Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Czech-up time, again.

The cost benefits of Eastern European dental treatment are no secret to anyone these days and I'm happy to avail myself of its amazing value for money. Last year I had four crowns put in, and this morning I headed off again, this time just to have a gold crown replaced. Every time I go to Karlovy Vary, or Karlsbad as the Germans call it, or maybe just plain old Charlie's Bath (as no-one calls it, I'm sure), it's blisteringly hot. You snake through the backwoods of Upper Franconia, the border country railway stations fading with their post-Schengen significance until you reach the Czech town of Cheb, which need not concern us here, save for the fact the place probably engendered the word 'unlovely', even if its station café is quite fun in a comradely, post-communist kind of way.

On the way, you'll have changed trains in Marktredwitz. If the timetable allows, you'll have time to wander into its charming centre and have a look around. The main street is typical of the region: all buildings between 100 - 200 years old, very well - maybe too well - maintained and a landmark with a story. Every little town or village has its claim to fame around here, and Marktredwitz is no exception. Goethe himself once spent a few days in what is now the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), August 13th - 18th, 1822, to be precise. You can visit his room during weekday office hours. It is civil servantsville, after all...

My dentist was as brilliant and cheap as he always is and his surgery is the most space-age I've ever seen, but I think I've mentioned this before. Anyhow, there's a supermarket right by the bus stop for the trip back to the station, so I popped in to get a couple of things, one of them, loo paper, being fairly urgent as I knew I was out of the stuff in Bayreuth and wouldn't get back in time to catch the shops. I found the section easily enough but then cackled so loudly that a couple of nearby shoppers turned to look at me. The house brand of loo paper is called 'Grand Finale'. Honestly. You couldn't make it up. I also couldn't possibly not buy a pack with a name like that. I only wish I had the little digital camera with me here so I could have taken a photo and posted it.

I find I can understand quite a few words in Czech, thanks to the leftovers of my mediocre Russian in the 1990's. One phrase which creases me, though, is the Czech for 'No Parking': Ne Parkovat. Honestly, I though English was lazy on occasions. It's almost like a send-up of itself, as if the 'Russian' were No Parkski Here-ski. Buggeroff. Essential words like beer and numbers are very similar. In Russian, you'd order a 'Pivo', but pronounce it 'Piva', as the unstressed 'o' sounds like 'ah'. In Czech, it's 'Pivo', with an 'o'. The price is the same in both, at least at the lovely little kiosk in front of Charlie's Bath's northern station: Dyevit Vosyem, or Twenty-Eight to you and me for a bottle of Gabarinus Premium 12%. Bargain in any language.

Anyhow, it's back to Karlovy Vary/Karlsbad/Charlie's Bath on Saturday to get the real thing fitted in my gob. The next dental undertaking is to have a pesky wisdom tooth removed in October, get a brace on my lower set and eventually have teeth I can present to the outside world. Once the mechanics are out of the way it'll be back to the Czechs for a more photogenic 'grand finale'...

Extra services not reimbursed by the French Sécurité Sociale. I shall write to my MP. Oh, that IS my MP.

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