"To get beyond sights listed in most guidebooks, call Tom & Marie Zahn from P.A.T.H. FINDERS Intl.. Tom is an American who married into the Czech Republic (Marie), and together they organize and lead family-friendly, day excursions (both in Prague or throughout the country). Their tours are creative, affordable, and help travelers learn to find off-the-beaten-track destinations (even by themselves). Tom and Marie also have associates in other countries throughout the region (notably, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine) and can help you with any part of your Eastern European travel. Their specialty is Family History Research & Travel (Personal Ancestral Tours & History), and given sufficient notice in advance of your travel, they can help you find ancestral homes, and perhaps even a long lost relative."from Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 2010
We chose Marie and Tom because they were highly recommended to us and they certainly lived up to their reputation. They researched our ancestry thoroughly and came up with many surprises and more than we expected. They were willing to go the extra mile to find an ancestor's house or tombstone in the Mlada Vozice region of the Czech Republic. Their van was comfortable for the six of us and they were both pleasant company. Their driving skills were good as well. Through their guidance, we found the farm of our great grandmother and the home of our three times great grandfather and also their family business. Marie took us to the local museum and with the help of the curator we found written references of our family in the town's records. The accommodation they organised was all very adequate. Marie and Tom were both very flexible in our tour arrangements and were willing to change the schedule according to what we found. The prices were surprisingly reasonable considering the complex nature of our family adventure. By the end of our week-long trip, they were good friends, not just tour guides.
Just how interested are people in their ancestors? Well, to tell the truth there's not much interest among Czechs.
But Americans of Czech origin, now that's a different story. There are numerous organisations helping people find their roots in the old country.
One of them is called Path Finders, and its founder, Thomas Zahn, is an American who besides his Irish roots also has Austro-Hungarian grandparents. He came to the Czech Republic a couple of years ago to look into his family's past. He married a Czech girl, and stayed on to help other Americans looking for their Czech and Slovak ancestors.
Listen to the Interview (below)
Olga Szantova, BBC, Radio Prague
Subject: Our Visit to Mezna, Jan. 2, 2012Best Wishes,
Dear Tom & Marie,
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Our visit to the village of my ancestors Tomasu in Mezna, with Marie on January 2nd, turned out to be far more than I could ever have dreamed of!
Marie was able to help us meet some of my current relatives, and with her knowledge and background, along with her personality, allowed us to learn more about each other and created memories for a lifetime!
We were very impressed with Marie's knowledge of so many areas, and how easily she was to work with. She provided us with a lot of good background and historical information about the Czech Republic and the area. She was knowledgeable, friendly, and professional. Marie was also flexible and worked with information that came up to help us make the most of this visit.
I am very pleased with the services you have provided us, and I believe your fees are a very good value.
I will very likely be in touch with you again in the future for your assistance in translation and understanding information, customs, or for where would be best to go for specific research items.
Again thank you for helping us make this a trip of a lifetime!
Doug Tomas, East Troy, WI
Hi Tom and Marie,
We would like to send our personal thanks to you for making the trip of a lifetime possible. We will never get that many people to come at one time again.
Thank you Marie for meeting us at the airport and transportation both ways. Also your choice of people to work with us was excellent. Please thank our driver Petr (we really liked his positive attitude) for doing much more than just driving the van for our 3 trips and back to the airport. We also greatly appreciated Tom for all his help and going to the Folklore supper with us and guides Roderick, Kent and especially Richard who did a outstanding job of interpreting when we met with the Blahnik family.
Keep up the good work, your services have added another dimension to our lives.
Ken and Mary Haggerty
I was able to successfully open and print your report. It did not verify all the stories I had been told, but I would rather have the truth than believe something that is not true. (I know, that makes me very unusual for an American since most Americans would rather live in their own illusions than deal with the truth ) The research was very thorough and I really appreciate that! We may not have family to come visit when we come to CZ in 2007, but perhaps I will be able to thank you and Tom personally.
Thank you again!
Joseph Hayek, Caspar, Wy, USA
Hello Marie and Tom:
I hope you have had time to rest and relax wiith your family after your busy summer and autumn.
The Smutny group is having much fun sharing photos of our great adventure. The trip was a great success, thanks to both of you and your very talented guides. You were so wonderful in dealing with the small crisis with Mr. Al Smutny. We will never forget driving the bus and the trailer through the construction zone at the hospital.
We hope that you, the driver or Pavel did not receive a fine from the authorities. The guard at the hospital looked very unhappy at us. Our family has the highest praise for you, Ondrej and Pavel and our drivers Rudy and Honza..
Altogether Pavel and Ondrej helped us find 6 family homes. It could not have been done without the good work of your genealogist, Mr. Petr Prochazka, so our grateful thanks to him also.
Thank you again for all your help. Best regards,
Pat Ramsay, Lincoln, Ne, USA
The Zahns planned our trip of a lifetime to four places in the Czech Republic in September 2005 -- a 17 day trip. Our accommodations were excellent, but not expensive. (The $ goes far in the Czech Republic... While we never eat out here in Colorado, we enjoyed the cafes every day in the CR...) We spent ample time in four different regional genealogical archives, three of them in the company of researchers in the Path Finders' network. Marty's Mom is a native speaker of the Czech language, so she could see for herself what an expert job these researchers do in reading the old records. We are very pleased with the complete research reports Path Finders produces, and are happy to recommend them as a reliable genealogical research service.
The highlight of our trip was the day our Path Finders driver took us to the rural village in Moravia where our Czech grandma was born. There was her old home, the old well, and most likely, the old school yard across the street! Except for this day of exploration, and a similar day in another province, we found the public transportation was inexpensive, very comfortable and efficient, taking us wherever we wanted to go.
Before your trip, of course, you will want to read one of the guidebooks, so you'll be ready to appreciate all there is to see and do in the CR. If you enjoy languages, you might enjoy the Pimsleur tapes, which will teach you enough to pronounce any word in Czech, and ask basic questions. In Prague, of course, many people speak English.
We learned about Pathways on the internet. They do a fine job of making reservations and other travel arrangements, and provide excellent genealogical research services. We wholeheartedly recommend them!
Martin and Susan Zmolek
During our visit you asked what was the high point of our visit to the Czech Republic. Our visit to Chvalenice was really the most memorable part of our visit and the experience of a lifetime. Thank you and the lady who opened up the church for us for making our visit so unforgettable. We will certainly tell all our family and friends about your hospitality and kindness.
Sue Poduska, USA