Loket and Karlovy Vary: Czech countryside: castles, spa and verdant vales.

Dobrý den! or hello to the Czech countryside and  Čau! (like Italian Ciao! ) or goodbye to Praha or as we English speaking folks call it.
Gosh it's sure confusing in this nation as to what name one should give to anything, something to do with being Bohemian ? - why be conventional ? Even the country goes by many names, hardly surprising given its war torn past. Looking at Wikipedia I quote:
The Czech Republic's official formal and short names at the United Nations are Česká republika and Česko in Czech, and the Czech Republic and Czechia in English.[1] All these names derive from the name of the Czechs, the West Slavic ethnic group native to the Czech lands. Czechia (/ˈtʃɛkiə/), the official English short name specified by the Czech government, is used by many international organisations and attested as early as 1841. However, most English speakers use [the] Czech Republic in all contexts.[2][3] Other languages generally have greater official use of a short form analogous to Česko or Czechia[4][5] (such as French [la] Tchéquie or Korean 체코/Cheko) although forms equivalent to "Czech Republic" are not uncommon.
Anyway, I digress.

We spend our remaining three days in the countryside and lament there wasn't room for more. I'm a country boy at heart and love being out and about in the open. In a lot of ways it would of been good to spend our time first in the country to get over jet lag then migrate to the city; I think we did not as we were restricted due to the Opera and other performance dates.

It was a pleasant drive through lush green countryside. First we visit the small town of Loket, staying at Karlovy Vary. The next day we head to Zbiroh castle for a couple of nights before flying out to our next country: Montenegro.



Loket is a pretty little town just under two hours drive from Prague. It features a castle and is located in a bend of the Ohře River, and not too far away from Karlovy Vary. It's a pleasant walk around the town, and probably would have been nice to spend a night here.


The castle is perched up on the hill, as most are.  It was built in the 13th century serving as a temporary residence for the royal family. The web site www.loket.cz gives a lot of detail about Loket and the castle.

Not being too far, we walked up to the castle, and it was an interesting place to spend a couple of hours wandering around.  The views were lovely with a good one of the river below, clearly showing the 'elbow' that the town is built on.


The castle museums  many details and artifacts from its early history and a particularly gruesome exhibit in : The torture chamber. It was stomach churning. To think how we treat our fellow beings: the horror is that we are not far removed from this cruelty today - different with better weapons and tools.


It is hard to imagine moving around in metal armour (and on a hot day like today) , but evidently the soldiers did at one time.


Also on this hot day, the local coffee shop provided a soothing medicine to sooth our hot bodies .... Oh well what's life if you can't enjoy an ice cream every now and again !


The local church sported an interesting colour scheme of rusty-tan and white - the Church of St Wenceslas  is a baroque church built in 1734. Unfortunately it was closed so we could not look inside.


The Atmosfera restaurant supplied us with a nice lunch before we headed off to our day's destination of Karlovy Vary.


Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary is a spa town. Because of its rejuvenating powers, it : expensive accommodation, shops, quality restaurants and of course all the spa options you could want. Parking (30 Euros overnight !) is at a premium because there is not that much room in the built out valley floor.


We splurged with our accommodation staying in a boutique hotel called Quisisana Palace. It was nice enough, but hotels really aren't my gig. I'd much rather stay in bed and breakfast accommodation or a furnished house somewhere. Lifts, impersonal corridors, air conditioner noises and other rumblings, and in this case the cooling fan inside the digital television screen annoy me.


It does - to be fair - offer some freebies for the impoverished (like moi after paying that parking fee) :  free spa water of varying temperatures from luke warm to scalding in a nicely presented public hall. Fill up, imbibe  and feel the health giving powers as your body rejuvenates itself !


If you believe all this stuff, why not I say ! I have fun playing the game for what it is, and no Stuart was hurt in process ! (nor our very own "Marilyn Monroe" as the steam vented up the drain.)


I like Karlovy Vary, it is pretty, well laid out. Perhaps too densely populated with buildings. The river down the middle, though lined with bricks adds something from nature as well as the hot saline water.


The Moser's glass museum had a couple of visitors. The exhibits were well protected from clumsy oafs like myself.  The craft of the glass was evident, it was quite formal in design with that objective for elegance.  Somehow it didn't work for me, but I can see why many wouldn't object to having a few glasses on their dinner table.


We elected not to eat at our hotel as the menu was a bit limited and we found quite a few more appealing places as we walked along the streets. The quality and furnishings of some of the establishments were amazing.


In the morning I got up early and clambered up the valley trails opposite our hotel  ( after navigating through several hundred stairs).  The effort was worth it to get a good aerial view of the town and blow away some of that excess nutrition of last night's meal. Some of the buildings are perched in a manner that makes you wonder about the safety of the construction process. I didn't take my camera, but the details are loosely here on the Karlovy Vary website walking tour 7 - a bit longer as I meandered on the other side of town as well.

Walking Tour 7

Blog Indexes: