Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early. Bill went hunting for a bakery and didn’t find one. He did find a small mom and pop shop, though, where he found some rolls that kind of resembled hot dog buns (but tasted much better). He had scored some ham, cheese, and eggs the night before at the neighborhood Coop, which is tiny, but has the basic stuff. Our rental had one of those coffee pod machines, which my coffee purist husband hates. He resolved to pick up a French press later.
After breakfast, we beagle proofed the house and set off for Plzen. Bill took a couple of turns and we suddenly found ourselves confronted by a truly awesome sight… Who would have thought that little Senec would have an Airpark? We pulled up at the same time a young family with a little boy arrived. The boy was obviously very excited to check out all of the old planes, helicopters, and tanks. I was excited, too. Some of the stuff they had there was flat out awesome. The fact that we weren’t expecting to find this place made it even cooler. I mean, where else but in a former communist country would you find huge airplanes on display on the side of the road?
The boy rang the bell and a tall, older woman came out. She didn’t speak any language other than Czech and the signage was mostly in Czech. I think I saw one or two English signs and a few more German signs. The rest was all local lingo… Fortunately, my husband was a tanker in the Army, so he knows about this stuff. He especially took great pleasure in telling me about the tanks.
There are a couple of areas in the park that cost extra to visit. There’s one area that requires a guide and has a plane you can pay extra to see the inside of. Since the lady on duty didn’t speak our language, we decided to stick with the basic tour. It was pretty frigid outside, anyway. There were a couple of planes where you could climb up on ladders and look into the cockpits.
I should mention that the Czech Republic has kind of a special place in Bill’s heart. At the beginning of his Army career, back in the mid to late 1980s, he was posted at both Ansbach and Vilseck. Part of his job, in those days before the Berlin Wall fell, was to guard Germany’s border with the Czech Republic. He said there were times in that era when he and his buddies were sure the Russians would invade and they’d be killed due to being outnumbered. I remember so well what it was like for Bill the first time he crossed the Czech border in 2008. He said it was very surreal, since he could easily remember a time when that was an unthinkable thing to do. I must admit, having grown up during the Cold War era, it’s a little strange for me, too.
The entrance. It even hearkens back to the days before communism fell.
Stalin is watching you!
For an extra fee, you and three friends can climb the steps and see inside this Soviet era plane. Since I flew in one in 1995 on the way to Yerevan, Armenia, I didn’t need to see it.
Extra charge for this exhibit… maybe if it hadn’t been so cold outside… and our guide could communicate with us or vice versa. But we were content to look at the planes over the gate.
We spent about a half an hour here, I think… give or take a few minutes. It was really cold out and I had to rely on my eyes to tell me a truncated story. Still, I think this would be an awesome place to explore on a warmer day with your buddies who are fascinated by aircraft, tanks, missiles, war stuff… you know, stuff military folks dig. It’s well worth a visit if you visit Plzen. I think it was probably the highlight of our Saturday, which turned out to be a lazy day. After we checked out the planes, we drove to the city with big plans of touring Pilsner Urquell’s brewery or a brewery museum or something. But we got waylaid by lunch. More on that in the next post, which I’ll probably write tomorrow.