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Published: March 25th 2007
The spa wafer...oh so good.
...instead we got the best view of the Czech Republic yet. Jess and I went to Karlovy Vary this weekend, a spa town two hours West of Prague. The story of the town is that Charles IV was out hunting in this area when one of his hunting hounds saw a stag and began to chase after it. The dog bounded through a hot spring and got scalded and Charles IV decided that the spring contained healing waters and since then the town has been frequented by Royals, celebrities and general folk searching for "the cure" or "the source" as Jess and I refer to it. The whole town is set up so bizarrely. The majority of buildings run through a valley on either side of the Tepla River (Czech for Warm) which is really just a creek with man-made cement walls. There are Kolonades that contain natural springs of "the cure" all over the town and one simply walks the city, glass or water bottle in hand, drinking from the springs, all free of charge and constantly running. There are some springs labeled with the temperature of the water too, so you can choose from scalding cure to ice
This is the center of town, pretty much all original architecture.
cold cure. The traditional way to drink it is out of these bizarre cups that are shaped with a straw-like handle to suck out of and the elderly wander the streets, eyes glassed over, sipping from their strange ceramic glasses. Jess and I tried "the source" once and found it to be unappetizing and rather disgusting. I don't care how good it is for me, it tasted like salty minerals mixed into the water. It turns out though that if you are in Karlovy Vary on the weekend you pretty much need to make appointments in advance for the spa treatments cause we tried about twenty places and they were all booked. Friday evening after we arrived though, we did find a spa where we received a reflex deep-muscle foot massage for less than twenty dollars and a one hour full body massage, if we would have made an appointment, would have only been about $30, so I think the town was pretty reasonable. The second best part was probably the hostel we stayed at, the Quest. Since it was low season and the reception area was being worked on, we got a lower price and they placed us in
Inside these columns there were springs, or fountains with "the cure" running constantly.
a six bed dorm room that we had completely to ourselves. It was an entire flat with a full kitchen, a living room and sitting area, and a full-size, private bathroom with bathtub. I took a nice long bath for the first time in over a year and it was so relaxing. The beds were amazing comfortable and I slept through the entire night so peacefully. Oh, how I missed that bed when I got back to the kolej.
The best part however; was the incredible hike Jess and I went on Saturday afternoon. Karlovy Vary is surrounded by hills and there are a lot of great peaks to hike up to and get great views. It sprinkled like a nice Portland rain the whole time we were there and there were coniferous trees surrounding us, I almost felt like I was back in Oregon (which I have been missing terribly). We probably hiked four miles or so up and down hill, and made our last destination the tallest point in the town. Its a tower called Diana, which is free to walk the stairs to the top. We were so high above the city that my pictures of Karlovy
"The Cure" cups
This inside one of the Kolonadas where people sit, or walk back and forth and drink "the source."
Vary are hard to see cause we were above the clouds. It was so refreshing
. We took the funicular down and rewarded ourselves with coffee and dessert from the oldest cafe in Karlovy Vary, the Elefant. We had a banana fruit sundae that was delectable, and my cappuccino was noteworthy as well. Speaking of food, the town is also famous for oblatky (or spa wafers). I am not sure what they're made of or how they are made but they were really good and 5Kr a piece, that's only a quarter for all you American foreigners. I fell in love with the citronovy oblatky, and I lost coutn of how many I had from the random stands all over the city.
All in all, Karlovy Vary was my favorite outside Prague, Czech destination and definitely worth a visit, even as a day trip. There are so many more stories to tell about the crazy fun Jess and I had, but I have the feeling most of them are the "I guess you had to be there" type of things, so I won't torture you any longer and I'll just show you the pics.
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