I won’t be blogging for a week or so, as tomorrow morning I’m off to the Czech Republic for a week. Unlike my previous visits to the country, which were based almost entirely in Prague, this trip is based in Jihlava; a city which is almost in the geographical centre of the Czech Republic, close to the border between Bohemia and Moravia.
The trip has been organised by a long-standing friend who is heavily involved with Maidstone CAMRA, and has been nearly a year in the planning. There are around a dozen of us going, and between us we’ll be split between three hotels in the city. As most of the participants have been involved with CAMRA over the years, there will be a strong emphasis on beer and breweries, with several brewery visits arranged, including one to the legendary Bernard Brewery in nearby Humpolec, and a tour of Chotěboř Pivovar in the town of the same name. The former is well known to beer aficionados in the UK, and is sometimes seen at British beer festivals. It is also quite widely available in Prague. The latter is a brand new brewery, where beer is brewed following traditional Czech brewing methods, including fermentation in open vessels, followed by maturation in enamelled lager tanks for up to ninety days.
There is also some culture included, with visits to the towns of Slavonice and Telč. The former lies close to the border with Austria and was an important staging post on the old coaching road between Prague and Vienna. The latter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was created as a moated fortress. Today the city is surrounded by crystal clear fishponds and is described as the most perfect example of the Italian Renaissance north of the Alps. I’ve looked at the websites for both towns and each looks stunningly beautiful.
In many ways, this is the beauty and the attraction of this trip, as although we will be arriving in and leaving from Prague, it will be nice to get away from the tourists and experience some true Czech culture and see what else the country has to offer. We also have the advantage that out tour leader is half Czech, and as well as having been a frequent visitor to the country, he can also speak the language. Now that IS impressive.
Most of the party will be flying out on Tuesday morning, but I’ll be spending a couple of days in Prague prior to their arrival, and will meet them at the coach station. My hotel in Prague is close to Zlý Časy, a cellar bar which has become an institution in Prague's beer scene with its eclectic choice of guest beers. The pub is reported to serve 38 draught beers. A good choice of hotel Paul, but selected quite by accident I have to say!
Well it's now way past my bedtime, and I've a flight to catch in the morning, so I will see you all in a week or so's time.