Today I’m thankful for: getting the giggles, music bars, Jessie J
Greetings readers! I’m a little backlogged on my writing, but I felt that this was a necessary post for all those yearning for a glimpse of spa life in the Czech Republic. Because being abroad has been so ~stressful~, four other students also living in homestays on my program organized a girls’ weekend to the Czech spa town Karlovy Vary, known for its hot mineral springs and pastel-colored buildings. King Charles IV founded the town in 1370, and since then it is the place to be if you find yourself needing a place to chillax whilst in Central Europe.
My friends and I decided to take full advantage of our 2 days in Karlovy Vary, so we booked an AirBnB that looked like a princess’s loft and made appointments for aromatherapy massages and some quality time in the salt caves for a fraction of the U.S. cost.
The main spa in Karlovy Vary was enormous and felt a bit like walking into an abandoned, but beautiful, elementary school: wide, carpeted hallways, with numbered doors leading to either private massage therapy rooms, or a classroom filled with kindergartners with ADHD. I enjoyed a strange but wonderful massage by a woman whom I made laugh so hard by my own ticklish laughing that she had to move into another room for a moment to recover. Normally, getting the giggles with your massage therapist while you’re laying nude on a table in the basement of a Czech spa wouldn’t sound very relaxing, but I’m here to testify that it was just fantastic.
The salt caves and baths were somewhat underwhelming, likely because it was hard to beat the laughter I’d just shared with my new massage therapist friend. The baths were synonymous to a swimming pool in the same spa complex, and the salt cave was a room filled with pink salt and chaise lounges and blankets so you could nap and soak up the minerals in the air (I had the great fortune of having my hour-long time slot line up with a young Czech couple, who were not shy about their PDA across the cave).
After our time at the spa, we wandered around the city and sampled the sulfuric hot spring water that you could drink for free from spigots on every corner. It smelled and tasted like rotten eggs, but people were filling up several Nalgenes with it due to its alleged healing properties!
Later that night, the five of us walked across the street to a music bar that our AirBnB host recommended and were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the atmosphere. Since we were by far the youngest people in the lounge, we seemed to be the only ones who knew all the lyrics to the jazz singer’s rendition of Jessie J‘s “Domino,” but it was the over-60 folks who kept the dance floor bumpin’. The best part of the evening was when we found out we could simply walk across the street to our AirBnB afterwards—an amazing discovery, seeing as all of us homestay-ers have at least a 30 minute commute in and out of Prague every day!
The most stressful part of the weekend was the bus ride from Prague to Karlovy Vary. Bussing is a very popular way to get around Central Europe—I recently took a bus to Berlin, which was much cheaper than flying—and some bus lines like Regiojet are so deluxe that they serve you a free cappuccino once on board!
Our particular bus ride, though, was stopped midway through by Czech police needing to make their monthly quota. Two men in uniform boarded our bus, and went up and down the aisles checking for identification (in the Czech Republic, international students can be fined if they don’t have their necessary identification cards on them, i.e. their passport, student ID, travel insurance card, etc). Two of my friends were fined because they had copies of their passports rather than their originals, and a few other people on board—all students—were also ticketed.
After about 45 minutes, the police gathered the information they needed and allowed us to keep moving. “All we’re trying to do is get to the spa,” my friend Libby groaned, and we laughed and agreed. Not an ideal way to start our trip, but a great reminder to always have your passport with you (and that even means at The Club!!!).
So, if anyone is planning on making it to Central Europe any time soon, Karlovy Vary is a must-see. A weekend there is the perfect amount of time to wander its ornate bridges and ostentatious buildings post-massage and pre-dinner. And then maybe pre-your next massage. 😉
Na shledanou for now!!