I've been in Prague for 2 months now. Winter has come and the city has gotten dark and gloomy. I've quickly realized that people don't stick around in the grayness, every weekend they mass exodus to cottages and family homes in the country. The city shuts down, the streets are bare, there's no problem finding a parking spot and all the stores are closed. On Saturday the stores are supposedly open until 12 but I've never managed to get up and out of the house in time to really experience it, so for me Prague is quite surreal on weekends.

Last weekend I decided to escape. I chose the land of spring water, massages and picturesque houses - the town of Karlovy Vary.

On Friday morning I had to sneak out of work and buy a bus ticket. Apparently they sell out and without a booked ticket you risk standing for 2 hours. ERGH. Don't worry, I got a spot.

I arrived in Karlovy Vary in the early evening, there was snow on the ground. I decided I needed to see some sights before bed and so I walked through the famous Colonnade. All around there were older German tourists sucking water from the spouts of little teapots, the pots were sort of like mugs with built in straws I guess. Strange- is what I thought- but really things got stranger the next day.

On Saturday I had decided to go swimming. I wasn't a very prepared tourist. I hadn't read up on the town and so I though the water was for swimming in. You know, like the spas in Germany where everyone sits in small hot tubs filled with warm stinky water, drinking less stinky salty bubbly spring water. It turns out Karlovy Vary's water is for drinking and it is specifically used for curing intestinal ailments. Ahhh - that explains all the old people with the teapots. In fact I think I was really the youngest tourist around, I'm not kidding, 20 years the youngest by far.

Well - even though the water is just for drinking there was one spring that fed into a hot tub in the town-swimming centre. So I dawned my bathing suit, and might I add I was the only one wearing one, and sat in the dingy yellow water and soaked up the distinct egg-y smell. You know what I'm talking about- sulfurous water that really smells rotten. I'm not sure the water cured me at all, I didn't really have any ailments- except a hang over and I have to say drinking the dingy yellow salty water would probably have instigated some sort of intestinal upset and not cured one.

After my lovely soak I got dressed up, I had envisaged an exciting night on the Town. Karlovy Vary hosts a film festival every year where international rock stars and actors come together to party. Apparently the place to be seen- is the Termal nightclub. I was excited, maybe I'd sit in the same chair as some-one famous. So I combed my hair and put on some make-up and off I went...

Let's just say the Termal may have been really cool in the 70s. Round Red Leather Sofa's, dance floor with a disco ball and a live band. If you want to call a man on a keyboard playing 80s tunes - live. There were geriatric tourists, with intestinal ailments- remember, dancing to American 80's music translated to Czech. The whole scene made for a very entertaining evening.

I ended my stay in Karlovy Vary dancing with an elderly German man who insisted on dancing Ballroom style to the 80s music, I laughed until my sides hurt and vowed to bring more friends next time to experience the Twilight Zone of Karlovy Vary.

Author: Nicole Klement
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