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My first trip to the High Tatras

on July 1, 2015

The High Tatras are the mountain chain that separates Slovakia from Poland. I’d been to the Polish side before, when I visited Zakopane around 10 years ago, but I’d only seen the Slovakian side from the train as I passed by on my way to Levoca or Kosice. So in May I spent a weekend there, walking and visiting the pretty towns which are connected by a cog-wheel railway.

I stayed in Štrba, because the train from Piešt’any stops there and it seemed like as good a place as any to be based. It’s a very small village, but has great access to the mountains and the views are spectacular. It also has cool bus stops, funky folk art, cactus collectors and clean washing!

The train station at Štrba has a lot of vintage train station stuff. It also has great windows looking out from the platform where you take the train to the mountain towns.

Štrbské Pleso is a tourist town built near a lake. It is a pretty spot, but a bit spoilt by the fact that the hotels go right up to the water’s edge. It may have been a mistake to visit on a public holiday, as there were a lot of people there, and it was hard to have a quiet walk. However the mountains provided a dramatic backdrop, and as the weather stayed fine it was a pleasant place to spend an afternoon.

The next day was wet and a bit miserable, so I spent the morning wandering around from town to town on the train. The first town I stopped at was Tatranská Lomnica, home of the rather fantastic Ski Museum. Although it’s a small museum I really liked the way it was laid out and how the items were displayed. The town also had a nice park and a few souvenir shops which sold folk art and crafts, as well as some stalls selling cheaper items.

I moved on to the towns of Starý Smokovec and its neighbour Nový Smokovec. Sadly the weather was starting to deteriorate when I visited so I didn’t stay long, but there were some pretty buildings and churches. Then it was back on the train again, hoping the weather would clear up before I reached my next destination.

And it did clear up – for a while, so I got off the train at Popradské Pleso and had a walk in the woods. The views of the mountains were amazing and the trees were enormous. There was still some snow on the ground and it was very quiet, apart from the roaring river, and there were a few other hikers around, but too many. The rain started again and it came down heavily, so I had to abandon my plans to see the lake, but I’ll do it next time.

I really enjoyed my trip to the Tatras and I’m looking forward to going back again during the Summer. It’s a beautiful place with lots to see, fresh air and friendly people. Now I understand why almost all of my students recommend it as a place to go and why they go there again and again.

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2 responses to “My first trip to the High Tatras

  1. Timmy says:

    Like the pics

    Like

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