A trip to the Czech Republic would not be complete without at least one visit to a brewery. The Pilsner Urquell brewery, in Plzeň, is the largest brewery in the Czech Republic so we went on line and booked our tickets for an English speaking tour. Basing ourselves at a campsite on a lakeside a few miles out of town we hopped on the train to take us into the centre of Plzeň. Only it wasn’t taking us into the centre of Plzeň as we soon found out when the ticket conductor started chuckling whilst shaking his head and pointing in the other direction. Ho hum. Getting off at the first available stop we then realised we should be getting the tram into the centre not the train. Easy mistake to make. Tram……train………same thing to me.
After finally locating the tram stop and waving my contactless card in front of the machine, which duly spat out two tickets, we made it into town. We just had an hour to kill before our allotted tour time. Mmm. What to do. Walk the town admiring the architecture? Sit in the cathedral and contemplate the meaning of life? Or……….go directly to the brewery to see if we can sample their wares before the tour.
Having killed an hour in the brewery bar/restaurant we duly lined up for our tour. Now, maybe I’m being a bit harsh but our tour guide really wasn’t the best. Lovely though she was she had a very thick accent and spoke in such a monotone, as if reading from a memorized script, that I lost the will to live within the first ten minutes. No passion, no humour, nothing.
Our group of about fifty was herded onto a bus, which felt remarkably like being on an airport bus taxiing across the runway, which took us to the bottling plant and then on to another area to look at, I dunno, other stuff. As I said, I’d switched off.
The only interesting bit was going down to the underground cellars, which I don’t think are used anymore, to see where the beer barrels used to be stored. It was there that the tour reached fever pitch as we were allowed to sample one glass of unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell beer.
We had to drink up in double quick time though as the next tour group was coming through. I was just glad to get out as it was freezing cold down in the cellar. Disappointed. Sooo disappointed.
In contrast, our wine tour in France last year, with an engaging guide and small group, ended in the warm ambience of a welcoming bar where we were able to take our time sampling the four different wines that were made there.
Sampling the wine of the Bouvet Ladubay cellars after our tour in France last year. All in all, a much more civilised affair.
To cheer ourselves up we splashed out on the three course set menu at the campsite restaurant for 134Kč (about £4.74). Potato soup, burger and chips followed by ice cream. Living it large we are.