This past April, I took a quick trip to the Czech Republic with my good friend Alicia. She and I met at a Hannover4English Speaker’s women’s group meeting last winter, and our friendship quickly
devolved evolved into Rilo Kiley singalongs while drinking 1 euro wine on the floor in our matching onesies.
Alicia is one of the most well-traveled people I’ve ever met-born and bred in Michigan, she escaped the US after university and taught English in Korea for two years, traveled around Southeast Asia on a solo trip, and eventually found herself in Australia where she worked at a travel agency and got her teaching certification. Now she’s teaching at a bilingual school in Hannover and quickly making her way through Europe. She’s been to more countries than I can count, and she’s an excellent travel companion, seeking out unique experiences and never turning down an opportunity for adventure. She’s also an expert photographer, as evidenced below.
Last spring, our Easter breaks lined up perfectly since we shared the Niedersachsen school schedule. We each had plans for the first part of break-I went to Sarasota, FL to visit the person I was dating at the time, she went to Portugal for the same reason-and then reconvened in Hannover to begin a long weekend to the Czech Republic. She found round-trip train tickets to Prague fairly last minute for 70 euros! It all seemed like it would work out , at least until my lazy planning meant that nobody on Couchsurfing could host us until the second night of our trip. Whoooooooops.
We decided to make the best of it and booked a hostel in the nearby city of Plzen for the first night of our trip. My friend Rosie lived there (though she was ironically visiting Germany that weekend), and we vaguely knew about the Pilsener Urquell brewery.
Apparently that was all we really needed to know.
By the time we got to Plzen, we had spent nearly an entire day on various trains. We stumbled into our hostel after getting only mildly lost for half an hour, hoping for a shower and a few hours of sleep before walking around town and hopefully finding the brewery.
Our hostel was rustic, to say the least. The guy working the desk informed us that our beds wouldn’t be ready for several hours-it was probably about 1-2pm-but thankfully hurried up the process when he saw our faces. We laid around for a bit, then went exploring:
…and ended up at the brewery.
Have you ever had fresh beer? Fresh, unfiltered beer straight from the source (Pilsener=Plzen, the original pilsner beer, Quell=source in German)? There is nothing better. It is nectar of the Eastern European gods. I think we spent about 6 hours there, and somehow, very, very little cash. One of the benefits of earning Euros is that they go much further than the Czech crown
Alicia and I were rooming with two English guys who were traveling through Europe together. We actually ran into them at the brewery and invited them to drink with us!
After an enchanted night of beer, Harry Potter spells, and wandering around Plzen after dark, we finally made it back to the hostel and slept a beautiful sleep.
The next day we headed back to Prague for another magical few days. But our day in Plzen, though slightly fuzzy now from so many beers and trains, remains one of my favorite adventures from the year.