May 27, 2010 – Day 3 Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

27 05 2010

Mrs D and I got out to an early start today.  We were up at 0630 and getting things organized in the room.  We had an early breakfast at the buffet (standard – scrambled eggs, bacon, beans, wieners, yoghurt, sliced cheeses and an assortment of cold cuts).  With some time to spare before the others would be ready, I headed back up to the room and attempted to do some basic photo editing… Wow.. we took 3GB of photos yesterday.  Bigger is NOT always better :(  Do I really need 18Mpx resolution of a “snapshot”?  I’m definitely going to have to resize the photos that are in that category… My poor harddrive on my laptop will never survive this trip otherwise.

We arrived at the bus stop at 0915 to be ready for the 0930 pickup for the trip to Karlovy Vary.  It was an interesting trip.  We had 8 of us and 8 others.  The tour guide said everything in 3 languages: English, German and Russian.  Boy, that must have been annoying for him.  The bus ride was about 2.5 hours with short pee break at a gas station about 1.5 hours out of Praha.  Everyone was happy for the break. 🙂

Before heading into the hot springs core we stopped at the Moser Glass Factory where we watched the glass blowers work in teams of three to create beautiful glass vases and goblets.  I even had the opportunity to go and try blowing some glass myself.   Definitely NOT an easy task.  A 10 minute opportunity to visit around the store gave us the chance to see some amazing products… there was just no way that it was going to be able to make it home in one piece 😦

Upon our arrival in Karlovy Vary we went straight for lunch.  It was a good lunch. we started with a cheese and onion soup and I had chosen the pork and “potato pancakes” while others had the goulash or the chicken.  I had a nice Pilsner Urquel with my lunch and we finished it off with an apple strudel.  Satisfying.  With lunch behind us, we headed out to see the town.  

Our guide led us down the “hot springs” path and we stopped and saw the 12 different springs, highlighted by the “number one” spring that is actually a geyser spouting up to 17 metres in the air.  It was inside a large glass hall so that you could even enjoy it in the snowy winter.  “Yellowstone in a building” :)  The thing to do with this water is not to sit and soak like many hot springs… you DRINK it.  Mrs D and I purchased a special little drinking cup that allows you to sip your hot springs water while walking.  Apparently good for all that ails your stomach.  I don’t know about that, but I’m pretty sure I have had my annual dose of Iron, Mg, Ca and a few other minerals.  An acquired taste.

We wandered the path along the river and took some photos and enjoyed the day that had started with rain but was beautifully sunny this afternoon.  We went up to see the hot springs pool at the top of the “Thermal Hotel” but it turned out to be rather disappointing. It really was just a pool which was warmed by the springs.  Nothing overly special.

Our bus left at 1700 and we got back to Praha though the fields of rapeseed and rolling hills by 1930.

Francis and I headed down to the train station to acquire tickets and reservations for tomorrows trip to Cesky Budejovice, while the girls all went and shopped (again!) We had planned to meet back at 2030 but Francis and I were so quick we were back by 2000.  We hung out by the old square and had a coffee to keep us happy while we waited.  While seated in the restaurant, eight members of the France Chapter of the Hells Angels sat down next to us.  Seemed like nice folks.  I guess they are if you don’t piss them off 😉

The girls arrived at 2030 and we headed off to dinner.  We had a variety of foods – steak, roast duck, spaghetti, chicken and salad.  It’s odd trying to explain to European waiters that you want to share your food around the table “Chinese Style”  They really give you a funny look.  We stopped at Hagen Daas for ice cream on the way back to hotel.  We got back to our room at almost 2300.

Having settled in and started my photos uploading, I headed out to the local casino to try my luck.  People here aren’t exactly regular blackjack players so it was a bit of a struggle with some of them at the table, but I had fun and managed to win a bit of money to help with the trip expenditures!

It’s now 0230 and I have to get up in about 5.5 hours so I’ll bid you all good night… Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back on in either Cesky Budejovice or Cesky Krumlov.

I’ve got some photos up:

or, for the flickr oriented crowd:

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