One of the peculiar Easter traditions in the Czech Republic is to beat “your women” (copyright Czech man) with a stick and in return she will give you either an egg or a glass of slivovice. … So on Easter Sunday we decided to avoid this pagan ritual and take the 8,20 train from Brno Hlavni to Havlíčkův Brod in search of a brewery, a Blansko game and of course a klobasa. Espresso and a digital copy of the Sunday newspaper in hand, I met the only other person mad enough to join me on this venture into the Czech Moravian highlands.
First stop on the trip was a visit to Havlíčkův Brod, a small town that I had stumbled upon only once before and that was by mistake. Many moons ago, shortly after I had swapped life in London for Brno, I was forced off the train by an angry conductor, the reason being I was on the wrong train, so I suppose he had a point. On that occasion I didn’t get past the station pub, but this time we were to venture further into town…destination the Rebel brewery. Billy Idol once wrote a song about it.
We weren’t really expecting too much from the town, nobody had ever talked about it as a place to visit, so we were pleasantly surprised at the pretty square, but more so at the number of pubs we passed on the way to the centre. Hundreds, blooming hundreds.
After taking the customary photos of the square and a quick check of the map, we headed in the direction of the brewery. To double check we were heading the right way, I approached a local for confirmation. “Excuse me, we are looking for the Rebel brewery” I asked. She looked at me as though it was the first question anybody had ever asked her, so I repeated it and just to be your stereotypical tourist a bit louder. Of course, she had heard me the first time, but probably thought the question was so silly that it didn’t need answering. I knew this as soon she pointed to the building opposite and walked on.
As with any TBK trip, it’s is never straight forward – and the brewery wasn’t open until 11.00 (yep, we start early) leaving us with an hour to kill before we have our first glass of Billy (ed. not amphetamine sort). We took a few more pictures and went off to look for the ice hockey stadium and some of the other sights of the town before arriving back at Rebel at exactly 10.58 am
11.00 the waitress opened the door to the brewery pub and once we had made ourselves comfortable the waiter started to list the beers on offer with immense pride. This took a couple of minutes and I am sure did it it without drawing breath and naturally we had already decided that we liked the first beer mentioned, so a rather pointless exercise.
Beers downed and electrical appliances recharged, we headed back to the station for the 12.03 train to Žďár nad Sázavou… a big mistake. I had spent a bit of time here in the late 90s teaching a group of supermarket managers who were interested in each other and bed swapping than learning how to use the present perfect tenses. I also recall the town being the Czech equivalent of Luton and the train station toilet being something similar to the one in Trainspotting. Ahhh, perhaps I am being a bit harsh as it is home to Zelená Hora, a stunning Baroque church (which I think is now a World Heritage Site)..
Another pint downed at the local football club and a quick tour of the church and it was back to the station for the trip to Polná , home to SK Polná and known as the gateway to Moravia and Bohemia. The 40 minute bus journey was long enough for us to appreciate the CzechMoravian highlands and for us to pick 11 songs we think the FK Blansko players listen to before they run out on to the pitch. Yes, we are really are that sad…and more on that later.
So, off the bus and more directions (“turn left at the cemetery and it right in front of you”) we made our way to the stadium, one of the best in the division as it has stands on two sides of the pitch. Beers bought and high fives given to the drummer, we took our places in the stand and immediately joined in the first Blansko chant of the day. “BLLLAAANNNSKOOO” the 5 of us screamed.
I am afraid to report that the game passed me by, I remember the two cracking goals from Goaldelka – the first from just inside the Polná half which looped over the goalkeepers head and the second a mazy run and shot. I also recall Honza, Honza, Honza Trtilek hitting the post when it seemed easier to score (he apologised to us after the game), but the rest of the game was a blur for which I blame the awful klobása that the Polná grill served up. No horseradish, again.
After the game, we said our goodbyes to the away support and some of the players and with an hour to kill before taking the last bus out of town we went in search of the local pub. Ahhh the local pub can only be described as a bar that wouldn’t look out of place in a Simon Pegg project. Apart from the extremely attractive barmaid and us, the rest of the place was full of pissed up regulars including a father sipping his beer while waiting for his son to come out of his slumber. Although we’d had a few ourselves, we did stick out like sore thumbs and it wasn’t long before a Polná fan cornered me in the toilet and told me I was brave to be in here. I returned from the toilet to find Craggy in conversation with a second Polná fan who was telling him that we wouldn’t have won had the sun been out….
I am probably not really doing the pub any justice at all, as both of us with have quite happily stayed there all night and once we had presented the bar with a TBK sticker, the bar became a much friendlier place to drink. However, we had a bus to catch to make our train connection back to Brno and this sadly meant an end to the Polná experience.
Back in Žďár and with another hour before the train home, we propped up the bar, chatted to the local barmaid, who was actually a dental nurse if my memory serves me right, but decided that bar work was more fun and sipped our final beer of the day. With a Rebel yell, we cried more, more… Anyone fancy Tasovice away?