This is a continuation of our adventure in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
After lunch and a bit of shopping on our Google Maps guided tour of Karlovy Vary, we headed over to the Grandhotel Pupp for some directions to the Diana Funicular Railway, which turned out to be located in a small alley literally behind the hotel.
We purchased a family fare for the funicular, a type of railway along an incline that is operated by a cable with the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalanced. I noticed that these seem to be popular in Europe, and taking the railway shaved off some mileage- and elevation- from our hike day, much to Sami’s relief. As the funicular runs about every 15 minutes, it was not a long wait for the car.
We arrived at Diana, on the hill called Výšina přátelství or Friendship Hill, above Karlovy Vary, and headed to the Diana Observation Tower. The tower was built in 1914 and measures 35 meters high. There is an elevator to take visitors to the viewing platform up top, but we elected to walk up the mere 150 steps to get to the top. We were rewarded with some stunning views of Karlovy Vary and beyond, with the changing leaves of autumn and the cool of the fog. It is said that on a clear day, you can see the Krušné Mountains and the Doupovské Mountains. The day wasn’t exactly clear, and to be honest, I was not entirely sure what landmarks I was looking at; all I know is that the view was really pretty, vast even on a cloudy day, and entirely worth a 150-stair climb.
After enjoying the views for a while, we started to get cold, and headed back down the many stairs. We walked around Diana, which has a restaurant, petting zoo, butterfly house, as well as hiking trails. We took the trail to the Svatý Linhart Preserve, a nature park encompassing about 70 acres, with many deer and some wild pigs living within the preserve. After walking through some peaceful moss-covered woods, we found the bridges from which we could watch the animals grazing in the meadows. Emily also found some nice deer that she fed through the fences, while Sami had fun exploring from the observation bridges.
I was surprised at Sami’s desire to hike on, especially since it was cold and she was getting hungry, but she really had fun walking on those bridges, some of which were just under six meters high off the ground. We were able to safely enjoy watching the fauna without disturbing them too much. We ended up hiking about 3.5 miles from the tower to the Saint Linhart Preserve and back, with the 386 foot elevation gain, and that’s not counting all the other walking we did during the day. Fortunately it was a cool day, and some drinks at the Restaurant Diana were a nice way to finish the afternoon at Výšina přátelství. The girls enjoyed some nice iced coffees, which were coffee with ice cream, like an affogato, and I finally tried mulled wine.
After heading back down the hill via the funicular, we headed back to the Grandhotel Pupp, which the girls were hoping to check out for dessert. As it was Emily’s eighteenth birthday, we felt that some fancy desserts and drinks would be an appropriate way to celebrate. The Grandhotel Pupp is an elegant and historic luxury hotel dating back to 1701, when it was Saxony Hall. Over the course of the 18th century, the Pupp family acquired the land and buildings surrounding the hall, and were eventually able to purchase the hall itself at the end of the 19th century. The current buildings were constructed in the early 1900s, and they are indeed grand. Fun fact, the hotel was transformed into the ‘Hotel Spendide’ for the James Bond film, Casino Royale.
Our goal though was dessert, and there was a lovely selection of desserts and coffees at the Cafe Pupp. We each selected a dessert and drink and just enjoyed the time together in an opulent setting. The girls teased that they were disappointed to find that with a name like ‘Pupp,’ there were no dogs around. We did have Chris the Puppy, and he sufficed on this trip. The desserts were delicious, and it was nice to be able to sit inside and out of the cold.
After hanging out at the Cafe Pupp, we headed back to the colonnades. We tried the water (which was gross, as seen here) and had a lighter dinner at McDonalds before heading back to the bus station. Our day out at Karlovy Vary was a perfect celebration of Emily’s birthday, and had something for every member of the family- the outdoors, good food, and luxury environs. I think we’d like to return one day and take advantage of some of the many available spa treatments- as long as we don’t have to drink the supposedly curative water!
To help plan your trip to Karlovy Vary, you can check out the Karlovy Vary tourism website. Happy trails!