May 12, 2014

Calamari Vary, a.k.a. Karlovy Vary

After our Girls Night In, complete with fondue and movie night, the ladies and I were ready for our trip to Calamari Vary!

I mean, Karlovy Vary.

Some peeps aren't so good with the pronunciation, so this became our inside joke. It's probably not that funny to you, huh? I guess you just had to be there.

As you can see, there was way too much fun to be had!

The idea to visit this town came from the movie, Last Holiday, since it was filmed there. Much of the movie took place at the GrandHotel Pupp, and I was dying to see it! From Hohenfels, the trip is a little over two hours long, easily doable in a day. Here are the things you should know:

1. You MUST purchase a vignette for this trip (at least from the direction we drove in from). This covers the toll tax on certain roads. Many European countries require these, so always check before your trip if it's necessary.


The smallest vignette we could purchase was for 10 days. Of course, we didn't need the whole ten days, but that's the way it works. The price was 11,50 Euro. The directions for use are on the back of the vignette, they tell you what information to write on it and where to place the sticker on your car.

2. When you stop for the vignette, I highly suggest using the ATM at the gas station. We stopped at the first gas station right over the border. These nearly always carry the vignettes you need, so it's best to purchase right away rather than search for one later.

Czech koruna

The reason I tell you to use the ATM there is this: we could only find one ATM in Karlovy Vary, and it was nearly a 2km walk! There were lots of places to exchange your money if you had euros on you, but the rates would not have been as good. Many of the places we stopped would only accept the Czech koruna, and they would not take credit cards.

3. Pick your parking deck before you go, and plug that into your GPS. I'm happy we did this, the town can be confusing to drive in. My GPS took us straight to the parking deck. I chose one on Libusina Street, with security cameras and a free WC. The whole day only cost about 11 US dollars. Worth it!

Ok, enough of the practical stuff. Let's get to the fun!

View of the GrandHotel Pupp

The main street in Karlovy Vary

We turned right out of the parking garage and headed down the hill into town. One of the first things we saw was the GrandHotel Pupp! If you've seen the movie, then I'm sure you recognize this. After a mad search for the ATM (don't be like us, people!), we made our way to the Diana Observation tower. There are several of the towers around town, accessible from a funicular (cost was 80 Czech koruna for the roundtrip). Our plan was to see the view and grab lunch at the top.

Diana Observation Tower

The restaurant was good, and not too crowded. You can take an elevator to the top of the tower (free), and there is even a petting zoo behind the restaurant. If you want, you can hike back to town instead of taking the funicular.

Top of Diana Observation Tower

We saved room for dessert after our meal, because we were headed back down the mountain to Cafe Pupp! Mmmmm….. chocolate and cake and yummy goodness…

Dessert at Cafe Pupp

I have to be honest here. We were those crazy tourists taking pictures of everything! We even managed a selfie (taken by our Selfie Queen, Deborah):

I don't care (much) that people stared. The hotel was gorgeous, and the cake was so dang good. We were a little rotten, but who isn't every once in a while?

We did everything I wanted with our day, we even tasted the extra-special, supposedly healthy, funny tasting spring water:

Drinking the mineral water… we have very different reactions, ha! 

You buy special cups (the handle is a straw!), so the minerals don't all settle on the bottom of your glass. The cups are sold from street vendors everywhere, and they weren't expensive. I think the prices converted to about 5 US dollars. You can also just bring an empty bottle of your own if you want.

The drinking fountains are all over town. If you're thirsty, just walk up and grab a sip. Fair warning though… the water is hot from the natural spring, it definitely tastes "different", and because of its so-called healing properties I would consider it a cleanse. As in, don't drink much unless you want to spend your day in the bathroom. Capisce?

We also sampled the local wafer cookies, and totally fell in love.

Someone ate theirs before I got a pic. That someone was not me. Well, not me alone anyway.

The cookies are sold everywhere on the street, individually like above or in boxes. Care to guess how many boxes I came home with?!

To round out our day, we finished with a horse and buggy ride around town. It was a great opportunity to get off our feet for a bit, relax and enjoy.

As seems to be the usual, we were blessed with great weather (thanks to our Magic Sunglasses lady). I'm so lucky to have such great neighbors to hang out with, and I can't wait for our next adventure.

Until next time my friends, happy travels!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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  1. Did Queen Latifa go through all that practical stuff to visit Calamari Vary? ;)

    1. Probably not, lol! She has people to take care of that stuff for her :)