Summing up two trips in the "neighborhood ": Bovec (Slovenia) with Julia, André and Manuel and Austria and Slovakia with Mariano
  • Day31

    Recommendations for Slovakia traveling

    September 16 in Slovakia ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    ~~~ This footprint is intended to help people planning a trip to Slovakia, not part of the travel journal! ~~~

    We enjoyed Slovakia a lot, there are many amazing places to be visited and it has the advantage of not being super touristic (yet).
    However, during our time in Slovakia and especially before, we noted that it's not always as easy to get information prior to the trip as one might be used to from other counties. This is why I would like to use this footprint to gather everything we learned so far. Please note that the information here is entirely based on personal experience, we might have misunderstood or missed helpful details. Also, prices and schedules refer to the time of our visit and may change. However, I still hope to make a contribution to facilitate planning trips to Slovakia.

    Language:
    In Bratislava, all of the people we met spoke at least some, many very good English. Outside the city it was rather the other way around, so be prepared to communicate in alternative ways. German language skills appear to be a little more common. Anyway it is always helpful to learn some basic expressions (in my personal opinion, this is also an act of courtesy and should be done in every country).

    Transportation:
    You can best move around by train or, for shorter distances, bus. In Bratislava and Košice (out of the places we visited) there are also city trams. From what we were told, cabs mostly exist in the larger towns, but are uncommon in the villages.
    Regarding the schedules: none of the connections are all too frequent (calculate with train frequencies of every 1-3 hours) and do not make any assumptions about the duration of the ride based on the distance, especially in the mountains (e.g., Poprad -- Štrbske Pleso: 29km, 1h). Therefore, it can be helpful to choose your accommodation for hiking close to where you want to go. For information in the schedules, use the website cp.sk. Tickets can be bought at the ticket counters inside the train stations.

    Hiking:
    If you are looking to climb the reaaally high mountains you might want to stick to the alps (the highest peak in Slovakia is "only" 2654m), but here you have the advantage of being able to hike many different routes from different angles in few days. For instance, the High Tatras is rather small areawise, so you can start from a different side of the mountain range every day just by taking a short train or you can hike in the Tatras one day, in the Slovak Paradise the next day and still stay in the same place.

    High Tatras:
    You do not need a car here, as the train and cable car infrastructure is very good (still, be aware of the schedules). All the official hiking trails (which you're supposed to stick to) are well-marked, so if you're rather spontaneous you can basically just follow them. If you want to plan your hikes in advance or want some more orientation I wound definitely recommend to buy a hiking map (3,50€ - 6,50€), which you can find at info centers or sometimes at sport shops. I will also upload a foto of our map in this footprint. The best info center we have been to was the one in Poprad, as it covered different areas (for example High Tatras and Slovak Paradise), the employee spoke perfect English and could answer all our questions.
    The hiking map and the trail marks also give you estimates of the difficulty of the trail and the time it will take you to complete each section. For us (not super fast hikers) the estimates were pretty accurate with the exception of the section from Skalnaté Pleso to Veľká Svišťovka. Since the difficulty did not quite match either, we believe that the estimates were taken before a large amount of rocks fell down on the trail and made it more challenging.
    Besides hiking, you can also visit some summits by cable car, the most impressive one being Lomnický Štít. This one is only possible to reach by cable car and the cable car has only one cabin, so if possible you should definitely try and reserve a spot optimally a few days before (for the schedule and cable car prices, see the pictures in this footprint).

    Slovenský Raj (= Slovak Paradise):
    One of the most helpful source of information has been the following blog: https://www.earthtrekkers.com/best-things-to-do-slovak-paradise-slovensky-raj/comment-page-1/#comments including the comments (especially that from Martina, July 10th 2019).
    You can visit the tourist office either in Poprad or one on-site. For the hikes here, having a map is not that crucial, as they can sometimes be found in the free information pamphlets and on the info boards in the park (of course, hiking maps are more detailed). The entrance fee to the park is 1,50€ per person.
    As to getting there (for current connections, see cp.sk): if you go by public transport, there are three possibilities:
    - buses going to Hrabušice (leaving at bus gate 14, get off at the crossroad between Hrabušice and Betlanovce); from here you have to walk along 1km to the main entrance at Podlesok, but these connections are more or less frequent (every 1-2h until about 7 p.m.)
    - direct buses to Podlesok (I guess those only run during high season, i.e. July and August)
    - take more stops in between
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  • Day30

    Mountain lakes

    September 15 in Slovakia ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Hike: Starý Smokovec - Studeného potoka waterfall - lakes (Malé, Nižné, Postredné, Velké and Vysné Spišske Pleso) - Tatranska Lesná

    Selecting only six pictures for this one was really hard 🙈

  • Day29

    Hike to Skalnaté Pleso and around

    September 14 in Slovakia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We hiked up to this (probably when full very pretty) lake which I believe in winter functions as one of the main aprés-ski spots. From there we still tried to hike up to the peak at Veľká Svišťovka, but didn't manage to since we had to be back in time for the cable car to Lomnický Štit (this was so far the only place where the information in our hiking map failed us: the hike was supposed to be just about one hour, but apparently it's rather 2.5 hours one-way).
    Today's route can be found here: https://www.komoot.de/tour/258249363?ref=wtd
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  • Day27

    Štrebské Pleso

    September 12 in Slovakia ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Mariano hurt his foot a bit on our hike yesterday. Since we want to be fit and ready for the more challenging hikes in the High Tatras mountains, we decided against a second day in Slovenský Raj and instead took a chill day at the lake (actually also part of the High Tatras).Read more

  • Day26

    Slovensky Raj

    September 11 in Slovakia ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    Any visitor to Northeastern Slovakia should visit Slovensky Raj (= the Slovak Paradise). Several trails lead through beautiful gorges. At several parts of the trails, ladders, metal steps and wooden runways help you along the way.
    We tried out the most popular trail Suchá Belá, which was pretty cool. We also want to try Velky Sokol some time, but for this one it's best if you come by car, as there are no buses even close to the starting point.
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  • Day25

    Crazy Slovakia

    September 10 in Slovakia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    On it goes to Slovakia, more specifically just a tiny hop across the border to Bratislava. Most of what we saw and learned here was during a free walking tour. Let me sum it up for you:
    1. Slovakians are crazy (mostly in a very charming way)
    2. You do not want to be a Slovakian woman on Easter monday (you will literally be whipped and splashed with ice, cold water)
    3. Slovakians love drinking, especially homemade liquor like Slivovica, Marhuľovica or anything else ending in -ica
    4. Hiking is a Slovakian national sport
    5. To manage 4., 3. is required (it is said that in order not to get lost in the high Tatras, you must drink your fair share of Tatratea, a liquor with up to 72% of alcohol).
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  • Day23

    Spanische Hofreitschule

    September 8 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We got the chance to witness the first morning training of the season at the Spanish riding school, Vienna's traditional horse training and breeding ground, which was founded by the emperor Karl VI.

  • Day22

    Hundertwasser

    September 7 in Austria ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Friedensreich Hundertwasser was one of the most famous Austrian artists. The most characteristic aspects of his design include intense colors, non-repetitiveness and the refusal to use straight lines, even in architecture. Consequently, the buildings he designed - three of which we visited today in Vienna - consist of colorful, curvy walls and floors, with a lot of plants integrated on the sides and the roof (Hundertwasser was also an ecological activist and made his materials from natural resources).
    In the afternoon, we met with Klaus at Prater, an amusement park right in the city center and did some screaming on the rides. The most chill of them was a chairoplane (dt.: Kettenkarussell) that gave an incredible view of the entire city (but was just reeeeaaally high 🙈). We did, however, to other ones where you were twisted and turned really fast and felt like falling out of your seat from very high.
    A little recommendation on the side: if you want to have a not too expensive student-style meal (or just some simple beers at a place that does not at all remind of the Viennese Opera style), try out Käuzchen.
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