Pilsen, Czech Republic
May 2, 2022
There were lots of nervous glances and chatter on the bus before leaving our hotel. Does everybody have their passports? Yes. “How about your vox boxes (voice boxes)?” Yes yes. “Did you check your luggage and pay your hotel bills??” People were getting on and off the bus while checking this and that, then finally we were on the road. Whew! For anyone who’s done a group tour this is all pretty common, but this is a large group with a bit more chaos.
So today we were off to visit the town of Pilsen which is known for its production of the Czechs popular Pilsner beer. So with that in mind, it’s interesting to note that the Czech Republic has the highest consumption of beer drinkers per capita in the world, yet China, USA and Russia are the largest producers of beer.
The story goes that in 1838 unhappy bar owners dumped 36 barrels of their local beer in the town square because they said it was unhealthy and tasted awful. The tavern owners and citizens got together and brought in a German brewer by the name of Josef Groll and “Pilsner Urquell” beer was born. The brewery opened in 1842 and was the first to produce a pale lager.
It’s also kind of interesting that the song lyrics “Roll out the Barrels” was attributed to the American soldiers who liberated Pilsen at the end of WWll and whom didn’t know the original words to this traditional German song.
So what else do you do in Pilsen besides drink beer? You can pray at St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral located in the main square and rub a cherubs head for good luck on the outer gate of the church. There is a legend that in 1739 an Executioner wanted to exchange wedding vows within this Cathedral, but it was not allowed because of his profession. So he arranged to have another man stand in as his proxy. During the wedding ceremony the Executioner fell ill and started to fall, but was saved by grabbing the head of a cherub. To this day it is believed that good fortune will be bestowed upon you by rubbing the head of one of these baby angels….
Or if rubbing shiny objects isn’t your thing, you can go to the Puppet theater and museum….or not. Yep, as it turns out puppetry has been a tradition here since the late 19th century and has functioned not only as a means of entertainment, but a way to express moral lessons and folklore to the children. The theater/ museum is also located conveniently in the main square but we’re not really into puppets, so we took a picture of the door.
Our local guide Renata whose hometown is Pilsen, is very knowledgeable and had talked nonstop without breathing since we left the hotel. How does she do that? So it was with great pleasure that we were finally cut free. With only an hour left we didn’t have enough time to take the brewery tour, or the puppet theater, or the underground ghost tour which sounded pretty cool. So, we decided to eat lunch and people watch other people “people watching” before departing onward to Nuremberg.