Before the discovery of mineral springs around the margins of the Russian empire, notably in the Caucasus, Russians were exploring spas in central Europe, some of which are enduringly popular with Russian visitors today. Alexei Petrovich, the son of Peter the Great, set the trend with his 1710 visit to Karlsbad, the spa town in the Bohemian hills now known as Karlovy Vary. It was during that stay in Karlsbad that the tsarevich met his future wife — a nice reminder that a spa cure might yield matrimonial as well as medicinal benefits.
Peter the Great himself came to Karlsbad the following year. He did exactly what many subsequent generations of Russian visitors to Karlsbad have done: he drank copious quantities of water.