A Travellerspoint blog

Day 03. Poprad - Bratislava

Pan-European Voyage

snow

The best thing about Poprad is its geographical location close to the High Tatras, which have always been my favourite mountain range. Many people come to Poprad because of the aquapark, though winter isn't exactly the season for open-air swimming.

Poprad is also known for its architecture. My host Martina resides in the most historical part of the town, which is called Spišská Sobota (due to Slovene influence, most probably :P).

P1000252.jpg

Martina took me to the hitchhiking spot. The High Tatras were literally by the road.

P1000257.jpg

I had been quite disappointed with my Prešov hitchhiking misfortune, so I decided I would accept at once if somebody offered me a ride.

Surely enough, a car stopped minutes after I started hitchhiking. It was heading a different way, but I didn't care anymore. I thought it was enough that it was going westbound. (I was heading to Bratislava, and this driver's point of destination was called Svit, which I had no idea where it was).

Some ten minutes passed, and I found myself in the magnificent town of Svit. I could perceive mountain skiers somewhere distantly. I had no other option left than to keep walking in the direction of Bratislava, trying to hitchhike occasionally. This resulted in nothing. I decided to go back to Poprad. Halfway back, a driver stopped on the other side of the road who asked me whether I wanted a lift. That's how I got to the main hitchhiking spot in Poprad once again.

Finally, I was taken by a guy who took me to the town of Brezno in Central Slovakia, where I got one more ride from a female dentist who was going to the town of Žiar nad Hronom. Now I realize I should have asked her to let me out in Banská Bystrica or at least in Zvolen.

I got out in a suburb of Žiar nad Hronom called Ladomerská Vieska. It was getting really dark and cold. I went to check the timetables of the bus terminus in Žiar (the way took me more than half an hour). The only bus headed to Trenčin and not to Bratislava. :/ Fortunately, I bumped into a train station that looked closed but was actually open, so I was able to buy a train ticket to Bratislava.

After some twenty minutes in the train, it stopped suddenly. The train assistant told me that somebody had just got run over by the train. That's why I spent some three hours in the train somewhere in Nitriansky kraj.

I arrived in Bratislava around 3 a.m. (instead of 11 p.m. planned). My Portuguese-speaking friend Zdenka met me from the station but we had a hard time looking for her house, since she had just moved there recently and the night bus stop was located differently than the usual one. But miracles do happen, don't they.

Posted by degoiabeira 15:39 Archived in Slovakia Comments (0)

Day 02. Užhorod - Košice - Prešov - Poprad

Pan-European Voyage

snow

I spent the night in a Ukrainian train, where I met some college students from Cherson heading to winter camp. The ride took me a night and cost some 50 UAH (5 EUR). I absolutely love Ukrainian prices.

I arrived to the Užhorod station around 7 a.m. I planned to walk some 6 km up to the Slovak border, passing by the old town (one can't call it downtown), which I did.

Užhorod doesn't seem to be a safe town in any respect. People looked rather suspicious, I have even hidden my camera inside my backpack in order not to get robbed. The few photos I did take are of a quite low quality. I didn't visit the Užhorod Castle.

P1000213.jpg

When I came to the border, I discovered a very unpleasant thing: this border crossing was for cars only. The border officer asked for no more, and no less, than 10 EUR. Now I realize I should have started hitchhiking on the Ukrainian side. In any case, the border officer would have sure recognized me as the pedestrian once he had seen me. So I kind of accepted. But he still wouldn't let me cross the border on foot, so he made the next driver take me up. But then it turned out that this driver had some major problems with his documents. Finally, they didn't let him in. I went with another driver, who was actually Slovak and who was a former border officer at the same border crossing. That was the first time I had to speak Slovak.

He took me up to the town of Sobrance. In some ten minutes, I got a lift to Michalovce. The driver was kind enough to show me Zemplínska Šírava, or Slovenské more (the Slovak Sea), which is the biggest dam of the country. In Michalovce, I waited for some five minutes and I got a lift from a guy who spoke English and who had travelled to Brazil previously. He was heading to Prešov but he was also intending to visit someone in Košice, so I had a free hour in Košice and a guaranteed lift to Prešov. Isn't that great?

Now, Košice has an awesome chocolate-flavoured Old Town. I just fell in love with it. Hoping to re-visit Košice in the future, I enjoyed it so much.

P1000218_.jpg
P1000223.jpg
P1000229.jpg

After an hour of excited wandering, I left for Prešov. Prešov didn't impress me like Košice did, but it was at least neat and very pleasant.

P1000248.jpg

Hitchhiking to Poprad proved to be impossible due to several reasons, though I was trying hard for several hours. Desperate, I came back to the Old Town, where I took a bus to Poprad. The ride was expensive, it cost like 5 EUR. As far as I understood, this bus didn't follow the highway, but it went on a more northern route.

My first Slovak host Martina kindly took me from the bus terminus in Poprad, which finished my East Slovak adventure.

Posted by degoiabeira 09:03 Archived in Slovakia Comments (1)

Day 01. Ľviv

Pan-European Voyage

snow

I started my winter European trip by taking a train to Ľviv, Ukraine on January 23rd.

After a day-long ride, I was exceptionally happy to find myself outdoors, even though it was snowing and all. I was wondering whether Ľviv was like they said it was, since it is known in Russia not only for its gorgeous architecture but also for its continuing Russophobia.

Surely enough, this turned out to be yet another big Russian lie against Ukraine. The only thing that made me doubt slightly was the railway tickets officer's attitude at the train station: she ignored me when I addressed her in Russian (though she must have spoken it perfectly well), so I had to use my poor Ukrainian.

I found Ľviv unbelievably beautiful. With its architecture of baroque, classical and renaissance styles, it is no doubt the most picturesque town in the whole of the post-Soviet space.

P1000153.jpg

P1000162.jpg

P1000165.jpg

P1000200.jpg

The trees in Ľviv are entirely covered with mistletoe (which is often infested with Nargles, I presume). I found out later that it was typical of the whole region.

When it went all dark, I thought it was high time I ascended the Zamkova Hora (a.k.a. Lviv Castle Hill). Actually, it was nothing special, but there was still something mysterious and romantic about this place. I suppose Zamkova Hora is a popular meeting place among the Leopolitans themselves.

P1000204.jpg

P1000207.jpg

P1000209.jpg

I went down on the other side of the hill, finding myself at the Pidzamče train station. I considered taking a suburban train to the Ľviv station but I ended up saving money and walking there instead, for I had like five spare hours until my train to Užhorod.

My stay in Ľviv has taught me an important thing: one shouldn't get stuck in one single town for more than five or six hours if they are not intending to spend a night in this town. This has found much support since.

Posted by degoiabeira 03:25 Archived in Ukraine Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 8 of 8) « Page 1 [2]