30th June 2014 I have arrived at my spiritual home. Pilsen (Plzen in Czech), in the Czech Republic, where Pilsener (German spelling) beer was invented. Apparently Czechs drink more beer per capita than Germans or Australians, and this means that they are the champion beer drinkers of the world. Tomorrow we will do the Pilsner (not a spelling mistake) Urguell Brewery tour. So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days you will know why.
They tell me that it is impossible to get a hangover after drinking Pilsner that is brewed here, so I will conduct a scientific experiment.
6th July 2014 I half expected to be greeted by St Peter at the gates of the Brewery, but no. He was inside, roasting barley, creating nectar of the gods. I’m getting a little over the top here, aren’t I. Nonetheless, good brew bro! The brewery reminded me of the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory with huge, polished, copper vats and Oompa Loompas running around. The end of the tour climaxed with a sampling ceremony straight out of the wooden barrel, have I used the word ambrosia yet?
Judy and I ended the afternoon at a typical Czech brassiere scoffing pork knees with dumpling and quaffing still more amber liquids. I think I am putting on a little weight.
I can declare the hangover experiment to be a huge success too, no pain.
I know it’s a few days since our last blog entry but we have been so busy. We caught up with people we met in Nairobi, part of our, so called, Wildebeest Club.
Pavel and Petra have been so kind to us, allowing us to stay with them while the Troopy gets reshod with new tyres (see travel notes) and has a service in readiness for Russia/ Mongolia. They have been our guides through their beautiful Prague and taken us to Liberec, my Father’s hometown, where a Cessna was hired to do an aerial tour. This was a lot of fun. The plane had dual controls, I sat next to the pilot while Judy and Pavel sat behind (Petra opted to stay on land as it is only a four seater) and at one point I held the joy stick/wheel taking a picture of this action with my other hand. This was when the pilot asked do you want to fly it. This was the start of my flying career. What a thrill and I was able to do turns and go up and down, these are technical terms us pilots use, but when I asked if I could land the plane it took a small second for the pilot to say NO.
Climbed Jeschken, the Liberec mountain that my father used to ski/toboggan and had lunch at the top in the award winning tower/restaurant completed in 1973. Mid summer in Liberec is like mid winter in Sydney.
In the evening we went to Marcella and Marek’s home (friends of Pavel and Petra) where they put on a barbecue in our honour. We had a wonderful night and we thank them.
This is what we have done over the last two days or so but today we travelled into Prague by ourselves by train (about a one hour trip) to give Pavel and Petra a break from us as we are still waiting on the Troopy. It is a public holiday weekend here and hopefully it will be ready on Monday.
We wandered the streets of Prague to the Music Museum but decided it was too heavy for us on such a beautiful day so, as we had an all day transport pass, we took a tram to it’s terminus and back just to get a feel for the city. We finished the day at a free concert but misjudged our location and time and then had to run about two kilometres to catch the last train back. We made it by five minutes.
7th July 2014 Car ready.
The Czech mechanics did a great job on the car service and tyres (see travel notes).
9th July 2014 Having spent the previous day cleaning the car in readiness for part 2 of our journey we say farewell to Pavel and Petra who could not have been more welcoming and generous had they been family. Friends like these you find once in a lifetime. If they ever come to Australia we hope to return the favour.
During our last evening we watched Germany demolish Brazil 7/1 in the World Cup semi final and one of the comestibles (eaties) that we had was a Czech delicacy called Nakladani Utopenci, which is a type of pickled sausage. Translated it means something like Dead Man Drowning, and a tasty morsel it is.
Petra saw us off with a home made wholemeal loaf baked in her oven with love.