Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

The funicular railway to the Café Diana on the hills above the spa town of Karlovy Vary marks a birthday this summer: it was opened to the public in 1914. It remains the easy way to get a bird's-eye view of Karlovy Vary (the town often referred in older travel literature as Carlsbad). The doctors treating spa clients would naturally prefer that their patients walk rather than ride up the hillside.

article summary —

The rituals surrounding daily life in the spa towns of central Europe are well known. There is the routine of taking the waters which involves a sedate perambulation around the various springs, stopping as prescribed to sip from a small porcelain mug. More agile spa guests have learnt the art of sipping on the move. And then there are the woodland walks. Ah, the walks… God has ensured that spa towns are generally in mountainous areas so the walks are inevitably strenuous. Woe betide the spa guest who does not complete the prescribed regimen of walks. Even Peter the Great, whose first visit to a central European spa was in 1711 when he stayed at Carlsbad, was not exempt from the walks.

Carlsbad (nowadays Karlovy Vary) is blessed with one of the finest settings of any spa town. The hills rise up above the Teplá Valley.

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About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 43.