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Sunday
Jun262011

Wrapped in a Plastic Bag in Czech Republic

I’m actually not much of a spa treatment kind of gal while traveling. I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true. Sleek and indulgent spas tend to bring the feeling that I’m sitting idly by while unexpected discoveries or local interactions whiz past me in a blaze of travel glory. 

But when a chic former fashion model from the Czech Tourism office invited me to come along on a roadtrip 3.5 hours from Prague into the Moravia region to visit tiny Luhačovice — a sleepy town of 6,000, full of medical spas, dollhouse architecture, and evergreen trees — I was intrigued. Not only because I’d never been outside Prague, but because it’s quite common for Czechs to visit this ‘spa town’, and because my regionally-traditional spa treatment would be overseen by a bonafide neurologist.

Plus, it meant I’d spend about a half an hour in a dry bath of carbon dioxide. Whatever that meant.

Luhačovice, Moravia, Czech RepublicTypical architecture around Luhačovice, in the Moravia region of Czech Republic / photo by Kim Mance

A sign in the medical spa sanatorium points the way to CO2 dry bath bags / photo by Kim Mance

Upon arriving at the Spa Hotel Miramare, which indeed had hotel rooms and package deals, it definitely looked and felt more like a hospital.

“Many Czechs come for three to five weeks for procedures since we have very famous mineral springs in town,” said the spa hotel doctor as she lead the way toward a procedure room. (And this is normally covered completely or partially by the national health care system.)

The doctor went on to explain that my CO2 dry bath would help with circulation and central nervous system relaxation.

And though she kept saying I would be inside a bag filled with CO2, I continued having trouble picturing it as we took an elevator to the dry bath floor.

Soon I was told to remove my trousers and lay on a typical-looking hospital bed in a brightly sunlit room. A nurse came over and together we shimmied a large clear plastic bag up to my abdomen, she then strapped a nylon belt around me and pulled it taught. Next came a small metal instrument resembling one that fills car tires with air at gas stations, connected to a large tank sitting beside the bed. The bag around me began to fill with carbon dioxide.

I couldn’t help but let out several American giggles; she didn’t seem to mind.

CO2 dry bath in a Luhačovice, Moravia, Czech Republic spa hotelGetting bagged for a CO2 dry bath in Luhačovice, Moravia, Czech Republic. Then chasing it with some sulfurous (yum) mineral spring water from the town center’s fountain. / photos by Carla Hunt and Peg Fong.

As it turned out, the most surprising thing wasn’t that I ended up in a plastic bag, or that I could actually taste CO2 halfway through the treatment, or that my legs absorbed so much of it the bag deflated a bit over a half hour period. The biggest shock was that it wasn’t all fun and games … it actually made me feel extremely relaxed while on a pillow-less hospital bed in the middle of a foreign country. And my back and neck still feel better than after acupuncture or physical therapy.

Some things you only learn while traveling.  ❈

 

Kim Mance is Galavanting’s editor-in-chief and host of travel and adventure webseries Galavanting.tv. She’s based in Brooklyn, NY and has blogged for places like Marie Claire, Travel + Leisure, Huffington Post, and Babble. Kim is also host of the popular TBEX conferences in North America & Europe.
She’s @kimmance on Twitter.

 

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