The typical pastime in Karlsbad is promenading the spa quarter and sipping the healing waters, watching people and being watched. The springs are out in the open and the water is free to take.
To do this, a water cup is a must-have accessoire. These cups are on sale everywhere. They have a long beak which also serves as handle. You drink from the beak, not from the large opening of the cup, for two reasons: because the water from some springs is very hot, and in order not to spill water all over you while you are walking.
Refill the cup whereever you like. My recommendation is, however: don't fill it to the rim but just a bit. The taste varies from spring to spring and some are not that enjoyable (although I had expected worse). Besides, these waters can have effects on your health and unless you know what you are doing, i.e. have a doctor's prescription to drink so-and-so-many cups per day, it is better to limit your intake.
The common designs are kitschy at best, ultra-tacky-kitschy at worst. But somehow this style fits into Karlovy Vary's belle epoque appearance. There are a few modern designs and some with funny figures, just in case you really really can't become friends with the usual style.
The prices for the smallest cups start just below 100 czk, larger ones cost 150-200, very big ones more. My blue one was 145 czk. Prices are more or less the same at all stalls.
The Czech Republic is famous for its beers and a visit is incomplete without sampling it. The famous Pilsener, the most bitter type of beer, is named after the Czech town of Plzen. But there is more. Krusovice black beer is quite popular in Germany, too, but there are many breweries and varieties I had never heard of. It does not matter much which one you start with. Pubs and cafes are everywhere. I found this Gambrinus quite pleasant after a long day of walking.
The relief of the king and the beer barrel is to be spotted on the gable of a house not far fron the bus station along the way towards the spa quarter.
We went to k. VAry in October and did not have much to do after 5pm. It seamed that everybody prefered to stay home where it was warmer and confortable.
As it can be seeing, my friend was all alone in that square at 5 pm. It was a bit cold, but not that much considering we are from a tropical country.
The place is terrific, of unusual beauty and charm....sit by the river and enjoy your drink..visit Tower Dianna and feel the forest...try original spring water and the Becherovka!...so many nice things to enjoy... I was impressed by the rudeness of the shop keepers and hotel/spa personnel...I rarely met this phenomenon in my travelling years...
At the end of the mainstreet in Karlovy vary / Karlsbad you will get to the most famous hotel in town.
Have a look for the great architecture and considder, that everything started with a love-affair...
...when one of the rich guests came to Karlsbad, he also had his personal cook and his pattissier ( Konditor / pastry-cook ) with him.
The pastry-cook fell in love with a lovely girl from Karlovy Vary and started his business step by step.
At many places HOT water is coming out of these fountains - it is heathly, but really extremely hot, and your holiday might be over quickly, when you try to drink it like tea.
At many places you get small jugs, that also make a great souvenir :
These jugs allow you to drink the water by little sips, as this is the best way to get a healing of your diseases.
I never was a big fan of Swejk, and I am sure I never will be.
But when you travel though Czechia you will meet Svejk at many places, all of them trying to tell you to have a certain connection to the book or the author...
Mostly these places cater to the bus-tourists with high prices, quick service, good toilets and a sculpture to take pics of the "real Svejk"
If you can't help it - here it is, take a picture - even free of charge, as this sculpture is placed on an open square in front of the pub and everybody may freely take pics without beeing forced to pay or consume anything.
Have a closer look at this great balcony, decorated with Mozart's silhouette and musical keys - maybe someone of you may "read" these keys and tell me, if it is just decorations or maybe even a famous musical-theme by Mozart ??
It seems to be a favorite local custom to quote famous guest's names as a kind of advertisment for the hotel or pension.
And thank god, they came to Karlovy Vary / Karlsbad quite often and stayed in different places...
...makes some good business for many hotels
I never saw so plenty of inscriptions in Russian outside of Russia so far.
After the end of Communism the Russian language somehow disappeared completely at most other places in Czechia (except some museums) and people would avoid speaking it...
BUT here in Karlovy Vary / Karlsbad the russian customers made a rather big percentage of the guests , since Tsar Peter the Great, who was here 1711 and 1712 .
It is a pity to see such a wonderful building, still needing a lot of money to get it restored one day.
Some of these buildings in the very best locations - like this one opposite the famous hotel Pupp - might be sold quickly as soon as investors are willing to pay enough for such a " gem "
Have a look at these great balconies, facing the river and the Hotel Pupp.
This place is obviously not run as an ordinary hotel at the moment, but rather a pension for longer stays, or maybe for local people living there.
If you stay longer in Czech Republic, I may simply recommend you to make your souvenir-shopping at other ( much cheaper ) places.
Most shops, with a very few exceptions are simply too expensive !
Musicians will perform inside this colonada all day long.
I am not sure, if they are payed by the city of Karlovy Vary or depend totally on donations by the visitors.
They expect some coins anyway and somehow a walk in the park without these musicians would be just half of the fun.
There are a number of places where you can take the waters from taps in the town for free.
The first time I came to the town I was dying for a nice cold drink. Thinking I would save a few pennies (it was a LONG time ago) I went to fill up a water bottle from the taps.
It was only then that I discovered the water actually comes out warm.
Whilst I'm sure it's not "de riguer" I found out that when the water is chilled, it actually quite tastes quite pleasant.