The Czechs are huge fans of natural remedies. They look to nature as a source of life and healing. The part of West Bohemia where I live is loaded with "Spa" towns. These are places where people come from all over, especially Germany and Russia, to find healing in the mineral water fountains that are built all over these yellow painted towns. They believe these waters have curative powers for many ailments, but especially problems with the stomach. All I know is that when I tried some of the water the problem was with my taste buds,and it was the water itself that caused the issue!
Today I had a great opportunity to spend some time in the Czech countryside with my Czech teacher, her husband (who is also occasionally my student) and her son, as well as Naomi and Tammy. We took a train, that left a good ten minutes late from the station for no reason that any of us could figure, to Lazne Kynsvart. Lazne is the Czech word for spa. This particular spa town is known for it's healthy air. That's right, air. Apparently the air down in the town is not that special, but if you climb up into the mountains it works wonders.
The spa buildings here are mostly for children who suffer from asthma. Iva, my Czech teacher, informed me that the children usually come here for a couple of weeks to a month in order to breathe the air and get a lot of outdoor exercise. They even have a school for the children while they are there, and her father used to teach there. Parents are allowed to visit on the weekends. Such an interesting idea.
As we hiked up into the forest the air really was awfully nice. Definitely no pollution, and not a whole lot of pollen either. The weather was fabulous, and we all really enjoyed a chance to be out in the woods. As we walked I tried to really breathe deeply and see if I could feel any sort of difference. I must confess that I didn't, but it was very nice all the same.
We hiked about 10 km total, and ended up in Marianske Lazne. As we reentered civilization, it didn't take long for us to notice that this spa town, like most of the others, was highly populated by the elderly. Honza, Iva's husband, joked that the average age of the people there was about 110. Probably not far off. I made a joke to him about how our presence was confusing them, and that we should tell them we'd discovered the fountain of youth. A moment later and old man moved out of the way for us and said in German that he would move out of the way for the young people. It was pretty hilarious.
We sat near the fountains and I experienced sun in this town for the first time - this being the third time that I've been here. It was really a very nice day. After drinks by the Colonnade we headed for the train station and returned to Cheb where the sun continues to shine.
Today is a holiday in honor of the end of WWII, so I'm sitting in my office at 6, rather than being in class. It feels a bit like a Saturday, but it's back to work again tomorrow. Wonder how many students I'll have...