An Afternoon in Plzeń, Czech

While driving from Munich to Prague, we see the exit for Plzeń, look at each other, and say, “Why not?”  We’ve been in car a while and this is the perfect opportunity to stretch our legs and to visit a place far enough off the beaten path not to be overrun with (other) tourists.

On the road to Plzeń!

On the road to Plzeń!

Just follow the signs.  You can’t miss it.

Clean streets typical of European cities.

Clean streets typical of European cities.

We set out walking down cobblestone streets towards what looked like the city center, with no particular destination in mind.  Plzeń turns out to be a city with Old World charm.

A mixture of modern and classic architecture.

A mixture of modern and classic architecture.

Baroque architecture dominates the city center.

From a distance, we thought this was a mosque.

From a distance, we thought this was a mosque.

The Great Synagogue is the second largest synagogue in Europe.  It was built in 1893, and was designed to be 20 meters lower than the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew and to have a Romantic and neo-Renaissance style so as to not compete with the Cathedral.

An impressive structure in the heart of Plzeń.

An impressive structure in the heart of Plzeń.

The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, a Gothic church on the Main Square.  It was built in 1295, and became an official cathedral (rather than a church) when the Pilsner diocese was created in 1993.

The put beauty everywhere they can.

The put beauty everywhere they can.

Mestský park is a small greenbelt that runs along Smetanovy sady, in front of Měšťanská beseda movie theater. Peaceful, with an unpaved walking trail.  We walk along classic architecture, striking cathedrals, shops and clubs.

An homage to Luke Skywalker, perhaps?

An homage to Luke Skywalker, perhaps?

And a few modern art pieces.

In Plzeń, they have a sense of balance...

In Plzeń, they have a sense of balance…

Locals can workout at Damsky Fitness, then enjoy wine and chocolate.

Plzeň has a marvelous zoo, museums – including a brewery museum (it is closed today) – and a DinoPark, but we have only a few hours to spend.

And besides, that’s not why you go to Plzeň, is it?

Urquell: from German, meaning fountainhead, wellspring, source.

Urquell: from German, meaning fountainhead, wellspring, source.

But we don’t want to enjoy our pilsner in just any bar. We walk for a good bit, then, on a cobble-stoned side street, we stumble upon Stara Sladovna.

The old malting house.

The old malting house.

It does not look open, but we give the door a nudge and it opens. 

Inside is dark, like imagery of a Renaissance pub.  It is empty but for us.  Ah, the joys of traveling in the shoulder season!

This is just what we were looking for!

This is just what we were looking for!

Sit anywhere.

What a wonderful place!

What a wonderful place!

Mind the stairs!

Připít!

Připít!

The waitress is totally cute. She speaks English, and when we told her we are from California, she asks if we could put her in our luggage and take her back with us. (We wish!)

Finally, a pint of Pilsner Urquell.

Our only regret is that we have so little time to spend.  It would be easy to spend a whole vacation here.  Oh, well.  Next time…

awa Travels Tip: We find the best places by wandering, because it feels like we discover them. Schedule unscheduled time to meander and see what can be discovered.