When I first began to wander the streets of our neighborhood, I found a mysterious building labeled ‘sokol.’ About a year later, our neighbor told me that the sokol offered activities for kids, and invited me to come check it out.
[This would be a great spot for a picture of our sokol. Sorry.]
Sokol began in the mid 1800s. Though “..primarily a fitness training center, the Sokol, also through lectures, discussions, and group outings provided what (the founder) viewed as physical, moral, and intellectual training for the nation.” (Wikipedia) It was generally successful and supported until Communism snuffed it out in attempts to avoid anything nationalistic. Sokols reemerged in 1990, but haven’t experienced the glory days of their pre-WWII years. But you can spot one in almost every Czech neighborhood or village.
So… kind of like a YMCA. General community betterment, mainly focused on physical fitness.
We really enjoyed our time at the sokol. So much of it embodied what we’ve learned to expect from a city that was essentially hidden from the rest of the world until 22 years ago.
Almost everything is wooden, and looks like exactly like it did 75 years ago.
You’ll find few, if any, safety mats. If you fall, you get hurt. And then you don’t fall again.
Great gross-motor activities for kids. This country is so kid-friendly. I’ve always loved that.
Lots of Czech rhymes, songs & games that we wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
And, as always, phenomenal cleanliness. Here’s a picture of my socks after an hour of walking around the gym. A gym, people. As with most places, you bring a second pair of shoes to wear inside. Clean clean clean.
[Funny story: on our first visit, we didn’t know about the extra-shoes requirement. But they’re very strict about everyone going down to the locker room, changing shoes, and then coming back upstairs to the gym. So we did what we do best in this foreign culture: fake it. The leaders were satisfied to see me take Sam’s shoes off, so they didn’t see or care when I put the same shoes back on him and marched upstairs without a flinch. We got it right the next time.]