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Published: November 21st 2011
Krakow at night #1
The main square with a fountain
After the feast of sport helped time fly even faster, I wasn’t long before I was sauntering out of the office with a smug grin as people muttered ‘3 weeks off?! But he has only just started! Lucky b%stard!’. In leaving, I also left behind my Kensal Rise flat for the last time as Ben is becoming a grown up and moving in with his girlfriend. Well done that man!
I got to the airport without any problems and first stop: Krakow. I found my hostel, dumped my backpack and went exploring. Wow. Krakow is beautiful. The old town with the main square (the largest in Europe so I am told) was truly stunning. I took several photos and was already looking forward to coming back here with Leah, Rachelle and Clay in a couple of weeks.
Next morning, I headed towards the main aim of my trip, the Tatras Mountains in Slovakia. But as it turned out, so was half of Poland. It was rumoured to be the last weekend of good weather before autumn took control and due to huge traffic, I missed my connecting bus to the little village where I was staying. There will be
another one soon right? Wrong. A nice 6 hour wait. So I wandered into town where I managed to pick up some free wifi to read the text commentary as the All Blacks beat France comprehensively in the pool stages.
I eventually made it to Zdiar just before sunset, and for choices of times to arrive, I couldn’t have picked much better – the hostel was set in some stunning scenery. Ginger Monkey Hostel not only has a great name (the idea came from a NZ hostel!), but also is one of the top ranked hostels in the world and I definitely agree. Partly because they have an awesome dog called Wally – who is now my Facebook friend. After some amazing goulash, I collapsed into bed.
I was up early ready for a long day of hiking and the weather came out to join me – picture perfect blue skies. I started the Siroke Sedlo hike with two others from the hostel but quickly left them behind as the slope started getting steeper. As I climbed higher, the views got even better but it wasn’t until I got to the top of Siroke Sedlo, where I sat
down and got the ‘Wow’ sensation. The view was absolutely incredible from all sides, and what was even better, despite a couple of other people up there, it was dead silent. No cars, planes or any noise. Absolute peace.
After a while I dragged myself away and made my way to a higher peak – Vysne Kopske Sedlo (1,933m) before heading down into a valley with a small but picturesque lake. From there, the trail winded through the mountains, but generally downhill until I popped out on the other side – my legs looking forward to a break after my 7 hour hike.
Once I got back to the hostel, I joined others in heading to a local restaurant before calling it a night. The next morning I was up early to head to Bratislava to meet up with Hannah, Kristin and Clay, and what was even better, it was my birthday! First I had a 4 hour train ride to survive, and then I found the hotel before heading into town to meet the others. We wandered up to the Slavin War Memorial for some photos over the city before relaxing back at the hotel.
was rather fancy as far as the accommodation I usually stay at goes, and they even had a ‘salt cavern’, where you apparently lie back and the air is very good for your health. Being the kids we are, we got bored quickly and had wars by throwing salt at each other and tried to build a castle out of salt. We were unsuccessful. After this we headed out to dinner at a restaurant the others thought I would like – a steakhouse where the menu had the picture of a scantily clad woman holding a piece of steak dripping blood. How did they guess?! After eating far too much, we had a couple of drinks before retiring for the evening.
The next morning we headed up to the castle to check it out before leaving for Vienna. What a mistake! The castle was a huge disappointment and other than views over the Danube, there was nothing there at all to see. So soon we were on the train heading into Austria.....
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