Pilzen…One For The Road…
Before breakfast we did his usual pre bike check and as it wasn’t raining thankfully as the chain needed to be oiled , the ‘work horse’ has been going really well, but we had started to notice ‘clunking’ noises from time to time, which was the chain, so again the chain was adjusted, we really didn’t want to purchase a chain so late in our trip, we were just hoping that the adjustments would be satisfactory and get us to the UK.
With breakfast over and our bags packed and on the bike, we ‘suit’ up and hit the road, feeling rather sad to leave this charming little town.
Today we are off to Plzeň or Pilsen a city in western Bohemia, which is also the home of Pilsner beer, a place many men would like to call home i’m sure!
We didn’t need to hurry today as it should only take about two hours to get to Pilsen, but on the other hand we didn’t want to leave it to late either as we had plans!
Rain and grey gloomy skies accompanied us for most of the trip along road D5/E50.
The Czech Republic, from what we have seen so far is a a mixture of modern and old, the old villages we passed through seemed to be stuck in the old Communist regime with collective farming and old abandoned factories…
On entering the city of Pilsen the sun came out, the sun really does make places look even more beautiful, we rode past the famous Pilsner brewery, yep… thats our plans for the rest of the day!
But first we just need to find a hotel as last night i did try to book but had no luck, most hotels were full or didn’t have parking, so we thought we would ‘wing it’ like we had done so many times on this trip, as not all hotels advertise on the internet do they?
So off the bike i go to enquire on a room, yes a room and parking, BUT the parking was in the town centre multi storey car park about half a klm away from the hotel, thats not good for us.
So we rode a little bit further up the road, which looked like an unloved area…
down one of the streets were a few hotels so off i went in, the hotel was very gloomy and old with and had a moth ball smell, an elderly lady who was the manager showed me a few rooms, wow for $60 it was just ok, it sort of looked clean, but could have just been that the hotel and rooms had strange coloured walls and mismatched furniture form different eras of last century, the curtains are see through, so pretty useless really lol…its only for one night, so we’ll take it, plus it had secure parking, breakfast and WifI, so i payed for the night and all we needed to do was get the bike around to the parking area which was through an arch way, next to the hotel, Clive waited while the manager opened old wooden double doors.
After lugging the bags and boxes up two flights of stairs, we washed and got ready to go to the Pilsner brewery and hopefully get on a tour.
Just as we were heading out of the door to get on the bike the manager came and told us that the chef said we would also have to pay for the bike to be parked, that was the first we had heard about it, ‘you can talk to the chef, when he comes in for his shift’ she told us, there was no mention of parking payment when i booked us in, hmmm was that an after thought to get more money out of us?
Finding the brewery was easy, we marked the position on our GPS when we passed it earlier, on entering the site we rode through a big stone double archway, which had a steel girder over head and beautiful iron work on top…
The car park was packed with all sorts of motorbikes, lots of bikers must like beer..
We walk into the old Malt House, which is now the ticket office and purchased our tickets for K150 or just over AU 8.00, the next ‘English’ speaking tour was in about half an hour, so we took a few photos and relaxed with the other tourists.
I’ve never been on a beer tour before, so wasn’t really sure what to expect, Clive was well excited, he fancies himself as a bit of an authority on beer and i had gained a bit of a taste for it on this trip..!
We set off on our tour with about 30 other, tourists, mainly excited men who looked like it was Christmas!
Our ninety minute tour started with our guide talking briefly on the brewery and its history before visitors are taken on a coach and onto the bottling plant, which as well as using recycled glass bottles has recently added a plastic bottle line. The cleaning line sterilises the incoming bottles and removes the old labels. There’s also a canning line. The bottling plant operates round the clock, the world is thirsty for beer!
A coach then took us to the old brewery which had a modern visitors centre attached to it. We then had to all get in a massive lift, which is said to be the largest in the Czech Republic and can hold upto 72 people, the first stop is a modern theatre to watch a movie on how the beer is made.
Next stop is an exhibition area where if you want you can taste the barley, malt and hops, it didn’t taste that nice!
Next was the old brewery room, inside were huge copper ‘kettles’ they really were beautiful and so shiny, some poor person, has to use a lot of elbow grease to gets these clean!
Brewing in these ‘Kettles’ stopped in 2004, with the new brewhouse, producing three times as much beer.
We were then taken to the hall of fame, which includes a painting of Josef Groll (1813-1887), the first chief brewer and the man who invented pilsner. The original copper vessel Groll, film clips of the brewery in action in the 1800s plus various other items.
From there we went deep underground, you could feel the drop in temperature, it was a little chilly as we walked through the tunnels, they branched off in every direction, some with doors, some we couldn’t see how far they went as the tunnels were dark, the walls were all white with lime wash and dripping with water, thus making the stone floors quite tricky to walk on!
The coolness down here is ideal to preserve the beer. There’s still some Pilsner made down here but this beer never leaves the brewery as its for tourists to sample and is still made in the old fashioned way rather than at the new modern mass production brewhouse.
This is followed by a tour of the old brewery room. Brewing ceased here in 2004. The new brewhouse, which is attached, can produce three times as much beer.
The time had come and we were served a glass of beer straight from the huge oak barrel, Clive enjoyed his beer, but i really wasn’t impressed with it, i think i was the only one that didn’t enjoy it, lol
With the tour over and feeling a little educated on the beer making process, we hit the road to find a place to eat then back to our hotel.
As we parked the bike in the empty car park we went inside to get our room key, the manager did mention again that the chef wanted parking payment, so we said, he could come and ask us himself and we will pay him, but we want a receipt.
We retreated to our room to catch up on email etc, well that was our plan anyway the Wifi was ‘crap’ no signal at all, i reckon someone is selling ‘WIFI’ stickers on ebay for hotels to entice travellers Grrrr…what makes it more annoying is i especially asked about it before we booked, so we watched a movie while waiting for the chef to knock!
Up early for breakfast, the manager told us where the dinning room was, as we walked into a salmon pink and wooden room, laden with ‘ugly’ furniture we found a table really easily as there was no one about, i reckon we were the only ones in the hotel plus there wasn’t any type of hostess, so we just helped our selfs!
With breakfast over we once again loaded up the bike, while handing back our key there was no mention of car park payment, so not sure what was going on there…?
The morning was grey and quite brisk, with rain looming, we were really looking forward to our next country, Germany and meeting up with a good friend we had met way back in Malaysia…