GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Slovak Republic is a parliamentary republic which covers 49.035 square kilometres. It is home to 5.426.252 people of which 76% are Christians.
The currency is Euro, worth 7,46 Danish Krone. The GDB is US$90.263 billion.
The Slovak climate lies between the temperate and continental climate zones with some cold mountains.
Among the larger mammals are the Wildcat (Felis silvestris), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), Gray wolf (Canis lupus), Golden jackal (Canis aureus), Brown bear (Ursus arctos), European otter (Lutra lutra), Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), Mouflon (Ovis musimon) and Moose (Alces alces).
The flora is, like the climate; pretty diverse. However, I fail to find any I will look for in particular.
15/5. A herd of goats and a few sheep are cutting the grass in the camp, but nothing else is awake. I have paid, and head off. The first sight is the little village of Cicmany. The sun vanish on the way, and are replaced with rain. I drive through depressing little villages and just as depressing larger towns.
The landscape, on the other hand, is nice. Huge hills with forest, green fields with mainly wheat, but some rape fields light up the else so gloomy morning. I reach a more rural area, and the decay of the houses turn from depressing into charming.
Then I reach Cicmany, and it is truly a charming village. Most houses are made in timber, and they are decorated with patens in white. The small gardens are nice - and mainly for firewood. It seems like none is up yet, although all houses are used.
I do some long walks in the light drizzle, and end up in the newer part of town: Can't be more than a hundred year or so old. I see a single restaurant, but no other shops or cafes. This could be commercialised so much in other countries. Would be a hell to live in, but they would make money in this remote part.
I head further south, and set the GPS for Bojnice. Nice to get back to the cars heater! Bojnice is a large city, and I head right for the castle. It look like it was designed by Disney, and I do a walk around it. A bit hard to talk my self into paying €10 to see it inside - I have seen my share of castles by now.
As Bojnice is a big city, it ought to have a set of tires for the Lupo. I ask the receptionist at the big hotel I parked at, but she haven't a clue. Most other I have meet here, does not speak English, German or anything else useful. I try a gas station, and the guy understand my need, and show me on the GPS, where he get his tires from.
It is a tire company, but not with Lupo tires. And they can't get them in the morning. But he know who probably have: Ars! A big company in the other end of town. I get a dot on the GPS, and they have! I get them on and pay pretty much what I do at home. But now, I don't have to fear a nosy cop or rain - or the last layer of canvas.
I head out through the farmlands and small mountains
further south. I reach the town of Banska Stiavnica and its botanical
garden. Well, overgrown park with some odd trees. Not enough to keep me out in
Her, time have been frozen since 1880 or so. Well, except from the bloody cars! Despite the drizzle, I do an extensive walk around the old centre of town. Some houses are renovated, some might not make it. It have been a glorious city once, and it still have some of that dignity.
I am around 50 kilometres from the Hungarian border, and turn around. I find another route towards the north and Male Fatra national park. It is through mainly forest and farmland and some small villages. Male Fatra is more a ski resort and timberland, where I end up. Despite the weather, I do a rather long walk, just to see if here are anything interesting. There is not.
Well, if it was winter, and you were into skiing, it would be, and a real nice summers day, I'm sure it would be nice too. But in drizzle and 10C, it is not! I drive back to the canyon with some rather significant rock formations on the sides. It can be my subconscious, but I fail to find a track leading up to them.
I set the GPS for next sight, while I start looking for a camp. I have seen hundreds of pensions and hotels, but camps are scars. Never the less, I find one ten kilometres before the next sight. It look a bit closed, but here are two campers, and I settle in. Cicmany log huts, Bojnice castle, Old Banska Stiavnica and Male Fatra NP.
16/5. I wait quite some time to pay for the night, but end up dropping a €5 bill in their mailbox. It is a wet day, but I set the GPS for Orava Valley and hope for the best. My target is the amassing Orava Castle, which really look great. It is a rather beautiful castle, and pretty intact. Never the less, restoration is going on several places.
It is rather early, and here are only a few craftsmen. I enters, and I really like this castle. I see some old carriages, pass the drawbridge and get quit deep into the castle, before I'm thrown out by the woman who waters the Pelargoniums.
I'm so eager to see the rest, I wait half a hour for the ticket office to open. I walk around the little mountain to spend the time. The office finally opens, and then I will have to wait a hour to join some busses of school children on a mandatory guided tour - in Slovakian, as I can't go by my self. Well, I'm not that eager! Glad I have see most anyway.
I head towards the timber village of Vlkolinec, and despite the light rain, I enjoy the tour through the green landscape. Especially the last part, up through a narrow valley with so many flowers. I stop several times and botanises and enjoy the nature in general. A little creek is following the valley, while the steeper sides is covered in trees. A few farms with cows are scattered around the area.
I reach the village, pay for the entrance, including the museum and the parking: €3. It does not appears as they get many visitors. The most houses are made in logs, some raw, others covered in a thin layer of clay and painted. A few houses have display of original interior, while most are lived in. It stay dry, and I really enjoy the visit - which the number of photos reveals.
From here, it is down to the main valley and up another mountain. This time to Strbske Pleso, where ski sport, lakes and a village is found. There are a bit of sun down in the valley, but here, it is a light drizzle. I walk around the lakes, which offers some great mirror images. The forest is pretty much like a Danish, and the village spoiled by ski sport hotels. This is a well-visited place for sure.
I head down again, but the sun have gone. Next stop is in the 13th century town of Levoca. It is pretty intact, and in a sunny day - and without all the cars - it would be a endless source of motives. I still make quite a few, but they lack some.
I do a walk around the central square, which is huge. Here are room for green lawns around the three large churches. Some houses are real well maintained, others almost falling apart. Here don't seem to be any tourism at all, which I find strange. I get a pita in a little cafe, and head on towards the eastern Slovakia.
Here I find the iconic Spis Castle. It is from around 1200, first mentioned in 1249, and finished as it is now, around 1300. Well, some of the endless line of buildings in the central part is made later. A real long ring-wall head out on the high plateau, and within, on the higher ground, huge walls remains from so many different buildings.
Some of the more intact buildings hold exercitations: The lords bedroom and bath, the kitchen, the dungeons and alike. Considering the narrow and non-maintained dirt-track that leads to the castle, I would say; few people ever get here! And that is a pity, and it is a great sight. Despite the lack of sun and warmth, I really enjoy it.
I have see every angle, I head down to the lowlands once more. This time I
head even further east, hoping I can find a camp. The GPS is not much
helpful: The closest is 600 kilometres away, and number ten over 10.000!
17/5. I sleep almost as good as in the car, but I'm up early, and head out to see the old Bardejov town. It is arranged around a huge square, and the houses are not really impressive alone, but the long lines are. Here are several churches, some magnificent, others need some care.
Outside the old town, down the hill is a newer part, but I can see enough from up here. I walk quite a lot, despite it is a cloudy and cold morning, but when I'm sure I haven't missed anything, I head on. Then a few minutes with sun lights up the square, and I have to make yet another set of photos.
set the GPS for the next sight - in Hungary. The landscape flattens out, and
here are large meadows with grass, some potatoes, sunflowers and wheat. I
see a few stork's nests, of which I had expected many more.
Apparently, I should have bought a road-tax vignette somewhere. The officer show me the sign, posted at every border, and want to give me a €200 fine for not having a €10 sticker. I show him a picture of all the signs at the border where I entered, and he have to admit; It say nothing about road tax. But I could have looked it up on the internet! I end up with a €50 fine, and additionally, I have to buy the sticker at the next gas station. Well, except; they don't have it. I finally find one less than 20 kilometres from the border, and I don't even get a sticker like the Swiss of Austrian! Most bardelov old city.
Besides from the last little hurdle, Slovakia have been a nice country, although I am not planning to come back. I have driven 790 kilometres and taken 696 photos. I have spend €195 plus the new tires. Diesel have been the biggest expense - except from the road tax-thing. From here, I slide into Hungaria.