05/07/2015 – High Tatras, Slovakia

Sunday 7th May – Mosovce, Slovakia

Woke to rain, wind and cold so stayed put for a short while to see if it was going to change.  Not happening today so at around lunchtime we opted to move from Zakopane to Slovakia and back to Euros as a currency.

Hard to believe we have only been away two months today.  Feels like we have been away a lifetime – seen so much already and still have 22 months to go (maybe, or maybe longer).

It was so noticeable when we crossed the border in to Slovakai.  It was like someone put a line on the road which went from being reasonably good on the Polish side to absolutely woeful on the Slovakian side.   Fortunately after a few kilometres it improved, somewhat.

Slovakia is only a small country with  80% of it being farmland.  Once on the other side of the Tratras Mountains, the sun appeared and the countryside with its beautiful hills and valleys took on a kaleidoscope of greens.  From Autumn shades to pale lime green, rich lime green, luscious green green to emerald – so many shades of green all together.  Tried to capture this in photos but none I think could do this sight justice.

Had a couple of hiccups trying to find our camp for the night.  Firstly the sat nav took us off the main road and up some unbelievably narrow dirt roads.  We stopped at the first opportunity and checked our co ordinates – nothing like we had keyed in.  We started again and had to backtrack 30 or so Klms.  Then, I am sure, other fellow travellers have experienced the next moment when we arrived at our destination to find a notice on the gate advising it was closed due to reconstruction.  My driver remained calm (on the exterior only, I think) while we looked for the closest camp for the night.  Time was moving on and it was around 6pm at this stage.

Our Polish SIM cards do not work in Slovakia so this made researching an alternate site for the night more difficult – thank heavens we have purchased a couple of Ipad Apps which incorporate off line mapping

Ziggy in the ex Soviet Camp in Mosovce

We arrived at our alternate site, Autokemp Drienok, Mosovce at around 7pm.  It was still light but the cold was setting in quickly.  Yeah!  The gates were open but no one was anywhere to be seen – no campsite attendants or no fellow travellers.   We parked and had a shot or two of our new found drink to warm up – vodka with dash of raspberry juice and a half dozen or so drops of Tabasco – warms up the belly in no time.Monday 8th May – Mosovce, Slovakia

This place would have been amazing in its hay day.  A massive ground with 50 or so cabins and grassy spots for around 100 or so campers and motor homes.  We opted to park on the bitumen – less chance of getting bogged.  The grass was overgrown, the cabins were very run down, the pool was empty and growing shrubs in the middle of it.  Looked like the place had not been occupied for a very long time.

You want me to connect 240 volts from that rusting hulk?

We found out later that it was a left over camp from the Soviet era – when the Soviets completely controlled their workers – across the road from the camp there were a couple of buildings – one a factory and one an office block of 4 levels with about 40 rooms/level.  Apparently the workers worked in the 2 buildings and the families were housed in the cabins.

The further east we have travelled the more evidence there still is of the remnants of the soviet era – the drab bare grey concrete buildings and poor construction methods, atrocious roads and rusting relics in paddocks – farmers driving 40 year old tractors down the roads at 10klm/hour – and Russian is either the first language or definitely the second.

We ventured into the small but quaint village only 200 metres away and found pretty much the same story.  A couple of kids on bikes, a stray dog and an old lady.   The pizza place was closed on Mondays so no luck there.

We found out that the restaurant on the other side of the entry gates to the camp site was where you had to pay for camping.  We dropped in on the way back – walked right into the middle of a bikies meeting – about 30 bikies stopped their meeting and stared at us – they didn’t say a word and neither did we – time to go for us!!!  so we headed out the door at quite an alarming pace. 

The camp site bordered on a national park, so after lunch we hiked off into the rolling hills and through the beautiful trees to the top of a very large hill.   The view was breath taking.   Still a sunny day but still very cold.   Saw some horses and riders enjoying the countryside.

Headed down the hill back in time for dinner.

Tuesday 9th May – Brezno, Slovakia

About 7km outside Brezno we found this amazingly beautiful farm – Sedliacky Dvor (web:  www.sedliackydvor.com).   So vastly different to the last place we stayed.   We were met by chickens at the entry followed by sheep with new little babies and a goat or two.   Thought we were at the wrong place at first but were met by a lovely young man who spoke excellent English.  This place is first class with beautiful bathroom facilities, washing machine, camp kitchen and gardens and wi-fi.  Everything is so well maintained and the hosts Monique and Deon, were just delightful.  For the first time we had other campers to talk to – both couples were Dutch (as were the owners).

Ziggy at Sedliacky Dvor – snugly in the orchard for the night

They have a community library housing books and tourist information including walking tracks in the area.  The sun was still shining and with no rain in sight (has been two or three days now) we decided to take advantage of the weather (though still cold) and go exploring.

The track we selected took us by farm houses and chalets through the beautiful hills.  Some parts of the track were quite steep and rugged and in some places, we had to cross little steams. 

We came upon a small house on the side of a hill where we saw a woman about 40 metres up the hill at a sink washing dishes.   The house was some 5 metres away from where she was, but there she was washing dishes in the open countryside.  Strange sight to see.  We waved- she waved back and said something we could not understand.  Next thing her husband popped his head out of the house and spoke to us in German.  Now my German speaking husband driver, flew into gear and the next 15 minutes were spent talking about everything and nothing.   They invited us to have coffee with them on our way back.

We dropped in about a half an hour later and headed up the hillside to a little three sided hut with table and chairs which overlooked the mountains and valleys below.  The dish washing tub was about 5 metres away.  Simon and his wife Margareta made some traditional strong coffee and after an hour or so, opened up a bottle of champagne.  Margareta, was a Czech and spoke Czech only, and so Simon had to translate for her.  She sat quietly and asked questions through Simon.

Krys with Margareta and Simon

Simon (who was 68) had lived in the area all his life and he gave us his version of life in the area pre during and post Soviet rule – very interesting indeed.

As the afternoon moved on, it became quite cold on the hill in a hut exposed to the elements, so we said our good byes with hugs and photos and headed back to Ziggy on dusk.  The temperature tonight was predicted to be minus 6 degrees so we fired up the heater and sat and reflected on the wonderful day and people we had met.

Wednesday 10th May – Tatranska Lomnica near Vysoke Tatry, Slovakia

We shopped at Poprad on the way and this was the sight that greeted us as we exited the Tesco Store

As we travelled higher and higher into the mountains, we could see the snow capped mountains of the High Tratras.  There are 24 or so mountains here above 2500 metres.  We arrived around lunchtime and settled in at the back of the Pension Slnecny Dom which is right in the heart of the village.  Only 4 spots here but again we were the only travellers.   Again a sunny day but can’t say a “warm”sunny day.   After lunch we headed into the village to find out some information on what is still open here as were we hoping to take a chairlift or gondola up the mountain.   Sadly we found out all lifts are not open now.  One MIGHT be open on the weekend – no guarantees – depends on the weather, she said.  We are only here for another night.  No internet at this campsite so we dropped in for a local beer at the Pension where we are staying and then back to Ziggy for a quiet night.

Thursday 11th May, Tatranska Lomica near Vysoke Tatry, Slovakia

Bought a pack of 40 eggs at the supermarket for around $4 yesterday so had a feast of scrambled eggs with Uncle Mirek’s home made Polish Sausage this morning.  Why 40 eggs you might ask?  Because they came in a pack of 40 and were on special!!!  Not much of this sausage left now, have frozen this so should last a little while longer.   We are really enjoying the different foods, even have my driver eating sauerkraut now.

Everything here is so cheap compared to Australia – have been buying 500ml stubbies of beer some as high as 10% or 12 % alcohol content for around $0.60AUD for a single bottle buy – beautiful bottles of white wine for around $4/bottle.

Spent the morning catching up on writing the blog – was 4 days behind so if left any longer this grey haired old lady would forget things.

Caught the bus almost at the front door to Stary Smokovec (beautiful little ski town) and from there took the cable car (funicular – cog wheel train) to Hrebienok.  Very touristy here and people everywhere. 

The track was pretty easy going
Krys at the first waterfall on the track

There are some beautiful walks from here through the forest and we so ventured on one that took us down a steep rocky track and came across some beautiful waterfalls. 

A Pension/Restaurant on the track

Then trekked back to the top.  There is a magic palace made of ice here but didn’t have time to see this as the last cable car was about to leave.

Headed home by cable car with some 100 school kids and then back to Ziggy by bus – interesting negotiating 2 bus tickets from a Slovakian bus driver who doesn’t speak any English and we are not sure where the bus is going anyway – hopefully in the direction we are wanting to go – about the last bus of the afternoon so don’t want to get caught out in the freezing cold air.


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