Oh, the Water............

Trip Start Apr 25, 2007
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Trip End Oct 03, 2007


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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Saturday, September 15, 2007

Oh, the water.......Where do I begin? Stinky, smelly, revolting, delicious, disgusting, bubbling, warm, still, sparkling, cold. Every variety you can think of, and each one exists right here. People come from all over the world to the various spa towns in the Czech Republic to drink the waters as part of a cure, for diabetes, kidney disease, or arthritis. In Karlsbad there is a gigantic geyser that shoots up out of the earth, housed in a lovely Communist era building. People buy their special ceramic drinking mugs, with holes in the handles of the mug for sipping out of like a straw, and they walk up and down the promenades. Our favorite game is to guess where the people are from by their clothes, and by far the majority are Russians (we can always pick them out by their fancy track suits).
Karlovy Vary is my favorite of the spa towns, with its long, winding river, hills on both sides, Art Nouveau architecture, and hundreds of kilometers of forest trails. My first time in Karlovy Vary was in 1990 in winter, and we went to the Thermal, another lovely Communist building, to swim in the huge, heated outdoor pool with views over the town. It was quite surreal, with the steam rising up from the pool, and very large, serious Russian and Czech women silently gliding past me with their fancy bathing caps. Now Karlovy Vary is quite the scene, with fancy stores, outdoor cafes, sexy Czech women wearing thongs at the pool and foreign women going topless.
But, back to the water. I've tried, believe me, I've tried, but I just can't do it. My vote for the most revolting sip of water I've ever had, and I actually PAID for it, was in a spa town called Fratiskovy Lazne. The town is lovely, but the water stinks. Literally. There was one tiny pavilion we went into where you were almost shoved backwards by the hot stench of the spring, and the water I tried, which cost me 6 crowns for a sippy cup (20 cents), made me gag and have to sit down. But people swear by it, and I actually heard three Czech women oohing and aahing over the stinky stuff. Maybe you get used to it, or just immune to it? So, in Marianske Lazne (or Marienbad, as in the movie "Last Days at Marienbad"), I decided to skip the gagging sensation and eat the famous wafers instead. People buy cases of them to take home.....vanilla, chocolate, and coffee flavored. Much more soothing and healing than the waters, in my opinion.
Thank God for Kynswart, another spa town, much smaller, with a beautiful manor house and park. There is a spring there that bubbles forth the most delicious water I have ever had. It is cold, pure, and slightly sparkling. Dan and I filled up six large plastic bottles with the heavenly, non-smelling water, and I could finally see what all the fuss was about......
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