Five days, two girls and the Slovak Paradise National Park (August 20th – August 24th 2020)

Five days, two girls and the Slovak Paradise National Park (August 20th – August 24th 2020)

I don´t think there is a need have to introduce you my friend Danča anymore. As you already know, we travelled through Mexico together, hiked in Veľká Fatra with backpacks only , and this time we decided to see how the paradise in Slovakia looks like – the Slovak Paradise National Park. It was actually my friend who gave me an idea to make this trip. My friend who borrowed his sleeping bag to me for the Veľká Fatra trip told me the other day that it´s really nice over there, thinking I´d like it and that there´s a lot of ladders. I asked Danča if she´d be interested in something like this and she said yes. And so, under my condition that we won´t be sleeping in sleeping bags anymore, we met in August again. Seriously, I´ve had enough of sleeping bags this year.

Day 1st               August 20th 2020

I don’t remember when was the last time I was on such a Far East of Slovakia as I was today: Spišská Nová Ves. This was a place where I met Danča again and by 10am we were already at our hotel in Hrabušice. Since our room wasn´t ready yet, we left our backpacks at the reception and left for our first hike to Prielom Hornádu, Kláštorná roklina and Tomášovský výhľad. Since this information is helpful as the formula E = mc2, I´ll try to describe closer the paradise we had ended up at.

The hotel owner told us about a local shortcut that leads from Hrabušice to Hrdlo Hornádu: you leave the hotel, turn right, then right again and within 15 minutes you´ll be there. One hour later I asked Danča if that was the way and she replied: “I don´t know, I wasn´t paying attention. I relied on you.” Well, I was happy that I was paying attention and surprisingly we made it there. Prielom Hornádu and especially Kláštorná roklina can be anything but “a Slovak Paradise”. Yes, there was a lot of iron ladders we climbed through and we were in such heights that I felt dizzy and was happy that we didn´t have to climb down. There are iron steps around Hornád and trust me you don´t want to fall off of them, there are also amazing bridges, stones and tree trunks we walked on (through) and wooden staircases I couldn´t get used to, so I walked on them as I s*it my pants. Better described, I was climbing over them instead of walking through which was blocking people to possibly pass me. Well and now let´s talk about the main problem why we practically were in a paradise but it didn´t seem like that: there was so many people around us that sometimes we had to wait in a line for some ladders. And as we were waiting, I actually realized that I wasn´t sure where I was. We have met almost all of the national minorities which live in Slovakia: Hungarians, Polish and Czechs. Sometimes I heard a Slovak language too but mostly I had a feeling I was in Hungary. What was even better highlight than this unbelievable “waiting experience” was my one hour long waiting in the line for a beer at Kláštorisko. After this experience I came up to a conclusion that instead of paradise I was in a hell and what was even worse I got Plzeň which I don´t like. But I don´t want to sound so pessimistic so let me tell you that after we left Kláštorisko, we almost didn´t meet any people and that pictures about Slovak Paradise National Park you look up on Google look seriously the same as in reality. Just add those crowds of people.  

Tomášovský výhľad is amazing. What isn´t amazing anymore is a story one cyclist was talking there: “… he was here with his wife and she was taking some pictures. But once he turned back, his wife was gone.” Tomášovský výhľad is a jag and falling down into dell isn´t difficult at all. One lady told Danča that beautiful sunsets happen here. So, she asked me if we could had stayed there and watch it. But as soon as she told me that we´d have to wait for an hour and by time we´d come back to the hotel it´d be midnight, my unromantic soul said no way. I said that we can watch the sunset even in Hrabušice and actually anywhere in the world. I was being told that I´m not romantic at all and we went down to the village Spišské Tomašovice. In this village Danča and I had happened to be in Gypsy´s settlement for the first time in our lives but I have to admit that they behaved: most of them were greeting us and they actually helped us as we asked them about the bus stop to Hrabušice. That was a nice surprise at the end of the day. And we were surprised as well once we came back to the hotel. We met there the owner and she said she was worried about us because we were gone for way too long. I don´t know how but we managed a 4,5 hours long hike to be 9 hours long hike…     

Day 2nd               August 21st 2020

Today´s plan was to go on ladders in Suchá Belá. We wanted to have a chill day but the reality was that I barely walked back to Hrabušice. But Suchá Belá is beautiful. What was even more “beautiful” were the crowds we were waiting in for 30 minutes to get a turn to ladders. I think it´s like a fair: Slovak Paradise is an event (a carnival) where you can find in a certain way “a bunch of whirligigs” (ladders/tree logs/stones…). These whirligigs are diverse of course: there are more interesting and adrenaline ones and then there is also a half-abandoned chain-stich or ducklings. Suchá Belá and Prielom Hornádu are something like a Coney Island in NYC. Overall, it is a great place and my most intense experience is as I climbed up two ladders in a row and then looked down into about 65ft deep dell. I got so dizzy! But there is one more thing I´d like to point at. I hope no one gets offended but I can´t understand people who came here and in the middle of a hike found out that the dog that they had brought (obviously) wasn´t able to climb up the ladders or I saw a person with a crutch (!!!) in her hand thinking that she´ll probably break here another leg here as well… And the thing is, that some of these trails are a one-way and so, if a lady in the middle of a ladder finds out that this was too much for her and she can´t go any further, she´ll block all the people waiting in a line… And that´s all I wanted to say tonight.

At the end, let me tell you about one more amazing thing that happened today: a dinner. In the village we had been told that there is a good restaurant to go which name is Jendrál Zdeno ml. Yup, this is the name and I am super seriously telling you that if you want some awesome food to eat, come here. This is the place where it tastes like from your grandma. It was so good!      

Day 3rd               August 22nd 2020 

We went to Veľký Sokol today and I said that if Adam, Eva and the Paradise was real, this was the place they lived at. It was so beautiful here, we met some Hungarians or Polish people occasionally, and other than that no one was there. Finally, a paradise in Slovakia. There were so many burdocks around, a Sokol pond, moss on the trees well and… Kinder Bueno! That’s how I called the logs we walked through because they looked just like Kinder Bueno candy bar. And if I almost didn´t fall from it (twice), I´d seriously think I was in some kind of a fairy tale. Like, Alice in the burdocks-land. No, seriously, do you even know how does a burdock smell? However, we woke up from our fairy tale pretty fast, just in the moment when we came to the bus stop and found out that the last bus left at 4:10pm and it was 4:29pm. Luckily, fairy tales have a happy end and so did ours. After we agreed that there was no way for us to walk home (which would be about two hours) we saw a Czech couple coming to their car. And they were so kind that they drove us straight to our hotel! And do you know what we´ve learnt? That every morning at 7:30 this couple already parks their car at a parking lot and during the whole week of hiking they never met such a crowd of people as we did during the two days. But for Danča and I is 7:30am still a deep night…

And I can´t forget to tell you one more thing! Our dinner was, of course, at Jendrál Zdeno ml. And since we were on Spiš, I had to drink spišská borovička (you should look it up because this beverage is pretty popular in Slovakia – actually you can´t visit Slovakia and not to taste our borovička). On Spiš it tastes the same as in Bratislava but I wanted to have an authentic experience. It´s like when you go to Liptov (another part of Slovakia), you need to taste our national dish bryndzové halušky. Or if you come to Bratislava in January and there´s 0,04 inch of snow on the road, you´ll end up in a calamity.  

Day 4th                August 23rd 2020 

Do you know the difference between Sunday in a city and Sunday on a village? If you are in a village, you won´t find here a store that is open. I mean, there´s not a lot of stores in general in a village but everything except the church and a local bar is probably closed on Sundays. And do you know how to recognize a Bratislava´s person in a village? Even if there´s a thunderstorm, it won´t stop this person in going to the grocery store to check out if it´s open or not. Because this person is hungry and it worth it. And by this Bratislava´s person I mean myself. Danča was smart enough to stay at the hotel. But I wasn´t. However, when a thunder and a lightning beat in the same time straight over my head I told myself that I was a very stupid Bratislava´s person. I ran towards to the grocery store which was surprisingly closed. At least there was a roof and I could have hidden myself over there and wait for the thunderstorm to leave. As I was sitting there and waiting, a car stopped at the grocery. I checked the licence number and that man was from Bratislava as well. And do you know how a Bratislava´s person recognize another Bratislava´s person? After we b*tched about closed stores on Sunday, he just left. He didn´t ask me if I needed a help or a drive, he just left. Surprisingly something must have happened because about 3 minutes later, he came back, pulled over and asked me if I needed a drive. With a huge smile in my eyes I replied: “Yes, that´d be great, thank you!” and he drove me straight in front of the hotel´s door! Around the lunchtime it was still raining but the storm was already gone and we moved to the village Stratená where we left our backpacks in our hotel and at 1:40pm we were already waiting for our bus to village Dedinky. By the way, Dedinky in English means “The Little Village”. We did the Zejmanská roklina hike.

Even though the weather didn´t look nice, it didn´t start raining again (meanwhile it stopped raining). Funny thing was that we actually caught the last train back to Stratená! Because, as we came to Dedinky, I was trying to figure out if we can make our hike and still catch the last train home. I was comparing the times I saw in the map with our actual times our hikes usually take. The theory said, that there was no way for us to make it. In reality, we made it, and also still managed to have time for a coffee, and enjoyed the view on the water basin Palcmanská maša, and we were actually waiting for the train (that came on time)! Well, aren´t we awesome? We are and we are not in the same time. Tomorrow we wanted to go to Dobšiná Ice Cave but today we found out that tomorrow is a Monday and the cave is closed on Mondays… 

Day 5th                August 24th 2020

Today I realized that it´s been five months that I don´t work. I shouldn´t brag about this, right? But what I´m trying to say is that these five months of being back home in Slovakia happened so fast. At least now I know why my hair are so long. It´s been a while since I´ve been at a hairdresser… Anyways! Today, despite we were in a mood of doing anything and sad because the cave was closed, we decided to do our hike as we´ve planned. We went to Tiesňavy and through the Stratenská dolina. And it was a good decision to do. We saw a completely different nature again and I felt as I was in my aunt´s garden, it was like being in the Amazon rainforest. I found some wild raspberries and strawberries I ate, we climbed some ladders, walked through bridges and a small Green Cave. It was actually a rest day: chill, restaurant and a movie night. I would say, a perfect last day.

In the morning of the following day we packed our things, left to Poprad, enjoyed the view on Tatry, had a lunch, coffee and said goodbye. I went on my train to Bratislava and Danča on hers to Prague. Who knows when and where we´ll meet again. Danča is about to leave to Canada and I… I´m not telling you yet! But to sum it up: our trip was amazing, the summer is almost over but a lot of adventures are still just coming. Because the life is one big adventure, so don´t survive it, live it!

Lula