Archives for the month of: June, 2018

Karlovy Vary is known as a centuries old “spa town” about 2 hours outside of Prague, and while my Love was in town visiting me for the weekend (still living countries apart at this time) we seized the opportunity to spend one day traveling to and from, and submerging ourselves into, pun intended, the little oasis Karlovy Vary is.

While I will be the first to say that yes – it is most certainly a tourist attraction, there are still people who call this adorable place home.

Tucked into a valley of Czech Republic mountains, we chose the perfect time of year to be here…April 29….right when all of the foliage was at its peak blossoming; an absolute stunning time around this part of Europe. Lush greens, blending with soft and vibrant pinks, purples, blues, yellows, reds and oranges. The quintessential visual of thriving life.

We woke around 7am on Sunday, picked up our rental car around 9am and hit the road so that we could arrive shortly before our spa treatments at 12 noon. I have to mention that this was the first time in 7 months I had the opportunity to drive a car – something this lady actually loves to do. Call it a need for speed, a need to be in control or the fact I was raised by a mechanic and also recently a Lyft (taxi driver in California) – I love cars, so I was stoked. Not only stoked to drive a car but to also drive European highways! Living my best life for sure!

If you do your research you will find that parking in Karlovy Vary isn’t exactly a possibility. However, the town website offers a lot of parking options, so I did my research, and found the closest parking garage within walking distance to the spa. I believe it was about 200Kč to park for the day there (about 8€). It actually turned out to be a beautiful down hill walk into the valley of Karlovy Vary. Side note though: don’t wear any type of heel 😜

Since we were cutting it close to the time of our appointment we walked directly to The Castle Spa where we would be spending our afternoon. I also want to mention that you need to do your research when booking your spa appointment in a Karlovy Vary spa; Because this town has catered to treating illnesses for centuries and people sometimes spend weeks at a time here healing themselves, some facilities require a medical examination before booking treatments. The Castle Spa was a facility I found that offers an experience without an exam, although they do have some treatments that require an in-house exam prior to treatment.

Being an interior designer and spa-goer, and obviously someone who’s hugely partial to the AIRE experience (see my last blog here) and their overall sophisticated designs, it’s always interesting for me to enter into other facilities with an open mind. 😉

Upon arriving to The Castle Spa we ascended stairs adorned with a beautiful fountain in the center, where we then approached a pillared entrance. From a design standpoint I do not think The Castle Spa did as well as they could for the initial reception lobby for guests. It was tight quarters dated with bulky leather sofas and without a simple, “Hello, I’ll be with you in just a minute.”

After checking in with the receptionist, we were given a robe and our changing room keys: some thing I thought was a unique take on mass-ly visited spas…a room of your own to change in. We were offered to purchase the use of a towel which would have been nice in hindsight, as post-spa showering is must. Not sure if you can just bring your own, which would obviously be an even wiser decision.

The receptionist himself led us into the co-ed changing room. It was a co-ed space because it wasn’t your typical locker that you use at a spa – it was an actual changing room, like a dressing room you change in at a retail store. So it didn’t matter if men and women were in the same room. The bathrooms were separate though. I have to mention the hair dryer option was quite unfortunate – One hairdryer option was in the locker room amongst the door-lined room: noisy and loud with no privacy amongst the sexes. The other option was in the segregated bathrooms, but this option seemed as though it was from 1980. Yikes. Wet hair for the day it was for me.

After changing into our swim attire we headed into the facility. Maybe I’m “special” but I could not figure out between all the gaudy marble, glass walls, mirrors and doors with signage which room I was supposed to initially enter. My Love finally found me and led me into the main room which was actually quite beautiful… if you don’t think about the water that looks like it’s not as maintained as AIRE’s or the creepy older “large” Eastern European men gazing at you in your high-waisted side-boob one-piece bikini. Can a girl get a little privacy?! Especially when I’m with my boyfriend. 😌 A large pool was the focal point of the space with a rotunda of lounge chairs at the opposite end being drenched with sun from the skylights of the dome.

We found some lounge chairs near a rock-lined ankle-deep warm pool where there was tea was close by, so we helped ourself to a fruity aperitif while familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the facility.

On this day we opted for the (look up spas name for treatment(s))! Which included two minor treatments and access to the baths. I chose two things which I had never experienced at another spa which were: the oxygen therapy and an underwater jet message. My partner opted for the oxygen therapy and a partial 15 minute classical massage.

In the meantime we waited in the large communal warm pool to be called upon for our treatments because like other spa facilities the attendants come to notify you when your treatment is to begin.

My first treatment was the oxygen therapy which was carried out at the opposite end of the large room of the pool in the sunny area in a lounge chair. The attendant gave me a few vitamins to take with water and plugged me in, quite literally. The machine looked a little dated and the awkwardness of the nasal tubes was quite novel to me…but I endured because I wanted to see how I felt after the 30 minutes of treatment. If I had to summarize this treatment, it would be an energizing treatment. Later this evening, we went out to dinner with friends and I was quite surprised with howmuch energy I had. I didn’t even want alcohol or food! I felt great.

After I was unplugged form the oxygen tank I went over to the lounge area behind the pool and beside some arched windows where I relaxed and absorbed the sun while I waited for my next treatment.

After about 30 minutes someone came over to notify me that my jet massage was about to begin so I needed to walk across the facility to the long stairway that led to private rooms. It was actually one of my favorite features about the spa itself.

Upon getting to the top of the stairwell all I saw was doors and a few chairs to sit in, no person in sight. So I took a seat, hoping someone knew I was waiting for them.

After a few minutes a warm-aura’d woman came from one of the rooms and in Czech asked me to follow her. (Not like I knew what she was saying, but I know how these experiences go and hand gestures help 😉)

The room was basically an elevated bathtub that had jets and a hose attached. She asked me to step into the tub, sitting on my bottom first. I held onto the sides of the tub as she used the head of the water hose to apply the pressure of the water onto my body. I can imagine some people might actually find this painful. I thought it was really interesting. You always hear how good swimming is for you – so a massage under water must be good too, right?

She asked me to turn over and rest my chin on a floating pad that was strapped to either side of the tub (wouldn’t want to have to keep your head underwater would you? 🤣) and carried out massaging the rest of my backside. She concluded and left the room from the opposite door. I waded in the water for a minute or so, got out of the tub, dried off and walked down the main stairs again to find my partner resting in a lounge chair in the sun.

Our treatments were complete so we both headed to shower off and change back into our clothes for the day, which is where I ran into the drying of the hair and no towel problem. I acquiesced, got dressed and headed to the front desk to check out and return the robe and key.

All in all it was a lovely day spent in Karlovy Vary. I love me a fresh adventure even if I’m as picky as they come. You canoodling if you don’t know the bad though, right?!

We went to lunch afterward close by and then headed back to the car because we had a two hour drive back to Prague and a dinner date with friends at 8pm.

I do recommend The Castle Spa! But if you’ve tried another place and you loved it, please tell me!

& By the way…In Karlovy Vary you are meant to drink (or taste like I did) the thermal mineral water from the hot springs. It’s hot – go figure. And salty – also go figure…it’s from the earth; sulfur pools. I was it exactly ready for either so I merely “drank” a drop and was on my way. I’m healthy as it is right?😉

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