Day 5 and technically the last day of the tour, where we get to see the country and more interesting places. Target today was the Spa City or Karlovy Vary or Carlsbad as it was also known. A city full of spa’s and healing centers, it dates back to the 14th Century, where it was commissioned to be created by King Charles IV, based on the healing powers that he had undergone at the Spa’s.
Today more of a popular tourist resort and also a town where people come in by the droves to get healed at the city’s various Spa’s, the drive was nothing short of spectacular. Nearly a 140 kms away from Prague, the drive gave another insight to the beauty of the country, as we passed through small towns or districts, or villages whatever one would call them. What was noteworthy was the drive route, which was devoid of any bad roads, in fact was such wonderfully laid, one would be forgiven to think that this was another national highway, even though it was limited to two lanes.
Beautiful houses, landscapes, open farms and a bright sunny morning is the one single description that I can put to the drive. One would easily be forgiven to dream or wish, that the route and the drive would never end. It was one, that one would wish to go on forever, and you stop by the many wonderful locales for a break and continue driving.
With a population of just around 50,000, it was amazing to learn that there were nearly 300 such springs, healing centers in this small township. Per the locals, at any given point of time, there were any where to near about a 100,000 people that were passing through the city, with the bulk of the visitors being German and Russian. The visit, well what does one say, you are heading to a Spa! Arriving there, greeted by a horde of tourist visitors like us, groups 10 times bigger than us, every one heading into some spa or the other. Each of them either an apartment building which provided residence facility or a hotel, or a mini mansion housing a pool, Jacuzzi amongst its various amenities in addition to the tens of healing rooms, which ranged from whirlpool baths, to steam rooms to sauna baths, each for individual use. And not to forget, the town was also the venue for the movie Casino Royale, which had the Grand Pupp Hotel featuring in it.
Now, being a tourist has an advantage that on a day trip you get to see all this, however as you are on a day trip, also means that many a time, one is short of reservations in advance, leaving little or no chance to get what one wants. The fact that we reached late and the Spa Hotel turned out to be at one end of the city, time was lost and what could only be utilized was the pool what with all the healing centers all booked, making one wonder, how many unwell people did come here? What with the pool trip done, we headed off to lunch at a Beer brewery, the Karel IV restaurant which was an actual brewery dating back nearly 200 years and was reconstructed as a restaurant cum square, where one could simply sit and while away. The food, again being vegetarians here sometimes coming to being disadvantageous, was fairly decent and apparently the only place where we got maximum varieties, but what was impressive was the beer’s on offer, all local produces. The restaurant itself was down an oak set of stairs which was the actual brewery and being in there, literally took one to another environment.
The darkness of the place, the musky smell, the beer churners or mixers whatever one would call them and having freshly laagered beer that was all homemade, gave an indication of the difference between mass production beer and those that run within families for generations.
With lunch over, and realizing that it had been too late to visit the next stop on our itenary, a glass and porcelain factory visit, we headed off onto another famous pastime of the Kings of yore. A Horse ride!
Now, this is one that I have not done for years and it is amazing how it feels to be in a horse carriage, with the horses going clip clop, clip clop. I have always wondered if the horses really do that, but yes, they do, and it is more apparent when you are on the Carriage, rather than passing one by, by foot. Having an enviable seat next to the carriage rider, it was as one would say, an icing end to a day, where in you get the best of the views. Yes, sitting luxuriously in the carriage seats is also luxury, but being upfront has a charm of its own. Passing by through the city, through the colourful apartments all built in harmony and synchronously, it was one lane after another. Passing by the waterfalls, the Church of St. Mary, it gave a totally different perspective of the city as opposed to seeing it walking by.
Pool, lunch and a horse ride done, it was to head back home, or the hotel after what had seemed a long day, though one would feel that half a day was lost in travel. But these are small let go’s of seeing the country side and it is not every day that one gets to travel around relaxed without a care in the world, just seeing what nature has to offer and not only that, but also what man strives to maintain.
The evening was a bit more relaxed and with dinner done, another visit to the Old Square was on the cards. It was an amazing feel that despite having been there just a day before, it still felt fresh with all the activity around. A hour two just chatting, having a drink, a tinge of rain, we headed back to the hotel, in a way with a heavy heart. The tour was coming to an end and well, as all good things come to a close, the excitement and the joy of going home too was on the mind.