Exploring the Gruesome Past of Terezin

From the outside, Terezin looks like any other town. But dig a bit deeper, have a close look around, and you can still see the scars of a very troubled past.

Terezin’s history changed radically when Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. Its Small Fortress was first changed into a Nazi prison.

One year later, the Gestapo ordered that Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt) should be turned into a Jewish ghetto and a concentration camp. It was intended to be a transfer camp and not a termination camp. This means that Jews from for example Denmark, Austria, and the Netherlands came here before being transported to their final destination of Mauthausen or Auschwitz. Yet more than 30,000 would die in Terezin itself, due to overpopulation, disease, and malnutrition.

This is how German propaganda presented Terezin, the town that was a gift for the Jews…

After World War II, Terezin became home for German prisoners of war. Afterward, It would take decades before life would return to normal again. Nowadays, in some of the houses, there are permanent exhibitions about life in the camp, thanks to the many documents, pictures, and drawings. Notwithstanding the harsh conditions, the prisoners were able to run a school for children and to organize various cultural activities.

Half a day should be enough for a visit to Terezin.

One more post this week, featuring my birthday in lockdown Spain. I have already planned one new destination for next week, which is Serbia!


An Unforgettable Experience: Taking a Beer Spa in Nivy

On 1 January 2015, Lars and I found ourselves in Leipzig. We were supposed to leave the next day, back to Belgium, but somehow we didn’t feel like it. Lars consulted our trustworthy friend, booking.com, and found a nice hotel in a Czech village, called Nivy, not far from Karlovy Vary. The next day, we simply extended our adventure!

The name of the hotel? European Centre of Natural Beer Spas. It had always been our dream to enjoy a beer spa- we had seen pictures and videos on the Internet – and we decided if it wasn’t too expensive to give it a go! Luckily for us, the price was reasonable and we could still book a session at 7pm that same evening. Which we did.

By the way, I forgot to take pictures of the hotel itself, but I found this video on YouTube:

But before the spa, we decided to have dinner. Actually, the hotel itself is quite small, with only a limited number of rooms. People come here for the spa, the brewery and the restaurant, which is called “Staroslovanská Kuchyně” (“Old Slavic Cuisine”). According to the owner, the cook prepares meat and fish in an old stone oven, which is heated with wood. It took some time for the food to arrive, but it was delicious (although Lars found his pheasant to be a bit too smoky). Not Haute cuisine, but hearty and tasty.

That was a good start! But are there any health benefits of a beer spa? The website of the hotel only mentions this:

Beer spas are known for their healing effects since ancient times. The European Centre of the Natural Beer Spa allow you to get to know the power of the healing effects that this unique treatment offers.

Get to know the Karlovy Vary beer spa and the unfiltered, unpasteurised beer that gives the nutrients your body needs to strengthen it and that lends your skin a youthful appearance!

A bit vague, isn’t it? According to this article in Forbes, the benefits are:

  • Skin rejuvenation
  • Stress reduction
  • Improved circulation
  • Detoxification
  • Lessened back and joint pain.

Anyway, the time had arrived for our dip in the beer spa.

By the way, the beer they use for the spa is the dark one. And the beers you can drink during your spa experience are included in the price. Check out the video we made:

We sat in the wooden tub for an hour and enjoyed every second of it thoroughly! Afterward, we felt heavenly, completely refreshed… The beer doesn’t feel sticky and after having soaked in it for an hour, our skin felt very smooth. My hair, which can be very dry, felt very soft for at least 3 days afterward. And if you are afraid that you are going to stink of beer after the spa, don’t be afraid: the smell is neutral.

That night, we slept like babies. The morning after, time for some breakfast!

Is it worth it? Yes, it is! I enjoyed this spa a lot and would definitely do it again. Anyway, for the spa experience, we paid between 40 and 45 euros for the two of us. Judging from the website, it looks like prices have gone up though. As I said before, we booked the room itself via booking.com and had a substantial discount. Last but not least, the food is reasonably priced.

The address is Nivy 4, Děpoltovice 362 25. You would think that Nivy is the name of the street, but it’s actually the name of a small village. Better program your GPS to the center of Nivy; it’s so small and the hotel is a huge yellow building, you can’t miss it!

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