The most important application of the waters is regular drinking straight from the springs. Twelve springs , emanating from the depth of 2.000,- to 2.500,- metres , of temperatures of 41? to 72?C and containing up to 40 chemical elements, are used for spa treatment. This treatment is usually combined with procedures such as physiotherapy, walks in the fresh air , bathing in mineral water, bathing in mineral carbon acid water, massage
Another great facade
I saw this building with the great Art Nouveau ornaments close to the Cinema / theatre as well.
It is absolutely necessary to watch each and every facade, as there are plenty of hidden gems of architecture all over Karlovy Vary / Karlsbad, even in the sidestreets.
Kranky in Karlovy Vary (excuse the Germanic pun!)
I found myself in Karlovy Vary for the 10th International Mine Water Association Congress - an event that turned out to be almost as stultifyingly boring as it sounds! Mining conferences are usually boisterous, jolly affairs full of opinionated people who enjoy a good verbal tussle over a few beers, but hydrologists and hydrogeologists are a way more subdued breed ...
In fact what had tempted me to attend the conference - other than relishing the prospect of my customary role as resident dissident and general agent provocateur at the proceedings (I always get allocated the 'graveyard shift' after lunch to wake people up) - was the opportunity to visit the Czech Republic again. And a week of conferring in the spa town of Karlovy Vary (the former Carlsbad) sounded like a good idea at the time ...
What I forgot (and promptly remembered within minutes of setting foot in the ghastly Communist-era Hotel Thermal) was why I loathe spa towns with a passion. In my experience, they are full of old, rich, sick people in cruisewear whose collective grumpiness seems to project a pall of gloom over the entire town, and I should have been warned!
Regardless of the cranky spa clientele, their self-absorbed surliness couldn't detract from the prettiness of the place and the loveliness of the setting. The centre of town exudes an air of elegance and exclusivity and at the height of its popularity in the 19th century and early 20th century, it takes little imagination to realise that this must have been one of THE places for the glitterati of the age to be seen sick.
The demographic of the spa clientele has changed over the years from its heyday when the likes of the Russian Czar Peter the Great and the poet Goethe (who liked it so much that he visited 13 times) visited to take the waters - by contrast, the 21st centure guest book is a little more downmarket and boasts the likes of Jackie Chan, and these days, you are more likely to find Arab women in purdah than crowned heads of Europe in the spas. I must concede that the people watching is excellent: having heard rumours of a strong Russian mafia presence, I was particularly fascinated by the sight of paunchy middle-aged men wandering through the town in overly tight white trousers and sporting predatory-looking trophy girlfriends on their arms (it was hard to discern which gender was bristling with more bling!)
These days, Karlovy Vary is still beautiful and a pleasant place to stop for a few hours. It survived the Stalinist era remarkable unscathed (apart from the tragic demolition of a terrace of beautiful period buildings to make way for the construction of the monstrous Hotel Thermal - a classic case of adding insult to injury!) and tasteful renovation has helped it to retain its timeless elegance. Other than enjoying the range of spa-related activities, eating out and shopping, there's not really an enormous amount to do in the town, but this is unsurprising given that relaxation is probably the key attraction of the spa experience.
The town is set in a narrow valley, and surrounded by beautiful wooded slopes. I would strongly recommend taking a stroll through the forest, which is crisscrossed with paths, and those with limited mobility (or the plain lazy) can take the cablecar to a lookout from which you get a lovely view over the town. The spas may provide relaxation for the body, but the gorgeous views provide solace for the soul!