Pilsen, Czech Republic 13 July
Thursday 13th. Just over an hours drive and we are parking very close to the old centre of Pilsen. Best known as the place where Pilsner style beer was first brewed by Bavarian brewmaster Josef Groll ( didn’t know your family were beer drinkers, Gillian). It is the 4th largest city in Czech ( pop 118 000). First up we wanted to do a tour of the underground tunnels. These were originally cellars of individual houses, used for storage, defense and most importantly brewing and storage of beer. Over time and to help with the town’s defenses the cellars were joined by tunnels; altogether more than 19km of tunnels were found, the tour covering less than a km, very interesting, with lots of artefacts and info on life in the Middle Ages. Use of hollowed out tree trunks as water pipes; wine glasses or beer tankards were covered in ‘ pimples’ so that they didn’t slip out of the greasy fingers of people eating without knives or forks.
Rose : after our tour we settled into the bar for our free beers and a small bite to eat. The food was good, especially the fresh horseradish. (we decided to take a stroll around the town. We found the main square with the requisite beautiful church and a tower. This time I managed to con Chris into combing the tower. All 10 flights of stairs. Beautiful bells and a beautiful view was his reward.
From there we found the The great synagogue. We toured the building and learnt a some interesting facts that were both sobering and inspiring. The synagogue was completed in 1893, but the Jews did not get to enjoy much of it as in Jan 1942 , all of them were deported to Terezin concentration camp. The synagogue survived the war as it was used a workshop for making German uniforms. Only 204 Pilsen Jews survived the war and came back to Pilsen , but many emigrated to Israel or USA. In the communist era the building fell into disarray and only in 1994 did they start to reconstruct it back to the gem it is today.
Leaving Pilsen we head toward the Austrian border with the aim of staying close to a town called Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO heritage site and ‘ The Jewel in Czechs Crown’.
Chvalsiny, Czech Republic 13 July
We found a campsite close by, owned and run by two Dutch couples. A little like the Netherlands with mountains, really clean, well organized and us being virtually the only non Dutchman in sight.
Here we spent two nights enjoying our surroundings; even joined in the weekly Friday night BBQ; pork done five ways with great potato salad and coleslaw. Generally pretty hard to keep kosher in this part of the world, pork seems to be everywhere. We did laugh as the BBQ started at 6pm, but of course being Capetonian we decide to only think about going at 6.30pm, and then being Chris we left at 7pm. the only plate of meat waiting was ours. everyone had already been up for seconds and the lady in charge was really concerned we would not get our salads, so she rushed to serve us. This eating dinner at 6pm is really funny.
Camper Life: this was a true example of the Netherlands being a nation of campers. the camp site was super super organized. They had beautifully appointed and very clean showers. I have become a good mopper, as everyone mops and cleans the floor after the shower. They had a special place to wash your clothes and a wringer to get out the water. Newsletter on the board with kid club activities. every night they have story time at 8pm. One of the kids gets to ring a bell and all the kid run to the barn to listen to the story.