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City Portrait: Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Czech Republic

Why It’s One of World Traveler Uwe Krauss‘s Favorite Places in Europe

“Carlsbad is a diamond in an emerald frame”, That’s how the well-known explorer Alexander von Humboldt once described this spa town with its splendid Belle Epoque architecture. Carlsbad sits along the pretty Tepla river gorge surrounded by seemingly never-ending woods (the emerald frame). For hundreds of years it was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Even today the town attracts royalty; the King of Norway and many Hollywood actors are rumored to vacation here.

It’s one of my favorite places to visit in all of Europe not because of whom I might see but because of the spectacular view of the Tepla river valley that it offers. When I’m leading a group of riders on the European Romance Tour, we travel right through the most beautiful bohemian forest on our way in to town; the woods seem to go on forever. Traveling on this road, you might see an occasional village but not much else and then suddenly as you come around the last corner, lined by oak trees, there is this overwhelming architecture around you. You actually feel like you’re entering a different century.

If the scenery doesn’t intrigue you, then the world-renowned spas will. Carlsbad naturally has about 80 hot springs, which are said to cure all kinds of diseases. Early in the morning, it’s not uncommon to see people filling up their cups at the colonnades, these large ornate buildings that house the spas and their elaborate fountains. Each of the hot springs in Carlsbad has a different temperature and a name. It’s just a very unique and breathtaking experience to visit here. Even though Prague is only about an hour or two away, I would choose to come to Carlsbad over Prague every time. It’s one of Europe’s truly special places and my pleasure to share it with guests on theEuropean Romance Tour.

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