Cycling

Slovakia: Day 2 In Words (And A Few More Pictures…)

When we initially planned this walking holiday in Slovakia I wasn’t quite sure what the weather would be like. Even as recently as last week I was assuming that a few layers (perhaps an extra one than normal) and my normal waterproof cycling jacket would suffice in this mountainous area of Slovakia. I only started to rethink my walking attire when I was in Northern France at the end of March where the temperatures were glacial and the wind simply evil. It didn’t help that I was suffering from a cold at the time but it was clear that my upscaled normal leisure gear needed more like a full blown upgrade. Which is what I did, at great expense, last weekend between returning from France and setting off here to Eastern Europe. If proof were needed that I had indeed made the right decision, it came in abundance today from the sky. By the time the curtains of the flat had been thrown open, a thick blanket of snow had been added to the already deep layers of the white stuff that abound here in the Tatra mountains. My cycling jacket would have left me shivering in a near hypothermic state and my ordinary walking trousers would have seen me sodden to the skin. The money appears to have been well-spent…
So, well wrapped up against the Slovakian elements, we set off on our second walk, this time heading further west towards the skiing resort of Strbske Pleso. We chose to leave the train at a tiny station 2km from Strbske at Popradské Pleso. The word ‘pleso’ refers to a mountain lake (or tarn) in Slovak and we were to see two examples during the day. The morning was spent walking to a large lake several kilometres from the train station but the place after which the station was named. En route we diverted slightly from the path to visit a ‘symbolic cemetery’ where colourful wooden crosses were dotted around the thick snow laying on hill below a small church. The crosses represented the lives of those killed on the mountains in accidents and tragedies but most of the personal details of who they were and when they died remained well-hidden under the snow.
The large hostel by the Popradské lake was almost deserted of customers. The young guy serving behind the food counter in the ground floor restaurant spent most of his time standing behind his till as if expecting a rush at any particular moment. If it came, it was after we had departed. Our meal of garlic soup and a traditional potato dish was probably far too similar to the previous day’s fare to tick the culinary diversity box but it certainly ticked the ‘I’m hungry please feed me’ box.
After lunch we headed off in the same general direction to that in which we had arrived but on a different path the took us not to the small train station but the larger one in the ski station at Strbske Pleso. Walking was, at times difficult on the deep snow that had just started to melt but the scenery of tall coniferous forest and the occasional glimpse of the mountains on the other side of the valley made for a spectacular downhill trek. We ended the afternoon with beers at another lakeside eatery albeit one which catered more the après ski crowd that the hiking crowd. It was, however, only slightly busier than the hostel we had visited earlier in the day; despite the weather conditions, the ski season has all but ended but the walking season has yet to begun. Im feeling that we are to outdoor pursuits what The Inbetweeners are to education, filling in between periods of greater importance. At least there are no queues…

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Categories: Cycling

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