If I had a penny for every time I have been asked what my favourite country I’ve visited is, I would have quite a few pennies by now I expect! So it got me thinking, everyone likes top ten lists, and I could make one of my top ten favourite countries to visit. What a great concept for the blog, I thought! Whew so then I had to nut down a top ten… and suddenly it wasn’t such an easy idea! Especially as things change, as do opinions. Anyways, I resolved to blog about a top ten, and after much consternation I came up with a list. What will be number ten? Slovakia! What will be number one? Ahhhh see now you’ll have to wait for that one! Please join me over the next few weeks, as I count down my top ten places I have visited!
NUMBER TEN: Slovakia
You know, there are many hidden gems across the world, quiet little countries next to neighbours which see a lot of tourists, and Slovakia is one of those. I spent less than two weeks there in 2004, but it’s one country I would love to return to. It’s got mountains and cities, history and culture, and with the Czech Republic next door and Hungary to the south, Poland to the north, it is often the forgotten country of the region.
And more’s the pity because it really is a great place to visit, although part of its charm is that there aren’t so many tourists as the neighbours. It’s location makes it easily reached by train, in fact Bratislava, the capital, is only an hour or so from Vienna in Austria. A hilly city with a citadel on high, with the Danube flowing through below, it has a charm of its own.
Visit the citadel which features an impressive castle, take the trams, or visit some of the beautiful buildings such as the Primate’s Palace which is beautifully maintained in all its European splendour. The cobblestone streets curl their way around and just walking the old town is a pleasure in itself. I was there in Summer and there really weren’t a lot of tourists around, I almost felt I had the place to myself. There are numerous bars as well, and lots of lovely spots for a beer, with prices well down on Western European prices, and Czech prices as well. For a day trip from the capital, Devin castle, built by the Romans, is a great option further up the Danube.
I also visited the Tatra Mountains, not far from the Polish border. The town I stayed at was Stary Smokevic, a great little place in the mountains. Just getting there is half the fun, after the train I took a sort of cable-railway up the mountain to this alpine town. In winter, the skiing is supposed to be fantastic, but in summer hiking was the go. At just over 2500, Slavkosky Stit was cold and windy at times, but a great if at times challenging hike. I found myself above the clouds looking down at the peaks of the Tatras, some higher, some lower. Back in town there are plenty of nice places to eat.
And that’s about the sum of my brief stay in Slovakia. It’s one country I know I want to return to someday and get to know a lot more about. It oozes medieval charm, natural beauty and so much more.
If you’d like to know MORE about Slovakia, please check out the chapter on kindle:
or the complete Book Two here: (just $1.99!)