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Quote of the Day - I go to Prague every year if I can, value my relationships there like gold, and feel myself in a sense Czech, with all their hopes and needs. They are a people I not only love, but admire. - Ellis Peters
MIPTC's Travelogue: Prague, Czech Republic - Day 3
This post is the third in MIPTC's travel series, which started on April 5, if you're interested in reading from the beginning. Otherwise, jump in and travel along.
Despite the wonders of Prague, we traveled to Karlovy Vary, a hot-springs spa about two hours outside of the city through country farms and small towns sparsely populated with old-stone agricultural buildings and farmhouses. The bucolic countryside lulls me to sleep as I continue to adjust to the nine-hour difference in time from my small town on the other side of the planet.
But I have seen this spa town before, as you likely have, too. Its main overnight accommodation, the Grand Hotel Pupp, was the centerpiece of the latest Bond movie, Casino Royale, which has a very Monaco/French Rivera look to it. The cream-colored front of the hotel sports a very baroque-style imposing façade that simply oozes charm, breeding and money. It is reportedly the most expensive stay in all of the Czech Republic, with rack rates starting at 500 Euros for the cheap rooms. Most come not for the casino, however, but for their health.
The spa town has some 15 main mineral springs of varying temperatures, which the spa-goers dutifully drink from, presumptively for the well-being of their digestive tracts. Cooler temperature mineral water supposedly acts as a laxative, while the higher-temperature springs have the opposite effect. The trick, I guess, is to mix your consumption just right. Especially if you have to travel back to Prague in a car for a two-hour trip.
Each of the springs on the long walk through the town come out of pipes, some chrome but many decorative brass, ranging from snake mouths to duck bills. The minerals are both white (calcium) and red (iron) that accumulate on the spigots and the basins underneath. In fact, the "suvyneur" shops sell petrified roses and other trinkets that have been exposed to the mineralization for just a few months.
I can't imagine what the minerals comparatively do to your digestive tract.
Along the long walk between the various mineral springs, there are many shops with Russian Cyrillic writing, unintelligible to me, but certainly capable of communicating the cost of the furs, watches, jewellery, Bohemian crystal and designer clothes, shoes and matching handbags. The many different-colored buildings the shops occupy are equally as beautiful as the wares in the windows, with more baroque and rococo designs, complete with statues and faces carved into the plaster and marble of the building fronts.
Every town has its obligatory, center-of-town statue and Karlovy Vary is no exception. It is a beautifully carved monstrosity with many of its figures' accouterments gilded in gold - crowns, stars in circles above heads and swords.
No trip to Karlovy Vary would be complete without a stop at the Moser Glassworks, a bohemian crystal glass factory started in the early 19th century, and one of the most celebrated glassmakers in the world. Many of its works are owned by the rich and famous, including Pope John Paul an Queen Elizabeth, just to name two. If I were to name three, I'd have to include our traveling companions, Alex and Ellen Polsky.
Evening brings the trip back to Prague and a wonderful dinner with my other traveling companion Lisa, together with Alex and Ellen at La Perle de Prague on the top floor of the Fred and Ginger building, which provides not only breathtaking rooftop views of the city, the Prague Castle and the Vltava river, but also exceptional food and drink and great company. I highly recommend the food and the rooftop. The company's fine too, and we're happy to accept all invitations.