Nov. 21, 2022 - Step by Step
Here are the pictures that pretty well illustrate another year in our lives. As always, the time passed quickly, and there are no clever words that can do it justice. The music that accompanies the images this year just seems to fit. I don't understand Gaelic... but it does set a nice pace, and hopefully these six minutes will pass quickly for you too. The second song is our way to lament the world as it is, and despite all our efforts, so little changes
In so many ways we are unchanged, despite our age. Stories surround us. Memories that we hold on to like a warm blanket. We often travel on different paths, in different directions, but we are never alone. We forever search for moments to take with us, to keep us safe, so that no regrets can take their place. Every smile is a priceless token, a gift of grace. Every time we check the mail, it has some new surprise. Tomorrow bares more than news, it reveals dreams that are yet to be true.
So too, there are rivers filled by tears, and voices that cry out from fear. We are not deaf. We hear. Nothing is certain, as we lay awake in wonder. How is it that we are awoken only now to these calls? It is difficult to imagine, but then we recall those that are standing close, those whose hands we hold. Sometimes we smile just to say that it will be okay, to savor the echoes so full of cheer, and to prepare for each and every ordeal. Day by day...
Forgive me if this year's message waxes too obtuse. It can be described, I suppose, as a November mood. The wood is stored, and the leaves have all fallen. It is the season of reflection, introspection, and long evenings together with our books and our plans. It lends itself to poetry, words like pictures that leave more of an impression than the last hockey match. These are the ripples that we wish to send, to somehow more than say Thank You. Recalling every one of you brings a smile to our faces.
Finding Paradise One Day at a Time
Nov. 26, 2021
The music that accompanies the images of this past year takes me back to where I began, my childhood in New Jersey. It is still called the Garden State, and I am sure there was a time when it was like paradise. In my youth, it hardly seemed that way, but I was young and foolish then.
So, what inspired me to choose this song? I can only venture a guess, that in a time of great distress, the thought of what’s been lost can make us pause, to wonder what comes next. It’s a difficult journey, to reach inside, to ask what became of paradise?
Better to ask, what is this place where we are now? The comfort of a house with garden, family and friends. Do we need any more? Perhaps to accept that each day is a mystery, a story waiting to be told, a path without footprints. Here we come face to face with our fears, we try to turn the dark of night into an endless day. We reach constantly for the other side, for a different life, and yet we are the same. No doubt that each morning brings hope, as we open our eyes in paradise.
All the words and deeds, they become what we please. The garden grows from the seeds we sow. The harvest is not what we take, but instead what we let go. What others see when they look into our eyes. The measure of our worth is a smile, and the tears that fall on our shoulder is how much we dare to care. These are the sunlight and the rain without them the garden is bare.
In the presence of grace, we humbly search for our faith. Overwhelmed by so much noise, it’s difficult to hear, it’s difficult to know. So, we sort through the moments from this year, choosing a few to share, with hope that they might convey our good wishes and joy, along with the words of this song. Over many thorns and stones on the path, we keep pushing ahead, day by day, on our way through paradise.
On the banks of the river of time, I tried to reach the other side. The current was too strong. It pulled me back to the shore, my home. Here, with those I love, my roots have grown where we belong. The trail meanders between night and day, dreams and song. It teaches us well, to take every smile and tear as a gift. And so, this year’s images and text are more personal than before. No doubt this results from meeting covid in person. Who knows if today won’t be our last? So let us be quick to smile, laugh and cry, and above all, let it be sincere…
It’s our way of giving thanks for every day in paradise…
Pojd’ na Pout’!
Sept. 2 – 13, 2021
In this time of uncertainty, we hold fast to those who have traveled this way before us. For almost 1 year I managed to keep hope and faith with others, by stepping outside myself, finding a good stick and setting out towards a new destination each day. Of course, there were days when I felt lost in the woods, unable to find my way through distractions, but there were other days that I wished would never end.
It was on one of the better days I found news, that this was a special year, the anniversary of St. Ludmila, the first princess of Christian faith in the Czech Lands. I was already on her path, as I had walked from Prague to Tetín without knowing. I decided to start anew, to learn what I could about this remarkable woman. So, began my walk from Mělnik, the supposed place of her birth, to Tetín, the place of her death 1100 years ago.
Much of the time I walked alone, happy for the solitude. As each stage passed, I learned to appreciate the kindness of strangers, and the companionship of friends and family, who occasionally joined me. I suppose that from the beginning I already knew this was something I wanted to share. As the days turned into weeks, and my journey ended, but my pilgrimage (Pout’) had only just begun.
There were limitations, in terms of distance I could walk and the cost of travel, yet these did not hamper me. Instead, with each new stage I found myself growing stronger, and the moral support from family and friends outweighed the small amounts I paid for transit to and from the different starting and ending points. It became evident that this walk was not intended only for me. I hoped that others would also find a way outside, away from their troubles.
I slept well after each stage, contented for the first time in a year. I was active again. But walking is slow, much slower than the normal routine. Hurry up and wait. I was raised on this need to act quickly, keep busy, as I know many of my peers can attest. How could I succeed at such a slow pace? Clearly, I had never tried. It dawned on me that so many fears are based on the feeling we are hurtling toward some catastrophic end, and we must act quickly to avert this. My path took me slowly up stream, against the river’s flow, over warm fertile meadows, and through cool, moist, quiet forests, all teaming with life. I was assured. It felt good to leave the world of troubles behind.
My meeting with St. Ludmila was not sudden, startling or abrupt, but gently patient, as if in a dream. I kept waking up to find myself in the presence of something greater than my most weary needs. It was refreshing. I could not find words to express my delight each day when I returned home from my journeys. I wanted to stay. I wanted to bring others with me. Into the dream.
Thus, this Pilgrimage was born. It began as an invitation to everyone I met. I told family, friends, doctors and total strangers, “Pojd’ na Pout’!” I began to organize, set dates, check schedules for trains and places to see, doors to be opened. I was invited to visit the retreat of a retired man’s riverside garden. He welcomed others to return and pray. And there were those who walked with us, as guides through history, geology, archaeology and more. We shared stories, food and faith together.
We found Dvořák’s Oratorium, in his birthplace of all places, crosses of iron and stone, from nearby foundries and quarries. My traveling companions, who came from different places and brought so much to the journey, they reveled at the path I had chosen, and the doors that were opened. We drank St. Ludmila’s wine from stone wear that was a gift from long ago. We sang psalms and we prayed a Novena for St Ludmila each day.
All told, it was nine days of walking through nature, in harmony with others. Something that can heal even the most grieving soul. It was a beginning, not the continuation, but something especially rewarding for all. And up until the last moment of the final day in Tetín, it felt as if it was brand new, this openness of hearts and minds. Thank you, St. Ludmila, for the comforting presence that brought us all together in such a beautiful and divine way.
Winter Nights Are Full of Hope
Feb 10, 2021
While the days are short, we spend as much time as possible outside in the limited daylight. In the evenings, we sit before the warmth of a woodstove, with books and notepads in hand, dreaming about the Spring, Summer and Fall. While the world sleeps beneath a blanket of cold, there is little doubt that it won’t be long to wait for the Robbin’s call, the first sign of season’s change, and thaw.
We recall the effervescence, when ice begins to melt, becoming ponds in muddy anticipation of the paths in early Spring. Today, the fresh snow is soft below our feet, the air twinkles as all its moist breath is suspended. Hungry thrush, nuthatch and finch feed nervously, from the seeds and crumbs that hang from bare branches of the pear and plumb. We see more clearly through the forest now.
What does tomorrow hold, if not just another day of social distancing and uncertainty? It holds hope. Hope that we do not plan in vain. That with the change in season, so too will there be another day, and another. And one by one, these will bring renewed hope, and restore faith in our dreams. Just like the wood that burns in the hearth and keeps us warm, dreams are the fuel that keeps us going, the light that shines through the darkness of the long Winter nights. Dreams show us the way to warm Summer days, wandering over green meadows, breathing deeply the air that smells of grass, clover and daisy.
This is what gets us up on these cold mornings, and leads us to plan ahead. To work on the pages, one by one, making ever so subtle changes, and in some cases adding altogether new content. Today, PATHWAYS is changed. Besides new articles describing the many places we have come across, there are updates to the maps. We are adding Icons to help you navigate to locations based on your interests. New books are being added to the Library.
Perhaps the most exciting change, however, is the one that returns something to those who we cooperate with, the small family owned hotels, guides, drivers, and firms who, like us, have lost much of their livelihood to the closed borders. We are planning to add a new feature that will allow visitors to build itineraries using a tool developed by our partner, David Manley of Go Real Travel. While still a month or two away from completion, just the prospect that this will improve our site, making it easier for those wishing to turn a dream to visit this part of Europe into reality, has us warm inside with optimism.
We would have only one request from those of you who are also optimistic, and see the value in these changes. Please like us on Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, or whatever social media platform you prefer. These “Likes” or “Shares” are like logs on the fire for us….
Tom & Marie Zahn
P.A.T.H. FINDERS Intl.
Nov. 26, 2020
We are truly humbled by the circumstances that we now find ourselves. On this day one year ago, we thought we had weathered every possible storm. Looking back, we thought the future could only be brighter. Today, we wonder, what did we miss? Perhaps no one saw the COVID pandemic coming, or we seriously underestimated the impact such an event would have on our lives.
Thankfully, we are still alive and well. We know those who are suffering, though, as so many lives have been forever changed. Thus, we begin and end each day together, as a family, doing whatever we can for others. While P.A.T.H. FINDERS continued to provide research services, PATHWAYS, sadly, did not enjoy the privilege of welcoming visitors. What would traditionally be the busiest time of year seemed to pass us by. We never had so much time for each other.
Herein lies the silver lining, and the theme of this year’s Thanksgiving message. We pulled together as a family, pooling resources to get by. This helped us overcome the feelings of uncertainty and isolation. We took the virus very seriously, and kept close to home, and in the absence of masks in the stores, our children made them for us, so we could occasionally get out to shop for food and walk our puppy, Otik.
In May, things loosened a bit, so we took Marie’s mom to visit villages where her ancestors had once lived. We helped our daughter Cecilia, and her friend, start a small business serving tea from a tent in a park. Our other daughter, Antonie, completed her diploma in Political Science from Charles’ University. And we somehow managed to see to it that Vincent had his fun, attending agility classes with Otik, taking him for long walks, and playing ping pong. We also had time to repair some old windows on our house in Prague, and replace the fence at our cottage in the country. We had a Summer!
Along with the return of the school year, and cooler weather, came an increase in incidents of COVID, and strict limitations. It was clear, there would be no returning to business as usual any time soon. Thus, we bought a drone, and set out to offer virtual tours, for those who could not be here in person. I took to hiking trails leading from Prague, intent on walking across the Czech landscape, following one river at a time. I traveled the first 100 Km along the Berounka River (https://www.pathways.cz/articles.php#Pilgrimage). For the first time since I arrived on these shores 28 years ago, I was a pilgrim. This was my answer to a pressing question. What is to be done?
I am learning to relax. To live in the midst of uncertainty and risk. It did no good for me to stay cooped up at home, tied to the news that really didn’t change from one moment to next. It seemed to me that those who had come before might have some wisdom to offer. By following the path of St. James, with its origins in early Christianity, it awakened in me the true sense of my own roots. My ancestors did not travel by car, train or plane. They walked. Now I think of them, as I walk on paths that connect one village to another, breathing fresh air and feeling better with each step.
I hope some of you will find solace in these words. That you will be heartened to know it is possible to take something good from this pandemic. Some lesson to be learned from the past. Most of all, Marie and I wish you all health and safety. Even during these extraordinary times, we hope you are living in the love that created us all.
Tom & Marie Zahn
March 21, 2020
Dear Family Historians,
It should not be a surprise by now to hear that COVID 19 will impact the services we can offer from here in the Czech Republic. There is no possibility to travel here from anywhere during this crisis. Thus, if you had planned a visit to your ancestral village or town during the Spring and Summer of 2020, you will need to keep updated about the restrictions. See the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs web pages:
We initially thought that we may be able to visit villages, to photograph/video any meetings, important places, including churches, cemeteries, ancestral houses, etc.. This will not be possible until we are allowed to leave our house. For the time being, and for an unknown duration, we are restricted to stay in place, with trips for food and medicine, and an occasional walk with the dog permitted, with face mask. Trips to the country have been prohibited. We are not supposed to visit our own country house in a village 45 minutes from Prague.
Once these restrictions are lifted, and we hope that this won’t be too long, we will certainly be happy to begin offering travel services again. In the meantime, we expect that it will not be possible for people from outside the Czech Republic to visit during at least the next 3 months, until the end of June. In July, if we are able to get out of Prague, we will be happy to begin offering the virtual tours. Otherwise, we cannot say when it will be possible for travels from abroad to return to pre-COVID 19 conditions.
For those of you who have booked a trip for this Spring and Summer, we have extended the terms to hold deposits for travel for up to 2 years. Anyone who needs to cancel their booking entirely, we are asking to allow us to use your deposit for additional research or a virtual tour. We hope that you will understand, and that you and your family will be safe and healthy.
With kind regards,
Tom & Marie Zahn
P.A.T.H. FINDERS 2019
It continues to be a wonderful life…
For those who have spent a day with either Marie or myself, you may have heard about the film “Všichni dobří rodáci“ (All Good Patriots). It is a powerful film about the Czech experience during communism. In memory of the man who directed this film in 1968, Vojtěch Jasný. He died on Nov. 15, 2019, but this brutally honest story, will forever be his legacy. A true Czech tragedy.
On the same day, a protest against the Prime Minister, the largest public demonstration since Nov. 1989. We are living in the most unbelievable of times. If you told me we would be here 5 years ago, I would not have believed it.
We are simply grateful to every one of you, our friends. It was an extraordinary year, from one day to another, it was full of challenges that brought us even closer together. And so, our travels continue, as we ponder the pilgrim, the labyrinth, a play without script, and living in truth. The whole grail!
Stay posted to our web pages for new tours, or find us on Facebook or Linked In. We don't do Twitter! In fact, only I spend time on social media. Marie is too busy trying to get back to her routine as a Prague guide after her broken ankle in the mountains. Thank goodness for the off season, and enough books to keep us both occupied.
Our immediate goals remain unchanged, take care of the soul, be kind to others, and build the dog house together with Vincent. Did I mention, we have a puppy, our newest root in Branov…
May your meals be in peace
and your dreams on their way
May the soil be soft
beneath your feet
The wind and rain gentle
upon your back…
May we all be forever young!
Reflecting on the 2018
Thankful to Still Be Alive & Well... Nov 22, 2018
We live in a land where some numbers seem to be more significant than others. For all the mystical relevance attached this year to the number 8, anniversaries came and went as the days passed. Each day was rich in exhibitions, documentaries, and a long parade of events to memorialize the history of this nation. While the emphasis on history was well worth our time and attention, life went on, there was work to be done, and as far as we could tell, the revolution was not televised (except on social media). Thus, the year that is all but past, with all its celebrations, ultimately leads us only to fond recollections of the people we met and the stories we shared.
As we reflect back this Thanksgiving 2018, it will be to the many friends who visited us during the year. This year stands out simply by virtue of the number of visitors we welcomed back into our lives. We hope this trend will continue, and we look forward to the next wave of familiar faces, as well as those we haven't yet befriended, to cross our threshold.A parting thought, it bares mention during this feast, just how vital it is to keep in touch with family and friends, especially when the distance of time, geography and beliefs challenge us. We don't come to this feast alone. Instead we bring good will and love. We celebrate the moments we spend together, by kindly listening and sharing. We include those who cannot be with us in our thoughts and stories. They are the rays of hope that fill us, as we gather, beyond our own personal needs. We consider ourselves fortunate to look after others, and are reminded as we do so just how much grace and wonder there is in this world. We care!
Tom & Marie Zahn
Still searching….Dec. 1, 2017
As P.A.T.H. FINDERS Intl. turns the page on another year, we reflect back on just how much one year differs from another. We continue to learn by researching the lives of so many interesting people. The family history trips lead to remarkable places that could easily be overlooked, if not for the personal connection.
This year was no exception. The only thing that still surprises us after 20 years in this vocation are the variety of details that each family recalls. We feel that this myriad of memories is a true currency of wealth in a world where such details can be too easily lost or forgotten.
How odd, in an age when so many records are on line, and DNA has led to renewed interest in genealogy, that our research and travel services remain viable. It does seem that the more people find out about their heritage, the more they wish to learn. To this extent, access to records on line still leaves the family historian wondering “What does it mean?” As well, locating a relative who shares the same genes, often leads both to wonder “Who is the common ancestor?”
It has been this rather interesting turn of events that finds us busier today than we have ever been. It is nice to be needed. It certainly does feel good at the end of the day when we can look back at the work that was done with a sense that in some way we helped a some one to understand their family story a little bit better than before.
This is not rocket science, or a job that can simply be automated. Every family is different, as different as a house today compared to yesterday, and the process of learning the details of each family�s story does not follow a single path. Yes, there certainly is method to researching and understanding period and local histories, but not one that can be copied and applied in all circumstances.
Every family we have the good fortune to work for opens a door for us to share in their journey of discovery. And as we turn another corner we are grateful for the colleagues we cooperate with and the clients who are more like friends. We are happy that our work still has a purpose, and we are hopeful that as long as people enjoy a good story, they will keep turning to us for the services we offer.
For today... Nov. 21, 2016
and so it began, a night of magic at the National Theatre followed by an early morning knock on our door, it is time for the roof to go...
The Sorcerer’s Aprentice is an old slav tale about poverty and dreams, power and servitude, dark magic overcome by love. It is through this lens that we look back at another year of mysterious changes. A year that began on the road to so many different places, leading back to old friends with whom we explored challenging new trails.
So many changes in the world around us, but none more amazing than those in the lives of our children. So many paths we walked, miles we have flown, and so many sleepless nights, until we finally arrived today at the long unresolved reconstruction. A new roof over our heads.
In its own special way this past year in our life is a ripple reflecting events in the world around us. Just outside the window we know that not all is well, but it is as it is within the confines of our hearts. Its complicated... but the work continues just the same.
We now occupy only half of what was already a comfortably small house, and while we worry about cold nights, wind, rain and snow, this too shall pass... For the moment we are dry and warm, and as we move on into the great unknown, we give thanks for one one another, cherish the memories, and enjoy the view of the heavens above.
Tom & Marie Zahn
November 17, 2015
Hello from Tom & Marie,
We are once again sending you our thanks as November brings another season to a close. We are glad for all the memories and the good fortune to have been your hosts and guides. Equally, we are glad to have a little time now to be with our children and loved ones. We can once again rest assured.
Still, the news that more friends have passed away, while others are fighting to stay alive, or have lost loved ones causes us to pause. This year has indeed taken a toll from our lives, but it has also given us two visitors, a high school friend and Tom's niece. In both cases we felt so grateful that they made time for us, and we took special joy in showing them around and welcoming them into our home.
Besides all the commotion and turmoil of reconstruction, and the busiest work load ever, we still managed to find time to travel as a family, as well as our friends. The loss of an old apple tree at our cottage, and the realization that yet another year would pass without our roof being completed, could not take away from the joy of celebrating our oldest daughter's 21st year, and Marie's mother's 70th.
Otherwise, the tragic news and unrest around the world concern us greatly, but they become somehow less oppressive when bags filled with clothing are brought to us from everyone we informed of our intent. We offered to deliver whatever people could provide to families in need on Europe's border. Although it is more complicated in the wake of Paris, we still hope our daughters will be able to deliver these gifts soon.
By this desire to face the challenges of these times, our children have taught us not to shrink from fear, but instead to stand up to fear with kindness. Although we are often confronted and confused by other less generous narratives, we hold fast to our faith in the abundant goodness of humanity.
With kindest regards and thanks giving,
Tom & Marie Zahn
Hello from Prague,
We are happy to send you our best wishes as April begins, the days grow longer and the hillsides take on a luminescent hint of the magic to come. The travel season is upon us!
Prague is a great place to be. We would say that, though, having made our home here for 20 years. Beyond the magic of the details, we take great joy in occasional political intrigues, acts of kindness and each walk through the narrow streets is a trip into an historic wonderland. So too, it is our joy to share this with others.
It is also our pleasure to mark the season with some good news. This Spring brings a new map feature to our site and lower prices overall for travel. That’s correct, we are lowering our hourly rates, for day trip and Prague tours. This adjustment reflects the strong US Dollar, and keeps our word from more than 10 years ago.
The new interactive map lists several places in the Czech Republic and beyond, to give our guests a better idea of the truly remarkable destinations to see. We are certain that most of these are worth a second look, especially if you are planning to pass through a region, while traveling from one Capital City to another. Thus, you are welcome to use this tool for planning your next visit “Region by Region”, and so be sure not to miss any of the wonders.
Finally, we wish to emphasize the rather special niche that we serve, “Family Travel”, which has indeed taught us about the unique nature of two and three generations exploring the world together. This has been perhaps our greatest pleasure, besides raising our own family, and we are so excited for the new season to finally begin.
So long Winter, it was a blast…
With kindest regards,
Tom & Marie Zahn
November 27, 2014
Vážení přátelé (Dear friends),
This was a year in pictures that is worthy of a symphony. Somehow, as we looked at the pictures here these songs just seem to fit. This doesn't mean we have the blues, but instead it is a representation of a year that was a departure from the ordinary. Indeed, this year was an exception.
To begin, our long time friend Justin Wuycheck joined us, like part of our family. With this he got to know several other members of this extended family of P.A.T.H FINDERS. This filled us with hope that he would find happiness here doing what he loves (bicycling and enjoying the vast complexities of wine). We are forever grateful for his stead-fast efforts to master Czech grammar and make ends meet.
There were a number of other surprises as well this year. A family re-union, bringing another long time friend and associate, Jan Pařez, together with his distant relatives. In 20 years of working on other people’s family history, this was a chance to enjoy spending a day in his own ancestral villages.
Alternately, we enjoyed longer trips with larger family groups this season. In one case 10 days hiking and visiting the whole width and breadth of this big/small country. Several tours took us beyond the Czech boarders as well, and re-united us with some old friends. Our thanks go to Bela in Slovakia, the Lesko family in Hungary, Alena in Moravia, Michal in Slovakia and Chris in Poland. You have all given us so much to be grateful for.
We also wish to thank those firms who have choosen us as their partner in Prague and the Czech Republic. We are especially happy that Marie was busier than ever as a Prague Guide, since she gets to work closer to home. This is a huge benefit for our whole family. We hope that your clients have had nothing but praise for the work we have done on your behalf.
Finally, we wish to thank our children. It is surprising that although our days were full with many other obligations, we still found time for one another. Thank you for your patience and help. It is no small task to raise a family, run a business, and reach for new horizons.
Despite a busier than usual season, we managed exhibitions, theater, concerts, and field trips together. Not to mention the beginning of an ambitious reconstruction. The challenges remarkably have brought us closer and opened our hearts to one another. Each day, regardless of the daily turmoils, is a blessing that we never cease to cherish.
Tom & Marie Zahn
April 17, 2014
Spring Greetings from Prague
Despite the worrisome news from Ukraine, and elsewhere, the return of Spring is full of promise as always. Perhaps it is the promise that the longest nights will forever give way to the light of day. Even as I write, the rain falls welcome on the soil left dry by March, and the green that replace the bright colors of blossoming fruit trees, tulips and daffodils is difficult to describe. It is not the green of Summer lawns or August mornings. It is the special green of life reawakened.
And so today, we finish our tasks in the office, and prepare for one last holiday before the busy season is upon us. It is with great joy that I have saved this one task for the last. This letter is a report of the news here at P.A.T.H. FINDERS to our friends and family, and to you our valued clients.
As with so much of what we do, it is with gladness that I give thanks that we are still alive and well, growing as it were in fits and starts. This new year especially has seen a new beginning, with the addition of our long time friend Justin Wuycheck to the ranks of our trusted associates. Justin brings with him 10 years of experience living abroad, from which he spent 7 years as a bicycle and wine guide in France. His passion for both is palatable, as well his efforts to take on a language that once made him ill, and have earned him the esteem of all who know him.
Justin arrives at a critical time for us, as we are turning a page with our efforts to promote the Czech Lands to people who do not have roots here. His interest in the culture and especially in the history of this land has helped to inspire us to revisit so many places and topics that we sometimes take for granted. He began by hosting Food & Film nights for visiting college students enrolled through CIEE (Council on International Education Exchange).
Following this, he soon found several local wine shops in Prague and cellars in places like Mikulov in South Moravia, Velka Žernoseky on the River Lábe, Polešovice near Uherské Hrádiště. He is busy developing a whole new way for our visitors to come to know the Czech Lands. Through its wines and winding country roads that traverse a greatly diverse landscape amidst an otherwise small geographic area.
Understandably, we are excited at the prospect of introducing Justin to anyone who wishes to appreciate this place the way we do. Beyond this, are the changes we have made to our PATHWAYS sro web pages. If you have not stopped by recently, we invite you to take a look. And the changes will continue, as we add new tours, a map, event calendar and icon based activity menu. Hopefully this will help to encourage anyone with or without roots here to "think outside of Prague".
Finally, we wish to assure all of you who have come to rely on us to research your family histories, this remains our highest priority. In 2013 we made some new friends and professional acquaintances. In particular, we are happy to know Michal Razus in Presov, Slovakia, Kasia, Magda and Lukasz in Posnan, Poland, Dr. Wolfgang Grams in Bremen, Germany, and Slav Tsarynnyk, of Lviv, Ukraine. We are very encouraged by the opportunity to cooperate with such a diverse group of enthusiastic family historians. It certainly helps us to resolve questions raised by the frequent intra-European (cross boarder) migration which occurred in the 19th century.
Marie and I, along with our associate guides and researchers here at P.A.T.H. FINDERS Intl. are wishing you all the very best on this Easter Holiday, and during the long days ahead. May your garden be full, your harvest rich, and the guests at your table satisfied.
In kindness and good faith,
Thomas R. Zahn
Nov. 28, 2013
Thanks Giving 2013
Another season has come and gone. And so we now take stock of what it has brought. As always, much laughter and some tears have been shed. This year was rather special, though, as with each passing day life began to unfold like an epic story. Indeed, this year was like a good book. With the perennial change of seasons as the backdrop, time was measured in words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, and chapters. Sometimes a single day felt like it contained volumes. Ironically, no single genre captures this entirely. Neither do we know what to expect as we turn from one day to the next. It is a mystery, but we still plan ahead. As we look foreward with hope to next season, we take this moment to reflect on the past.
Our house became a home again, as our family was re-united after several months. We are still getting used the new (old) circumstances. Nevertheless, we celebrate being together, as we recall loved ones, both near and far. We search for clues to understanding one another. This was a year of long distance Skype calls and freindly reunions, low spirits and high water, loneliness and remarkable strength. It was a year of letting go and soaring to new heights. We stood witness to dreams that came true, and we consoled those whose heroes had fallen.
Whatever the future holds, this chapter that we now look back on is done. The story it tells has forever changed us. Even though the love we gave has not entirely stopped the passing of time, it does seem to have slowed it down. Surely we train our sights at a true target. From a riverside in south Bohemia we imagine a great ocean far beyond the ponds. We press apples for a glorious week of fresh cider from Deda's "Old Apple Tree". So let us be thankful as children for the apples, as we continue along these restless and uncertain waters of time
Here is a final thought, to accompany another year in pictures. We are still in the midst of living this story, for better or worse. Thank you all that we have you to share these moments of joy and discovery with.
May God Bless us, as we turn another page,
Tom, Marie and the Zahn family (in Prague)
Dec. 8, 2012
From Tom & Marie Zahn
We wish this year did not have to come to a close. It was a special year. In so many ways our lives passed milestones from which there is no turning back. We managed to grow our little business, add a woodburning stove to the house, and in Aug., our oldest child flew to America, for the first time on her own, for 10 months as an exchange student.
We could not be happier for Antonie, or more grateful to our friends who are hosting her in their home. In this age of ipads and digital cameras, we speak with her face to face every week, nevertheless we miss each other, especially during the holidays. At home the good news for genealogists is that our second daughter Cecilia has chosen photography as her field of study, to follow in her grandfather's footprints. So we are putting her to work shooting grave markers in cemeteries. This should keep her busy for some time, and hopefully cover the cost of equipment for years to come. In the weeks and months to come these will be posted here (www.pathfinders.cz/photo_album.php), along with an index of family names.
Meanwhile, we got the stove fired up just in time for the winter, as the bitter cold has already arrived. These days of tending the fire, beside the stove, are wonderfully productive. We reflect on the year behind us, and even more so, we look ahead to the not so distant horizon of another season. Each year teaches us new lessons and enriches us with new places and people.
This year’s slide show tells the story well. From moments that changed our lives, to a glimpse at what and where we hope to return. The slides are not labeled, as those moments are better left as unique (the right place at the right time). This is something of the playful mischief that we take for granted here. There is a certain magic that can be found in so many beautiful places, and we might even find a time of the season in Prague when you could feel like this beautiful city was yours alone.
The www.pathways.cz pages will be updated in Jan. to reflect some of new offers, as well as a new calendar, where we will post events and trips that have open enrolment. While this is not possible with family history trips, we have seen a marked increase in the number of visitors who don’t mind sharing the ride. Many new day trips will be offered for different interests (beer, wine, hiking, cycling, hockey, castles, cottages, gardens, foraging mushrooms, pilgrimage shrines, storytelling and music). This is who we are, and we would be happy to make new friends, and take you with us, as we explore Middle Europe.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Let's Get Babicka a Skateboard for Vanoce
Nov. 18, 2011
As we enter the final stretch of 2011, the Autumn is upon us like the morning fog. The year was good to us, and left us just enough time to take care. Our children continue to grow and never cease to surprise us by how well they accept our hectic Summer schedule.
The van, now in it's 4th year, is as reliable as ever. Even the Dollar, which skirted near a 2 year low, was still manageable. All in all, 2011 marked the first time in several years that we dared dream again. The view from our window in Prague is that of hope.
The season started earlier than usual in March, which typically is rather slow here. This was followed by a family trip to Germany, for our first flight in a Zeppelin NT. We hope that such Airship Cruises will become more common, and become yet another way to visit the old country. This alone could have been the highlight of the year, but it proved only to be a great start. With each day, the Spring brought a host of new requests, that filled our Summer calendar.
As we look back, there were more trips in 2011 than we have enjoyed for many years. Most of these to extraordinary places, accompanied by new and old friends. It is as though we took off in a dirigible, and we have not yet come down. Return to earth we must, however, to resume the work at hand. To improve ourselves further, what must be done?
As we asked our 4 year old, what to get grandma for Christmas, he quickly replied, a skateboard. And so, here are the results of many wakeful dreams (Tom's contribution), and concrete business planning (Marie's influence)
- We plan to expand our travel services to include destinations and activities we enjoyed most over the years. These can be found at www.pathways.cz. Keep in mind, though, that these trips are mostly the product of our guests requests, and so we welcome you to send us your wish list, whatever strikes your fancy. Yes, we can turn your dream into reality.
- We plan to increase the number of our Friends & Partners, listed on both P.A.T.H. FINDERS Intl. and PATHWAYS s.r.o. web sites. These will include several old acquaintances and new associates. There will be more tips for lodging and places of interest, and a new "Feedback" page. We encourage all our visitors and guests to add their overall impressions about lodging, restaurants, transportation, etc. (not only the nice things that they say about Marie).
- We wish to thank those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Simply identify your branch of the armed services, and we will discount the cost of our travel services by 15%. Also, for anyone serving their local communities as fire fighters, police, or teachers, we will give a discount of 10% for research and travel services (combined).
Best Wishes for Blessed Thanksgiving
Tom & Marie Zahn