West Bohemia – Loket, Soos and Kynzvart

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July 27th 2016
Published: July 28th 2016
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Next day we check out and head off for a small tour round West Bohemia on our way to Pilsen. Thunderstorms are forecast and the sky is grey and menacing. First stop is Loket, a pretty little medieval town (rather like a French bastide) set in a huge loop of the river in a valley and dominated by a minor castle. Next up is the Soos nature reserve, which promises bubbling mud springs and excites Hannah with the prospect of some geography in action. It fails dismally to live up to its billing. We set off along the boardwalk with not a spring in sight. The explanatory signs are all in Czech and German so add little to our understanding or appreciation. Eventually, we reach a section where some tiny bubbles can be seen emanating from the mud. Can that really be it? Yes. If you have seen geothermal activity in America and New Zealand, this is pretty limp.

The best we can find to say is that the rain held off. That changes abruptly as we battle through torrential rain down a small country road on the way to Chateau Kynvart, home of the Metternichs, the most famous of whom was the 19th century Hapsburg minister for foreign affairs, who directed the Vienna Congress. It’s an interesting visit, but we are obliged to join a tour with a Czech party, but at least we have been given an audio guide, which lasts half as long as the tour guide takes to explain the contents of each room.

We detour through more torrential rain to visit another little medieval town where we do not walk but merely drive around as the rain pours down. We finish the day in Pilsen, home of the brewery. The route in is unpromising, taking us past steel works and numerous other semi derelict Communist era factories, but our hotel is right on the edge of the scenic old town. We eat dinner in a local pub 4 minutes walk away, where we enjoy a gargantuan platter of pig cooked many ways, with some duck and chicken thrown in for good measure, together with three varieties of dumpling and sauerkraut. This is washed down with, inevitably, Pilsener Urquell beer. This is not a cuisine for vegetarians!

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