Bliss all Thai’d up, Czeching out the trendy fish spa treatment in Prague.

We noticed an unusual and alarming trend during our recent stay in Prague: Czech and foreign women were voluntarily submerging their feet into tanks filled with carnivorous fish that would then eat (apparently superfluous) pieces of said women’s feet.  Although it sounds like something Dick Cheney dreamed up for the Guantanamo Bay detainees, it turns out to be a popular spa treatment in many parts of the world, including Prague (although it is illegal in many US states).  The fish are garra rufa obtuse, or Kangal fish, a small (and ravenous) species from the Kangal region of Turkey that enjoy eating people’s dead skin follicles.  Bliss, ever the adventurer, decided to take the plunge, so to speak.

Bliss' feet

The Thai spa where Bliss received her “treatment” places the tanks in its front windows on a crowded street.  This gave the whole affair a kind of carnival-attraction feeling.  Jude and I stood outside looking in, while Jude repeated his mantra—“mommy… fishies… mommy… fishies”—and nearly everyone who passed by either made a comment or just stopped and stared.  Bliss was game though, and she maintained a smile throughout.  (Her verdict after the fact: it tickled, sometimes felt like static shock and didn’t improve her foot health in any discernible way.)

All fishy business aside, we felt a sense of apprehension when we first pulled into Prague’s Main Railway Station.   Before Jude was born, his pediatrician, a Czech, told us point blank that Prague was not a good place to travel with a small child.  The comment stuck with us, and we wondered what might be store in for us.  But both of us had always wanted to see the old medieval capital, so we decided to go for it.

In fact, our three and a half days in Prague went smoothly.  Yes, the cobblestone streets in the Old Town made using the stroller a little difficult (especially since ours has stopped making left turns), but that’s why we brought Jude’s backpack.  The people were friendly, there was a lot to look at, and all of the restaurants serve pancakes with fruit, one of Jude’s favorites.  Mommy and daddy enjoyed the food too: the cold weather was made a lot more bearable by ubiquitous street kiosks selling bratwursts and mulled wine.

Prague didn’t suffer as much bomb and artillery damage in the wars of the last century as did many other European capitals, and as a result, it features a good deal of interesting (and well preserved) old architecture.  It is also the home of “Good King Wenceslas” (Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia) of Christmas carol fame.

Jude on the Charles Bridge

We especially enjoyed touring Prague Castle, the Jewish Quarter, the Old Town, and taking in the views from the steps of the National Museum, which was next to our apartment.  (We’ve said it before, but staying in an apartment is totally the way to go when traveling with a toddler.  Jude had a couple of “horror” moods during our time in Prague, and it also rained a lot while we were there.  Having a large-ish space where he could run around and let off steam was critical, and being cooped up in a hotel room on those rainy days would have been problematic.)

Since the word “steeple” was such a hit with Jude (who points out real and quasi steeples constantly), Bliss’ mom suggested we try some other words that would come often into play during our trip.  We tried our hand at teaching him knight, armor, sword, cathedral and even flying buttresses.  Some stuck; some didn’t, but he appreciated our efforts to get him more involved in the sights we were visiting.




  3 Responses to “Prague: Fishy Spas and Medieval Castles”

  1. The fish foot treatment thing was shown either on Sex and the City or Ugly Betty, I think. I’ve heard of people doing it here. You are brave Bliss!

  2. Yes! I read about the eating dead flesh spa treatments for feet in the NYT (I think it was there or on NYT online)! and stating that there were places that were doing it illegally in NYC. Prague looks v interesting and a place I would like to visit. Good for Bliss for doing it and in a window with spectators yet!

  3. They have the fish in Montreal too-I have been thinking about trying it!

    Love your blog. Looks like you are having a wonderful trip!

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