Off the Beaten Track

Somewhere new last week.

I had an overnight stay in Mariánské Lázně in West Bohemia. It’s a bit north west of Plzeň, close to the border with Germany.

local style

local style

We were on our way back to Bavaria after a 3 night visit to Prague and decided to break the journey somewhere nice.

It’s a historic part of Europe. It was part of Germany until the end of WW1. The Treaty of Versailles gave it to Czechslovakia – newly created from a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Nazi Germany invaded the area and annexed it in 1938, followed quite soon by an invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia. After WW2 it became part of Czechoslovakia again, and the German speaking inhabitants fled or were expelled. Nowadays road maps still show the German place names in brackets under the Czech ones – Marienbad in this case.

It’s a spa town.



Being close to the German border many Germans visit for a health “cure”. As a result, German is widely spoken by locals who work in the tourism industry.

I’m told it was pretty run down by the time the Iron Curtain fell in 1989. You’ll still see buildings which show the ravages of the lack of investment during the 40+ years of communist rule. However, most have been restored to their former glory – and they are magnificent.



As a result of the nature of the visitors, their age profile is very high. It made me feel quite young, even before I tried the spring water.

I enjoyed the place a lot. Sunny, spring weather helped. We had a lovely hotel, an excellent dinner and lunch – West Bohemian food is renowned, apparently – a couple of good walks, and so on…

The spring water is good for you, of course. That means it tastes like someone washed his socks in it.

Ferdinand spring

Ferdinand spring

It was very good value too. A 3 course dinner for two (shared starter) with Moravian wine and liqueur coffees set me back only £27 (€37). Admittedly that was after a 10% reduction from a voucher given to us by the hotel, but still.

I’d go back any time. This worries me. Is my age creeping up on me?

© iain taylor 2015

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