Wednesday, May 13, 2015

High Tatras or Vysoke Tatry





I love writing about places in Slovakia because I love Slovakia.  The High Tatras was my first trip in Slovakia outside the Bratislava region. The High Tatras are a beautiful mountain range which creates a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. Our trip started with a long train ride from Bratislava to Poprad. From Poprad we took the Tatra Electric Railway. It is an electrified small train that makes the connection between Poprad and the most important touristic villages in the High Tatras: Tatranska Lomnica, Smokovec, Strbske Pleso and Tatranska Strba.

Tatranska Lomnica train station
As we arrived in Tatranska Lomnica we checked in at our hotel and then left to walk around the city. It is small and beautiful little mountain village full of hotels, cabins and huts. Here and there here are small shops with souvenirs and books.  The air is clean and filled with the smell of pine trees. The view on the snow capped mountains is magnificent. We walk slowly along the large streets, the hotels and the beautiful mountain building and we went to a small restaurant with specific Slovak food. 

 Beautiful cabin
Souvenir shop
View of the mountains

We ordered fresh warm bread, Kofola, a Slovak option for cola, kapusnica, Slovak cabbage soup and zivanska, a piece of meat, sausage and vegetables cooked in aluminum foil. So we started our vacation, Slovak style. Then we spend the day walking around the village, enjoying the fresh air and buying souvenirs.

Kofola
Kapustnica
Zivanska
Next morning we woke up early and after breakfast in the hotel we went directly to the electrical train and boarder the first train that came. We went o the next city on the route: Stary Smokovec. We stop in the train station, which is an impressive beautiful looking building. 

Train station in Stary Smokovec
Stary Smokovec is the oldest tourist location in High Tatras, a very small and beautiful village, with a lot of hotels and old cabins and shops and restaurants. From the railway station you enter directly the village and you are surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and souvenir shops. 


Street in Stary Smokovec

Two of the most impressive buildings in the town are the Grand hotel and the Old Catholic Church. The Grand hotel is one of the most impressive hotels I have ever seen in a small mountain village. It is huge, with light brown color walls and dark brown windows. It looks like an old mansion.

Grand Hotel
The church even if it has the same color as the hotel it is very small and cozy. Its style is neo-gothic and it resembles the alp churches in its construction. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. 

Church in Stary Smokovec

Church in Stary Smokovec
In the middle of the town square, just in front of the main shop there is a monument dedicated to the people who helped after the windstorm on 19 November 2004 destroyed almost 13,000 hectares of forest. On one of the stones it is written „Nie cinnost prirody, ale necinnos ludi je katrastrofou” which means „Not the activity of nature, but the inactivity of people is a real catastrofy.”

Monument to the donors
Not the activity of nature, but the inactivity of people is a real catastrophy
However the most interesting thing to visit in Stary Smokovec is the trip to the touristic center Hriebenok, located at 1285m above sea. To get there you need to take the funicular from the village, at it will climb fast and comfortable up the mountain. It looks like a very sophisticated tram which can climb mountains.  It is a center where you can climb, walk in the forest or simply enjoy the amazing mountain landscape. There is also a small hotel and restaurant when you come out of the funicular. 

 In  the funicular


The results of the windstorm are still visible

Hotel in Hrebienok

View of Hrebenok.
After returning from Hriebenok we spend the day in Stary Smokovec walking and having coffee or hot chocolate in different coffee shops or sweet shops in town. In the evening we returned by train to Tatranska Lomnica
The next day we went straight to the cable car climbing up the mounting in the village. The cable car has 2 stops. One at Skalante Pleso 1751m above sea and the second stop on the very top of the mountain called Lomnicky Stit 2634 m above ground. The second part of the trip is very famous because is one of the steepest climb and also there are no supporting pylons between the 2 stops: Skalanate Pleso and Lomnicky Stit. We stood in queue and took the first cabin up the mountain and stoped in Skalnate Pleso. 

 View of the mountain from in front of the cable car
In front of the cable car

The trip was very long and we were able to watch the beautiful landscape and the valley behind us. We couldn’t go up higher since the weather was not good for climbing and we missed the last cabin going up. We went out and watched the peaks of the Mountain covered in snow, the beautiful landscape to the valley behind, w played in the snow and simply enjoyed the sunny but very cold winter day up in the mountain. We had a hot drink in the beautiful small restaurant, watched the skiers going down the mountain. There is a perfect skiing resort in Skalnate Pleso. Then we looked for the Astronomical and we watched the cabin going very slowly up the steep mountain to Lomnicky Stit. 

The restaurant in 


Cable car station in Skalnate Pleso

Restaurant in Skalnate Pleso

 View of Lomnicky Stit
 Cold, cold, cold
Romantic picture in Skalnate Pleso

Cable car
In the evening we went back via cabin to Tatranska Lomnica. It was a perfect day and we spend the evening trying to get warm in the bed. It was very, very cold.
The 3rd day we went again with the train to Strbske Pleso. Strbske Pleso is a beautiful mountain resort build around a nice glacier lake with the same name. It is a good resort for skiing, tracking, climbing and health.  The small town, like any other town in the Tatras is a tourist location, full of hotels, bars, souvenir shops, restaurants and coffee shops. We walk through it and admire the beautiful buildings.

Street in Strbske Pleso
Strbske Pleso

However what we actually want to see is the lake. So we go out of the city and walk a nice large road to the lake. On the way we stop in a beautiful remote location to enjoy a nice Slovak meal at the restaurants Koliba. Then we continue to walk slowly towards the woods and the lake.


Restaurant Koliba
View from the resturant

It is winter so the lake is totally frozen and a few people walk on the ice, so I can’t admire the beauty of the lake, as it is in summer. However it is a wonderful location as it is. In front of the lake there is one of the most famous hotels, Hotel Patria. Its triangular shape appears on almost every commercial or book about the Tatras.  The hotel, the lake and the trees creates a wonderful atmosphere, like in fairy-tales. We walked for a long time along the lake and in the woods. The air was still and frozen and clean and we were cold and tired but felt wonderful. When we got to the hotel in the evening we slept untroubled until morning. 

Hotel Patria
Walking around the lake
Frozen lake
Frozen lake
Hotel Patria
The last day we packed everything and took the electric train back to Poprad. There we went to visit the city. Poprad is a beautiful and large enough city in the mountains. It has an interesting historical center and a lot of buildings, churches, malls and shops, large beautiful streets and a lot of souvenir shops.  We walk around the city happily and admired the view of the High Tatras from the city which is breathtaking.  The most beautiful place was or sure the main square: St. Egidius Square named after the church with the same name. It s full of shops and blocks of flats, beautiful fir trees and small wooden souvenir shops. 

St. Egidius Church
Beautiful houses in Poprad
St. Egidius Square

S. Egidius Square

View of Tatras from Poprad

We visited also the mall where we had the lunch and then we started for the train to Bratislava. It was a very short vacation but very beautiful and we really enjoyed it.



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