Czech Republic - Karlovy Vary & Pilsen
Aug 30, 2012
|26th August 2012 (Bed 71)
Ok, you are now going to get sick of hearing me saying “Wow, what a beautiful place”, but I just don’t know any other way to describe the town of Karlovy Vary.
Karlovy Vary, meaning "Charles' Bath" was named after Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, who founded the city in 1370. It is famous for its hot springs and its colourful and remarkable architecture. This picturesque village is surrounded by the mountainous landscape of the Krušné Mountain foothills .
There are many mineral fountains scattered around the town and it was strange seeing people walking the main streets sipping mineral waters from unusual looking porcelain cups (slightly resembling a port pipe but much narrower). The mineral water is claimed to heal and detox the body and soul.
Apart from the spa’s Karlovy Vary is associated with the traditional production of crystal glass and porcelain (I think Medina Glass in Malta is just as nice!). We also noticed people lining up and buying what we assumed was some kind of alcohol. Apparently, it was a herbal liquor called Becherovka which has been related to the town for more than two centuries. Unfortunately, we did not get to taste it.
Karlovy Vary is a lovely, trendy town, but now it’s time to move on to our next destination in the Czech Republic – Pilsen
27th August 2012
What are those water drops falling from the sky? Rain, rain, go away, and please come back some other day! It was only a passing shower, but the clouds looked awfully dark. We haven’t seen rain for months and let’s hope we don’t see it again.
The city of Pilsen is famed throughout the world chiefly for the unique Pilsner Urquell beer. It can be tracked down as far back as the middle ages, when beer was brewed in almost every house in the old town. The recipe for today’s beer has been handed down from generation to generation and is the pride of the Czech Republic. A tour of the brewery complex took us through the packing plant, the historic old brew house, the new plant and then down to the sandstone cellars beneath the brewery where we tasted a glass of beer straight from a barrel. Again, I tried to appreciate the taste of beer but it still tasted horrible to me. Arthur found it a bit bitter but we were told that the beer we sampled was unfiltered. Apart from the bad taste the beer left in my mouth, I enjoyed the tour and the history lesson on the making of Pilsner Urquell beer.
More Trivia: The Company is now owned by SAB (South African Brewery) which also owns our own Fosters brand.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wondering the streets admiring the lovely features of the town. No guided tour this time but a map always comes in handy. The medieval Cathedral of St.Bartholomew which has the highest church tower in Bohemia (103 m) stood proudly in the main square. The Great Synagogue from the 19th century which is the 3rd largest synagogue in the world was amazing to see from the inside. Like a lot of the small towns we have seen, Pilsen had lots of beautifully decorated & coloured buildings. One thing I have learnt throughout this holiday is to always look UP. You can find the most interesting statues and ornamental designs on top of the least likely buildings.
Well, that was another nice place, even though the Brewery was the town’s main attraction. Tomorrow we are off to Cesky Krumlov another town in the Czech Republic. Could it get any better!