Chapter 19 – A hike through the Tatras

Our remaining time in Kraków (albeit one day) is worth a quick mention as we found a terrific cocktail bar, so good that we went back twice. They had an amazing and extensive cocktail menu and every single one we ordered was delicious (we had about 16 different cocktails over our 2 seperate visits). We also had dinner at an excellent steak restaurant, a 1kg tomahawk steak, succulent and tender, not to mention the bill was only about $60. Would have been quadruple the price back home. The last highlight of our tour was a Chopin recital which, while only an hour long, was super impressive; the speed at which the pianist’s hands moved was a sight to behold.

IMG_9062Next up was a quick week in Slovakia. We hired a car from a small city called Košice and headed into the mountains. The Tatras Mountains are famous for their beauty, they shoot up very quickly and are extremely steep and rocky. They are famous for hiking in summer and skiing in winter.

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Our first hike was through the Slovak Paradise National Park, it was a 4 hour hike through the Sucha Bela Gorge to the top of a hill and then back down again. We did it in 3.5 hours (we were very quick according to our host). The hike was fantastic, the creek flowed through the gorge with lots of waterfalls. We had to navigate some interesting man made and natural ladders, ranging from old rotting logs to metal ladders with chains for handrails. It was definitely one of the more enjoyable hikes we’ve done, except for the last half hour to the top, where we were out of the gorge and trekking the long steep trail to the peak.

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We stayed in a lovely little  guesthouse in a small, isolated village close to the national park. This meant our best options for dinner were to find the supermarket and work some magic in the kitchen. We cheated a little on one of our meals and bought a pre made lasagna, costing us €2 but surprisingly very very good!

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Our second day we hiked up the Tatras. We made a mistake with our route calculation and took the short steep way up and long slow way down when it would  have been better to do other way around. It meant the walk was a lot harder than it had to be and was pretty tiring. These mountains are pretty intense, the easy hikes still will take a fair amount out of you but the scenery is worth it. Between the lakes, peaks, rocky outcrops and waterfalls, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular hiking destination.

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It rained for pretty much the entirety of the next 2 days and we’re not keen on hiking in the rain so we gave it a miss. It was a little disappointing but we worked hard on the last few hikes and were pretty sore from them that we didn’t feel too bad.

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We left the Tatras and headed for a little town called Bojnice which is famous for a Disney like castle. Unfortunately for us the hotel we were staying at was having some sort of concert for the local zoo and they gave it a fair crack all night. We had to work hard to find food here too. We found a pizza place and ordered a large pizza to share, turning out to be the biggest pizza we’ve ever seen. Seemed like good training for our upcoming break in Italy.

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Unfortunately when we went to the castle in the morning it was overflowing with families. Whether this is because it was a Sunday or because of the fairytale exhibition there was a queue of about 200m to the entrance. Entry was only available with a tour guide and in Slovak so it was an unfortunate but easy decision to give it a miss and head straight to Bratislava.

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Bratislava was a pleasant surprise for both of us. It is quite a small city for a capital. We were on a mission to find the hostel from the movie, Hostel. Despite being certain we’d seen people sporting the infamous bloodhound tattoos, we looked and looked and just could find it! The other disappointment is that our money wasn’t nearly as valuable there as Eurotrip made it out.

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The highlights were all culinary based, a delicious ice cream joint that always had a line; dinner at a Greek place, with nothing beating a charcoaled mixed meat platter; and a cocktail bar with a twist. The bar offered a complimentary surprise shot. You had to roll 4 different dice. The first told you how many shots you got, the next the type of rum, the colour of the drink and finally the flavour, be it sweet, sour or bitter. And can’t forget the complimentary popcorn. Mmmm delicious!

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Time to head to Berlin and find Mieke.

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