'Take anything, but not my cottage!' / 'Vemte si vsechno, jenom ne moji chalpuku!' - Czechmatediary'Take anything, but not my cottage!' / 'Vemte si vsechno, jenom ne moji chalpuku!' - Czechmatediary
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‘Take anything, but not my cottage!’ / ‘Vemte si vsechno, jenom ne moji chalpuku!’

No matter what’s happening in the world, the Czechs will love their cottages (their vacation homes). Even though the communists took most of the stuff away from them during totalitarian era, most people still had the luxury of having 2 homes, usually the appartment in the city and then a country house somewhere in the country side. I was one of those people and although we don’t have our cottage anymore I have fond memories of spending the summers there as well as most weekends.

In 1970 there was 25,000 cottages and today there are about 166,000 (!!) which puts the Czechs on the second place in the world (as far as vacation homes go) – right behind the Swedish.

You may think ‘Gosh, what a bunch of snobs!’ but it is not so. These cottages are the most frugal way how to spend weekends or vacation.

It is also good for the economy since the owners spent quite a lot of money for tools, gardening supplies, building material and so forth. People would rather sell their car or jewelry in the times of financial troubles than to sell their dear cottage in which they invested so much time and money. TV shows about gardening, cottage barbecuing and so forth are the most popular watched items.

Czech vacation homes surely created its own culture which is dearly missed by those of us living abroad. Wouldn’t you agree?

CZ: At se deje ve svete co se deje, Cesi budou vzdycky milovat sve chajdy. I kdyz komuniste obrali lidi o co mohli, chatarskou kulturu jim nesebrali, ba naopak. Nase rodina mela take chatu; sice patri uz nekomu jinemu, ale hezke vzpominky mi zustaly – travila jsem tam totiz kazde leto a skoro kazdy vikend.

V 70. letech bylo v Cechach kolem 25 000 chat a chalup a dnes – podrzte se – je jich napocitano temer 166 000! To stavi CR na druhe misto, hned za Svedskem.

Chatareni ma take velmi dobry vliv na ekonomii; chatari totiz utraci neuveritelne mnozstvi penez za zahradnicke potreby, naradi a stavebniny. V dobach tisne by lide radeji prodali jejich auta a sperky, nez jejich zamilovanou chaloupku, do ktere vrazili uz tolik prachu. A samozrejme televizni programy o chatareni, kutilstvi a zahradkarstvi jsou jedny z nejsledovanejsich….co vy? Styska se vam po chaloupce?


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16 comments… add one
  • Karina Marie Pohorelsky August 4, 2012, 7:57 am

    I never had one in CR,we use to go to my aunt in the country and I have the best memory from that time,playing in the wheat and corn fields,riding on the top of crop wagon?/zebrinaky/helping in harvesting poppies ,potatoes, hops and apples,cherries,pears/not so legally/ picking mushrooms and berries in the woods and swimming in all kind of ponds together with gees,ducks and horses.What a childhood,I would not trade it for the best seashore resort anywhere.It was a paradise to me and still is in my mind!

  • Eva Z August 4, 2012, 11:03 am

    Our cottage is an actual regular house in a small village, where my mom grew up and we used to go to visit grandma and the rest of the family (it is my greatgrandfather’s house). It has a large garden with all the fruits you can imagine. They still have it and spend summers there. And I will be there in few days too, can’t wait!!! My Slovak grandparents’ cottage was similar to the picture you posted, it was in the hills, hard to access, you had to drive through a creek (not for a regular car) but it was magical.

  • Marika ( ta druha ) August 5, 2012, 5:24 pm

    🙂 we never built our chata hehehe we just had land and a zahradka and in the fall collected so much food we had more than we could eat over the winter. But you’re right. The strange thing is that even if communism was in effect there were more benefits than there are available for the average American.
    An apartment in the city, a summer home on the lake ( both paid off, or at worse, the apartment had low rent), free medical care, free dental care, free hospitalization. $12 bucks a week for a 3 course lunch in school that looked like restaurant food, free grade school and higher education including books and dormintory if you qualified over a grade C average and 2 year paid maternity for women.
    OK so no one had freedom to leave and you never knew who will tell on you if you have family overseas and you’re in touch with them and you had to pledge a devotion to the system, but really, being a ‘jiskra’ was just like girl scouts, NO? Still, I’m happy to be an American ;PPP It’s just that I often wonder what Americans would do if they knew about all the benefits those ‘opressed communists’ had. Friends I told
    over coffee never believed me.

  • Transient Drifter August 6, 2012, 5:53 pm

    The first day I arrived in Czech I was so excited about the cottages I saw. It took almost two full years of teaching before I was ever blessed enough to enter one, but I always loved them so much. My father-in-law has been working on their little cottage for years and has the most amazing garden there. So much great tradition circles around those homes and I am so happy to be a part of it, even if I’m back in the US now 🙂

  • Tanja August 7, 2012, 1:50 pm

    We never had a garden but our cottage was on the edge of the woods which was so awesome. I hope you will go back soon to visit and pick some fresh Czech strawberries 🙂

  • vlastimil August 11, 2012, 12:52 pm

    The Czech cottages (chata) is simply expression of Czech dream…..Kind of a shadow of the American dream….
    Ownership of house (the American dream) and ownership of vacation home (Czech dream) is a perversion of human values… Owning a “stuff” is making us to slaves of that “stuff”.. I like to go and discover , to see new places … Of course. during the Communist rule, it was not so easy to go and see new places and discover … The “chata” (vacation home) was a refuge, when one could meet friends, or hide from wide..Now, when Czech people are free, there is no need for having “chata”, why not to go and breathe a fresh air in Haiti, or some other place? Darfur perhaps 😉

  • Tanja August 11, 2012, 2:03 pm

    But a lot of people still don’t have money to got to Haiti hence the cheap cottage vacation. Why else would the number of chatas increase?

  • Karina Marie Pohorelsky August 11, 2012, 3:01 pm

    there is nothing wrong with wanting to own something and most of us here own a house,car,condo etc and Czechs that time only owned their” chata” and loved it.It was their peace of mind,their escape,entertainment,hobbies such as fishing,gardening and camaraderie.Nothing wrong with that!

  • Alena Lawston August 12, 2012, 7:40 am

    I have the fondest memories of my chata. I remember we would drive along the Vltava River on the way their and I was always get scared we would fall into the river because there were guard rails. The cottage was near a lake and I couldn’t wait for boats to go by so I could play in the little waves from the boats wake. My mom recently told me their was no electricity in the cottage but I remember always eating my favorite foods including every kind of fruit dumpling! There was an abundance of fruit especially my favorite raspberry bushes. I think it is totally possible for Americans to have that vacation home. Land is so cheap and there are so many made in America company’s that make pre fabricated homes from cottages to hunting camps to Mongolian yurts. The Amish people also build homes locally for the non Amish. Ownership if these cottages in former Czechoslovakia and now goes to the core of individual freedom to make your own choices and personal responsibility. That is why communism and socialism will never survive no matter how many times it is tried.
    I take pride in paying my own way rather than indirectly paying for mediocre benefits for others and myself.

  • Alena Lawston August 12, 2012, 7:46 am

    Made some errors: there weren’t guard rails by the river, that’s why I was so scared. This iPhone auto corrects every thing I write, so annoying. :)))

  • Tanja August 12, 2012, 10:07 pm

    I think the American lifestyle is much busier than the Czech lifestyle. People leave well before 6am to get on the freeway before the traffic starts and it takes them 1 to 2 hours to get home. That’s like 12 to 14 hour work day!!!
    I remember when we were leaving for our cottage, my dad and my mom would get home early from work, like around 3pm and then we went (but then again that was mostly during communism). I can’t imagine an American family leaving at 3pm ever Friday. Plus, the cottages would be probably a bit farther to get away from a spread out town and find some nature?

  • Marika (ta druha) August 18, 2012, 2:54 pm

    It’s a bit misleading tough, because the Czech’s really owned their chatas and the land it stood on, wheareas very few Americans own anything they’re paying off or have. It’s all on credit and non stop taxes. Do people in Czech even pay property taxes? I guess I was too young to know when I lived there…

  • Steve September 4, 2012, 10:39 am

    My wife and I just spent some time visiting family in Czech and I’m now 100% convinced that a Czech village is the best place to live/retire someday. I’ve completely fallen in love with Czech culture!

  • Hana - Marmota September 24, 2012, 3:38 am

    We don’t have chata or chalupa, but I’m one of those who would never trade their childhood spent in the Czech countryside for vacations abroad. It’s good to go abroad every once in a while, but what you’ll get for life when spending time in the countryside is much better… not just fond memories, you actually acquire some life skills! Definitely better for children.

  • Lida November 15, 2012, 9:15 pm

    My grandfather and dad build the wooden cottage when I was four. Vranovska prehrada, Dyje river area. I loved swimming in the river, rowing the boat, wild mushroom and berry picking, singing by the campfire, roasting sausages on a stick (forget marshmallows :-)…), playing with friends, hiking to nearby medieval castle ruins (only 20 minutes away). Beautiful forests! And, when I was a teenager, living in the cottage in the summer and rowing with my friend each morning to our first job – a guide in (another) castle, some half hour of rowing down the river and then rowing back in the late afternoon. Things were not ideal, all the brainwash of the communist system, but still having many warm childhood memories, it is a beautiful country!

  • Tanja November 15, 2012, 9:54 pm

    that sounds wonderful…brings back my memories as well! And yes, forget the marshmallows :)))

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