Plzen, Czech Republic

Trip Start Jan 01, 2013
Trip End Dec 31, 2013

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

13/5/2013. Yeeessss!!!! Back to civilization as we know it .....WIFI IS AGAIN AVAILABLE. Much as we enjoy being in Germany and admire it for its' beautiful towns, for a tourist needing Internet access it's a disaster, unless staying in a hotel of course.
So, on a cold wet gray day we arrived at the unmanned border to the Czech Republic, only to turn round and head back into Germany. We'd intended avoiding motorway tolls as much as possible and had arrived at a minor border crossing. Realizing we would sooner or later need a vignette to use motorways we opted to enter via the major route, the A6. Stopping at the cabin marked "Vignettes" I went in. Fortunately for me there was an elderly German who spoke some English. He told me that the vignette man spoke only Czech - wonderful, at a major border crossing - and helped me make my 23€ purchase, valid for one month.
There's no wild camping and very few "aires" so we headed for a campsite, Camping Ostende, at Plzen. Quite a pleasant site, on a lake. Advertised erroneously as having laundry facilities, which came as a disappointment to one of us. The wiring in the doorless shower cubicles would mean immediate closure by Health & Safety if in the UK. Three nights stay is costing 27€ and we paid a further 72Ck for return tram tickets to town. The euro and Czech koruna seem readily interchangeable.

14/5/2013. Woke to sunshine. We'd been told that the tram stop was "at the end of the road". We weren't told that the end of the road was nearly a mile away. Trams run every few minutes and tickets are validated on the tram by inserting into a machine and pulling a lever. This punches a hole in the appropriate date mark.
First impressions are of construction work everywhere, in and out of town high-rise blocks of flats; surprisingly attractive houses and bungalows side by side with fairly squalid looking housing, and generally poor workmanship. There are tiny black squirrels on the campsite and a hare loped across the road as we walked for a tram.
Had lunch in town. Delighted to find wifi freely available at the restaurant and that the Pils beer was excellent. Less delighted with the lunch - possibly the worst meal since we visited what was then Czechoslovakia in 1972. Now, I like fat - but really.....
It was possible to enter the impressive church but only a few feet from the entrance a wrought iron barrier prevented further sightseeing. The brewery museum was a pleasant change from French museums being good value and interesting. A several page description in English was available. The modest entry fee included a half litre of pils in the museum restaurant, provided by somewhat surly bar staff. Perhaps influenced by the litre and a half of pils I'd enjoyed I lashed out 12€ on a lidded stein, telling myself it would keep wasps out of my beer and only remembering later that I normally stick to drinking wine when abroad. Ah well ...

15/5/2013. Our last day at Plzen. Hot and sunny. Cycled round the lake in the morning and trammed it to town in the afternoon for pils and ice cream. Saw Bob was on Skype so had a video chat. He's the only friend we have who uses Skype. After all the trouble we've had with the Leeds BS saw today that my original cheque, sent with the application form on the 7th April which they said they hadn't received, had been cashed today, the 15th May. They haven't heard the last from me .......
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