Alternative Therapy, Bohemian Style
Trip Start Sep 09, 2013
24Trip End Dec 16, 2013
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OK, it's not hard work - but even so one must take time to pamper oneself.... no?
Bohemia has its own spa region, a whole industry "springing" from the ground with natural mineral waters - hot and cold. The heyday of the Bohemian spas occurred in the late 19th and early 20th century, attracting world travellers such as Rudyard Kipling, Franz Kafka, Mark Twain and King Edward VII of England. In Marianske Lazne, drinking the water from one of seven or eight major springs (other are over 40 total) is said to bring about specific health benefits. Doctors would actually prescribe water from a specific spring to treat certain ailments such as gout, respiratory problems or 'malaise'.
We had some fun strolling through the grand architecture and abundant parks of Lazne, which is being restored to it's former grandeur after years of neglect under communism. We sampled water from each spring - either directly bubbling up, or tapped, under an elaborate 'colonnade.' After a sip, the best of them (in our opinion) was the Rudolph Spring which had a promising sweet and bubbly taste on the tongue, only to finish heavy and metallic on the throat, kind of like a can of coke that has been sitting on the shelf for a year. Or ten. Do I sound like a connoisseur, yet? The worst of them - in fact most of the springs including the premier Caroline Spring - tasted like a bucket of warm and liquified rotten eggs. There had better be some health benefit - one certainly does not drink from the springs for the positive taste experience! These days, Marianske Lazne and (nearby Karlovy Vary, another spa town) also offer all many of the modern spa experiences such as steam baths, infrared sauna, hot stone and Thai massages as well as pedicures and manicures - all well below Canadian prices - which was tempting.
However, we were most intrigued by two spas we had never seen before - the Salt Cave and the Beer Bath (come to think of it, that might work as the name for a Sports Bar....).
The Salt Cave was great fun, but I felt like I was sealed into an episode of Star Trek (the original series, of course)....think styrofoam rocks (in this case fake white stalactites) complete with cheesy '60s psychedelic lighting and a puff of dry ice. Once the door closed, we and all the clients were able to lie back (fully clothed) in reclining lawn chairs (think Walmart) and gently instructed to breathe in the benefits of the therapeutic air, infused with salt
In spite of the surreal moment - most of the other clients figuratively beamed out of there and were asleep within ten minutes (Sandi included) once the elevator music started. Thirty minutes later we were back on Earth, and the English translation (on our way out the door) re-assured as that the mineral content of the salt air had in fact reduced our blood pressure, eased our mental stresses and made us generally laid back people. Now we know the real reason that people on the west coast of Canada are so mellow - it has nothing to do with BC Bud and everything to do with breathing in sea air. Gaffaw.
The Beer Bath was such a romantic idea - I mean most guys would kill for a bath full of beer and pretty girl at the same time, right? I don't normally drink beer but to bathe in it - this was just far too quirky an idea to pass up! We wanted to do it on the cheap so we found the local bus that took us to the brewery in Chodova Plana, in the famous Pilzn region (where we get the word 'pilsener' from). When we arrived, it was time for the Suds and we were plunked in the tub for two. Yes, it was warm. No, we didn't walk around the rest of the day smelling like last night's high school party (thankfully). We were told not to shower for at least four hours afterwards, to allow the minerals (from the hops) to be fully absorbed. Was it therapeutic in the end? Well, if laughter is really the remedy for everything, then absolutely.
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