Day 242: Caves of the Slovak KarstOctober 14, 2017 in Slovakia
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!Read more