Getting High Up In The Mountains
Novy Smokovec Travel Blog› entry 46 of 94 › view all entries
Waterfall? Where is this stupid waterfall? Come to think of it where is the stupid path we’re meant to walking on? Or what about the nice chateau I had visions of sipping a cup of coffee or glass of vino in? Clearly I had not listened to important instructions given to me, and obviously I had not taken note of any directions – Elaine and I were walking in the mountains, which were snow covered, without a clue.
Leaving Prague for the High Tatras Mountains of Slovakia meant an overnight train and as always, I had a good night sleep. Strangely I find the rocking motion of the train soothing, and even the abrupt braking on the tracks quite calming.
Arrival into Novy Smokovec (where I’d be staying for the next couple of days) meant a welcome drink on arrival, and nothing is more welcoming and enjoyable than a shot of peach vodka at 7 o’clock in the morning.
Novy Smokovec is a lovely little town, not quite the built up ski village, it isn’t Zermatt (Switzerland) by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a friendly and cheap place to stay and rather quaint and charming in it’s own way. As for being affordable, I splashed out on two magnum ice creams and a brand new Colgate toothbrush (oh the heady excitement as I hadn’t really bought anything for myself since Moscow and what is more exciting that buying toiletries), all for €2.96.
The tourist information in the centre of town was very helpful and after purchasing two train tickets at a cost of €0.
“I thought it was left”, “I thought we had to turn right”. Obviously between the two of us, we hadn’t listened to any of the instructions given and we wandered around and around on several different coloured tracks trying to find our destination. “Red! I definitely remember we had to follow the red path.”
“Red? There is no red path here, just blue or green.” Hmmm, I’m not sure if we were the best ones for this sort of walk and this was further accentuated by the fact other hikers would walk past and laugh at me. Now I don’t mean to be conceited, but I know they were laughing at me and not Elaine, and this was given away by the pointing towards my shoes, or sandals if I’m correct.
Hiking in the wilderness over streams, rocks and tree stumps meant I had to put on my best hiking boots, or failing that I just had to put on my best (and only) pair of shoes – my newly glued sandals the same sort which had seen me well through Tiger Leaping Gorge were now going to get me through the cold, snowy regions of Slovakia.
Walking for an incredibly long time, from one path to another constantly hearing the waterfall in the background, but never quite seeing it, meant we were walking up a thirst and were relieved to see a little chateau in front of us appearing in the distance like an mirage. Still not sure if this was the place recommended to us, we walked inside with trepidation and was greeted with a dark room filled with hiking memorabilia and oil lamps, which cast eerily silhouettes on the wall.
After this interlude we decided we weren’t hikers and after more friendly but sniggering looks, we decided to walk down to the train station (after all we had a train ticket we had to use). Once again the signs let us down, or perhaps (and this is more likely) the reading of the signs let us down and we ended up walking all the way down and not getting to use our tickets. We thought we were doing okay until we found the road that had signs saying ‘No Walking’ on them, but pretending ignorance, we continued. We were so lost anyway I think having someone arrest us and take us down to town would have been a good solution for us.
After this adventure we thought we couldn’t be so bad with directions twice in a row. Obviously I’m a slow learner as the following day we hiked to a lake, but couldn’t find it. It was only when Elaine turned around and we walked straight smack bang into this huge lake, that we realised we were here. How could we have missed it? Thinking that it would be best to return to the town, we returned home and did something we could both do, and not fail at – have a massage.
Novy Smokovec is just a three-minute walk from the next town, Stary Smokovec, and this place offered hotels with spa treatments. Thinking we couldn’t stuff this up, we booked in and had a ‘relaxing’ massage. It was very good, but the lady spoke only limited German, and no English, so all the time she spoke to me it sounded like she was yelling at me in short German sentences.
I have really enjoyed my time in the mountains and I have felt refreshed and invigorated to continue on with my journey. I know that I will be back as this area has some good beginner slopes for skiing, and some amazing walks – perhaps I just need to go out with a local next time to ensure a higher rate of success, but then again, where is the fun of that? I like an adventure.
Ahoy from Slovakia