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Published: October 14th 2008
After Reading about Karlovy Vary being an alluring destination for the old, the rich, and the Russians, I had firmly decided to move our spa experiences to this charming and legendary place. Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary can indeed be called "legendary". It was born in the mid 14th century. Lore has it that a group of Charles IV (the king of Bohemia and Roman emperor) attendants was hunting when suddenly, a hunting dog started howling. As the group approached, they discovered a pool of a steaming water. That is how Karlovy Vary, or Charle's Spring, was found.
Since then, Karlovy Vary grew into a famous European spa and its well known mineral springs were said to have an unbelievable healing effect and treated a variety of disorders (digestive disorders, diabetes, joint problems, etc). Later, the drinking part was added, at one point requiring as many as 50 cups of water a day (NOTE: I have tired a small sip of one of the water springs. It tasted pretty bad - water with a lot of salt in it. 50 cups and I would be probably dead!). In the hall of its fame, Karlovy Vary attracted the fashionable and
the fawning such as Peter the Great who visited twice, Emperor Franz Josef, Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, Tolstoy and others. During the Soviet era, the town was filled with retirees and Eastern bloc workers.
These days, wealthy Russians make up a large percentage of visitors along with Germans and Arabs. Accommodation
We stayed at "Quest Hostel and Apartments" the first night and at some unknown and terrifying German guest house the second night (It terrified me to the extent that I slept with a Swiss knife under my pillow for the whole night. I was scared for my life......while Matt was being scared for his).
Overall, I can highly recommend Quest Hostel and Apartments. Although not cheap, the apartment you get is huge. It has all the amenities, including the kitchen, and really makes you feel like home. First impressions
Karlovy Vary is a small and very European city. It has its charm while the city center is filled with alleys, narrow houses from the turn of the century as indicated by their dusty red and ocher roofs, neo-Classical facade, plenty of little shops, places to eat and, of course, hotels and spas on every
I noticed a lot of tourists with cups in their hands. The "Cure" was apparently still very serious business in Karlovy Vary and drinking it is believed by many to eliminate "evil" elements from ones body. In the city, there were a number of small fountains from which people could drink this water and as doctors usually prescribe such treatments, the number of cups you drink as well as the hours matter.
Note: Most procedures in Karlovy Vary must be prescribed by a doctor, and only some, like the mineral baths and massages, can be bought without a prescription. As Matt and I were in Karlovy Vary for only two days, there was no way we could get into a "proper" wellness program. Most of the patients are admitted to at least three week programs and only after a medical examination by a doctor. Can you say week long tourist trap? Half way kidding, I'm sure they are legitimate. Our spa experience
As all of the spas inside the nicer 4-5 start hotels were fully booked, Matt and I went to Zámecké láznì (Castle Spa). Understanding the spa services was a challenge. This spa
did not have a list of services from which you can pick and choose those that you like. It had "programs" and within these programs, one was limited to a number of "major" and "minor" procedures, as they were called. The examples of the major procedures were classic massage (25 minutes), underwater massage, perl bath. Some of the minor procedures included gum irrigation, ultrasound inhalation, and foot massage. Matt and I paid 45 euros each for a "classic program" which included one major and two minor procedures. Matt went for classic massage and I chose underwater massage. For minor procedures we decided on oxygen therapy and gum irrigation, which turned out to be more like gum irritation.
Then we found ourselves inside along with a group of German retirees, who it seemed, were also desperate to try some of the Karlovy Vary's magical spa experiences. We each had a piece of paper in our hands which stated a number of procedures we paid for. The attendants were all business and ordered us to wait (15 min) until our turn in a queue arrived.
The one, and only one reasonable place to be in this spa was mineral waters'
swimming pool. We were told that in 15 minutes, we would be called and as such, Matt and I continued to aimlessly swim in the pool along with the same group of German retirees. 5....6....7..10...15 minutes. Our names were called and my face flashed with smile. I wanted to experience the power of magical mineral waters. Instead, I was met by a lady with a grim face and an alarm clock that had its time set for exactly 15 minutes. The underwater massage was a pleasant experience, but knowing that the time is so strictly followed bothered me and did not let to relax.
For the next procedure, oxygen therapy, we sat in one long row. We all simultaneously were receiving the purest oxygen and reading the same newspaper....the procedure was again strictly timed and after an alarm clock rang, we were promptly kicked out from our chairs. It reminded me an assembly line....
Finally, Matt and I irrigated our gums. Matt left after the first couple of minutes thanking a lady who was pointing to the alarm clock. 8 minutes were left, but he had enough. I made it through the end thinking it'd get better with
time, but it just wasn't happening.
Shortly after this, our time for the wellness program ran out and we left the spa, feeling slightly better, but also slightly relieved....
Tot: 2.558s; Tpl: 0.102s; cc: 8; qc: 43; dbt: 0.0361s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb