banners. It echoes the chorus calling: “Dubcek – Svoboda”. Some young people are collecting money with Czech flag in which the Swiss throw money to support Czechoslovaks who are now in Switzerland.
The official program ends at 10 p.m.. Our national anthem singing can be heard from beneath the stands. Group of Czechoslovaks are communicating the latest events to each other. They are all in sport outfits as unexpected events caught them. It echoes the call surprised acquaintances who have unexpectedly met. Some refuse resolute to return, others want to return. One boy tells the story of yesterday’s stormy demonstration in Bern, the police had to interven in order not the Soviet embassy being demolished.
After a while a gentleman appears introducing himself. He is a sort of chairman of the Czechs in Switzerland. It serves a variety of information. Then on demand tells us to gather at this place tomorrow at 3 p.m., and he still procures a room in which we will be able to discuss everything. Generally, there is such an enthusiastic and even patriotic mood.
We return to the dormitory. We did not want to go to Zuerich, and now we will be here certainly the longest of all the places we visited during this year’s holiday.
Counting Finance: I have 47.60 Fr; $ 10; 130 Austrian schillings.
Friday, August 23, 1968
We come to the police at 8:30. There are a few Czechs, they are all confused and do not know what to do. We have a decision to apply for asylum. However, the clerk does not want to talk with us about asylum and she only extends our stay at the Swiss side to August 31, 1968. So we have another week plus.
ITA-68 A backpackers’ trip to Italy, San Marino, Vatican and Switzerland
Date of travel: July 25 – Aug 21, 1968
This trip was done by trains and started in Prague (Czechoslovakia). It continued across Austria and reached ITALY in the afternoon on July 26. We visited: Venice, Verona, Lago di Garda and Rimini. From Rimini by bus for a day (on July 31) to SAN MARINO. After that a train to Rome and VATICAN (on Aug 2). Next came Napoli (with Pompey, Herculaneum and Mt. Vesuvius) and the island of Sicily (with Palermo, Agrigento, Syracuse, Catania, Mt. Etna and Taormina all these between Aug 6 and 13). Back by train to the mainland and Sorento with a boat trip to the island of Capri (Aug 14), then to Florence and Pisa followed by Genoa and Milan (from here an overnight train to Venice and then back to Milan still on Aug 18). Early on Aug 19 the train crossed the border to SWITZERLAND (visiting Geneva and Bern). In the morning on Aug 21, when changing trains in Lucerne, we learned that the Warsaw Pact led by the Soviet Union military occupied Czechoslovakia and the Czechoslovakian borders were closed. That stopped our further travel for a while.
Travel office: No travel office used, but a government permission for travel to Western countries had to be obtained, however this year no invitation letter was needed. We traveled by train and slept in a tent.
Who took part: I traveled with my childhood friend Frank Z. (Aramis).
SW-68-69 My stay in SWITZERLAND and trips to FRANCE and LICHTENSTEIN between 1968 to 1969
Date of stay: Aug 21, 1968 – Apr 2, 1969
After the invasion of Warsaw Pack members into Czechoslovakia and temporary closing its border on Aug 21, 1968, the Swiss authority secured accommodation and jobs for Czechoslovaks, who were caught in the situation in SWITZERLAND. I got a job at Grundig as a TV repairman. The accommodation was secured at houses and apartments of local citizens. I got a room in an apartment of one older lady. Immediately I started working on my German language, which needed a lot of improvement.
On Sep 20, 1968 I took part in a yearly trip with Grundig employees. By train from Zurich to Lausanne on Lake Geneva, then crossing the lake by boat and several hours stay in Evian in FRANCE. My first visit to that country. The return was the same as entrance to France but in a reversed order.
On Mar 16, 1969 I took a car trip with two Czech friends to the eastern Switzerland and LICHTENSTEIN. We visited a Lichtenstein ski area, the capital Vaduz we saw its castle there and drove the lengths of this small country to its southern point, where is another castle.
During the year I visited many places in Switzerland. Among them: Geneva, Lausanne, Berne, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne, Schaffhausen, Constance and other and learn German pretty well.
I left Switzerland on Apr 2, 1969 for my trip to Paris, Luxembourg, Iceland and United States of America.
IE-92 Israel and Egypt trip
Date of travel: Mar 8 – Mar 29, 1992
Early morning on Mar 8 Lothar takes me to San Diego airport. Flight via New York and Geneva to Zurich, SWITZERLAND, where early on Mar 9. Two days of sightseeing Zurich on my own incl. zoo and the Uetliberg Mountain.
On Mar 11 flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv, ISRAEL, where I am met by a Monitor Products Israeli representative. In the next 4 days I am taken around Israel visiting several electronic companies with whom Monitor Products Co., where I am a Production Manager, has business contacts. I also did some sightseeing of Tel Aviv and Jaffa by myself.
After finishing the business part of my trip, I joined a British travel company “Insight” on Mar 16. In next 7 days we traveled by bus through Israel visiting: Tel Aviv and its vicinity, Jaffa, Netanya’s diamante company, Caesarea, Haifa, Acre, Nazareth and a kibbutz at Sea of Galilee. Then a boat trip on the Sea of Galilee to Tiberius and by bus to Capernaum, Golan Heights, through PALESTINE (West Bank) along Jordan River to Jericho and past Qumran back to Israel and its resort on Dead Sea (a dip in its salty waters). That was followed by a cable car visit of Masada fortress, drive to Judean Desert to Bethlehem (West Bank) and Jerusalem (Israel) with full two days of sightseeing of all its famous places.
On Mar 22 some of us continued by bus from Jerusalem to El Rafiah (Gaza, part of Palestine), where we cross the border to EGYPT. From here with a military escort through northern Sinai to the Suez Canal, across by ferry, and to Cairo.
Next 6 days sightseeing Egypt visiting: The famous Cairo Museum, Memphis, Sakkara and the Giza Plateau with the Pyramids and the Sphinx (incl. the Light & Sound Show there). Flight to Luxor exploring the Karnak Temple (incl. the Light & Sound Show) and boarding a ship for 4 day cruise of the Nile River. Stop at Esna Temple and a bus trip to the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple and Colossi of Mmennon. Stop at the Edfu Temple. Stop at Kom Ombo Temple. A final stop in Aswan with its sightseeing, incl. the High Dam and the temples on an island in lake Nasir. The following day a flight to Abu Simbel farther south. For broken plane (with 2 unsuccessful tries for taking off) a bus ride back to Aswan. A night departure by plane from Aswan to Cairo. On Mar 29 early morning flight from Cairo to Zurich, followed by flight Zurich to New York with the last leg from New York to San Diego. From there by a Rancho Limousine Service to Vista.
Travel office: Insight (a British travel company)
Who took part: During the business part of the trip I traveled with a representative Shuki or alone, during the Insight part in Israel there were 51 travelers, an Israeli Insight leader and local guides. In Egypt there were 31 tourists and an Egyptian Insight leader.
LY-05 Libya trip
Date of travel: May 2 – May 12, 2005
On May 2 early flight from Prague to Zurich, SWITZERLAND. The whole day I explore the city and stay in a hotel overnight there.
The next day I fly from Zurich to Tripoli, LIBYA, where I join the Adventures Abroad group of travelers. In the afternoon sightseeing the excavations of ancient Sabratha near Tripoli (started as a Punic city, became important during Roman times and was destroyed by successive earthquakes and declined after the strongest one in 365 AD). The following day sightseeing The Libyan capital Tripoli (the Citadel, the Roman Arch, Medina, the Green Square and other).
Then we left Tripoli and drove through the desert southwest to Nalut. From there to a Berber town Ghadames. Though the inhabitants were moved to new apartment houses, the empty old town is in a very good shape for tourists to explore. At the sunset we drive to gigantic dunes on the Algerian border and see a “Blue Man of the Desert” (a Tuareg on a white horse in an indigo cloth with a veil over his face). In the following days we make visits to more old Berber towns from where its population was forcibly moved to new houses. But these old towns are disintegrating. For two nights we are in a hotel in Zliten on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to see one of the most famous excavation sites in Libya Leptis Magna. Like Sabratha it started as a Punic settlement, but since about 100 BC it got in the sphere of Rom and over several centuries received a character of a Roman city, whose remains one can see today. Earthquakes (mainly the one in 365 AD), decline of Rom and the Arab invasion in the 7th century caused that it ended up under the sand of the desert.
From the Tripoli airport we fly across the Gulf of Sirte to Benghazi in the eastern part of Libya and by bus to Al Bayda. In following days we are sightseeing another excavations of originally Punic and later Roman cities, Cyrene and Apollonia and Tolmeita (originally Ptolemais) which was a Greco-Roman city. We also spent some time in the second largest city of Libya, Benghazi.
After flight back to Tripoli and one night there, I fly via Zurich to Prague, Czech Republic where I land on May 12.
Travel office: Adventures Abroad (AA) – a Canadian travel company
Who took part: There were 15 tourists mostly from North America, a leader from AA, an excellent Berber tour guide and a Libyan government guard with very little knowledge of English.
AS-19 AUSTRIA, GERMANY (Berchtesgaden only), SWITZERLAND
Date of travel: May 22 – June 3, 2019
On May 22, 2019 before noon I take a train for four-hour ride from Prague, Czech Republic to Vienna, AUSTRIA. A taxi brings me to my hotel, where I join the group of travelers from USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Next day we sightsee Schonbrunn and Vienna.
On May 24 we drive to Krems to take a riverboat on Danube River to Weissenkirchen lasting one hour. Then we drive on our bus to Salzburg and take a tour of the city. The following day we make a side trip to Berchtesgaden in GERMANY. In the day after we visit Innsbruck, cross the border to SWITZERLAND and end up in a hotel in St. Moritz.
On May 27 we use the Glacier Express (6 hrs. train ride) to bring us to Zermatt. Here, the next day, we take a cable car to Klein Matterhorn to see Matterhorn, but there are clouds. On May 29 going on the bus we see Lake Geneva, take a tour of Chillon Castle, cross the city of Montreux and come to Switzerland capital, Bern. After sightseeing the city, the following morning, we continue to Interlaken and the Valley of 72 Waterfalls. An impressive place. For next two nights we settle in Lucerne. We explore the city and go by a cable car to Mount Pilatus.
On June 1 our bus takes us to Zurich. Some people fly home. I spend next three days wondering through the city I have lived in 7.5 months in 1968-69. In the evening on June 3 I board a plane for one-hour flight back to Prague, Czech Republic.
Travel office: Globus Tours
Who took part: Total of 44 tourists, British tour director, driver and local guides