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Bad Karlshafen is famed today as a health resort centering around its huge spa facility, Kristall Weserbergland-Therme, at Kurpromenade 1 (tel. 05672/92110), open Sunday to Thursday 9am to 10pm, and Friday and Saturday 9am to 11pm. Entrance to the spa, including a sauna bath, costs 19€ ($30).

In the environs, Porzellanmanufaktur Fürstenberg lies in Schloss Fürstenberg, Meinbrexener Strasse in the town of Fürstenburg (tel. 05271/4010; www.fuerstenberg-porzellan.com), 8km (5 miles) south of Höxter, our next destination. You can visit it after leaving Bad Karlshafen, heading to Höxter.

This baroque castle rising over the Weser River is the second-oldest porcelain manufacturer in the country. Its trademark is a blue F under the glaze, and its porcelain has been highly prized by collectors ever since 1753.

Although the porcelain is sold at many outlets, there is nothing quite like buying it at its home base, where shipping can be arranged. If you call in advance the day before, you can arrange for a tour of the factory. On-site is a sales shop selling the porcelain, along with a museum tracing the factory's history, and even a cafe for lunch.

Entrance to the museum costs 4€ ($6.40), and it's open April to October Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm, November to March Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm. The on-site shop is open only April to November Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.