It might have taken years to plan but it was definitely worth it
05.08.2011 - 07.08.2011 28 °C
Yes, it has taken us a few years to organise but my sis and I are big advocates of quality above quantity. Plus we tend to get quite busy. But finally, here we are. The long-awaited weekend is here. Ever since I moved out of home, we have been talking about wanting to book a weekend away for just the two of us. Something relaxing, with plenty of pampering potential and an easy access to sufficient supply of chilled beverages. Since then, we extensively travelled independently or together as part of larger groups but never just us. Until now. Last Friday we packed our bags, waved good-bye to our better halves and set-off on a three and a half hours drive from Prague to Šumperk, a small town in the north of Moravia (part of the Czech Republic).
Truth to be told, our first impressions when arriving in Šumperk were somewhat mixed. To start with, the supposed address of our hotel showed no signs of such establishment. Instead, we were welcomed by the sight of a communist-era building, albeit recently renovated, with a number of signs except the one we were after – Hotel Elegance. Fortunately for us, it transpired the Hotel entry was from the back of the house in a quiet green-area with manicured lawns and good sized car park. And it all got better from there.
Hotel Elegance is a recently opened wellness hotel near the centre of Šumperk, renovated to high standard with all sport/relaxation amenities conveniently located under the same roof, including restaurant, night-club, pub, fitness, swimming pool, salt-cave, games-area and much more. Sis found it on the net as a special offer for couples and tempted by the added champagne and strawberries we went for it.
Our programme for the weekend was:
- Arrive mid afternoon
- Relax in a salt cave
- Explore the town for dinner
- Bowling with champagne and strawberries (who says romance is dead)
- Check-out the local nightlife
- After breakfast Jacuzzi
- A couple of hours in a variety of saunas (infra, Finnish or steam) mixed with swimming pool
- Try local restaurant for lunch
- Golf driving range – neither of us was that bothered about this one so we swapped it for table tennis
- See more of the town
- 2nd round of table tennis in the evening
- More of the town
- Swimming pool after breakfast
- Walk around town
- Checkout by lunchtime
Our weekend package included only a small selection of activities on offer and for us it had just the right amount of everything. Friday proved to be the ‘going out’ day (night). Excited by finding the hotel games-room equipped with a number of pool tables, bowling alley, air-hockey, table-football and darts, our competitive spirit took over and we engaged in a combat in just about every game on offer. The first bottle of free champagne was soon followed by another (less free) with our performance improving with each glass (I am actually serious here). My sis was even approached by some friendly locals if she would like to strengthen their ranks in a game of table football. She did as she was asked and fuelled by the sound of my cheering earned some spectacular goals. This was the point we became rather curious about the local night club and decided to give it a shot. It helped that to get there, all we had to do was leave the hotel, walk 1 minute around the corner of our building and tadaaaaa!
One of the great things about Czech is the going-out culture. It is common to only head out around midnight and party until the wee hours of the morning. This was also the reason why when we got into the club at twelve, the sum total of guests was approaching dozen. Knowing that this is likely to be very short-lived, we skilfully secured two prime spots by the bar and a vodka/red bull later the place started filling up. All in all we had fantastic night including the customary Saturday-night-fever dance moves, plenty of gossip, a couple of bad chat-up lines and the ‘worst bar staff ever’ price award. We felt the need to launch this competition after being consistently ignored by a blond middle aged bar maid who took it upon herself to embarrass woman-kind by demonstrating her lack of self-esteem by mistreating other women. Feeling obviously threatened by two fellow females when her miniskirt failed to sufficiently distract male customers from ogling at us, our supply of water and coke (yes, we are not as hard-core and irresponsible as you might think) would have dried out if it wasn’t for her lovely female colleagues. This lack of female solidarity was the more puzzling, that considerable part of the male attention we were attracting was likely to be caused by our attempts to recreate just about every embarrassing dance move in the history of dance moves, with tears streaming down our faces from all the laughing. I would go as far as to say many men were looking bamboozled rather than interested. Let it be a consolation to all of us that this was an isolated incident and all other female staff in the hotel and its amenities was fantastic! Hereby I want to say “thank you ladies for making our stay fantastic”.
Contrary to what you might think, Saturday morning was an early start for us. Breakfast, Jacuzzi, sauna, swimming pool, sauna, swimming pool, sauna, swimming pool. Life can be hard but we just about managed. The day continued in a similar mode and our hectic morning was followed by a rushed, two hours short lunch in the hotel restaurant. The food there was very tasty, although I suspect they misheard us when taking the order and gave us both double-sized portions. My sister’s best efforts hardly made a dent into her Kilimanjaro of pasta and my African elephant ear-sized potato pancakes were nibbled off to just about reveal the plate hiding underneath them.
Neither sis nor I are massive fans of golf, and having tried golf in the past, we decided to swap our free session for an extra hour of table tennis. The score of our tournament is irrelevant for this blog and I don’t feel it appropriate to humiliate my sister by disclosing her pathetic two points dwarfing next to my nine. Somehow she managed to repeat this performance in our second session when even I started questioning the quality of the equipment, which was totally new.
For Saturday night, Šumperk gave the impression of a small sleepy town and despite the hotel being very central, if felt like the town was evacuated and nobody told us. This suited us just fine and after fairly late previous night, we were happy to stroll through the streets and parks, taking-in the surroundings and finally settling in a bistro on the main pedestrian street. This was where it happened. Feeling relaxed and happy about how the weekend was turning out, we encountered something only to be explained by the existence of local pervert. The bistro with its lovely dishes, big ice-cream deserts and friendly staff was no more than fifty meters from two public phone boxes. Somehow, these very public phones started ringing the minute a family with small children settled in a nearby restaurant. Not strange in itself. However, the moment the children run towards the phone boxes and were reaching for the phones the ringing stopped. This went on for over an hour and only ceased after the family left again. Having had plenty of time to observe this phenomenon, our two possible scenarios were:
1. The parents were doing it – anything for a good night sleep BUT observation led us to disregard this option
2. Šumperk has its very own pervert with a view of public phones and rather peculiar liking of small running children – yuck
Pervert or not, we had a lovely night and agreed we liked Šumperk a lot.
With unlimited access to swimming pool and gym, Sunday morning we went for a swim before going for a last walk around the town. Šumperk is a pleasant enough town with a theatre, museum, old-town square and a well-maintained park. The lack of tourists means the prices are low and shops, restaurants and other amenities very authentic, mainly aimed at the locals. It is set in an area of north Moravia, surrounded by mountains and unspoiled nature.
Midday on the dot we check-out from the hotel and set-off, direction Prague. Our weekend away was almost over and we once again promised ourselves we have to do this more often. In Prague, we were welcomed by my sister’s boyfriend and her moulting cat, exchanging stories of the days past and wishing we had just little bit more time. The perfect finish to the weekend was a long walk through Prague with spectacular views of the town enhanced by the charged late afternoon sky. All this was topped up by a dinner on a newly opened restaurant set on the boat on river Labe, with breathtaking views of sun setting behind Prague castle.