Franconia Beer Message Board

OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion!
Posted by barry on 2017-10-11 04:01:31
I thought that it be worth trying to summarising a few aspects of my visit, as such thoughts might be helpful to anyone contemplating visiting for the first time.

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice before the trip (and those who commented after!), particularly Andy, my companion in Ceske Budjovice and Plzn.  All the little tips and guides proved to be invaluable.  Thanks also to Fred for his handy guide, my daily companion - I don't know how you do it, Fred!

I suppose that I should say, firstly, that I really enjoyed every minute of my visit from getting on the train at Schwandorf: Czech trains are like a blast from the past for me, with their compartment coachs, slow but steady progress and incredibly cheap fares (for someone from the UK).  One tip from the 'Man in Seat 61': tickets are much cheaper if bought in advance via the Czech Railways website (  My ticket from Schwandorf to Budjovice was about €12 - it would have been double if bought through DB.  The same applies for internal travel: buy in advance and I reckon that you save 50% - not that it's going to matter too much to most of us, as the tickets are cheap by Western European standards anyway. 

I very much liked the atmosphere/ambiance in Czechia - the people seemed unassuming but helpful when asked.  This was helped for me as the high level of English speaking, particularly in those under 40 years (a guess) was really good.  In fact, I just got into the habit of speaking in English and it caused very little problem.  As is my habit (when on my own), I meandered about, taking my time and looking at things, no one bothered me and I felt perfectly safe, even wandering through housing estates in Praha in the dead of night.  I don't know anything about crime rates, and I'm sure that there are rough areas, but it seemed ok to me.

On costs: for someone from the UK, Czechia provides quite good value (espcially if they happen to have a Euro bank account in Ireland!).  However, it was a bit more expensive (but still cheap) than I expected.  Mind you, I was mostly in big cities, which are always more expensive.  The price of beer varied, on average, between 30 and 45kor; rough €1.15 to €2.00, though in some places (specially the small, specialist breweries), it could go up to the 50-60kor level, usually for strong beers.  The lovely Pivovar Krmyca charged only 25kor.  My apartment via AirBnB was very nice and cost me, after AirBnB's manipulation of exchange rates and added service charges (a bit of a rip-off really) about £30/night.  Sadly, the owner probably only got around £20-25.  Being self-catering for 5 days. I did a bit of shopping and was surprised to find that prices could be quite high; certainly higher than I expected, but this was Praha, so I suppose that, out of town, it would be cheaper.

Now onto the beer!  I suppose really that Czechia is like anywhere else - a mixture of good, bad and indifferent.  I wouldn't subscribe to any notion that the country is some kind of beer heaven, as I had quite a few beers that, IMHO, were either ordinary or not good.  The general standard was ok but not remarkably better than in Franken/Oberpfalz or rhe UK.  In my view, the beer from Budvar is pretty mediocre, really what you would expect from a big brewery, probably better than the ersatz lager sold in the UK or the products of the big German breweries but not so much that you would travel a long way to drink it.

Regarding the Pilsner Urquell: let's say that I'm yet to be convinced that it's anything remarkable - gasps of horror from readers!  In our hotel in Budjovice, we sampled the unfiltered stuff: my memory from 2 weeks ago doesn't tell me that it was anything particularly great, certainly not a patch on some of the beer from the smaller breweries.  I don't know how they serve it, I would have thought that it wasn't Tankovna but maybe it was.  I've watched the Tankovna video on the Urquell site - vvery impressive but it left me with two questions: first, how do they get the beer from the pub cellar to the glass?  Do they use CO2, if not how?  Secomd, whatever the blurb about freshness and being just like the beer in the brewery, so what?  This assumes that the beer in the brewery is great.  Pilsner Urquell has been part of the SABMiller group for some years (up to 2016, the second largest brewer in the world and based in Woking), who also brew such 'quality' beers as Fosters and Miller (in a complicated manoeuvre, since this year. it is effectively owned by Japanese brewers Asahi).  This in itself doesn't preclude Urquell from making good beer (I've always argued that anyone can make good beer: witness the lovely cask John Smith's Bitter that I used to sell in the 1980s) but it does make me sceptical about the claims that it is one of the great beers of the world.  I sampled Urquell in a few different places, including that very upmarket pub in the centre of Plzn (Andy probably knows the name), which I presume must be Tankovna, and it was, again, ok but nothing really special.  Ok, so we know that the taste of beer is like beauty, 'in the eye of the beholder'. but, in this case, in the mouth of the drinker.  This is just my opinion and you, the reader, are more than welcome to your's.  Would I drink it again?  Of course, I'd be delighted to, especially in some of the places recommended by Jason and others.

To me, the real delight of the trip was the visits to the small out of Praha places, Beroun and Chyne, and the brewpubs.  Also, visits to some of the more characterful bars and pubs, as I like to get 'down and dirty', which became Andy's favourite saying!  I appreciate that the Czech brewing industry is in a state of development, with so many new small breweries coming on stream - and I understand the reasons for this.  In many ways, I suppose that it is like the UK was after the decimation of so many small, local breweries in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and it is great to see that things seem to be going pretty well.

I think that I said in an earlier posting that I didn't bother to change my Crowns back, so I have every intention of going again.  I would like to visit Moravia, perhaps, Brno and other places away from the big cities, and am looking forward to future visit(s).

Sorry this is so long - as usual!
   OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by mike004 on  2017-10-11 05:32:05
   OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Jason  on  2017-10-11 06:08:48
   OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by pivnizub on  2017-10-11 06:24:26
   OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by JohnRatcliffe on  2017-10-11 06:32:08
     OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by barry on  2017-10-11 07:06:29
     OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by barry on  2017-10-11 07:08:17
       OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Mosquit on  2017-10-11 09:15:36
       OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Jason  on  2017-10-11 10:33:10
   OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Nick B. on  2017-10-12 02:20:00
     OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by barry on  2017-10-12 03:40:29
       OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Nick B. on  2017-10-12 06:08:55
         OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by barry on  2017-10-12 08:34:39
           OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Nick B. on  2017-10-13 01:26:52
             OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Nick B. on  2017-10-13 01:31:26
               OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Jason  on  2017-10-13 04:11:57
                 OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Jason  on  2017-10-13 04:18:50
               OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Mosquit on  2017-10-13 04:23:24
                 OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Nick B. on  2017-10-13 06:32:17
                   OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by barry on  2017-10-13 06:54:51
                     OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Andrew H on  2017-10-13 12:33:40
                       OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by barry on  2017-10-13 12:47:22
                         Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by Mark Andersen on  2017-10-13 13:25:11
                         OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by David on  2017-10-13 14:21:18
                           Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by Jason on  2017-10-13 14:50:11
                             Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by barry on  2017-10-13 15:17:02
                           OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by Barry on  2017-10-14 01:46:25
                             OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by David on  2017-10-14 14:32:00
                               OT: Visit to Czechia Conclusion! by barry on  2017-10-15 03:47:19
                           Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by Nick B. on  2017-10-16 01:42:27
                             Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by Barry on  2017-10-16 01:56:23
                               Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by Nick B. on  2017-10-16 03:29:32
                                 Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by Nick B. on  2017-10-16 03:32:38
                                   Eating in Pubs. Deplorable!! by barry on  2017-10-16 07:20:06
                                     Eating ... Deplorable!! by Nick B. on  2017-10-16 23:43:55
                                       Eating ... Deplorable!! by Barry on  2017-10-17 02:11:53
                                         Eating ... Deplorable!! by Nick B. on  2017-10-17 04:58:17
                                           Eating ... Deplorable!! by Nick B. on  2017-10-17 05:02:09
                                             Eating ... Deplorable!! by Andrew H on  2017-10-17 10:55:11
                                         Eating ... Deplorable!! by Nick B. on  2017-10-18 07:00:57
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