Pilsen was our four-day stop between Munich and Prague. We’d been to both those cities years ago, so it was a treat to have a brand new experience. And experience it was taking the train from Munich to Pilsen!

We arrived in the evening with only our GPS map to lead us from the train station, across a street, down a hill, up a hill, over a bridge, through a park, around another park, up a hill and phew! There was the Courtyard Marriott shining like a beacon. While Alex checked in, I do what I always do and roamed the lobby. Never overlook the brochure display. Always look over the brochure display! I met him at the elevator with, “Did you know there’s a Patton Memorial and Museum here?” No, he did not. One adventure on the table!

Our Train to Pilsen Adventure

The train from Munich to Prague is normally just shy of six hours. We’d taken it on the prior trip and had a compartment to ourselves for most of that journey. This ride was the complete opposite! Munich to Pilsen is usually a four hour trip. Alas! Because of the freak snowstorm that blanketed Munich and other cities, we stood for over five hours on our extended ride! Even if we’d had first class tickets (200E) instead of second class (20E), we still would have shared a corridor with twenty of our favorite friends. There was nothing to be done about it but enjoy some camaraderie. We never did learn how many trains were condensed onto this one, but it had to be a few!

Just like When Travel Goes Awry, all you can do with snafus is be happy that you arrive safely. 

The Fun Pilsen Train Experiences

During our first hour of standing a young man who appeared of Asian descent was clearly freaked out by the trouble. He didn’t speak English, German, or Czech but with the wonderful hodgepodge of our world, he could have been Norwegian. With language not being an option, I did the next best thing: I shared our really good dark chocolate! I opened the bag and maneuvered one to the opening and offered it to him. You would have thought it was gold. 

The next fun event was a man in the compartment behind me coming to the window with his GoPro to take scenery video. We again didn’t share a language. Just as when people used to guess I was Irish because of my red hair and freckles, I would guess he was of Arabic heritage. Again, who knows? He could have been Swedish! About ten minutes after he resumed his much-envied seat, the sunset spread across the tree-lined horizon. I leaned in, waved in his face, and pointed outside. It was like giving a tot a Christmas present you kept hidden all day! He was so excited and shot it until the sun faded to gray. He thanked me over, “I would have lost it.” Don’t you love how he said the wrong words, but I totally understood that he meant he would have missed it?

Then there was the perhaps mid-forties Asian-Australian woman traveling alone because, “I always wanted to see Prague. No one wanted to come with me, so here I am.” Oh my gosh, my hero! 

I mention ethnicities not to point out differences, but to show that we are all so much alike. Our appearances, our language, our backgrounds … none of that changes the impact of a smile and shared kindness. 

The Scary Pilsen Train Experiences

Luckily we met a young German woman on the Munich platform who made this journey many times. She assured us we were boarding the correct train and confirmed that changing trains at Schwandorf would be easy. We lost her and nearly lost it when said second train’s monitors showed us returning to Munich! They hadn’t had time to switch the schedule. Everyone rushed to the doors but the announcement came: Do not exit. The train is going to Pilsen.

We resumed our standing positions.

You know in old Cold War movies where the bad guys have deep accents meant to terrify? That was our train conductor. He was super polite, clearly trilingual, and had a tough job on his hands. Near me were two men speaking English, but not as their first language. That, I could not decipher. The older man left, returned, and as he walked by, the stink of cigarettes rolled off him. Yech. Where was he smoking on a non-smoking train?

Minutes later, the conductor— that polite man—came back and screamed at the man. “I tell you no smoking! I throw you off the train right here! No smoking in the lavatory! I not tell you! I throw you off this train!” If that man wasn’t terrified of being thrown into the snowy Czech woods, then he wasn’t smart. Apparently smoking in the boys’ room (I had to), caused a malfunction. There we are with one working lavatory for the balance of the trip.

Getting to Pilsen

None of the above will keep me from returning to Pilsen in the spring time! The area is beautiful, the history rich, and there’s that Patton celebration every May.

Read on for more Pilsen stories.

Cover photo: Author Picture of Pilsen Train Station, Czech Republic