The Slovakian High Tatras

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The rain pelted it down as we left Zakopane. We were hoping to catch a minibus to the border and walk across to pick up a bus on the other side, however we didn’t feel like getting soaking wet so we got a cab instead. The cab driver stopped to pick up his friend en route – a tour of the Slovakian Tatras! I don’t think they go across the border much, even though it is only a 20 minute or so drive… but the more the merrier!

We managed to successfully locate the hostel – a super cool place called ‘The Ginger Monkey’. It’s situated in the sprawling village of Zdiar and has a fantastic view of the mountains, on a foggy day its good but on a sunny day – which we were lucky to have – its phenomenal. The hostel has such a good vibe and is very relaxed, they have loads of DVD’s, two dogs, a cat and a really lovely family feel; its basically a home from home.

After we’d settled in, Rosie, Claire and I headed out to get some lunch, but Wally the dog decided to come along too. He wouldn’t stay under the table so we had to put him outside, poor dog! Lunch was good and cheap – more expensive than Poland but still suits a backpacker’s meagre budget! For the rest of the day we just chilled out in front of the telly and planned the next day, we decided to do the 7 hour walk up into the mountains.

The Hike

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We awoke early, had a hearty breakfast, put our feet in bags inside our shoes, and headed out reasonably early for our day’s walk. After stopping off at the shop for some provisions we were on our way – can’t go without some food (some others did… madness!) It gradually got steeper (naturally) and a lot more difficult the higher we got as the ground was very icey. It was rewarding to look around every so often and to see the great view behind us – well worth the strenuous uphill hike!

The ice soon disappeared to be replaced with snow, admittedly it looked amazing but slowed our progress even more. Wally the dog had also joined us for the epic walk, he was still frolicking around like he’d only been gone 5 minutes – that dog had some serious stamina! We gradually made our way towards the summit, it was a rather sweaty business – the sun was reflecting off the snow so it was actually pretty hot.

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It was such a marvellous relief when we made it to the top, and the views that greeted us made it all the better. The peaks of the mountains that surrounded us were covered in snow, this petered out into hundreds of lush green trees, the sky was gloriously blue – it was simply perfect. We enjoyed this for a while until we started to freeze – it was rather windy – and so we continued on our walk. This was only the first 2 hours! The path took us along a ridge on the mountain, it was a little hairy in parts – one false move… eek! We then had to get down a rather large slope, which was covered in snow. After attempting to walk down this, and after a few falls – which resulted in a rather soggy bottom – the three of us eventually slid down on our bums, which was quicker and more fun!

The trail lead us into a sort of valley between the mountains where there was a fabulous frozen lake, the mountains were mirrored on its surface. We continued on down paths with thick bushes either side, the snow had also turned into slush which meant that our cleverly thought out feet in bags trick had now become defunct… it was wonderful while it lasted though! Eventually, we made it to the restaurant beside a huge lake with massive mountains that towered around it, meaning that it was all in the shade and was rather dark and cold. Nonetheless it was still quite spectacular. We stopped for a quick warm up and left the others to have a well deserved lunch, as we wanted to complete the walk before sunset.

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The final two hours took us down a rough road in the woods, not the prettiest part of the walk but definitely the quickest -after we’d negotiated the icy parts at the beginning of course. Luckily, we made it down before sunset and just in time for the bus, with 10 minutes to spare. (The others who had been walking with us and who we left at the restaurant weren’t quite so lucky… their later bus didn’t turn up and had to formulate a back up plan, needless to say they did make it back to the hostel eventually.)

We enjoyed a well deserved and delicious pizza back in Zdiar and then chilled out for the rest of the evening. It was such a fantastic day – brilliant company, good exercise and amazing scenery – what more could you want?

Relaxing day in Zdiar

Our final day in the Tatra mountains was quite a relaxing one. We enjoyed a delightful lie in, had a leisurely breakfast and set out for what we thought was an easy two hour walk. The instructions didn’t inform us that a significant proportion of the walk is up hill… I guess this is so one can enjoy the views overlooking Zdiar and the mountains. Granted, there is spectacular scenery at the top of the hill, but we were so not prepared! The temperature had also rocketed, which made it even more uncomfortable. Nevertheless it was once again fabulous to be out in the countryside enjoying the clear mountain air. It was also great to make some new friends – three guys (well two girls and a boy) had arrived the day before and joined us for our short sijourn – they were building up to the 7 hour hike the next day, I think we did the walks in the wrong order!

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After we’d recovered from the morning’s activity, I spent the afternoon lazying about on the veranda, enjoying the sunshine and mountains and catching up on my blog – a habit of mine it seems! It was amazing to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery – why did I leave that place?!

And so we retired that evening with full bellies, big smiles and aching bodies – it had been an absolutely smashing few days in Zdiar. The hostel was brilliant, the scenery magnificent and the company just put the cherry on top of the already bulging cake; I’d had a blast. The next day we said our sad farewells and then headed our separate ways – they were going back to Krakow and I was journeying on to Bratislava.

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