I’m in Slovakia!
After a five-night reunion weekend in Cluj, Romania, I picked up what I call the “Hostel Flu”, or this specific strain that I’ve dubbed, “The Fluj.” It’s not surprising. Put ten backpackers in a warm dorm room, depress their immune systems with all-night karaoke sessions, add a dramatic shift in the weather from winter to nearly summer, and you’ve got yourself the Fluj.
So I spent the first two days of my return to the High Tatras of Slovakia, hacking up what might be my lung. By Sunday, I was ready to return to cautiously return to the the slopes…but everything ended up being closed due to high winds.
There are rope tows, pomas, and chairlifts, everywhere in Slovakia. I started off at Tatra Lominca, the largest ski area in the region. The lower third of the mountain is serviced by a six-shooter chairlift and (my first time seeing this) an eight-person chair. The middle section is a few intermediate runs accessed by a spacious eight-person gondola and the upper runs are reached by an ancient double chair. There’s even a tram to get to very top, but since it was socked in by weather nearly my entire time, I didn’t get a chance to reach the summit. Well, that and there’s no riding up there.
Even though spring had sprung though out the valley below, the double chair was still locked in the middle of winter putting down a few inches of snow each night. I spent most of my two days up here working on the steeps along with exploring some of the more easily reached hiking areas.
There are three ski villages here at the base of the Slovakian High Tatras – Tatranská Lomnica, Starý Smokovec, and Štrbské Pleso. They’re all anchored by the city of Poprad (20 minutes to Stary Smokovec). Each one has riding with Lomnica having the most terrain.
Don’t plan on coming to Tatra Lominska for the nightlife. There’s not much happening here except for the typical ski town restaurants and a few bars. I found the village to be very quiet.
Helpful Link: Vysoké Tatry Tourist Website
Where To Sleep
There’s plenty of accommodation both in the village and around the neighboring area. I stayed at a pleasant pension that was only a ten minute walk to the lifts for under $20/night USD. There’s also loads of hotels, hostels, and apartments in the surrounding area, all easily reached by the incredible local train. If you want to go fancy, check out the Grand Prague Hotel.
Helpful Link: Booking.com for the region
The main hub for the region is Poprad which can be easily reached by train from anywhere inside the country. The local train system is very impressive. It passes by each town once an hour from early morning to late at night, and is very comfortable. All three ski towns are on the line and you can get down to Poprad in under 20 minutes. For just under $3 USD, I picked up a tourist card that let me ride the train during the duration of my trip.
Helpful Link: Information about the regional rail line.
As always, I’m on the searching for excellent coffee shops. My favorite for this week is Zlatá Brána in Starý Smokovec.
Poprad is not the most exciting that I have ever visited. Every Slovakian I have met since going there agrees with this statement.
You will see advertisements for AquaCity, Poprad’s massive water park, everywhere. I didn’t get a chance to sample the water slides on this trip. I’m not sure hot tubs and bronchitis go well together. Next time, Aqua City. Next time.