The Midget Parade Begins...

Trip Start Jun 24, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Friday, May 27, 2011

So I guess we've been in Prague for quite awhile.  We've been here so long, that Emily's year here is nearly up.  In order to make the most of what little time we have left together, Emily and I planned a relaxing long weekend together - the final Deamily holiday.  We thought about spending the weekend on the beaches of Italy or Spain or France...but those places are all so expensive, and we would end up spending all of our time sightseeing and miss the beaches completely.  Instead, we decided to spend a day in Karlovy Vary in northwest Czech Republic and then spend three days in Budapest.  Since we had already been to Budapest, we thought this would be a good way to have a holiday, but also relax and not run around trying to see every monument and museum in the city.

So Friday morning, we took a bus to Karlovy Vary.  This place is known for a couple of things:
1) the spas
2) the healing waters
3) the Russians

When I told my students I wouldn't be in class on Friday morning, and that I was going to Karlovy Vary, they all said it was a Russian town.  I didn't fully understand until we got there.  Every sign was in Czech and Russian.  Most towns that size only have signs in Czech, and occasionally things are in English as well.  It's also strange, because Karlovy Vary is on the far side of the country from Russia.  Regardless, we've gotten very good at reading signs that aren't in English.  A small picture goes a long way.

So we arrived at the bus station in Karlovy Vary just before 11 am and realized we were a little hungry.  Emily had smeared chocolate from her breakfast bar all over her jacket and I hadn't eaten anything, so we asked for a map of the town and then went to find some food.  There was a nice cheap restaurant sitting on a very pretty, quiet street, so we sat down there and tried to decipher the menu.  We could recognize 'gulaš polevka,' 'svičkova,' and the price, so we ended up with two meals of goulash soup, beef with cream sauce, and a Fanta.  A rather large meal, but we figured we'd probably only have time for one meal and then just grab a snack before the bus back to Prague.  After lunch, we followed the path on our map - it took us past the Becherovka museum (because Jan Becher, the man who invented Becherovka, was from Karlovy Vary), the old town, the springs, Diana tower, and the basilicas of St. Peter and (what we thought was) Aladdin.  The old part of the town was beautiful - buildings built into hillsides, brilliant colors, colonnades and promenades for the hot springs...  After our first trip down the path, we bought the porcelain mugs everyone was carrying around.  According to Wikipedia, Karlovy Vary is very well-known for its pink porcelain.  You're supposed to walk through the old town with your porcelain mug (which has a straw for a handle), fill up your mug, and drink the 'healing waters' as you wander to the next spring and enjoy the view.  So we picked out our mugs and went to the first spring.  We saw a lady filling up a water bottle and noticed that the color of the water seemed to be slightly...disgusting.  Nevertheless, we each put a bit of the water into our mugs and sipped on it.  It tasted like butt.  This water had to come from very poorly-kept metallic pipes.  At the next spring (where the water was much hotter), we tasted the healing water again, and again, the same disgusting metallic flavor.  We started to wonder why people thought these waters could heal them.  The only thing we could come up with was that the residents of this town all have an odd mineral deficiency, and this metallic water can fix that deficiency because it's loaded with awful-tasting minerals.  That was the best we could do.

In the afternoon, we considered going to one of the many spas in town.  But we looked at the prices and packages at a couple of them and decided our time and money would be better spent on the baths in Budapest.  We knew what to expect there and we knew we wouldn't be let down or ripped off.  So we just wandered around town for awhile.  Our bus to Prague was scheduled to leave at about 7 pm, so we thought, 'why not grab a bite to eat?'

Grabbing a bite would have been a good idea...if we had stuck with the part about just 'a bite.'  Unfortunately, we have this problem where, we start looking for a restaurant and say that we'll look around a bit and find the best menu, but we always end up eating at the first restaurant we come across.  And this has been alright so far, but someday we may not be so lucky.  

At this restaurant, Petr, we sat down in the outdoor seating and looked over the menu.  We both immediately saw under Typical Czech Cuisine the 'Bohemian Feast for Two.'  You're curious, aren't you?  We were too.  This feast served you rabbit, duck, goose, pork, sausage, lamb, and beef.  And because, well sometimes seven meats aren't enough, there were also three kinds of dumplings (bread dumplings, potato dumplings, and meat-stuffed dumplings) and two kinds of cabbage.  All topped off with half an orange.  We knew we had to do it.  So when the waiter came, I said, "We'll share the Bohemian Feast for Two."  He looked at us and replied, "Only one?"  Astonished, we just nodded and said, "Yes.  Only one."  This man was ridiculous!  How could he think we could each have our own 'feast for two'?  So he brought out the bread basket and he brought out our drinks and he brought out the silverware.  And when the actual meal and our plates came, the platter barely fit on our table.  The waiter moved our bread basket and the ashtray to another table and asked if we would like to move to a bigger table.  We just laughed in disbelief and said 'no thanks' and tried to rearrange our table so everything fit properly.  We looked ridiculous.  But we embraced it and did a pretty good job eating all that food.  Our waiter brought us extra napkins and seemed to have a chuckle every time he walked past our table.  After about half an hour, Emily told him we were slowing down and he laughed at us again.  But we finished all the dumplings, pretty much all the meat, and a fair portion of the cabbage.  Then Emily sliced up the orange for our dessert.  We both just felt fat after that.  Fat and proud.

So after our enormous feast, we headed back to the bus station and took our bright yellow Student Agency bus back to Prague.  
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