If you are coming to Karlovy Vary, you must be either having problems with digestion or looking for the real peace (and boredom) inside. Or, as it happened to me, you can be visiting friends, who settled down there. Because of those lovely people I decided to spend a small part of my vacation in one the biggest towns of Czech Republic with 50.000 people living there.
The town itself is really toy-like. Surrounded by mountains, oozing with mineral waters, it used to host many celebrities from Giacomo Casanova and Otto von Bismark to Leo Di Caprio. The only time when Karlovy Vary loses its slow temper is the time of the annual international film festival. Its major events are going on in the ugly building of you-know-which-period (though, from above it should be resembling to an old camera).The rest of the year it lives its life with the dignity of an old lady from a noble impoverishing family.
Though the largest foreign diaspora in the town is Vietnamese, you can see them basically in the shops they own (some locals call it mafia, and it really feels like it). But you can also hear Russian almost on every step and see the Cyrillic letters at the doors of expensive shops, which makes you understand who and whose money is more wanted here. What seemed familiar to me as a person from Donetsk was the omnipresence of the local rich man named Holubek, who has also possessed a big part of industrial and business enterprises, plus owned a sport team.
If you travel to this region, I would recommend you to pack not just diamonds and high heels for the promenade, but also convenient shoes for hiking and a thermocup for drinking mineral water from buvettes all around the town. Sometimes it is even hotter and smellier than Borjomi from the source. The mountains and lakes in the area are very seducing for those who like nature!
Another thing which is typical for Karlovy Vary, except 13 mineral springs and several kinds of herb schnapps “Becherovka”, is multiflavourful wafers (oblatky), which are very similar to the ones you get in the church as the symbol of Lord’s body, but with tiramisu, chocolate, apple, strawberry fillings etc. It is nice to try a couple of them together with a cup of mulled wine (sorry, mineral waters, sorry, Jan Becher).The only bar I managed to visit during my short visit was neither posh nor fancy, it was a real Czech Bierstube, where you can get a mug of beer, dried salty fish and some sauerkraut for small money, and be happy with that. My friends meant, it was one of the most, ehm, authentic, or at least lively places here, and I actually found it quite charming in its way. If you want to check it out, ask for Vaclav’s restaurant in the old town.Another authentic experience was connected to the police. My friend meant that he had never had his documents checked and the street, and we drove direction Germany. Though it appeared that exactly on this day the Czech police was looking for illegal immigrants together with their German colleagues, so my Georgian ID was not super impressive in their eyes. Even though we managed to bring them my travel pass later on, we were fined with around 20 Euro for not having a real document from the very beginning. That’s the only way they could legally earn, meant my friend and the German policemen agreed. Proceeding things slowly and finding the tiniest mistakes.
So, after contributing to the Czech treasury in a very stupid way, buying beer and wafers and hugging my local friends I had to depart back to Germany. But Germany was a total different story… I will tell you once, if you are interested 🙂