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BeerQuest 2018 “Prague”

Prauge

The Play Harder Tours “BeerQuest 2018 Munich to Prague” trip is just a few months away. Dates are set, air and accommodations have been booked, all that’s left is a bit of fine tuning. Within 2 months of our trip we will book tours with local guides, buy train tickets and make reservations for special things we might want to do. The trip runs 16 days including our 2 departure days. We bookended the trip with 5 nights in both Munich and Prague, sandwiched in between are 2 nights each in Hallstatt Austria and Cesky Krumlov. Beer centric travelers will love this trip with both Munich and Prague being 5 star beer centric travel destinations, and Hallstatt and Cesky Krumlov both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The fourth and final leg of our journey starts with a noon pickup from our Cesky Krumlov rental by the CK Shuttle. With a cost of under $50 per person you can’t beat the price and convenience of a private car with travel time of about 2 1/2 hours.

Our next stop is Prague, Czech Republic’s capital city and our #1 Beer-Centric destination in Europe. Located on the Vltava river in central Bohemia in the heart of Central Europe with a population of over 1.3 million. The historic center of Prague makes the UNESCO World Heritage Site list with its 1100 year history on display. Just like Cesky Krumlov, the Vltava river bisects the old city center. On the east bank you’ll find the Old Town (Stare Mesto) with its Old Town Square, the New Town (Nove Mesto) built around Wenceslas Square, and the Jewish Quarter (Josefov). On the west bank is the Lesser Quarter (Mala Strana) which leads to Prague Castle, the worlds largest medieval castle complex.

Prague’s historic center represents many architectural periods as the city grew. Avoiding large scale urban renewal, in favor of restoration has left the city with a very tangible old world feel that’s crying out to be explored. Over a thousand years of building, from the Middle Ages through Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance periods attracts millions of visitors each year. Stare Mesto with it’s rich history is a tourist hotspot pushing locals outward to more affordable areas. But don’t let that stop you, take the time to explore this beautiful city and experience everything Prague has to offer.

Prague is very walkable and most of the historic center can be explored on foot. Plan to work our way outward from Stare Mesto with metro pass in hand http://www.myczechrepublic.com/prague/tickets_fares.html, keeping in mind the sights you don’t want to miss. Short walking tours are available though Expedia which give you the opportunity to learn the lay of the land, and familiarize yourself with Prague for more detailed exploration on your own.

The historic center of Prague is dotted with many breathtaking sights including the Prague Castle, St Vitus Cathederal, Charles Bridge and several churches and palaces. But ask a local, “what is your national treasure?”, and they will answer “liquid bread” otherwise known as beer. More beer is consumed in the Czech Republic than anywhere else in the world (142 liters per person) nearly 40 liters more per capita than Germany and Austria. This dedication to beer and brewing is evident by examining the numbers, the Czech Republic has over 40 large scale breweries, over 70 medium to small family owned breweries, and many restaurants now brew their own beer. You have heard it before and it’s true, in Prague beer is actually cheaper than water!

With so many beer drinking options available it’s best to refer to a local resource. Prague’s Pub and Beer Guide offered through PragueBeerGarden.com will steer you in the right direction. Beer tasting tours in Prague offered through czechbeertours.com give you the opportunity to experience Prague’s vibrant beer scene from historical breweries to local microbreweries. Be sure to include Tankovnas (Tank Pubs) in your quest for beer. Tank pubs offer unpasteurized beer from massive pressurized tanks held at a steady temperature of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit avoiding contamination and keeping the beer fresh resulting in a rounder, more complex flavor. U Pinkasu, located just off of Wenceslas Square next to the Mustek subway station is a restaurant and pub serving Pilsner Urquell from the tank and has been open since 1843! Prague Pubs offers 2 self guided crawls, complete with PDF maps for download featuring 9 local watering holes.

Just like the food and the beer, Prague hotels offer great value. Both Marriott and Hilton have 5 star hotels in the eastern side of the Prague 1 district in the $120 per night price range. We opted for an AirBnB just south of the Charles Bridge in Stare Mesto. The rate was similar for a 1st class apartment which included a washer and dryer, WiFi and cable tv. The convenience of the apartment amenities and local flavor of the area that you don’t have in a high rise hotel tipped the scales in favor of AirBnB. Step outside your flat and you are in the heart of Old Town surrounded by many favorite pubs and restaurants.

TasteofPrague.com offers the Prague Foodie Guide to help you navigate this amazing city with 72 pages of detailed information on can’t miss restaurants, pubs, and cafes. Be sure to experience traditional Czech food… including Kulajda a creamy potato soup with mushrooms, topped with a poached egg… Svickova, a Czech specialty usually served at weddings and Sunday family gatherings. To oversimplify this complex dish, you have beef with a slice of speck (similar to prosciutto but smoked) smothered in a delicious vegetable sauce and usually garnished with lingonberry… Knedliky, a bread dumpling is mainstay of Czech cuisine and will usually accompany a sauce laden meal… Roast Duck, Goulash and Schnitzel are commonly found on the Czech dinner table.

Push yourself away from the dinner table and lets explore the numerous daytrips and activities available in Prague. With so much to do in and around this city, I’ll focus on two that shouldn’t be missed, one local activity and the other any easy daytrip by train.

Beer SpaBernard Beer Spa When I first heard about the beer spa concept I thought “tourist trap”, but on further review I found that the concept was steeped in tradition. Spas in general play a huge part in lives of people in Central and Eastern Europe. Some say the concept dates back to the Middle Ages with a rebirth in 2006 with the first beer spa opening in the Czech Republic. Today, you’ll find several beer spas in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic. The experience starts in a steamy bath, the addition of yeast and hops becomes a therapeutic concoction designed to detoxify your body through the pores of your skin. You sit in a barrel like tub, large enough for two people in case you want company. A beer tap is conveniently located next to the tub pouring delicious Bernard Beer, this is strictly self serve and you are allowed to drink as much as you want. It’s recommended to plan this experience in the evening since it will leave you totally relaxed and ready for bed. Bernard Beer Spa has 3 convenient locations in the center of Prague, but be sure to book your reservation in advance of your visit with prices starting at $125 for a two person tub.

Pilsner Urquell Brewery TourPilsen Day Trip to Pilsner Urquell Brewery Topping my list of daytrips from Prague is the Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour in the city of Pilsen. Pilsen is located 1 1/2 hours by train west of Prague and advance booking is suggested. Rated as one of the top tourist destinations in the Czech Republic and a must for beer lovers. The tour features a model of the late 19th century brewery, a1930s boiler and historic cellars with plenty of opportunity to sample the products! In addition to the brewery, you can visit the brewery museum and Pilsen’s historical underground. The underground labyrinth lies beneath the city center with nearly 14 kilometers of corridors and is one of the largest underground systems in Central Europe. Be sure to take the time to explore above ground as well, the city center has much to offer including the Angus Steakhouse recognized as the best steakhouse in the Czech Republic!

The Beer-Centric Traveler writes for Play Harder Tours… Please email Bill@playhardertours.com and start your travel planning today! For a complete list of recommendations please email with “Prague” on the subject line. I’d love to hear your suggestions too.

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