As we crossed the Czech border, a wave of accomplishment swept over us. We stopped for the obligatory border picture. Rich turned to me and said “Last month we didn’t even have bikes or licences. We’ve just ridden our motorbikes across five countries to the Czech Republic!”. We had and it was exciting.
The pictures above essentially summarise the days ride. The temperature had plummeted overnight from a balmy 28 degrees C to just 13! Notice how happy we look to have arrived in Karlovy Vary. Notice also how you can’t see our faces because there’s so much fog and water on the camera lens! At one point, we were taken aback by the density of the cloud surrounding us… turned out it was a steam train in the valley below! Had I been able to see any of the mountain views along the way, I imagine they would have been spectacular.
Hands frozen stiff and completely sodden, we parked up in the centre of town. When attempting to pay for the parking with our Euros, we encountered the next in a long line of planning fails… They don’t use Euros in the Czech Republic. This was pretty funny when we remembered that neither do many of the other countries we planned to visit on the trip. We did know but had just sort of overlooked it until that moment. Turns out, everywhere seems to exchange for you… for a price.
For 34EUR we checked into a private apartment, complete with washing machine, hot shower and kitchenette. What more could you ask for after a cold days ride?! Free parking outside too.
Karlovy Vary is known for it’s hot springs (most of them pretty phallic). A beautiful spa town for the rich and famous, and us, and truck loads of Asian tourists. These little porcelain mugs were for sampling the spring water. We just had a small taste, sans cat mug. The verdict; scorching hot and tastes like rotten eggs. We washed it down with another tourist favourite; doughnuts! The queue stretched around the corner so we knew they had to be good. Rich had Nutella and mine was stuffed with fresh cream and strawberries. After eating almost all of it, let’s just say that my mind was telling me yes and my body was definitely telling me no!
We learned that the (English) word ‘funicular’ means cable railway (who knew?) and rode it up to the lookout tower.
The stunning view, I was expecting. The heard of floor-hoovering piglets, I was not expecting. Both were spectacular.
At the bottom of the funicular, Rich was very exited to find the Grand Hotel Pupp, the ‘casino’ from the James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’. The architecture was getting decidedly more eclectic with golden domed churches and German looking wooden carvings.
Our hosts recommended local establishment Smichovsky Pavilion for dinner. We sampled some local fare. Wild boar goulash with dumplings and Venison steak tartare with fried bread and raw garlic. Apparently that was the healthy option! All I can say is if you’re visiting the Czech Republic, BYO fruit and vegetables!