Plans for my trip to Slovakia began back in the fall of 2011 at the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International conference in St. Louis, Missouri. My travel companions from the 2010 trip (Ginny and Andy) were at the conference and we talked about making a return trip in the summer of 2012. We agreed to wait until after the new year to decide for sure. Once 2012 arrived, both Ginny and Andy decided that they would not be able to make the trip this year. I was disappointed because it was so much fun to experience Slovakia with them the last time, but I understood their decisions. So, it looked like if I really wanted to go to Slovakia in 2012 that I would have to make the trip alone. I debated for two months about whether or not I should go--talking to my husband and trying to figure out the logistics and calculate the cost. I was worried because the airfare was expensive; then there would be hotel/lodging costs, and what about transportation, etc.? My main impetus for wanting to visit Slovakia was that I knew my cousins Renata and Robert would be going back to visit family there and they planned a party for their daughter who was turning one in June. I wanted so much to visit with them again and meet their little angel. Plus, I knew that if I wanted to make the trip it would have to be this year because of some impending changes in my professional life it was uncertain where I might be living and/or working a year from now. My husband persuaded me to seriously consider taking the trip. So, in April I booked my airline tickets, making the first commitment.
Right after that I was surprised to learn that my cousin Jack was interested in going with me (he had asked me after my last trip to let him know if I ever decided to go to Slovakia again--so I did tell him about my plans). He let me know he was interested, but that he and his wife, Shirley, needed passports. They applied and sure enough got them in time! Then, they booked their flights--deciding to go to Prague a few days before and Paris afterwards. Due to my commitment to speak at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree (June 7-10), I was unable to go to Prague, so the plan was to meet my cousins at the Prague airport and then we would fly to Kosice, Slovakia together and spend four days together with Renata and the rest of the Alzo clan in Slovakia.
Next, I had to book lodging. I would stay in Vranov, then Presov, then Osturna, and finally, Kosice, the night before my flight home. Once these details were sorted out the next step was to plan the research part of the trip. I made arrangements with a Slovak researcher, Michal Razus of Slovak Ancestry - Slovak Genealogy Research Services and hired him to be my driver/tour/guide/translator for four days--the plan was for him to pick me up in Vranov after my time with the Alzo family and drive me to Osturna. I also hoped we could get some time at various archives along the way.
At the end of May I had to start packing (since I would be in California right before). I bought a new suitcase (a spinner that was lightweight and easy to maneuver). This time around I knew how and what to pack--making sure to leave room for any gifts from family members and making sure not to take too much so as to put my suitcase over the acceptable weight (~50 lbs) for checked airline baggage. I also made the decision to limit the amount of electronic equipment I'd take in my backpack: I planned to travel only with my smartphone, digital camera, iPad, iPod and my Flip-Pal mobile scanner. Packing was surprisingly easy.
With all the plans in place, the anticipation started to set in...
Copyright 2012, Lisa A. Alzo
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