Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Lunch in Plzen

A freezing wind welcomes us in Plzen, the place where pilsener beer was born. And since it was almost noon, Lars and I headed to the first restaurant that we saw. We had a refreshing Gambrinus with our tasty meal.

Afterwards, we paid a visit to one of the city’s most important sights, the Gothic St. Bartholomew Cathedral. Founded in the 13th century, it has the highest church tower (102 meters) in the Czech Republic.

The square, where the cathedral stands is also worth a look.

If the weather had been better – especially less cold, Lars and I would have done a lot more exploring, because Plzen is really a charming town. To be revisited!

A Quick Walk in Karlovy Vary

Sometimes, things simply don’t work out… No matter how much a certain town/village/museum or whatever is praised in books or on the Internet, you fail to see what is so charming/beautiful/cozy or whatever. For Lars and especially me, it’s Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.

Maybe it’s because the first time we tried to visit it, we simply couldn’t… In 2011 or 2012, we drove there because it was so highly recommended in our travel guide. But after having driven around for half an hour, we couldn’t find a place to park our car and we had to leave. Sure, there seemed to be something grand about the town, but it looked very crowded as well.

And maybe – or should I say, probably – it’s because we visited Marianske Lazne last year and we fell immediately in love with it. Many consider this town to be a mini version of Karlovy Vary, by the way. And I guess since Marianske Lazne took complete possession of our hearts, there was probably no place left for Karlovy Vary, the spa town of the Czech Republic.

But Lars and I did try again in the beginning of January 2015. This time we found a place to get rid of the car, right next to the tourist information office. There they gave us a map and some instructions, and we were off. Looks like we were lucky this time!

Well… no. Our walk started in a shopping street – really not a place we like, in any country for that matter.

Let’s be honest: when we looked up and saw the pastel colors and the details, we liked it… But that was about it.

At the end of the shopping street, we saw a big boulevard:

We don’t think this is an ugly place, certainly not. But it didn’t overwhelm us. And looking back at these pictures, it still doesn’t. And I am not sure if we are ever going to return here, giving Karlovy Vary a second chance.

Well… we will always have Marianske Lazne (and our beer spa!).

Relaxing in a Beer Spa

After 6 months, I (Ingrid) am taking over the blog again. I hope that you all enjoyed the posts of Lars. It wasn’t easy for him, but I think he did a good job. By the way, this doesn’t mean that my depression is completely over, but I am feeling much better again.

Anyway, last year, a nasty bacteria made me very ill in the Czech Republic. After a week in a nasty hospital, I vowed never to return to that country. Or at least not for another year! Honestly, nothing makes you feel more depressed than lying in a dirty bed, deprived of good food and alcohol, while watching one beer ad after another on television.

In the beginning of the year, I had already changed my mind. When we didn’t feel like going home after a pleasant vacation in Leipzig, Lars suggested making a detour and going back to the Czech Republic. I said yes, because I really wanted to tasted some Czech beer again. In the country itself.

And thus we found ourselves in the Natural European Beer Spa Centre in Nivy, about 6 kilometers from Karlovy Vary. On the ground floor of this establishment is a restaurant, where most dishes are prepared in a wood oven. Lars and I loved the smoky taste of the dishes. One piece of advice: try the venison. And make sure to taste their homemade beer!

Then we made an exciting discovery. The first floor of the building is namely where the real fun begins: the beer spa. Yes, we are talking about bathing in beer. Completely naked. Or as they state on their website:

After bathing in our beer spas, you will feel the desired effects: your skin will be velvety smooth. This is thanks to the water solution of this truly lively, unfiltered beer saturated with proteins, carbohydrates, an entire spectrum of amino acids and vitamins (mainly of the B group), organic acids and elements (iron, potassium, and others).

The warm beer solution, which is carbonated, cleanses the skin, open pores, and drains toxins from the body, as well as providing the organism with all of the beneficial elements found in the beer; it massages the entire body, eliminates muscle tension, and warms the joints. Heart activity, as well as the activity of the entire circulatory system, is improved.

I always have very dry hair, but after having relaxed for almost 2 (!) hours in the beer, my hair felt as soft as silk! And our skin felt really smooth.

Afraid of being naked with other people? You don’t have to, because you have a wooden cabin all for yourself, with towels and a huge wooden tub filled with bubbling beer. And of course, a beer to consume as well.

And have a look at this!

On the top floor of the spa centre are 9 hotel rooms as well.

Highly recommended!

An Afternoon in a Nature Reserve – Part 2

Venture further into the Soos nature reserve and the landscape changes drastically… The many gaseous carbon dioxide springs, with water that sometimes turns orange and which smell heavily of sulphur take you back to prehistoric times. We are referring to the so – called mud volcanoes. According to Wikipedia,

The terms mud volcano or mud dome are used to refer to formations created by geo-exuded slurries (usually including water) and gases. There are several different geological processes which may cause the formation of mud volcanoes. Mud volcanoes are not true (igneous) volcanoes as they produce no lava. Any point at which over time, the earth continuously exudes a mud-like substance, may sometimes be referred to as a “mud volcano”. Mud volcanoes may range in size from merely 1 or 2 meters high and 1 or 2 meters wide, to 700 meters high and 10 kilometers wide. Smaller mud exudations are sometimes referred to as mud-pots. The largest mud volcano structure, Indonesia’s Lusi, is 10 kilometres (6 mi) in diameter and reaches 700 metres (2,300 ft) in height.[1]

The mud produced by mud volcanoes is most typically formed as hot water, which has been heated deep below the earth’s surface, begins to mix and blend with various subterranean mineral deposits, thus creating the mud slurry exudate. This material is then forced upwards through a geological fault or fissure due to certain local subterranean pressure imbalances. Mud volcanoes are associated with subduction zones and about 1100 have been identified on or near land. The temperature of any given active mud volcano generally remains fairly steady and is much lower than the typical temperatures found within igneous volcanoes. Mud volcano temperatures can range from near 100 °C (212 °F) to occasionally 2 °C (36 °F), some being used by tourists as popular “mud-baths”.

What a surreal landscape!

An Afternoon in a Nature Reserve – Part 1

After a morning with visits to beautiful cities and towns, Lars and I were in the mood for something completely different. We decide to drive to a nature reserve called Soos.

Finding it can be a bit of a challenge. It is located not far from Cheb, but so are many other places. The best thing you can do is to program your GPS device for Obec Nový Drahov 351 34 Skalná.

The entrance fee is very low, and allows you access to the nature park itself and a museum dedicated to it.

At first, everything looks peaceful, this beautiful moor, surrounded by all kinds of trees…


To The Market Place

Next stop; the charming town of Cheb.

I had read somewhere that the market place of Cheb is the place to see. It dates from the 13th century, whereas the surrounding houses in different colors originate from the 15th – 18th century.

Lars and I were not disappointed. The colors are amazing – it’s like a rainbow has descended from the sky, and the market place has the unusual shape of a funnel. At one side, it gives access to a shopping street though, which we avoided. And finally, there is even a shop at the market place that sells Belgian chocolates!

Not What We Had Expected…

I am referring to the castle of Lazne Kynzvart. Lars and I had expected to see a medieval castle, but we saw one in Renaissance style. Turns out that the original building has been destroyed, but you can still visit the ruins. Unfortunately, we discovered this after we had come back home.

The modern castle seems to be very popular with families with children. You can visit part of the interior, but not photograph it. And apparently, they sell some very good ice-cream, because we saw practically every child eating some.