Policka – Our Spiritual Home

On the tracks

On the tracks

Now, the name Blansko may adorn the title of this blog but regular readers may well be aware that the heart of the Klobasa remains firmly in Policka. It’s not that we don’t love Blansko, but the town of the best beer in the Czech Republic offers much which resonates soundly with our soul. So, when a free weekend arose and I asked Ralph if he fancied a trip, his first suggestion was naturally the one I had secretly been hoping for.

Our chances of the perfect trip were almost dashed as early as Brno train station. I arrived to find Ralph lost among the masses who were unexpectedly filling up the station to crisis point. Many suggestions were offered up as why it was so crazy, but apparently there had been a bomb scare. Whatever the case, it was going to take more than explosives to keep the Klobasa out of Policka, and soon enough we were sprinting towards our train, tickets and dreams in our hands.

Policka offers much to the seasoned traveller, but before any of that we went where the travellers most definitely don’t go – Pivnice Nadrazni. Maybe it is the smokey atmosphere, maybe it is the Jawa motorbikes strapped to the walls, maybe it is the fact that the waitress wanted to bring us a new beer every time we were halfway down our current one, that attracts us there. Or maybe, just maybe, it is because a pint of Policka costs 14kc. I don’t know, but I do know we disappointed the waitress when we refused the third offering. “Already?” she said. It was 11 in the morning.

The town

The town

Feeling adventurous we sank our next Policka in the Medieval-themed pub Herešova Krčma. We supped our ales and slurped our garlic soup surrounded by the walls of the great hall, feeling mightily royal in the presence of the impressive bar. I don’t usually go for novelty pubs but in Policka everything just works. Between here and the football stadium was just one more stop – the local brewery pub. We entered the smokey, wood-panelled darkness and were greeted like old friends. Well, Ralph was anyway. He and the barman got involved in some serious Czech premier league football talk in a language I can barely understand as I smoked cigarettes and drank a 17kc Policka before we headed on to witness football in the lower Czech leagues.

The greatest thing about the Policka football ground is, well, the Policka. This opinion was only strengthened by watching 2×45 minutes of woeful football, which gifted it’s first goal in the 88th minute just as we were already on the way out and heading towards the Jawa pub for a swift half, once again disappointing the waitress who was walking towards our table to two fresh beers. Unfortunately, we had a train to catch.

Policka

Policka

 

 

 

Policka Revisited

Boots and Ball of Policka

Boots and Ball of Policka

They say home is where the heart is – well the heart of The Klobasa currently resides in Policka. Policka (‘shelf’, in English), is a charming town nestled on the Bohemia/Moravia border, and is home to arguably the best pint of lager in the Czech Republic, accessible at the incredible price of 14kc. Need any further convincing to visit? You might be reading the wrong blog in that case, but stick with us and we’ll see what we can do.

Before we sprinted off to Policka we had a certain goal in mind. Close to Policka lies the town of Svitavy, not only famous for its importance to the Czech Esperanto movement (your guess is as good as mine), but also as the birthplace of Oskar Schindler. We arrived and meandered through the town, looking for signs of the aforementioned German industrialist’s home. Typically of Czech tourist information, it was quite hard work to find anything, and Svitavy had done as good a job at shielding his birthplace as he did his Jewish factory workers. So onwards we journied with little assistance in the way of navigation, passing a signpost to inform us we were exiting Svitavy and entering the middle of nowhere. We did not falter. Instead we enjoyed a long, scenic walk through a forest that felt a little more than sinister, stumbling only upon a hotel presumably making a killing out of Oskar’s name. Without luck, and without much time remaining, we trekked back on our footsteps, had a beer and some garlic soup in a moto-rest, and waited at the tiny station for the next train to Policka.

Searching for Schindler

Searching for Schindler

Last time we visited Policka temperatures were so low we were forced to seek warmth in the shelter of every bar we could find with a Policka pivo sign hanging above the door. For our return we didn’t have this excuse, but quite frankly we didn’t need it, and so our first stop was merely a few steps from the station to our favourite ‘pajzl’ (loosely translates as ‘pub with atmosphere’ or ‘boozer’). The smoked swirled around us as we entered the pub to the brief glances of sozzled locals. We took our place beneath one of the many Jawa motorcylces that hang upon the yellow walls and looked admiringly at the drinks menu. Yep, it was still 14kc for a beer. We waited with anticipation before finally getting our hands on that beer of all beers and sinking it mercilessly.

14kc

14kc

We edged closer towards the football ground, stopping in at another familiar bar where the price of a Policka reaches the heady heights of 18kc. The main square, with it’s impressive town hall, is a welcome site and gives the centre an attraction which goes beyond the simple delights of its lager. The same can be said for the old 14th century town walls which encircle the core of the town. We moved onwards, taking a snap of the brewery itself, and headed to the ground nearby.

Policka

Policka

Well from the stadion you can see the brewery through the trees, and like every good football ground should do, this one serves up the local alcoholic beverage. As we sank our first and watched the kick-off result in some cloud-searching of a right-foot, we knew this was to be a cracking game. After another one or two lagers, and a pretty decent klobasa, we found we were not wrong as the game ended in thrilling fashion… although the score escapes me now, like much of that day in Policka.

Policka klobasa

Policka klobasa

Brimming with merriment and rushed on by the encroaching cold we headed back in to Policka to find warmth in one or two bars around the town, the names of which have since disappeared in to the haze of the cold night. But what will stay with me is the falling off of ludicrously high barstalls, finding picture perfect locations for klobasa stickers, finishing the night with a 5 minute, 14kc, final Policka and waking up to find one too many pieces of beer paraphernalia stuffed in to my bag…

Jawa

Jawa

 

Woah, we’re going to Polička

Dial Policka

Dial Policka

Although it may appear to have gone all quiet on the Klobása front over the last month, as is often the case the truth is far more intriguing. Indeed, while the Czech football season has been lying dormant throughout the winter hibernation period, and normally quite sensible people are senselessly glued to various ways of falling over on ice at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Klobása have been out on a new adventure – in the search for the perfect pint. Yes, we’ve temporarily traded in football stadiums for drinking holes, and this, friends of the Klobasa, is the story thus far…

In some ways it began where it should have perhaps ended – with a trip to Polička. Now, it must be said that a pint of Polička is the Klobása’s standard tipple. Our local serves up possibly the best pint of Polička this side of, well Polička and as our love for it runs deep we decided to visit the source of the magical drink. After a winding bus journey through the remote Czech countryside we arrived for a quick pit-stop in the beautiful UNESCO town of Litomyšl, birthplace of composer Bedřich Smetana. The renaissance and baroque facades hunched over us as we walked through the echoing arcades that surround the huge and lonely central square of the town. We checked in for a quick grog and a fortifying soup before briefly visiting the extraordinary (and closed) castle that stands proudly on the hill, but in no time at all we were back on the bus and heading onward to our final destination – Polička.

Litomyšl town square

Litomyšl town square

It turns out that Polička itself is also a pretty nice town, surrounded by its old town walls, but in January it’s also bloody freezing, so we ran in to the first Polička sign-posted pub we saw (ignoring all the outrageously priced Pilsner bars along the way). We ordered our beers in and as we sat there in that smoky boozer we eyed the menu to see that one pint of this stuff was 17kc! That’s like, 50p! Of course, we must have misread it or something because that price is just crazy. One Klobása said to the others, ‘If he says the price for three beers is 51kc, try not to smile too much’ – well you can pretty much well guess what happened when he did indeed say 51kc…

Policka

Policka

So with smiles beaming from ear to ear we left the pub to make our way to the brewery. Along the way we took a wander around the cemetery of St Michal’s Church, the snow glistening in the bright sunlight, but did not stay long as we I think we all wanted to get back to the beer. The brewery was not really open to tours but we bagged a load of gear and legged it back to the very same pub for a crackin’ meal and another couple of Poličkas.

Policka Brewery

Policka Brewery

It couldn’t get much better than that really… could it? Well, on our way to the train we saw another Polička pub, and as we had 15 minutes until the train arrived we thought we’d try it. How much for a pint of this wonderful beer you ask? Only bloody 15kc! That is roughly 50% cheaper than a pint in Brno. Had we found the perfect pint? Probably, but that wasn’t going to stop us from continuing onwards to other great brewery towns of the Czech Republic in order to find out!

15kc

15kc

Litomysl

Litomysl