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Karlovy Vary 2017

Beautiful Czech Spa Town.

This was our fourth visit to the Czech Republic. Our first was to Prague for several days; our second was to Znojmo on a day trip from Vienna; our third was a day trip to Cheb and Františkovy Lázně from Wiesau last year.

I have wanted to go to Karlovy Vary for a long time, because at one point we had a teaching job there. We were fully intent on going, after our job in Poland went very very wrong and we disappeared from it overnight. However, the Czech embassy in London took forever to process our work permit; the school we were to go to in Karlovy Vary kept accusing us of messing them around by deliberately not getting our work permit faster, my mother-in- law, who we had asked to put us up for about a week till we went to the Czech Republic, got understandably sick of us after about five weeks with no prospect of us going anywhere, so in the end we were so fed up we abandoned Karlovy Vary and took a job in Isparta, Turkey. I do not regret this we both loved Isparta, but it seemed right that we should at least see Karlovy Vary at some point. By the way our Czech visa naturally appeared when we were in Turkey, but by then it was too late.

Our arrival in Karlovy Vary was not pleasant. We had had a nice enough journey there on an old style compartmentalised train which still reeked of the Communist era. We shared the compartment with a Chinese man who understood Czech and a Slovakian who could not speak English but had a conversation with us consisting almost entirely of British football team names. Still he was nice and helped us know where to get off. Karlovy Vary has two train stations and this one was the furthest from the touristic centre. To say it is being renovated at the moment is putting it mildly. The station is currently demolished as are all the platforms. Sadly I was nearest to the exit door, but I would not open it, as I thought we had stopped near the station due to signals. Then I noticed other people exiting through nearby doors and Czech people behind me getting more and more irate because I would not open the door, so I got off onto a heap of rubble and walked across more rubble to a demolished building. Welcome to Karlovy Vary.

This station was not on our map, we had no Czech money, taxi drivers at the station were in your face, persistent and annoying, this reminded us of bad experiences at Prague Airport - we fled, but sadly we fled the wrong way. It was hot, we had luggage, we were lost. I left Peter with the luggage and set out to find where we were and where to cross the river. On my way I encountered a drunk Czech whom I feared was going to beat me up, he was so aggressive. It was not a good start. Anyway eventually we found a bridge across the river from which it was only a short walk to our hotel - the Kavalerie. This is a tall building with no lift. We had to carry our suitcase up several flights of stairs, but apart from that it was OK. It was hot with no air conditioning, but it was friendly and central. We were just pleased to have a home.

That evening we went for a meal, but we did not start to explore the town. We left that for later. Food in Karlovy Vary was very good and very reasonably priced and, as you would expect in the Czech Republic, the beer was excellent, too. That evening we ate near the hotel in the Restaurant Parlament. I had chicken and black beer; my husband had pork with dumplings and light beer. The food was very tasty and very filling.

Our room in the Hotel Kavalerie.

Our room in the Hotel Kavalerie.

Our first meal.

Our first meal.

Next day after a pretty good breakfast at our hotel, we set out to explore Karlovy Vary. We started at Becherplatz which was very close to our hotel.This was a former 170-year-old distillery producing the famous Becherovka liqueur. I did not try any. It is described as herbal bitters drunk as a digestive cure. The former site of the distillery is now a museum, restaurant, cafe and shopping complex.

Becherplatz.

Becherplatz.

Becherplatz.

Becherplatz.

Karlovy Vary is situated on the confluence of two rivers: the Ohre and the warm water Tepla River which is fed by hot springs. Many of Karlovy Vary's sights are on or near the Tepla River.

The Tepla River.

The Tepla River.

The Tepla River.

The Tepla River.

As you walk along the Tepla, you pass many hot springs and colonnades with springs. We purchased a drinking vessel to partake of the waters. These are on sale everywhere. The water is slightly sulphurous tasting and apparently does you the world of good. At the end of one colonnade there were some interesting sand sculptures. We also re-encountered the goddess Hygeia, whom we had previously met in Karlovy Vary. She is a daughter of the god of medicine and is herself the goddess of health and cleanliness.

Taking the waters.

Taking the waters.

One of Karlovy Vary's many colonnades.

One of Karlovy Vary's many colonnades.

The beautiful River Tepla.

The beautiful River Tepla.

Sand sculptures.

Sand sculptures.

More colonnades and springs.

More colonnades and springs.

The goddess Hygeia, I think she was following us.

The goddess Hygeia, I think she was following us.

We had a look in the lovely Baroque Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene.This was built in 1737 on the site of a former Gothic church. It was a familiar church to me as it has featured in almost every picture of Karlovy Vary I ever saw.

Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene.

Cathedral of St. Mary Magdalene.

After visiting the church we continued to follow the River Tepla towards the upper end of town. There were many ornate and beautiful buildings on both sides of the river, almost all of the buildings were brightly coloured. One building of note that we passed by was the City Theatre. Eventually at the far end of town, we arrived at the Grandhotel Pupp. The Grandhotel Pupp is a 228-room luxury hotel which hosts the annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The hotel was built in 1701 by Burgomaster Deiml and later became the property of the Pupp family who expanded it greatly. Under Communism the hotel was nationalised and renamed Grandhotel Moskva. The hotel's original name was restored in 1989 and it has since been privatised and refurbished. The Grandhotel Pupp featured in the 2006 movie 'Last Holiday' starring Queen Latifah. It also appeared in the 2006 James Bond film 'Casino Royale'.

The River Tepla.

The River Tepla.

Peter next to the Tepla.

Peter next to the Tepla.

City Theatre.

City Theatre.

Grandhotel Pupp.

Grandhotel Pupp.

Grandhotel Pupp.

Grandhotel Pupp.

Grandhotel Pupp.

Grandhotel Pupp.

Not far from the Grandhotel Pupp we saw the funicular that goes up to the Diana Lookout Tower so we decided we would take that up to see the view. This funicular was built in 1909. The Diana Lookout Tower is located on Friendship Height directly above the centre of Karlovy Vary. It was built between 1912 and 1914. The top of the tower can be accessed either by lift or by climbing 150 stairs. We were lazy and took the lift. The view from the top is very pretty.

After looking at the view we came back down in the lift and headed for the nearby Restaurant Diana for some refreshments. This is a very pleasant spot. Behind the restaurant is a little mini farm with pigs, ponies, goats and peacocks.

The funicular.

The funicular.

The Diana Lookout Tower.

The Diana Lookout Tower.

Restaurant Diana.

Restaurant Diana.

View from Diana Lookout Tower.

View from Diana Lookout Tower.

View from Diana Lookout Tower.

View from Diana Lookout Tower.

Refreshments in the Diana.

Refreshments in the Diana.

Inside the Diana.

Inside the Diana.

Diana's mini-farm.

Diana's mini-farm.

Diana's mini-farm.

Diana's mini-farm.

Diana's mini-farm.

Diana's mini-farm.

After spending some time in and around the Diana Restaurant, we took the funicular back down as far as the Deer's Leap. From here there were many other lookout points. We enjoyed the views from these, found the statue of the deer about to spring from its rock and walked back down to Karlovy Vary rather than go all the way back to the funicular.

More views over Karlovy Vary.

More views over Karlovy Vary.

Deer's Leap.

Deer's Leap.

Peter with the deer's leap statue.

Peter with the deer's leap statue.

Back down in Karlovy Vary once more, we walked to St Luke's Church. This lovely little Anglican Church was built in 1877 on Castle Hill. It was financed by English spa guests and designed by Josef Mothes.

St Luke's Church.

St Luke's Church.

We then passed a statue of Karl Marx before arriving at the Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul. This beautiful Russian Orthodox Church has sparkling golden domes which had attracted our attention when we were looking at the town from the hills up above. The interior of the church is rich in decorations. This church was sponsored by wealthy Russian visitors to the spas.

Karl Marx.

Karl Marx.

The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul.

The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul.

The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul.

The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul.

The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul.

The Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul.

Walking back to the town centre from the church I passed a monument to Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya. I had never heard of her and assumed she was an athlete or something. She was not. She was a Russian journalist, writer, and human rights activist. She is famous for reporting on the war in Chechnya despite being continuously intimidated for doing so. She was finally murdered in the elevator of her block of flats on 7th October 2006. I am not sure why she is commemorated here or if she had any links to Karlovy Vary.

Monument to Anna Politkovskaya.

Monument to Anna Politkovskaya.

Monument to Anna Politkovskaya.

Monument to Anna Politkovskaya.

Back home we discovered my husband had injured his feet badly from all the walking we had done that day, so we had to take the rest of the time in Karlovy Vary easy and not do any more sightseeing. This turned out not to be too bad as Karlovy Vary is perfect for sitting around, drinking thermal water and letting the world pass by.

We did manage nearby sights such as fountains, bath houses, markets, parks, bars and restaurants which were close to our hotel. We lived right next door to a beautiful teddy bear shop. We enjoyed seeing the bears get out their brollies when it started to rain. We left Karlovy Vary from its smaller and more central station and were very grateful not to have to go back to the awful one we had arrived at.

Fountain in centre of town.

Fountain in centre of town.

Peter at the market.

Peter at the market.

Elizabeth Bath House.

Elizabeth Bath House.

Statue outside bath house.

Statue outside bath house.

Statue in a park.

Statue in a park.

Cute shop next to our hotel.

Cute shop next to our hotel.

Posted by irenevt 06:51 Archived in Czech Republic

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Comments

It is a great place. Nice report.

by ADAMYAMEY

Thanks for visiting, Adam. I'm still finishing it off. All the best, Irene

by irenevt

Blog now finished.

by irenevt

What a beautiful, elegant town, although a shame about the unfortunate start to your visit. But I can't believe you went to the Becherovka distillery and didn't sample any! It's one of my favourite drinks, having been introduced to it by friends Mark and Larry at the VT meet in Krakow :)

by ToonSarah

I guess we were too busy sampling the beers to bother with other drinks. Thank you for viewing my blog. All the best, Irene

by irenevt

Hi, The train station at K. V. was no place to linger ,at the time of my visit. I found the best way down to town by chance. Loved the place. I also drank the water and beer. The beer took the taste of the water away. Also took the funicular. Thanks for bringing back good memories .. Stay Safe Alec.

by alectrevor

Haha I like that sentence the beer took the taste of the water away and I know what you mean.

by irenevt

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