I was here a couple of years ago on a stag do, so I kind of knew my way around. This helped when we arrived as nobody else had a clue where we were going. The two Scots met three girls from England who they’d had a night with in Krakow and together we headed for the hostel I’d booked for myself, a short(ish) walk from the station. Everyone looked bleary-eyed. I think I got more sleep on the trains in India – at least you were only bothered by ticket inspectors once in the journey there.
Everyone else grabbed a room at the Apple Hostel with me and we dumped our bags (far too early to Czech in haha) and jumped on a Metro and then a bus to Pilsn (or Pilsner as the Germans called it). My aim was to climb the church tower, go down into the tunnels, visit the brewery and walk around the brewery museum. But this was not to be.
For starters, we got there later than I’d hoped. And half the places were shut – it appears that July 5th is some kind of holiday. The bus dropped us of a fair walk from the brewery, so we hopped in two taxis to get there and then paid for a tour each. It turned out to be one of the more interesting brewery tours I’ve been on, partly as the Pilsner Urquell company invented lager as we know it. The main company was formed by a conglomeration of several separate local breweries and the first “golden beer” was sampled in 1842.
Sadly, this technically means that crap like Fosters, VB and Special Brew are all their fault. But I’ll forgive them as their own beer’s pretty damn good. One of the best parts of the tour is, of course, the tasting. This one is rather special as the beer sampled can only be drunk on this tour and nowhere else. To ensure that modern brewing methods don’t mess up the taste, traditional methods are used in small quantities. Huge barrels are stored in underground catacombs and this brew is compared regularly against that which comes from the 125-or-so 16.7million litre metal vessels now used. The barreled beer isn’t filtered so it’s cloudy and it tastes delicious. Mind, so does the modern finished product. Which we sampled a lot of in the bar upstairs afterwards. At around 50p for half a litre it would have been rude not to.
Oh, I forgot to mention – it was Phil’s 25th birthday. He’s Scottish so therefore we all had to get drunk. It’s a law, or a custom, or an old charter. Or something.
To this end we returned to the hostel and swiftly shower, shaved and… the other “sh”, got on our best togs (well, a partly-cleanish Toon top for me) and headed out for some grub and some beer.
Eventually we settled on a nice looking foodery near the Charles Bridge where we rattled up a bill of around £100 between six of us (plus the two Swedes from Krakow who turned up late in proceedings to add to the bar bill). Not bad, all things considered. But still more than we expected, especially after totalling it ourselves and coming up with something nearer £90.
Of course, the sneaky “service charge”. My menu actually had the part with the charge on ripped out. So beware of this in Prague as it’s hugely common.
From there we crossed the bridge and found a cool jazz bar where we sat (and drank) for maybe an hour. Michael went through a row of shots, the girls tried out cocktails with more colours than a very poorly family of rainbows, and the rest of us supped nice Czech beer.
Next stop, another bar playing U2 and Linkin Park where Tommi started snorting sugar and trying to pour it into beer (it gets very fizzy when you do this) before we moved on to an Irish bar. I settled on Hoegaarden here because I like it and we were turfed out after last orders. It was barely 2am so we walked back to the previous bar and kept on ploughing through the yellow fizzy stuff for another hour until this started to shut up shop.
At this point everyone else was heading hostelwards, but I’d got talking to a Norwegian girl who was slightly bored as both her friends had pulled a Czech guy each. Silly Czech guys – Carina was by far the prettiest of the three girls. maybe they were intimidated. However, I ended up in a taxi to another club which was playing my kind of music and selling beer at my kind of prices.
I ended up dropping Carina at her hostel (a whole 50m down the road) at 6am and collapsing in bed at my own hostel around 6:30am. Big mistake – I had to be up again at 9:45am to check out!