After our stay in Zvolen in an Airbnb on the 10th floor, we headed towards the National Park “Slovak Paradise”. Furthermore, we drove through unique landscapes, over several hills and through dense forests with hardly used roads. If, however, a car passes us, it is to the credit of the Slovaks that they do so with great care. Nobody overtakes in a curve, even trucks slow down to walking speed and overtake very generously 😀, let’s see how this is handled in Ukraine then 😅.
Planning the route to the Slovak Paradise turned out to be very difficult, because we had to adjust the route felt 3x, because a bad weather front was announced. The rain on this section was not the only thing that kept us busy. If you travel across a country by bicycle and do not choose the commercial way, you will not only be rewarded with beautiful things, but you will also get an unfiltered impression of the respective country. We noticed the following downside in particular:
It is worth mentioning that Slovakia is generally very clean, but we have increasingly wondered where the waste along the waters comes from. We have noticed that it occurs mainly in the area of Roma settlements. The further east we cycled, the more often we passed such settlements. There is an extreme contrast, on one side the beautiful, well-kept houses/settlements, on the other side the crumbling wooden huts without running water and electricity amidst huge piles of garbage, which made us think and want to know more about it.
After exchanging ideas with several locals, we learned their point of view. Briefly summarized:
It’s an unsolved problem, there are two different cultures meeting, which are difficult to make compatible. In general, the social benefits are very good and would actually ensure a normal standard of living, but many Romas prefer to spend the money on alcohol. On the other hand, it is very difficult for the Romas to integrate, as they are usually rather excluded.
Various efforts are made to teach the children attending the school that education and the environment are important. The fact is that the mountains of waste in the slums have often been cleared away, but unfortunately after a short time it was just as littered as before. Also, free trash containers would be available, but trash continues to be simply dumped in the waters or surrounding areas.
We can only hope that the future generations will be able to integrate better and thus a good coexistence will be possible.
After two great break days in Telgárt with our Airbnb host Peter, who showed us his village with much joy, we finally get closer to our goal, the ice caves and the hike in the national park!
View from Telgárt Railroad viaduct in Telgárt
When we were in Slovakia two years ago, the Dobšiná Ice Cave was unfortunately already closed, so we really wanted to see it this time. We were very lucky, the cave opened three days before our visit!
No tourists 😃
One highlight followed the next 😃. The next day was our long-awaited hike through a gorge with climbing passages. Already the description of the hike sounded very challenging, we encountered even tougher conditions due to the heavy rainfall of the last days. Best see for yourself 😆:
After taking off and putting on shoes four times, we capitulated and finally marched through the flooded trails with our shoes on. Where is the way? Mostly washed away.
Via the beautiful village of Levoča, we continue on an uphill and downhill ride to Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia. Luckily, because Beni’s mattress conk out and we have other little things to get.
View of the High Tatras Levoča Camping in the high grass 😅
Here in Košice we can count on the hospitality of Anna and Jozef, they support us with the preparations for crossing the border into Ukraine. Thanks to their telephone clarifications, we now know which border is open and passable by bicycle. In addition, they will accompany us to the mandatory PCR test ☺️.
Finally, a small drone flight at the wild campsite before the hike in the Slovak Paradise. In the second part, watch out for the animal surprise 🐗, which has been following us the whole trip 😱.