On Monday Anna Grace departed for an International Scout Jamboree in the Salzkammergut: 10 days with 4.000 Scouts from 20 countries! On Tuesday Jack departed for the US: 10 days to goof off with friends! Tony had a UN holiday on Thursday (end of Ramadan). Certainly I could make a long weekend work for a couple of practicing empty nesters, no?

Of course I could! In no time at all I planned a Beer Trail weekend–Czech beer for Tony, Czech crystal and pottery for me. And epicurean ecstasy for both of us.  With the weekend bag in the roof carrier and the back seats lowered in the MomMobile for our canine toddler to ride in luxury (hence the “practicing” empty nesters), we happily bid “Tschuss!” to hot and steamy Vienna.

The Beer Trail.

The spoiled hound.

Barley fields along the road to Jihlava. We reached the town by late morning and found the brewery rather easily, as almost everything in Europe can be found by heading toward “Centrum.”  

At 11:30 in the morning Pivovar Jihlava was buzzing (no pun intended) with patrons enjoying pints of Jezek, a traditional floor malt lager (This means the barley was spread across a floor and allowed to germinate; ours was an educational journey, as well!). The brewery dates to 1452, and once served the Viennese Courts of the Holy Roman Empire. We commoners enjoyed our kleines Biere with the Czech version of my favorite Central/Eastern European Shopska salad, this one with olives, while Clayton Theodore enjoyed a fresh Hundewasser and some social time with other dogs in the garden.

Jihlava has a pretty town square, save for the Soviet functionalism smack in the middle. 

The electric bus cables covering the city create their own kind of art.

From Jihlava to Pelhrimov we motored through numerous indistinguishable small towns. Kind of like Ohio, but with Communist-era PA address systems and utility poles. Corn on one side of the road, wheat or barley on the other.

Pelhrimov was described as having a “compact but striking square.” Compact, yes. Striking, meh, not so much. Maybe it was because we were hungry.

The day was a little too warm to dive into hearty and heavy Bohemian fare, and the menu boards, with the exception of this one, were causing fits to my GoogleTranslate app. Italian food to the rescue!

 Can you believe this is Roast Beef Bruschetta?  It tasted as amazing as it looked.

 As did the Pizza Salamino…just ask The Spoiled Hound.

Driving Pelhrimov to Plzeň was as interesting as Rural Anywhere can be; older Czech folks conversing across fence lines, bored teenagers hanging out, chickens running about.  Plzeň, though, was an unexpected delight. The University of West Bohemia opened in 1991, drawing students to the city; also adding to the lively vibe was a three-stage music festival that attracted all kinds of people. Our fabulous hotel was just off the town square, and that lively vibe filtered in through the open windows (no AC! It’s Europe!) well into the night, a musical segue to the early morning trash trucks rumbling across the cobblestones.

St. Bartholomew’s church takes command of the town square.

 Plzeň was liberated by the US, so most of the city remained intact. This is the Magistrate building, a most regal headquarters for an important Hapsburg outpost.

Regal drinking fountains, too.

Ornate and colorful buildings surround the square.

 Late afternoon sun on the Cloister.

Beautifully landscaped green spaces.
And just a hint of Social Times construction.

 The weather still a little warm for Bohemia cuisine, our tummies were tempted by El Cid, a Spanish restaurant near the hotel. Cold pilsners and a tapas trio of jamon, chorizo and calamares (and excellent people watching) to start…

 …and Arroz con Pescado to finish.

 Na zdraví!