Plzen, Czech Republic! A quiet, quaint city with a lovely center that rivals Prague's. Also, the people are much nicer! Perhaps tourism wears the people in Prague out. We were only able to spend a little over a day here, but it was nice to get off of the beaten path. And jeez, there was so much going on for a small city! We arrived at our hotel to find that we had our own bedroom - in fact, our own wing of the hotel. It was nice to be alone! We immediately went for a walk, although it was still raining.
We visited the center, which was about 5 minutes away. We stopped at this awesome hippie shop (it would have been extremely "trendy" in America) which sold candles, tea, etc. The owner was very nice and invited us to come back later and eat at his cafe. He recommended a restaurant just down the street that had good Czech food. We went in there and were expected a regular restauran, however, it was completely decked out in a Medieval theme! The beer, of course, was fantastic, and in true form, the food was very rich. We had a great time, and then went back to the hippie shop cafe for coffee. Our server was a young woman who spoke English very well, but we noticed her accent was not Czech. We asked her about it and she told us that she had a Scottish boyfriend. It was hilarious, because after she told us we realized that her English accent was VERY Scottish! We chatted with her and the owner a bit, and then walked back to the hotel.
On the way back, crossing the Roosevelt Bridge (apparently FDR was very popular with the Communist party - lots of places were named after him), we heard music playing. Loud punk music. We look beside a bridge and see that, in the midst of the pouring rain, a live PUNK CONCERT is going on! Complete with moshing teenagers, beer, and sausage. We of course had to stop and see what was going on. It was crazy. It's funny how you can just be walking around in a city and you run into something like that. All of the kids there were wearing T-shirts and hoodies with American or British band logos on them, such as Rancid, The Ramones, Sex Pistols, etc. But the bands were obviously singing in Czech.
The next day we walked around a bit, climbed a centuries-old clock tower with a beautiful view of the city, and then visited the Pilsner brewery. Pilsner Urquell is THE beer of the Czech Republic - every restaurant serves it. The tour was kind of boring in my opinion, but Bert enjoyed it. We were able to sample the unpasteurized version of the beer. It has to be pasteurized in order to be sold. The pasteurized version is already great, but the unpasteurized was fantastic!!!
Next - Budapest, Hungary!