Stepping it out in Slovakia

August 24
A leisurely start to the day with Karen making porridge. I also microwave some bread as there is no toaster. We get into our walking gear and boots and head to the nearest station at Sibir and take the train to Stary Smokovec. We walk up the road to the funicular station and buy tickets. The train is jam packed and passes it’s twin on it’s downhill run at the halfway point. At the top at Hrebienok we follow a few others to a walks signpost. We decide to do the walk down to the bottom of the Vodopady Studeneho waterfall. The path is reasonably rocky and uneven as we make our way down. The falls can be easily heard. Once there we navigate our way to a few good positions to take photos of the falls and each other.

Vodopady Studeneho waterfall.
Vodopady Studeneho waterfall.

A couple of young German girls offer to take our photo together. Then we head back up the path. At a fork in the path it seems most others are going to follow the stream up so we do so too. After about 15 minutes come to another good section of the falls and take some more snaps. We continue on and after about half an hour come to a small chalet and info stand. We sit on a couple of the wooden seats outside and eat our lunch of ‘bagety’ which we had bought earlier. The inside of the chalet is very small but really warm and dark. There is a small shop part and a couple of tables as well as a large collection of cow bells, small and large. We continue on up the hill. The path is made up of mostly large rocks and is very uneven but the incline is generally not that steep at first. Seems similar to trekking in Nepal last year only not quite so steep and this time we are guiding ourselves. We come to a bridge over the stream and make the decision to continue up to the next chalet. After a while we come to another bridge and a higher but narrower section of falls. Onward and upward we go. We are now across the valley from where we started and move ever higher when it starts to drizzle rain. We put on coats and continue, thinking we must be nearly to the next chalet. The rain gets heavier just as we reach the next chalet at Zamkovkeho.

A top spot to dodge the drizzly rain and enjoy a hot chocolate.
A top spot to dodge the drizzly rain and enjoy a hot chocolate.

We join a few others who are having a drink under the massive umbrellas outside. The drink of choice for us is hot chocolate which comes with the obligatory mass of cream on top. The barman even offers us both a shot of the local firewater declaring it has wonderful powers but we decline. The drizzle eases a bit so we decide to start our return journey. It is slower and slippery now. Quite a few others are heading back down too. Eventually the rain stops as we get to some of the now familiar parts of our walk. At the Hrebienok funicular station we briefly investigate another path but after snapping some of the local windflowers decide to go back down on the next train. We walk down to the main shops and train station. With three hours of daylight available we decide to take the 5:01 train across to Štrbské Pleso to check things out there. The trip takes about 45 minutes. On exiting the station the first thing we notice is that the temperature is about 5 or 6 only! Clearly we have ascended further than we thought as we came along the side of the Tatras. We follow the path up and after looking at a map of the area on a large signboard we turn towards the tarn. It certainly is a brisk walk. We move quickly to try to warm up. At the lake there is a a fantastic view up into the mountains.


The scenic tarn at Strebske Pleso
The scenic tarn at Strbske Pleso

We move into the warmth of what remains of the sun and take a few photos. Obviously on much hotter days people swim and canoe here but not today. We make our way back to the hotels, shops and restaurants of the hill leading back to the station. We decide to eat at a pizza restaurant. The outdoor tables have sheep skins and blankets on the chairs but not even that sways us to eat outside so we head inside to the warmth. After eating pizza and beef burger we walk back down to the station in time to take the 7:13 train back to our local station Sibir and return to our apartment. We avail ourselves of the wifi, checking out upcoming weather forecasts, doing email and updating blogs. Before retiring to bed we try watching some Slovakian TV. Don’t understand a word but get the idea. Sleep comes easily.


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