Broke-down in the Tatras but, making the best of it!

Novy Smokovec Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 23 › view all entries

I should have just stayed in bed!

It was a gloriously sunny day, today, even sunnier than yesterday. I had my breakfast and walked down to the tourist information center. I asked about the lifts to Lomnicky Stit. This lady could speak English and helped me with a map of Tantranska Lomnica and how to get to the lift parking….yeah.

I stopped at the grocery for supplies and returned to the villa for the car.

I headed out but, I had only made it a kilometer or two out of town when I realized that I had no brakes. I mean none. When I pushed on the brake pedal, it did nothing. No give and no stopping. I wasn’t driving very fast but, I did go into panic mode. I had been worried about something going wrong with the car during this trip and here is was.

I used the emergency brake to stop myself and move to the side do the road.

My next thought was…..what now? I called Rob and shared my pain. He didn’t know what to tell me…but, I didn’t expect him to come up with a miracle as much as I would have loved that.

There was no real shoulder on this road to I was kinda sticking out. I decided to continue down the road and find a turn around using the emergency brake to stop me. I went very slow. I realized that I may take many kilometers to find such a place and there wasn’t much traffic so, I waited until there was no cars and turned around and slowly drive back, with the flashers on. I made it back to the villa and parked the car at the bottom of the hill. I was concerned about getting it up there and having a problem getting it on a tow truck. I expected a tow truck to be needed.

I went to find the owner, who speaks and understands very little English.

I hoped to be able to point out what I thought my problem to be and have him call for assistance.

I got him to look at the car and understand that the brakes had failed. He told me that the nearest service was in Poprad….which I knew. I did not, however, want to risk going there, using the emergency brake, and hunt for a garage, and then be unable to communicate. How would I handle that???

He proceeded to call his auto service (like AAA) and the dispatcher could speak English, well. I told him the problem and explained my concerns about communication with whatever shop could assist me. He arranged for a flat-bed tow truck to come the next morning at 8am and take the car and me to a garage in Poprad. If they are unable to repair whatever is wrong, I would then have to have another tow truck take it to the Saab dealer in Kosice, which is much further east in Slovakia.

After all of this was set up I let Rob know the details. I just sat in my room for awhile as I just didn’t want to do anything.

After about an hour, I decided that I could get out and walk around the joined villages of Novy Smokovec and Stary Smokovec. They are charming.

I walked around and saw some of the wood carvings in the parks and even looked in a few souvenir shops.

While walking in the upper area of Stary Smokovec, I remembered that it has a tramway to I higher point on the mountain. I wasn’t Lomnicky Stit but, it was something.

I paid my 5.90 euro for my roundtrip ticket.

They run on the hour every hour. The tram is really like a large bus on an incline with a glass roof. The ride takes about 5 minutes. We went very slow.

The view along the way is mostly of an area of the mountain that was obviously once heavily forested and now only sporadic trees are left.

Once at the top, I set off …..I didn’t really know where but, I just went up!

The trail was revealing some views of the peaks to the east, which still have some snow on them. The uphill views on the peak I was on showed an unusual story of dense tall trees clinging onto their existence. It was a strange and amazing sight.

Thirty minutes or so into my hike, I could hear rushing water. I know that there were falls here but, didn’t realize that this was the area.

After making some guesses at directional signs, I found me way to the cold clear water rushing down the Tatras.

The color was like a semi-precious jewel and the sound of it’s strength and might loosened the grip on my stress. There was a bridge a bit further that crossed it….so I went there.

I went to the other side and then made my way out onto one of the rocks, in the center. I wanted to be in the middle of it. I wanted to be surrounded by the roar of the water. I enjoyed this place and it’s peace until it was time to descend.

I was hungry and the snack I had were just not doing it. I made it back to the base camp along with hundreds of others now looking to get down. The tram was packed for the return.

On my walk back, I found another strange melding of design. A church in the middle of Stary Smokovec with wood-timbered construction and gothic windows and design elements. It’s a fascinating combination that I’ve never seen before but, that’s becoming very common here, in Slovakia.

I returned to the villa and watched a bit of “Sex and the City” to relax. The sun set with reds and oranges muted by the clouds moving in. The deck was a wonderful place to enjoy it.

Tomorrow….what will it bring?

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Novy Smokovec
photo by: Saskia007