Travel Journals

Czech'n Out The Czech Republic (2/2) - Pilsen

It's not the destination it's the journey. 

It's not the destination it's the journey. 

Pilsen, Czech Republic --Trains win the day in Europe. So when it was time to head down to Pilsen, I used my trusty EuRail pass and invited a travel blogger friend of mine who was living in Europe to join me.  The only thing I knew going into Pilsen was that they were famous for their beer and they were to be honored as the 2015 Culture Capital of Europe. 


The journey south from Prague to Pilsen took just over and hour and a half. Once there it was an easy walk to downtown and Hotel Rango. While the streets were under construction for the upcoming festival in 2015, I found Hotel Rango to be a great central place in Pilsen. They had a fantastic breakfast option and an even better dinner downstairs in what used to be an underground cellar. 

Dining at the Hotel Rango

Dining at the Hotel Rango

I was lead on a fantastic walking tour of Pilsen by Jitka Bilkoba, she was not only a wealth of knowledge but allowed me to stop (a lot) to take photos everywhere. When you're my tour guide you don't get away without letting me take your portrait, so I grabbed a quick snap of Jitka as she made a wish on the "Pilsen Angel" gate outside of The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in the Pilsen city square.

Tour Guide extrordinaire Jitka Bilkoba at the Angel gate in Pilsen

Tour Guide extrordinaire Jitka Bilkoba at the Angel gate in Pilsen

During the walking tour we had a few bonus surprises came across a farmers market, a wedding at the town hall, a Greek Orthodox service and I was able to play with puppets!  

Beer! I guess Beer could probably be it's own entry (or maybe even it's own Website) but for the sake of time, I'll try and sum up my delicious tour of Pilsen's with Beer Goggles on (that's a good thing). I was able to get an tour of the Pilsner Urquell factory in Pilsen, we learned some history, walked underground and saw the process...oh and also drank the best beer of my life! Unfiltered, Unpasteurized and tapped directly in the Oak Barrel (Pictures Below).

I love the opportunity to explore areas at magic hour. Rani and I found a very cool taxi driver who escorted us through outside of the city. We found ourselves climbing old castles, talking with local kids as they were lying in the grass on a hill, picking apples off trees and feeding fish with a loaf of bread. The countryside of Pilsen was magical! Be sure to get out and explore.  

Before leaving Pilsen I was told about a monument thanking America for the their actions in WWII. After finding it I did a little research learning more about how important a role Pilsen played during that time. On May 6th, 1945 the 16th Armored Division of General Patton's 3rd Army liberated Pilsen from Nazi control and remained there till November helping the Czechs rebuild. To this day the people still are very thankful of Americas action and sacrifice during WWII.

Thank you for your charm and history. Until next time Pilsen...


Arizona as I haven't seen it.

Being a native Californian I've been to Arizona a number of times.  So when I was planning for my 4 day trip to Scottsdale and Phoenix I thought I knew what was in store.  I can proudly say, I was wrong. From a sunrise round of golf surrounded by gorgeous landscapes to a desert sunset horseback ride.  Then headed into downtown Phoenix and enjoying some great live music just 2 blocks from my hotel.

I partnered with Starwood Hotels and their Starwood Preferred Guests member program (#spg) to take photos of these locations, but I was also able to experience the #spglife first hand.  Both of these locations were chosen by SPG Members as their favorites one as a golf resort the other for it’s great city life experience.  I’ll let you guess which is which.  

My key to #spglife, room with a view at The Phoenician (if you guessed this was the Golf Resort SPG Members choice, you're right) and I was met with an amazing sunset my first evening there. 


Ahhhh, so this is why they call it "Valley of the the Sun" - enjoyed an fire and cocktail while reflecting on a great day at The Phoenician.


Sunrise golf on the championship course at The Phoenician, I had never been this relaxed or shot this well on a golf course. I think I can give some of that credit to the hot stone holistic massage I received at the The Centre for Well-Being onsite. 


The concierge at The Phoenician setup an amazing experience for me just outside of Scottsdale at the Western Destinations Ranch. Guide Zach and my trusty horse "Blue Eye" took great care of me as we headed into the desert to enjoy seeing the landscapes the way it was in the old days. 

A surprise was riding up on this old town they built in the middle of the valley.

After a long day on the course and on the was time for a dip in the pool, which just happens to shimmer because it's tiled in mother of pearl.  



From the desert I shifted gears into the city life. Going from the SPG Member Favorite golf resort to the SPG Member Favorite City Experience.  Once again I was greeted with a good old fashioned Valley of The Sun welcome.  The view from The Westin in Phoenix was perfect!


The concierge team at the Westin made sure I had that #spglife experience letting me know all the best places to eat and experience.  The first thing I learned was that the hotel location was perfectly situated central to all the best spots.  




When I wasn't out enjoying the sights and sounds of Phoenix, I had the luxury of kicking back at the gorgeous suite at The Westin.  One of the things I loved was the way the light would come in through the window in each morning. 

Just a few blocks away there was a fantastic cafe that served local organic food and had a great atmosphere. 


From the Arts district to Roosevelt Row, I really enjoyed the change of pace and my time experiencing Phoenix.  

I cut together this little video highlighting my time in Arizona with SPG. 


Although my daughter did mention that The Phoenician was also an SPG Member Favorite for Family Adventures, so I may have to bring the family next time. :)