There are fountains at intervals along a lengthy colonnade following the Tepla River. As is the custom, I bought a small porcelain souvenir cup to sip the healing waters as I strolled. One of my students said he makes it a point to sip from each of the thirteen springs. The other custom, not in my schedule, is to stay at one of the elegant spa hotels for "the cure", which requires a week to work its wonders and includes access to mineral baths.
The colonnade building at one end has a beautiful gazebo that opens onto a park. Mill Colonnade, with stately marble and statues along the top, has five fountains inside and fronts the river. My favorite, the white Market Colonnade, with delicate wood trimmings and long veranda, houses the oldest fountain. A modern building in the center has the highest spouting fountain. People sit around it in the steam filled room breathing in its sulfur vapors, perhaps hoping for a small sliver of the cure.
My traveling partner and I continued on to the end of the elegant hotels and expensive restaurants to be rewarded by a simple Hussite church, primitively painted decorations on the walls, out of place in this town but a welcome resting place. We rode the funicular to the top and climbed the high stairs of a tower for the scenic view, then hiked a trail down through green forest past a cross memorial, hidden spa hotel and small statue of a deer giving this area its name, Stag Hill. On the way back, we trudged up another hill to find the blue and white, gold topped onion towers of the church of Peter and Paul. The day would not be complete without tasting a teple oplatky, a warm wafer, sold everywhere. A street vendor warmed one up for us - it tasted like a light thin cookie.
One of my classes, four women in their twenties and thirties, brought me a present: a map of the Czech Republic with little pictures of castles and other notable sites, with information about each in multiple languages including English. Now I have an almost endless list of interesting places to explore, many close to Prague and accessible for a day trip!
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