Beer Fountains and Rivers of Ale? Yes Please.

Trip Start Jun 08, 2008
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Trip End Jul 09, 2008


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Before arriving in Plzen I had a certain image stuck in my brain of how the city would look like.  I imagined a Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory type of city but with beer fountains instead of chocolate fountains and little munchkins frolicking in beer lakes.  Obviously, I was quite disappointed when I got off the train and stepped out of the train station.  I was instead met with a lovely sight of three drunk shirtless old men (it was noon time mind you) giving me an uncomfortable stare along with several stray dogs scavenging in the garbage.  I was nearly in tears because of the lack.
 
We were staying at Solni Pension located right in the center of town; however the train station is at least 1km from the town square.  We had no idea which direction we were supposed to walk in and there was no one in sight to ask for directions, minus the drunken men.  While wandering around in circles I noticed a tall steeple rising above the skyline of Plzen, and it struck me that the tallest building in Plzen is the St. Bartholomew's Cathedral located merely one block from Solni Pension.  It was like my guiding light and led us through the city into our pension.
 
By this time I was drenched in sweat and demanded a beer immediately.  We trudged around town until stumbling upon Dominika where we knocked back a few $1.50 0.5L Pilsner Urquells.  We got bored there and stumbled around until walking through an alley and finding Zach's Pub.  Here the beer was all of 75 cents for a half liter of Gambrinus which is just as or more delicious than Pilsner Urquell; no need to say that I barely remember the walk back to the pension after experiencing Czech pub life to the fullest.
 
We planned on staying in Plzen for two nights but when we woke up in the morning, with quite a hangover, we found out that the Solni Pension was sold out for the day, a fact that would have been nice to know before hand.  So we quickly ate the breakfast of bread and vegetables and wandered around until we found a room at Pension City.  We met this cool kid named Thomas who works at the pension a couple of days a week; he had nothing but hilarious words coming out of his mouth...
"What do I think of the EU?  Fucking EU, socialist orgy."
"The light is for the animals... without eyes....flies...BATMAN!  No bat, bat."
"You like beer here?  We're only country where beer is cheaper than soda or water.  If they raise prices we will REVOLT!"
 
After spending several hours just sitting on a bench and laughing at every word to come out of Thomas's mouth, Johnny and I decided to head out to the Pilsner Urquell brewery for a tour.  Now they did not have a beer fountain or lake, but it was still a beer fairy tale complete with a life-size beer chess board.  After taking us down into the basement where beer is still fermented in gigantic wooden kegs we were allowed to try unfiltered and unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell straight from the wooden barrels... it tasted like heaven.  With each sip you heard a choir of angels singing, you may think I'm exaggerating but I implore you to go try it for yourself.  You'll never drink beer the same way again. 
 
By this time we were famished and decided to grab lunch in the brewery's restaurant/beer hall.  The restaurant was absolutely incredible, huge plates of traditional Czech cuisine with enormous never ending mugs of beer; it was quite possibly the best meal I had during my entire stay in Europe.  After the meal we went back to Zach's Pub for a nightcap where we met some people from Ireland and we had this little gem of a converstation...
Me: "Not gonna lie, when I first got off the train I thought the city looked like shit.  I'm still not so much a fan."
Girl: "I was born in Plzen, this I my hometown."
Me: "Ohhh, did I mention how much I like Plzen?"
 
After further conversation with the Irish, who were quite the generous bunch, Johnny and I stumbled back to the pension to get a good nights rest.  We were heading off to Brno the next day.
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