Slovakia

Slovakia

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  • Day12

    So a breather in the lounge... Time to drink water and snack on nuts and olives. We could, of course, got roaring drunk and eaten our way around the world but even for our confused body clocks it was only about 10 am and so far too early for that.

    We watched activities in the lounge including the neck massage service and generally passed the time. It's always worse on the way home... Although it is good to be home it doesn't have that frisson of excitement that flying off to a new destination has.

    On arrival at our gate lucky me I got randomly chosen for a complete search of me, my bag and all its contents, kindle out of case, tablet out of case.. Much discussion of what my few remaining Chinese coins were! But eventually they decided I was OK and I was released to join Dad. We watch sunrise over Istanbul whilst waiting for boarding to commence... About 30 mins later than we were advised so a bit more tedium.

    Eventually on to the plane and away. Another breakfast and now the clouds have cleared and I am looking at the clouds hanging just in a river valley and now where else. By happy coincidence my copy of New Humanist has a very similar photo of smoke doing the same thing. I love the maplike quality of being able to watch the ground from a great height. We have just passed a belt of hills that seem to divide a great Hungarian plateau...

    Lots of flat hedgeless fields... I can see why Debbie in the Archers likes farming here... You could drive your tractor for miles...
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  • Day1

    Решила я совершить небольшую поездку, купила себе дешевые билеты до Братиславы и обратно, и вот я здесь. Меня всегда поражает, как буквально вчера я еще была на работе,сидела в дождливом Нижнем,и за день локация изменилась полностью.
    Что касается Братиславы, погуляв по вечернему городу совсем чуточку,могу сказать,что это усовершенствованная версия Нижнего Новгорода, отличается разве что небоскребами современные. Те же непонятные скверики,дороги странные, все какое-то немножко недоделанное, а главное-дико темно в вечернем городе,фонарей практически нет.Такая Европа очень отличается от Германии,например. Пока я ехала из аэропорта в город, контроллер проверил билеты и выписал кучу штрафов, некоторые люди при этом были крайне возмущены. А вообще заметила,что словаки-красивая нация,люди очень приятные. Вообще впечатления пока что странные,как будто я в неоправданно дорогой Европе.
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  • Day1

    Это было первое прекрасное утро в Братиславе, очень приятно,солнечно и свежо. Перед поездкой я выбрала несколько милых кафе с классными интерьерами,немножко хипстерских,где можно попить кофе. Вот решила с утра зайти в одно из них,купить себе вкусный кофе "с собой". В кофейне SORT очень минималистично и по атмосфере прям то,что я люблю,но как я была шокирована,когда кофе с собой мне подали в обычном маленьком бумажном стаканчике,ну точно как у нас на автовокзале в Щербинках :) Остановилась я значит сфоткать мой кофе для архива, и в этот момент мимо меня проходит парень с огромным, красивым,хотя бы с крышечкой стаканом кофе! В общем,ну их все эти fancy кофейни😞
    Для сравнения фотка бесплатного кофе в автобусах Regiojet..oh
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  • Day21

    We reached the Danube which means from now on we continue the well-known flat Danube Cycle Route and ended up in Vienna where we stayed at Samuel's place. For rainy reasons, we had a rest day in Samuel's cosy apartment by sleeping in, breakfasting late, reading, talking about cycling and other bike travelers and planning our further route. In the evening we explored the city center by foot and went to the cinema for the Viennese comedy 'Die Migrantigen' with Samuel and his girlfriend.
    As yesterday we were blessed with better weather we hiked uphill to the Leopoldsberg from where we had great views of the Danube and Vienna. We went out with our bikes which felt quiet weird not feeling the weight of our panniers.
    This morning we hit the road again and followed the Danube till Bratislava - 5 hours of steady rain. We took it calmly as we can't change the weather anyway :)
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  • Day24

    Four hours by train from Prague and we ended up in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The small city, situated along the Danube and boarding on Austria, has a population of about 500,000. The Old Town was a short stroll from where we were staying. Unfortunately, much of the city has been vandalised with graffiti, even many of the historical buildings.

    Along the Danube, Bratislava Castle sits high onto of a hillfort. From the Castle, you get a bird’s-eye view of Bratislava and the border of Austria.

    Close by the Castle complex is the Old Town which includes a number of significant (and historical buildings), such as St Martin’s Cathedral, the site where many Hungarian kings and queens were crowned. Other attractions included Primate’s Palace, Devín Castle, Church of St Elisabeth, Michael’s Gate and a strange sculpture piece called “Man at Work”, which is a bronze sculpture of a sewer worker protruding from the ground.

    It seemed that the area we stayed in didn't get too many tourists from the way that people looked at us, and from the occasional “dobrý deň” that we got from people passing by. In the supermarket, a woman approached Jason and, in Slovak, asked him about the ingredients in the packet (well, that’s what we figured she was asking). Jason shrugged his shoulders and politely said that he doesn’t speak Slovak. We were not sure if the checkout assistant was having a bad day but she didn’t look too happy and almost pegged the checkout divider at us. When we had fresh produce that hadn’t been weighed and labelled, she started asking us questions in Slovak, to which Jason quickly replied “English please”. She obviously thought that it was futile trying to explain to us what needed to happen so she took off from her cash register, went to the fresh produce section on the other side of the shop, weighed the contents and stuck the barcode on the bags, came back to the register and continued to scan the other items. At the end of the transaction, she threw the receipt on the counter and quickly moved onto the next customer. Oops!
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  • Day23

    Our last day in Prague was spent gathering in graveyards, exploring greater Prague and involved endless steps up and down metros and mountains.

    First stop was Vyšehrad, a historic fort that commenced in the tenth century. After climbing a steep set of stairs, we reached the first cemetery of the day. The ornamentation and opulence on some of the gravestones was intriguing. There was even a few famous residents, such as Dvorak, the nineteenth century Czech composer. Following on from the cemetery in the same complex was another massive Basilica dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The view of Prague from the hilltop fort was breath-taking and provided a perfect landscape for some great photos.

    Next stop: the New Jewish Cemetery. After about 400 years of burying bodies in the Old Jewish Cemetery, a new cemetery was established West of the city centre. While the graves were not as ornamental as the cemetery at Vyšehrad, and in fact very uniform in design, there were a number of famous burials, including Franz Kafka, Ota Pavel, Jiří Orten, Arnošt Lustig, Heinrich Porges and Kurt Deutsch.

    After the graveyard gatherings, we decided to explore Greater Prague. It was our last opportunity to see areas of the city not yet explored. So we jumped on trams and trains, travelled up and down what seemed never-ending stairs and hopped out at any stop or station that took our fancy. At one point, we ended up at a nature reserve in the northwestern outskirts of Prague called Divoká Šárka. The gorge and mountain scenery was such a contrast to the urban streets of Prague.

    We couldn’t leave Prague without tasting some of the traditional Czech cuisine, and on the recommendation from our Air B&B host went to a restaurant on the north side of the Vltava River. Unfortunately, the food at this particular restaurant wasn’t quite as great as the city but an experience nonetheless.

    Sbohem Praze! We will be back.
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  • Day78

    Wonderful day in Bratislava today! We got up went to the shops to grab our picnic for the day. Then we went for a hike to the Tv tower. Which was lovely, there was heaps of walking trails through the forrest and then we had our picnic at the top. Came back in the afternoon and then got some groceries and made rissoles and veggies and mash for dinner

  • Day243

    Definitely feeling on the mend now, still not great but on the way towards it. Today's destination was the ruined castle of Spissky Hrad and the associated town of Levoca, about 90 minutes drive west of Kosice. The morning was chilly and foggy, but we set off anyway.

    Arrived at the castle around 10:30am, and we literally couldn't see a thing. The car park is right at the base of the castle, but were it not for the signs we wouldn't have known there was anything there! Quite eerie really, it was just you and the hundred metres or so around you.

    Hoping for some better luck, we decided to head for Levoca (also a WHS) and see if it was less foggy. This was just a typical "old town" site, so a dense fog wouldn't matter so much here anyway. By the time we arrived the fog was starting to lift, and the air seemed quite reasonable.

    Spent an hour or so wandering around and checking out the sights: mainly the town square, cathedral and a few other buildings. Did our filming, grabbed some lunch in a cheap local restaurant (two big dishes, two drinks and a coffee for about 10 euros), then back to the car where we headed east to the castle again.

    The fog had completely lifted and now we could see the castle from miles away, a very spectacular sight! It's made from white stone, sitting high on a hilltop so it completely dominates the hilltop and gleams in the sun.

    Parked, walked uphill to the entrance, smuggled Schnitzel past the no dogs sign, then commenced wandering. It was really cool and very large, apparently one of the largest castles in central Europe! It was used for several hundred years between about the 12th century when it was constructed for defence against the Mongols, through until the 1760s when it burned down. The reason for it burning down is unknown, though one suggestion is that people were brewing moonshine on the premises and things got a bit out of hand. Though my favourite theory is that it was a tax write-off, since land tax was based (for some strange reason) on the size of your roof. Burning the roof down would save a castle-sized land tax bill!

    Did all of our filming, though interrupted twice by enormous rending booms. For a moment I thought Trump had started world war three, but on reflection it was likely just a supersonic aircraft high above us. We'd heard similar noises occasionally in Hungary as well.

    Back to Kosice where we spent the rest of the evening relaxing at home. Ducked out briefly for dinner at the same sushi restaurant as a couple of nights earlier, though this time I had a pad thai and wasn't as impressed. Should've stuck with the Vietnamese food!
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  • Day241

    Feeling about the same today, not much better though at least not worse which is a nice change! Time to leave Tokaj and indeed, time to leave Hungary! Had our hotel breakfast and checked out with no issues, then hit the road heading north. Our target for today was a world heritage site just across the border in Slovakia, a series of caves in what's known as the Slovak Karst.

    The listing itself actually covers a whole bunch of caves, 30 or so I think, but annoyingly for us they are mostly closed this time of year. They tend to only open for a few months in the summer (April - September) so we were too late in the main. But we'd found one that was both open and interesting, so we headed there.

    After a few hours of driving and crossing back into Slovakia we arrived in Ochtinska, a tiny little mountain town with a nearby cave entrance. This cave is famous for its Aragonite formations, a type of calcium carbonate that forms on the ceilings of limestone caves.

    Grabbed a couple of tickets for the 12:30 tour, which was of course going to be conducted in Slovakian (which is confusingly named Slovensky and not to be confused with Slovenian which is named Slovenščina). But thankfully they had laminated information handouts in various languages including English, so we were set.

    The tour was only about 30 minutes, but quite interesting. The Aragonite formations look kind of like coral formations, only growing on cave ceilings! Some of them quite large, others small and scattered across an area called the Milky Way. Quite evocative.

    Drove out of the mountains and went looking for lunch, but all of the nearby villages looked quite poor and grim, and populated with semi-menacing Roma (gypsy) types, so we didn't linger. Eventually made it to a fairly large town where the typical big-box retailers on the outskirts had a handy kebab van out the front, so we grabbed some kebabs and ate in the car.

    Onwards we went, east towards the city of Kosice - actually the second-largest city in Slovakia! Not a huge place, but the old centre seemed quite nice. Our apartment is on a side-alley above a Cuban cafe that's closed for the winter. Nice and modern, though a bit bare, only one water glass and a helpful corkscrew though no wine glasses! No kitchen either, basically just a hotel room I guess.

    I had another snooze while Shandos headed out into town to check things out. Later on we had a brief walk then dinner at a decent-looking Asian restaurant. Reasonable food, I took a punt that the owners/chefs were Vietnamese (partly because some of the menu items were obscure-ish Viet dishes), and was rewarded with an excellent bowl of beef pho. I know we both got sick of Asian food last year, but it's a great change from the stodge of central European winter food!
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  • Day242

    Feeling a bit better today, but decided to use one of our spare days today for staying in and recovering. Shandos went out and about for a bit doing various things, but I mostly stayed in and relaxed and worked. Got through a few videos, did some organising and research etc.

    In the evening we went out for dinner and drinks at a place on the nearby main square - good food and good drinks. I had a pork neck burger while Shandos had a risotto.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

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