Renowned for its Pilsen beer which was first created there nearly 175 years ago, Plzeň is the Czech Republic’s fourth largest city.
I’ve taken a tour of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzeň, culminating in a taste test of the cool beverage on a sizzling summer day. I’ve even researched a branch of my German-Austrian family in the city’s archives, excited to learn that I could also add Czech to my ever-growing list of ancestries.
From now on, though, I’ll always associate this laid-back Bohemian town as a place through which we passed with our rescued Ukrainian kitten, Cocoa in tow. There were challenges finding a can of tuna for the little guy (tuňák), and even greater struggles opening it. Fortunately, the kind host at our guesthouse was willing to rummage through the kitchen in search of a can opener. Perplexed that no modern one was in sight, he instead used a claw-like contraption to heroically tear the aluminum top open. I feared we’d be calling the hospital to have surgery performed on the young man’s hand. Fortunately, he prevailed unscathed, and little Cocoa left Plzeň with a full belly.
Continue reading “The Windows of Plzeň, Czech Republic”
Prague is, without a doubt, one of my favorite European cities, thanks to its incredible blend of architectural styles, its sweeping views and intriguing history. As a child, I grew up hearing tales of life in 1930s Prague from our dear family friend, Erna, who was also my first piano teacher. Erna’s fascinating tales from her homeland made the so-called Golden City come to life.
This image was captured on a late spring trip in 2009. Though I wish I had been quicker on the snap, so that I could’ve captured the man’s full silhouette, I loved how the sun illuminated building #10 on this quiet, cobbled lane.
Where in the World?
Photography & text © by Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
In a black and white image, bordered in a simple silver frame on my piano, she is seated behind the wheel of a classic roadster. Coyly sporting a riding cap, cream-colored driving gloves, and her trademark smile is a woman who not only taught me arpeggios, flats and sharps, but about life, its remarkable coincidences and values that we should hold dear.
We first met in March 1987. I was nearly ten, and my piano-teacher to-be, Mrs. Erna Blonek, was 86. I remember thinking that the diminutive elderly woman, with wavy hair as white as snow, spoke with a funny accent. My mother later explained that Mrs. Blonek was originally from Czechoslovakia. Over time, I learned that she had been widowed in the 1960s and that she and her radiologist husband, František, had immigrated to the United States in the late 1930’s.
Continue reading “Lessons from Erna: Remembering a Talented Musician, Teacher & Friend”