When spoilt for choice it is sometimes difficult to decide. Such was the case in trying to decide which of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful towns to visit next. In my research I read a review that said Loket was best viewed during the summer. So there my decision was made; reinforced by the fact that we were experiencing especially hot weather and the mountains should be cooler.
While we were primarily looking for forests and river banks in order to cool down this town also provides plentiful history to soak up. The castle dates back to the 12th century and like all castles still standing has been re-modelled many times. I have been in a lot of castles over the years but none as extensive as this one. For a mere 3 Euro entrance fee you can wander from wing to wing and floor to floor; that includes extensive exhibitions and a very elaborate torture chamber. Certainly not the most elegant of furnishing and displays since the castle has only been recently re-opened after serving as a regional prison for many years.
For those with a literary interest Johann Wolfgang Goethe visited the town many times and it was here on his 74th birthday that he fell in love with a 19 year old girl. An affair that not only spawned a lot of gossip but several pieces of literature as well.
A couple weeks before our visit the local news was that Richard Gere gave the town a once over and liked what he saw. He was quoted as saying the local beer was possibly the best he had ever tasted. So of course I had to try it (of course, I would have anyway). Yes it was quite good, as was the steak dinner I had at the brew pub, St. Florian. I was quite impressed that the working brewery was right there in the same room.
The next morning we set out to find the train station for our afternoon departure. Since it was on the river bank we continued on and did a nearly complete circle around the town. It was a delightful walk through parks, residential areas and semi-wilderness along rock cliffs and ended with a swinging foot bridge back into town. Since it was time for our regular coffee and cake we headed for the recommended Galerie Cafe. We now recommend it as well; it should be listed as a major site rather than a mere cafe because the décor and the art create an utterly enjoyable atmosphere.
Rock climbers at cafe’
Apple tree with sculpture
Loket is one of the rare towns we have seen that has a good web site that is kept up to date: http://www.loket.cz/ They host such diverse offerings as an opera festival and the Czech National Motocross — both crowds we purposely avoided. The drawback is there are no directions on how to get to the town by public transport. The train takes 4 1/4 hours or more depending upon which round about route you chose. The bus to nearby Karlovy Vary is scheduled for 2 1/4 hours so we took that, intending to make a local bus connection, which it turned out no longer existed. So after much consternation and walking around we did catch another bus that took us to the edge of Loket but no signs how to get up the hill into town.
All this on a very hot day so we were very glad that we enjoyed this place enough that we kept thinking of friends that we could bring here. I once heard that the ugliest part of the human body was the elbow (loket in Czech). It certainly does not apply to towns surrounded by rivers.
Yesterday we felt like tourists with limited time to see so many sites before moving on again. Over the past few weeks we have been frustrated because there have been several events and concerts we missed due to not knowing about them in time to get tickets. So we have been busy researching upcoming possibilities. Suddenly an available concert popped up on a day we already had other plans so . . .
We set out for a light lunch at Galerie Le Court. Karin had gone here last week with a friend and wanted to show it to me. Very cosy atmosphere in both courtyard and inner room; very interesting art on display–erotic nature perhaps more suitable for evening then noon; good food and deserts; but poor service due to only one person doing everything for too many customers.
Then on to exhibition due to end this month called Faces of Courageous. It is first time display of newly discovered photographs of WW II parachutists who assassinated Nazi leader, Reinhard Heydrich, and other sabotage behind enemy lines. This was a major local event in WWII which we have followed. I assume some of these photos will go on permanent display at their museum on the subject in the crypt of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral (which is Orthodox by the way).
This exhibition was in a wing of the Prague Castle that we had never been in before and the entrance was off a part of the gardens we had not seen before.
We got back home about 5 P.M. for a rest and early dinner before walking to the Baptist Church on Vinohradska that we had walked by a gazillion times but never been in before. The facade looks like an apartment house with a decorated door; which it is. The actual church is situated in the interior courtyard of the block. A pleasant setting for a wonderful string orchestra concert that cost only $5 admission for the two of us. The music and the price must have appealed to pensioners; there was nearly a full house of several hundred people and, not counting the orchestra, maybe 10 people under 60 years old.
For the fifth event of the day we stopped nearby for a drink at the newly opened Beer Geek pub. We and maybe two others were the only patrons over 30 in the mostly full, modern space with flat screen menu of 30 beers on tap. I had one that I thought tasted like barbecue and heard described as bacon tasting. Karin had an Indian Pale Ale and decided she should stick to lagers. I look forward to trying their array of stouts. This too was in a spot we had never been in. When we lived in the same block the space was occupied by an all night bar. At the time I was amazed that we shared the same courtyard but never heard any late night noise.
So the moral of this story is whether you come to Prague for a day or for a year, it is easy to keep busy.
Photos by Karin except for last from Beer Geek Facebook
Today is the first day of the two week long Czech Beer Festival which I will write about after attending. Publicity for it allowed me to discover this video from 2010. Watch it and you will go a long way in understanding the Czech people.
We had some young friends visiting from England who wanted to try typical Czech food along with a selection of Czech beers. So I consulted my favorite web site for such matters: Prague Beer Garden We chose Pivovarsky Klub because one of us wanted to try banana beer which they had. We had good food and a selection of six beers on tap–your typical Czech pub only has 2 or 3 from the same brewery. For the next two days my friend Ben kept repeating how much he enjoyed those beers.
So we decided to try the ultimate in selection, The Beer Museum. Based upon what I had read previously I had thought of this pub as a Prague institution. I was a little worried when I could not find it on Google Street View but I knew it had to be there so we ventured out after dinner one night. (I later found out that they celebrated their one year anniversary in October 2011.)
Sure enough it was easy to find on Dlouha Street in Old Town. We were delighted to discover that they had tasting trays of five brews each. (150 ml from 17 Kc up, .65 Euro). It took three trays for all of us to pick a favorite which we then ordered in standard sizes. It was great fun comparing and contrasting and taking snapshots of faces showing those we liked and those that we didn’t 🙂 🙁
This photo is of our selections and rating system. By consensus the bottom was Real Deal Ale and the top was Ferdinand Sedm Kuli. Their selection is always changing so let us know your favorite when you visit.
By the way don’t go here for food; they don’t offer much and most comes from a fast food place around the corner.