Kiri and


Snakes and ladders

June 12th, 2014 (by Steve)

What’s the best way to get down a mountain? Some might say on skis, or snowboards. Others might choose a more sedate option of a cable car. Others might suggest that legs are made for walking. And me? It has to be a toboggan run. Ever since the first time I went on a summer toboggan run in Dürrnberg, Austria a few years ago, I have questioned why these are not compulsory on every mountain. I tried to contain my excitement when I read that there was a summer toboggan run in Tatranská Lomnica… and I was wise to do so, as it’s just a self-contained loop rather than something that takes advantage of the mountain’s topography. However, at 3 Euros a pop, it had to be sampled (without touching the brakes obviously). Happy after a pleasant ride, it was time to leave the mountains and head a little deeper into Slovakia.


I felt a bit bad dragging Kiri away from the mountains she loves so much, but we were heading for a beautiful campsite in the Slovensky Raj national park. At 7.50 Euros per day, it’s not breaking the bank and it’s a small price to pay for facilities and security (police vehicles appeared to patrol the campsite at least twice a day!). We even had a view of the Tatra mountains that we’d left behind and on the sunny evening we arrived, it was ideal weather for a barbecue. We headed to the campsite shop to buy meat. No meat. No barbecue.


Our first full day at the campsite was a Sunday, but as all of the nearby churches seemed a little intimidating, we decided to worship God in His creation by going on one of the gorge walks that Slovensky Raj is famous for. The day promised to be another scorcher and with an early start under our belts, we headed for the shade of what was described as the quietest gorge of the park; Piecky. The free leaflet also suggested that we

Make a stop at the places where you feel the presence of depth and flow of time

We’re not sure what that means, but we kept it at the back of our minds as we entered the the gorge, accompanied only by the call of birds and the burbling of the crystal clear stream. We really are in a beautiful part of the world… but I couldn’t help but get a little sentimental as I thought back to a family member’s recent tweet; “foston flower festival. In the tea tent in the rain. #veryenglish“. Anyway, back to the gorge – we were guided along the stream by yellow markers painted onto the trees. At first, these weren’t really needed as the path was pretty clear, however after a while things got a bit trickier and it wasn’t clear which side of the stream we should be on. Should we listen to Abba or Ghostbusters? (“I’ll cross the stream” vs “Don’t cross the streams”). Sometimes it was just easier to walk in the stream! We then reached our first waterfall. With a long metal ladder. The only way was up (baby?). Now this is more like it! What followed from then onwards was a network of wooden and metal bridges, ladders, handholds and footholes as we navigated ever upwards to the top of the gorge. So much more fun than a normal walk!


Once we got to the top, the path joined with that of another gorge walk (Sucha Bela), from which hordes of tourists were pouring suddenly; we were glad we’d chosen the quiet route! After a quick spot of lunch, we faced the realisation that there was no cable car to get back down to the campsite. Or a toboggan. Walking it was then! After descending for an hour and a half (and seeing a snake… or maybe it was a slow worm?), the lump on my knee was the size of a golf ball and my hayfever, which had been bad all day, reached new heights of annoyance. The medicinal effects of icecream worked wonders on both though, sustaining us until we collapsed in the shade of Bertha 15.4km after leaving her that morning. It was here we remained until dinner time… ideal weather for a barbecue. We headed to the campsite shop to buy meat. No meat. No barbecue.


That’s twice now that we’ve been denied a barbecue by lack of meat, so the following day we made it our quest to find meat (besides, our other food was running a little low). We therefore set out on a lovely stroll to the nearby village of Hrabušice, where we found a little food shop. Our choice of meat was frozen chicken or unidentifiable frozen meat (bear? otter? who knows!) and as we didn’t fancy de-frosting stuff, we gave it a miss, instead just buying vegetables using the age-old method of pointing and hoping that the Slovakian numbers I said were correct. Laden with our 40 carrots (only joking!), we returned to the campsite and evaluated the rest of the day. We both would have loved to tackle another gorge, but the prospect of having to do another downhill made my Ibuprofen-laden knee wince, so we decided to make it a day off.

Dinner time came… ideal weather for a barbecue. We headed to the campsite shop to buy meat. You know the rest. Barbecued carrot anyone?

All posts about Slovakia

Saved by a Slovak

Slovakia, we meet again

Snakes and ladders

Ah mountains, how we’ve missed you

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