After another five hours in the car, we arrived in Karlovy Vary, or Karlsbad, a Czech (and a few times in history, German) spa resort town. Lovely! Beautiful buildings (all spa hotels), and a cute downtown shopping area flanking a river, we stayed right in the heart of it in the nicest hotel we had for the trip. Once we figured everything out at the hotel and got the right currency (not on the euro), we walked across the street (literally fifty feet out the hotel door) to the spa for a three hour treatment including wading in a mineral water pool, massages, mist inhalation treatment, and an oxygen treatment (I am in the midst of an ongoing bronchial infection, and Herr was hoping these treatments would help). An interesting experience with plenty of Russians and unlimited tea.
Herr and his friend went out that evening after a tasty dinner at the hotel while I stayed back to take a third attempt at my homework (*le sigh*). I didn’t last long before I passed out, and Herr came back a few hours later slightly disappointed, having found the town’s train station was a modern design not pleasing to the eye. Lucky for him though, he saw the city at night.
The hotel let us keep our prime parking spot after we checked out, so we didn’t waste time in exploring. We hadn’t realized this at first, but the town really does have a lot of springs; so many that the city capped several of them making them “everlasting” spigots of nasty spring water, free drinking for anyone who can tolerate spring water. Our first stop was to Diana Tower for a commanding view of the area. We took the first funicular rail of the day and were the only ones in the tower. A nice way to start off the day. The town was still waking up when we came back down, so we made our way slowly toward a Russian Orthodox church with shiny gold-colored onion domes and all.
The road looped back to the river, where we stopped in several shops. Earlier I found what I was told later to be a “spa wafer” (I had one about 10-12 inches round), so I was determined to pick up a box (of smaller ones!) for later. We finally figured out what the little porcelain “pitchers” were too; the town is littered with stands and stores selling “pitcher”-like items, but really they have a long drinking spout (like a built in straw I suppose) with a hole on the top. You use these to fill up with spring water at the various heated springs along the walk! Like I said, the water is not terribly pleasant, but it was worth trying! I haven’t seen “spring-drinking” activities anywhere else yet.
Piled in the car again and back for Germany, we didn’t quite make it in time to stop by Ulm Muenster (although we did a lot of walking already). Herr and his friend walked around Speyer the next day then went off to Paris the day after. I had a lot of work to catch up with, but aside from missing the train back to Germany, they seemed to have a good time.