Therapy; inside and out

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On the day after Christmas (USA Christmas) we high tailed it out of Prague to the town of Karlovy Vary, or Karlsbad, which lies at the convergence of the Teplá River and the Ohře River in Western Czech.  It exists today because of the natural springs that lie beneath it.

So now you have our primary reason for visiting - spas. Of course it really helped that the city is absolutely charming and beautiful. The mineral waters of Karlovy Vary are used for Balneological Treatments which help the digestive track, motor systems and metabolic disorders. This was apparently all figured out in the 14th Century when Charles IV visited this area and bathed his aching legs in these waters...the rest is history. We, too, desired to improve our digestive track and motor systems so we took the common drinking tour around the town center.  For a proper tour you must come equipped with these special drinking cups called lázeňský pohárek (ours was a dragon). They are ceramic mug-like things with a long handle from which you drink.  There are multiple fountains with steaming mineral springs pouring out (often in spurts according to the natural pressure). The water...didn't taste so yummy and I think it took like 3 teeth brushings to get the film cleared from my mouth but otherwise, I feel better already!

For the full OUTER body healing we spent one afternoon at Alžbětiných lázní spa. It was super. We all had massages and spent time in the pool, spas and sauna. I will say that I think it helped that we're all ex-athletes and therefore quite comfortable being naked...because in places like this - naked is what you will be while enjoying a massage or in the sauna.  Though the saunas there were separated by gender, it is not uncommon to find co-ed saunas in many spas.  I remember reading this Rick Steve's article 'European Nudes and American Prudes' a few years ago.  For all who plan to take part in the Eastern European sauna experience might I suggest you take his advice to heart. And my own advice: just relax.
 
Another famous attraction of Karlovy Vary, which doesn't require water, is the Grand Hotel Pupp (pronounced 'poop' hahaha). Those of you who've seen the movie "The Last Holiday" with Queen Latifah will recognize this place...and its funny name. It was built in 1701 and is pretty grand. I think it probably caters well to the copious amounts of Russians who like to frequent this spa town. We stopped in for a coffee on a beyond chilly morning.

Karlovy Vary is a place I could return to again and again. Next time perhaps I'd like to see the place not blanketed in snow, where we might walk outside for longer than 15 min increments. I also hear the International Film Festival is a large ordeal and quite fun. Next time you're in Czech, don't just stop with Prague, okay? Because I am sure even you, could use a little natural therapy.
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