An Afternoon in Plzeň, Czech
While driving from Munich to Prague, we see the exit for Plzeň, 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.
Just follow the signs. You can’t miss it.
We set out walking down cobblestone streets towards what looked like the city center, with no particular destination in mind. Plzeň turns out to be a city with Old World charm.
Baroque architecture dominates the city center.
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.
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.
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.
And a few modern art pieces.
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?
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.
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!
Mind the stairs!
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…