This weekend ISA took our program for an overnight trip to the spa towns of Mariánské Lázně and Karlovy Vary, both located in the Czech Republic. As a fun surprise, we also were able to visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery and the Becherovka Museum. Pilsner is, as I’m sure many of you know, a very famous beer which is now owned by Miller and Becherovka is a type of bitters that many Czechs equate to Jaegermeister.
The Pilsner brewery was very interesting and we got to taste most of the ingredients that go into the beer, including the wheat and hops. Tasting the hops pretty much solidified my dislike for beer – and now I know why! The hops is what gives been its bitter taste and sugar is what adds the sweetness. No thank you. At the end of the tour we all got to try a cup of unfermented (is that a word?) Pilsner. Needless to say, I had a sip and passed it off to someone else to finish.
After our pit stop in Plzen, we hopped back on the bus and headed to Mariánské Lázně, one of the most famous spa towns in the Czech Republic. The town was full of gorgeous parks, amazingly colored buildings, beautiful curved architecture and thousands of elderly people. I loved it.
I could have stayed in the town for days due to its relaxing nature and miles of footpaths. However, we were only there for one night, so we had to make the most of it. ISA took us to one of the most famous spas in the city where we were able to relax for a bit in the steam rooms, saunas and pools. Although it was a very nice afternoon, the spas were incomparable to the ones in Budapest. We were also treated to spa wafers, which are these wafer discs with a thin layer of filling in the middle. Don’t be fooled by their appearance, they are absolutely delicious. I found myself stopping on the streets to get them more than a few times..
Early the next morning, we loaded the bus for the third time and headed to Karlovy Vary, the largest spa town in all Czech Republic and a very touristy location. Karlovy Vary was probably one of the most picture-esque places we have been so far. I was in heaven. Each building was a different color and the city was surrounded by hills full of trees hundreds of years old. Amazing.
Now tell me that doesn’t look like a postcard. Look at that sky! Not a single cloud. Amazing. I wish I could just post a million pictures, but I will save them for another time. In the afternoon, we had some free time to explore the city and my friend MJ and I headed towards the funicular to get the best view of the city – bird’s eye view that is.
Not only did we get to see the city (and miles upon miles past it), at the top of the look out hill was a petting zoo, restaurant, hot dog stand and footpaths. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up the mini zoo and spent a good chunk of time “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the peacocks, potbellies and ponies. After lunch, we headed back down the hill to meet up with the group for the Becherovka Museum.
After a full two days, the Becherovka Museum was the last stop on our trip and a good place to end. Our tour took us to the cellar, gave us some history on the liquor and then at the end brought us to a bar for a taste test of three of their products, which was everyone’s favorite part. We were able to try Becherovka Lemond, Becherkovka Cordial and Becherovka Original.
Although I oddly enjoyed the Becherovka, it is safe to say I will not be drinking the daily recommended dose of 400mL any time soon. The liquor is also very reminiscent of Angustora Bitters which my family bravely takes swigs of every year at Nelson’s Hall on Washington Island. This could be the reason that I both loved and hated it at the same time!
After the taste-test we all had warm tummies and boarded the bus one final time head back to Prague. Goodbye spa towns, you have been good to us! Until next time…