When I heard that there was a Becherovka museum in Karlovy Vary (Becherovka is a Czech brand of herbal liquor), I became very interested in going there, but I noticed the accommodations in Karlovy Vary were a bit pricey. I also tend to like smaller towns when I travel because I like the slower place and getting to know the town better in a short amount of time. So I started searching on the map for places that were nearby and I came across a town called Loket, or Elbogen in German, both words meaning elbow.
When I looked up some pictures of Loket online I was stunned by how picturesque it was and knew I had to go there! Loket is about 285 km from Görlitz, so it took us about 3.5 hours to drive there. It’s not really the right distance for a day trip, but perfect for a weekend getaway. Loket gets its name from the shape of the river Ohre, which surrounds it on three sides. It made a perfect location for the fortified castle and town to protect from intruders (the castle dates back to the 13th century).
We arrived after dark and in a bit of a snowstorm to our hotel Restaurant & Pension Atmosfera. The room was really beautiful with chandeliers, antique-looking furnishings and a beautiful tiled stove. The bed was perfect for those who like firm mattresses and we thoroughly enjoyed eating breakfast and dinner in the restaurant. Each morning we were the only ones there and they served us bread with meat & cheese, eggs and apple strudel.
In fact, we sometimes felt we were the only ones in Loket! In January the town almost shuts down and there were only two restaurants open that we could find. We didn’t mind because we felt that we had the entire town to ourselves! When we woke up the next day, the sun was shining so we decided to take a walk through the hills around the city where we had several stunning lookout points to photograph and stare in awe at this fairytale-like place. This was my favorite part by far.
We also booked a tour of the Becherovka museum in Karlovy Vary, the museum is no longer the location of the factory as they have moved to a more modern facility on the edge of town. The tour was quick and to the point, and the point was obviously the sampling of different liquors at the end! There were other flavors sold in their gift shop, so I wish we could have tasted those as well, since I already know what their standard tastes like. We bought some souveniers, like a bottle with a retro look and a special kind called KV14 which is sugar-free and has 40% alcohol content.
I would love to go back to Loket sometime when it’s warmer. Perhaps I won’t like it when it’s swarming with tourists – how could a place this magical not be? However, I’d like to try more of the restaurants and shops when they are open and go further on the paths in the hills around the town. I read that one can walk all the way from Loket to Karlovy Vary! Another great excuse to go to Loket are the events held at their open-air amphitheater which is just below the castle – they have an annual opera festival and I saw that this year Jethro Tull will be playing there!
The weekend was over far too quickly and we regretfully packed our bags to drive home on Sunday. When we went outside, the town was coated in a layer of snow and the sun was out, so we stopped along the road to take a few more pictures of this magical place before we had to leave.