Not everything in life will go according to plan–but that’s what keeps life exciting, isn’t it? Well, at least it keeps you on your toes. The day I visited Karlovy Vary, a quaint spa town hidden away in the Czech countryside, things did not go quite as expected.
I woke up early and took the tram to U.A.N. Florenc. Or rather, what GoogleMaps told me was U.A.N. Flornec. (It wasn’t.) So unfortunately, my friend Joshua and I missed our morning bus to Karlovy Vary. Thankfully, Joshua is literally the definition of go-with-the-flow, so we headed over to a RegioJet storefront to book tickets for later in the morning. Talk about last-minute travel, am I right?
Since we had over an hour before the next bus departed, we went to The Donut Shop, my favorite sugar-coated guilty pleasure. How do I put this? I’m kind of obsessed with The Donut Shop, to the point where the baristas all know me. Their brown butter donut is quite literally the best donut I’ve ever had, and I’m on a mission to try every flavor before I move away. But this morning, Joshua and I both opted for the coconut & cream cheese donut. MMM! Perfection.
Then, Joshua and I went to the actual Florenc bus station and boarded our quick 2-hour bus. On the way there, I read on my Nook and caught up on some sleep. I’ll admit: I did very little research on Karlovy Vary prior to visiting. The only thing I really knew about it was 1) it’s a spa town (whatever that means) and 2) people walk around drinking hot spring water out of little cups. That’s it. But really, that’s all I needed to know.
Our first stop upon arrival was a little tourist shop that sold the porcelain jugs people use to drink from the hot springs scattered throughout the town. These mineral waters are believed to have curative powers for bodily ailments, and their temperatures range from 102 – 163°F (which isn’t as hot as it sounds). I sampled quite a few of the waters, from the “snake spring” to the “freedom spring.” Frankly, I didn’t like the water. It was not refreshing, and had a sort of tart yet bitter taste to it. Even after sips from several different springs, I still wasn’t a fan.
After walking the length of the old town, we’d worked up quite an appetite. I’d heard great things about Tandoor, an Indian restaurant hidden away on a side street, so we found it and had some truly delicious Indian food. The flavors were rich and the portions were generous. I didn’t know how much I’d missed good Indian food until we walked in and got a waft of the pleasant spicy aroma.
Karlovy Vary is also famous for its oplatky, or large wafer discs with sweet flavored filling. Wafer snacks are popular throughout the Czech Republic, but they are everywhere in Karlovy Vary. EVERYWHERE. We stopped at both a little oplatky stand as well as a store, where we picked up a few boxes of different flavors. My favorite was the duo, a combo of chocolate and hazelnut.
After enjoying our oplatky, Joshua and I walked around a bit more before heading to our bus. It may sound like we didn’t do much–which is because we didn’t. We only had a few hours in the town, plus there really wasn’t much to do for two 20-year-old students. Most of the tourists were there for the spas, but we just wanted a taste of the town and to get a better feel for Czech culture outside of Prague. It was a wonderful, bite-sized trip that (save for the missed bus) was low-stress and a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Prague.
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