Ok a lot of people in this area rave about Karlovy Vary. But when we drove in I was a little worried. I hadn't done too much research and some of the outskirts of Karlovy Vary that we drove through were a little sketchy. We found an underground parking garage that had potholes and moldy walls and lots of cars that apparently had been there for so long that they had a pretty thick layer of dust/dirt on them. Oooookay. We left the car there anyway and walked out and just started going.
Because I was unprepared, I didn't really know where to go or what to do (other than trying the spa waters) and so when we got to this spa, we saw a horse and carriage and decided to take the carriage tour and get an overview of the city. It was totally worth it!! Karlovy Vary is Charles hot springs basically and it's kind've in this narrow valley with the houses built up the sides. And when you get in there they have natural springs that bubble up. You buy these special cups (although you don't have to - plenty of people just fill up water bottles) and then try the waters!
But back to the carriage ride for now.
This was a beautiful church we saw from the carriage that we didn't get a chance to go into because it was at the top of a big hill and it was hot and we didn't really want to walk back up there. But we think it was Russian Orthodox by the look of the outside. The signs in Karlovy Vary were usually in Czech, English, and Russian -- they must get a lot of Russian tourists.
Statue to Karl Marx
Still squished, just in a carriage this time.
More views of that church
Absolutely beautiful architecture!
Apparently in a spa town you eat spa wafers! They're giant, thin cookies with a flavored filling. We got a box to try and they were pretty good. They're like sugar wafers. You can buy them in a box or fresh and warm. We bought the box in chocolate and lemon. I think the point of them is to get the taste of the water out of your mouth.
We came across this sign with all of the "sister cities" for Karlovy Vary and Carlsbad, California where Chopper served his mission is on the list!! That was pretty cool.
This is one of the fountains and you can see the buildup of minerals. All of the various fountains tasted the same to me -- heavy metal tasting -- but one was carbonated!! Naturally! They were also different temperatures although the coolest one we found was about room temperature, maybe a little warmer. Some were so hot that I wouldn't let the kids try them because I was afraid they would burn themselves.
I thought for sure after the first sip that the kids wouldn't want to drink any more but they really wanted to try them all!
My dad didn't try any but mom drank quite a bit.
The kids of course got cups shaped like animals. I'm not kidding when I say that I watched people fill up water bottles with the stuff. Either the taste doesn't bother you or you chug it down anyway thinking that it will do you some good. And maybe it really does. I doubt it has the healing properties that were probably ascribed to it years and years ago but we all take minerals in through vitamins and food anyway so maybe a concentrated dose like this helps something in your body. I don't know! I really couldn't stand it myself though.
Natural river or canal or something with a great view
Quite a few of the fountains are under colonnades or some were even inside a building. This one had a great statue of Hygieia -- goddess or hygiene -- that Abby wanted to a picture with. Some of the colonnades were stone and some were wrought iron -- they looked like they were from the 20's or something. It was really gorgeous.
We probably should've eaten here -- dad said it was our chance for Czech's Mex (haha).
It turned out to be an interesting and beautiful city and we had a good day. The one thing we wanted to do there that we didn't get a chance to was see the glassworks at Moser glass. It closed earlier than we anticipated but hopefully we'll have a chance to go back at some point. We drove home that night and on Wednesday morning I took dad and Jeff to the airport. Dad flew home (mom stayed!) and Jeff took the train to Munich where he met up with Mark for a week and then is also traveling through Italy and Slovenia and Croatia. Our time with them went really really fast because we were on the go so much but I think (I hope) that they enjoyed seeing our area and spending time with the kids. I know that the kids really enjoyed having them here and will be sad when Grandma has to leave too. It was a great blessing to have them come!!!