Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) 2000      Last Updated: 13-May-03

Airport

Leaving Graz on our first flight in Europe was very exciting. Graz - being an international airport - had much more structure than I expected. There were several detailed pre-defined departure procedures and we followed the one to the East. Our 3.1 hour flight led us around the Eastern end of the Alps, and then followed up the Danube. Despite flying the long way around a heavy thunderstorm cloud, we crossed the border at the pre-announced place, altitude and time. And then headed straight North to Karlovy Vary. Rosi seemed very exhilarated after we arrived safe and sound at Terra Firma. I was busy trying to figure out what needs to be done to park the plane here.

The international terminal at Karlsbad, Cz  Our plane taxied into the parking place (in 2 months of flying, we never had to PUSH the plane) 
Rosi very relieved that she survived her first flight with her daughter as the pilot (The town of Karlovy Vary is in a valley behind her)  The new and old tower of Karlovy Vary (much has been done in the last 10 years) 

Our experience here was similar to what we found typically at the airports in the former East Block countries we visited. We were welcomed warmly (even if two women travelling alone like this seemed to surprise them a little). The staff was extremely well prepared and supportive. Typically, we were met by a 'Follow-me' vehicle as soon as we were off the active run-way. And by the time the engine stopped, we already were greeted by customs, handling and gasoline representatives. We only needed to let them know what our plans were and how much gasoline we needed, and were taken care of. Sometimes transportation methods into town or hotels were recommended. We always were introduced to the flight planning staff, that would help us file the flight plan, provide weather information and present us with the bill when we left. This was very helpful, because when I met different staff on departure, I encountered much disbelief, that I was the pilot (mostly probably because I did not wear stripes and uniform, but casual clothes). All our flights were filed, since we almost always crossed borders and/or flew into larger airports. Never, in the two months, did I have to push back the plane into a parking spot. We always drove straight in. Often we were the only small plane on the field, since we tended to only fly into international airports. One could get spoiled that way. It almost makes the landing fees of ~ 60 US$ worthwhile. However, paying 4x the price of gasoline was difficult to swallow.

The key learnings from this flying vacation were:

 

Town of Karlovy Vary

The very picturesque town was not at all visible from our approach, since it is in a river valley below the main plains. Karlovy Vary is known for its 13 hot springs. We expected to find a nice spa to relax. Instead we found many people walking from spring to spring and DRINKING the sometimes very interesting-smelling water from specially designed ceramic mugs. The town was busy with tourists and in various states of restoration (the town, not the tourists). The 'baths' are currently under reconstruction. However, we were unable to find out whether or not they would be spa-like. Our hotel room was very nice and modern, and right on the river. We saw many Art Deco (or Jugendstil) buildings, and signs informed us that Goethe visited here numerous times.

The main access road from the airport can be seen descending into the valley between the second and third row of houses  Many streets in the center are for pedestrians only 
And a river runs through it ...  It is very tranquil, clean and beautiful 
Part of City Park 
Many beautifully designed, old and covered walkways must keep visitors dry during the cooler seasons  Architectural detail of one of the major hotels in town 
Great perspectives  Felix Zawojski Building (wonder who he was/is) - again beautifully restored 
Another gorgeous Art Deco detail (it just lit up as the sun set) 
Shopping window for puppets  Local or Murano glass. We saw many shopping opportunities - I guess one needs to do something between sips 
An example of people milling around a set of springs and filling their cups  See the golden ceramic 'straw' coming up from the bottom of the cup? Everyone seemed to have a cup like this. And they were sold in the souvenier shops, too. 
The springs came in all sizes. Large ...   ... and small  And in all types of settings, too. 
One of the local specialties (besides beer) was 'Caraway Trout'. It was filled with caraway and butter, and very good. 

 

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