Slovakia… Who knew it was so gorgeous? We spent a couple of days exploring the gorgeous green peaks of the High Tatras, a mountainous area in the northern part of the country that’s full of hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter. After getting our fill of fresh air, we headed down to see the quaint cobblestone streets and imposing castle of the small country’s capital city, Bratislava. Everywhere we went in Slovakia, we were amazed at the beauty of the place, which is famous, according to the Lonely Planet, for ice hockey and, err, “beautiful women.”

Slovakia used to be a part of Czechoslovakia. For reasons that research hasn’t really clarified to our satisfaction, that country split in two parts during a peaceful process in 1992 known as the Velvet Divorce. Slovakia’s doing quite well on its own, thankyouverymuch. It became a part of the EU in 2004 and, since then, has been enjoying all of the investment and other privileges that are a perk of such membership. Although European tourists have certainly discovered this place, we heard very few American accents during out time there. Perhaps this gem has not yet been uncovered by our compatriots?

Blog Entries We Wrote

  • To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.

Pictures We Took

  • To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.

Cities/Areas We Visited

  • High Tatras Mountains (August 4-7, 2008)
  • Bratislava (August 7-8, 2008)











Places We Stayed

High Tatras Mountains

  • Pension Vesna (August 4-7, 2008): Our room (about $80 a night) in this centrally located hotel was huge, and the staff was really friendly (if mostly non English-speaking). The guy there who does speak English had lots of great advice about hiking in the area; he was much, much more helpful than the folks at the local tourist information office.











  • Venturska Residence (August 7-8, 2008): What a find this place was! At about $105 a night, it was by no means cheap, but it was more affordable than most places in super pricey Bratislava. It’s a studio apartment right in the middle of Old Town that’s complete with all of the comforts of home–it has everything from wifi to a tiny dishwasher (so great to get the Nalgenes in there for a change instead of washing them in the bathtub…). It’s clean, comfortable and, as far as we could tell, furnished almost entirely from Ikea.










Places We Ate

High Tatras Mountains

  • Restaurant Stara Mama (Tatranska Lesna): The sheep’s cheese appetizer we got at this popular, low-key restaurant tasted like those cheese balls you get at Christmastime. Delicious! Our stuffed chicken and fried fish were pretty good, too.









  • Picnic on top of Tatras Mountains: Delicious raisin bread, almonds, apples and a Twix bar eaten on the shores of a gorgeous lake at the top of the Tatras… What could be better?










  • Pizzeria La Montanara (Stary Smokovec): We came to this casual pizzeria for post-hike refueling and loved the tasty pies they served up.










  • Restaurant u Janusa (Levoca): This is not the place to go if you’re on a diet! Our soup, pork and dumplings and dumplings with bacon fat were (unsurprisingly) incredibly heavy, though they were pretty tasty.








  • Restaurant Koziba (Stary Smokovec): A tip to anyone who may be headed to this lovely wooden restaurant, which specializes in delicious-looking, spit-roasted chicken: order your chicken in advance! We didn’t, so we had to settle for eating mediocre beef stroganoff and grilled pork while lusting after the golden chickens that had already been reserved by savvier guests.











  • Camouflage: This meal we had at this trendy-looking sidewalk cafe–bland wantons, greasy green curry and so-so sushi–was far pricier than it was tasty.











Things We Did

High Tatras Mountains

  • Went on a long hike through a gorgeous valley and up a rocky mountainside










  • Walked around the medieval city of Levoca, bearing the heat in order to see things like the “cage of shame”











  • Marveled at the stunning Spis Castle









  • Walked the lively streets of the Old Town










  • Enjoyed views over the old city from the hilltop castle








Country Facts

  • Capital City: Bratislava
  • Currency: Koruna
  • Exchange Rate: 20 Koruna to $1


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