Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A quick jaunt to Bohemia

Since we've been here in Europe, I've tried hard not to get too complacent about the fact that we live so close to some pretty incredible places.  In fact, the town we live in is pretty freaking fantastic.  But no matter how many times we say that we are going to escape on quick day trips to visit some of these locations that are a mere stone's throw away, we just never seem to make the time.

This weekend we finally made time and drove into Bohemia to an amazing town that was literally only 50 miles from where we live.  Our destination was Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.  What is a Karlovy Vary?  That's exactly how my sister responded, and honestly, that's what I was thinking when Big R first suggested we go there.  But after you look at the pictures we took, you'll be left with no question as to why people would visit.

Karlovy Vary is a spa town nestled in the hills of what used to be eastern Germany until the end of WWII.  For those James Bond fans out there, scenes from Casino Royale were filmed here at the Grand Pupp Hotel.  Celebrities started coming here in the early 19th Century for spa treatments and to drink the medicinal mineral waters found in the 13 hot springs located within the city.  Pretty fantastic.  People actually receive prescriptions from their doctors to get treatments in Karlovy Vary.  The town is littered with spas, fancy hotels, and high end boutiques for the shopping enthusiasts.  Although Big R managed to sneak in a quick massage at one of the spas, we were really visiting for the allure of the beautiful architecture and all of the amazing colors seen there this time of year.

Here are some pictures to show you just how beautiful this place is especially with all of the fall autumn colors...

The autumn colors created a beautiful backdrop
A view from a bridge crossing of the Ohre River
I am always in awe of the colorful buildings here in Europe
We alway seem to find time for fun on these trips as well.  The weather wasn't perfect, but it really could have been so much worse.  Knowing it would be chilly, we dressed for the occasion and just hoped our adventure would be washed out with rain.

When is the last time you saw a telephone booth?
Kisses while we waited for Big R to get his birthday massage.
Love those baby blues...
The architecture did not disappoint.  It was absolutely beautiful everywhere that we looked.

A gorgeous gazebo at the end of the promenade
Our regal pup
Such immaculate detail on all the buildings...
Me and my boys inside the promenade
One of Big R's beautiful photos
Ancient bath house in the center of Karlovy Vary
More fantastic architecture and color
This little man has already been to 7 countries!
Another beautifully decorated bath house in Karlovy Vary
Playing music in the street!
I mean, seriously?! So beautiful...
Little r enjoying having me to himself
Horse drawn carriage rounding the bend
We found a cozy place along the pedestrian mall for a traditional Czech meal.  We devoured the food, (even little r ate most of his) and we were impressed at how little we paid for such a great lunch.  We strolled down the pedestrian walkway toward the Grand Pupp hotel to get some photos of this amazing building - super fancy.

Right behind the Grand Pupp is a furnicular that takes you up to an old water tower they call "Diana" with an incredible view.  As much as little r loves to ride "trains," we were in the mood for a little family hike. So, we saved some cash, and and took the short 1.5 kilometer hike up the hill.  The views along the way were incredible.  Little r had a ball, and Big R took over baby carrying duties so that I could have a mommy break.  The hike was quick, but fun nonetheless, and you really can't beat the views we got along the way and from the top of Diana.

The Grand Pupp hotel - we'll be staying here next time - HA!
Just one of the many views we got on our hike to Diana
Little r and me waiving down at Big R
One of my favorite pictures from our day in Karlovy Vary
My amazing husband
More music!  So much fun!
a final photograph of the beautiful architecture on our way to the car
Such an amazing little trip.  I can't believe we saw all that we did, and it was only an hour away by car. We want to go back, and I really hope that we do and we don't just talk about it.  If nothing else, this mama could use a spa treatment or two.

You know us though, and we can't take a trip without making it an adventure.  We somehow managed to get pulled over by the Czech police.  Yep, your heard me, and believe it or not, I wasn't speeding - I swear!  The most bizarre thing about the experience was that we got pulled over backwards.  I was following a white van that looked like it had blue lights on top.  From behind, it could have been a vehicle for just about anything.  Something was telling me NOT to pass him even though he was going crazy slow.

Right at a pull off for a gas station, the blue lights flashed and a message came across the back of the van saying in three or four languages "follow me"!  Weird, right?  I didn't argue, and I looked over to see Big R squirming in his seat.  Knowing I wasn't speeding and we were driving our brand new car, I knew exactly the reason we were in trouble.  Damn vignettes... Seems that several countries in Europe require a "tariff" to drive on their major roadways.  We are used to the one in Austria, and you can't forget that you need one on your way to Prague because there are a million signs at the Czech-Germany border.  When I looked at our route to Karlovy Vary, I was under the mistaken impression that we would be driving back roads all the way there.  Unfortunately, our back road turned into a highway for the last 5-7 kilometers of the drive.  We thought we'd get away with it. Yeah.... not so lucky...

So, here I am watching the Czech police "suit up" to come talk to me.  They know not a lick of English, so we spoke German to each other.  That's always fun. I just prayed things stayed chill so that I could continue to understand them.  We could have been in a lot of trouble.  I've heard horror stories, and I know the Czech police are no joke inside Prague.  I kept my cool as I handed them our passports. They seemed shocked to find out we were American.  Happily, this worked in our favor this time.  I played dumb and they gave us a warning as they watched me head into the gas station and buy a vignette.  Ah, always an adventure with this crew...

Karlovy Vary is a beautiful town.  If you live in Bavaria, it is such an easy day trip.  I can't recommend it enough.  Most of the spa resorts will have same day treatments available, or if you plan ahead, you could easily schedule a couple hours of pampering.  Even if you don't take advantage of the spas, the jaunt is worth it just to see this amazing place.

1 comment:

  1. We looked at going there in the same weekend as Prague, but of course there wasn't enough time given all there is to see in Prague. I should also share that the first time I was pulled over from the front was in Germany - I also was not speeding, in fact I think they thought I was an illegal immigrant or something because I was going so slow :) Again the pictures are amazing!