One of the strangest places that I have visited is Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. This town’s therapeutic mineral springs attracted the rich and famous- its visitor’s book reads like a roll call of honour for the great people of their times like Goethe, Mozart, and Chopin.
We walked through a handsome boulevard in the centre of the town, where pastel Art Deco and Nouveau buildings festooned with shapely balconies, (many of them converted in to designer shops and hotels) competed for attention on both sides of the river.
|The Grand Hotel Pupp|
Our wedding cake- like Grand Hotel Pupp felt like the sets of a period drama- a Baroque excess with glittering chandeliers and red velvet panelling that has starred in several movies like Casino Royale and the Last Holiday.
There are pavilions and colonnades that dot this spa town. The Mill Colonnade is a long outdoor walkway built like a classical Greek temple with graceful columns
Small kiosks sell the special Karlovy Vary cups which look like miniature watering cans to drink the special water from the springs- the porcelain cups have a straw built in to the handle.
|The typical cup for drinking the water|
|The taps with the spring water- the board tells you the temperature of the water.|
Elderly people walk around clutching a stylish cup, filling it at the fountains and sipping on it in between their spa treatment appointments.
There is the giant geyser called the Sprudel which is the hottest spring here, belching scalding hot water and steam, 49 feet into the air at 72* centigrade enclosed in a giant glass building.
There are three things that are sold almost everywhere: the first is the ultra- thin wafers in different flavours called Oplatky which are meant to be nibbled on between sipping on the spring waters.
The other is the famous Czech drink Becherovka also referred to as the ‘thirteenth spring’ which was invented by a pharmacist in 1807 and whose recipe is still shrouded in secrecy.
The third thing is the famous lead-free Bohemian crystal which was first made here by Ludvic Moser in 1857. Visiting the Moser factory on the outskirts of the town, we were treated to a display of glass blowing. Every famous person owns a Moser glass...