Did you know that Bratislava is the only national city that borders two independent countries? Neither did I. Actually, I didn’t even know that Bratislava existed until we bought tickets to go there. I’m learning so much on this trip!
Desperately needing to break away from the city-hopping that we’ve been doing for the past month and a half, I did a Google search which yielded interesting results: The Tatra Mountains along the Polish and Slovakian border. Never heard of it, right? That’s exactly what we were looking for. Something completely off the beaten path and isolated.
The Tatras are part of the Carpathian Mountains, the longest mountain range in Eastern Europe, and the second longest in Europe. Because the Polish side is swamped with tourists, we opted to cross the border into Slovakia and go the extra two hours by bus to Zdiar, a tiny village at the base of the High Tatras, the highest peaks in the Carpathians.
It seems like Australians are always the first to discover something cool, and that’s probably partly due to the fact that they are constantly traveling. The colorfully-named Ginger Monkey Hostel’s clientele was mostly Australians, with the exceptions being us, and a couple of French and Portuguese guys. This was totally fine with us, because we’ve found that the Australians are very considerate regardless of age and always down to have a good time. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and of course had the Slovakian specialty of dumplings with sheep’s milk sauce, bacon and sautéed onions.
The next day rained and rained and rained. We hung out in our private room, looked out the window at the mountains, did some travel research and got some good ol’ R&R. The following day was sunny, and we dusted off our hiking poles, pulled on our hiking boots, slathered ourselves with sunscreen and took off towards the mountains.