Czech connections

Now Wednesday evening and the eve of our departure from Plzen and the Czech Republic. Our room here in Plzen at Pension U Salzmannu has been a great base to soak up some Czech food, beer, culture, and to be lost in a language rather beyond our Australian imagination. A few polite words of greeting and thanks are about all we can manage. Thank goodness for the helpful and friendly locals who have a ‘little’ English. Below our window is the tram stop – I love the sound of the trams as they rumble up the hill, squeal to a halt, ring their bell and roll off again. From the street our window can be seen as the one that is open with washing hanging off window handles to catch the sun and the breeze. Despite the chill in the evenings we love to leave the windows open. Partly to air our clothes of the ever present smoke from the bars and restaurants. Always a shock to non smoking Australians!

A day trip to Prague was a definite highlight. Our third visit to this beautiful city. A great feeling to be familiar with this place and be able to navigate directly to some of our favourite spots and to discover some new places. The old city is just beyond description. Wonders around every corner and if you can stay off the main tourist drag and avoid the tour groups with good timing it is so rewarding. David Cerny’s emotive, political statements through sculpture are treasures to be found and discovered. My first visit to Prague 4 years ago overwhelmed me when I entered Vaclavske nam and relised this was the place where my father was committed to hang in the mock trials of the early 1950’s. Fortunately the regime had to suffice with ‘in absentia’ and he lived to see Australia as his new home. This visit the emotion hit me at the John Lennon wall as we left our message for peace and acknowledged those who took a stand for freedom.

Today in Plzen a mixed day of riding the trams to their limits to explore all corners, discovering hot chocolate to die for at Andel cafe (needed a spoon to eat it), being front row at the town hall as the Czech President Milos Zeman emerged to greet the public, discovering the size of Skoda and what they make, viewing a strange collection of modern art, eating goulash, pork, duck and apple strudel with a bottle of Bohemian Sekt.

Ahhhh Czech you are in my blood!

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Plzen, Czech beer capital!

Sunday afternoon in a bar (where else would I be in plzen?) enjoying a glass of Habanske red wine (yes I’m having a short break from Pilsener beer!) The day has ended in Australia where my 3 sons have all sent heartfelt greetings to me for Mother’s Day. They have already moved into their new week. The time difference creates odd moments like this. Friends on Facebook have read their greetings before I have seen it! Thankyou boys and love you all heaps.

Back to Pilzen – why are we here? Hadn’t been here before and wanted to explore more of Czech ( the land of my father). It’s also pretty renowned for it’s beer.

Travelling in by train from Germany caused the usual flutter of my heart as we crossed into Czech. Now the border is not noticeable, no stopping, no sign. Very different from my father’s last years spent in his homeland. A time of turmoil and oppression. I am drawn to this land as it forms one deep root of the family tree and yet most of it is still a mystery. The history, the culture, the land, the people, the language – I learn a little more with each visit.

Staggering production figures, huge copper kettles, 5 week brew, triple heat, massive influence on the world beer market. Local restaurants serve unpasteurised tank beer.

Staggering production figures, huge copper kettles, 5 week brew, triple heat, massive influence on the world beer market. Local restaurants serve unpasteurised tank beer.

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