SLOVAKIA - 2009

part 1




The High Tatras as seen on a sunny day from down town Poprad



Traditional food from Slovakia is here represented by  the  most common dish, one called "Bryndzove halusky", which consists of small dumplings made of potato dough with sheep cheese and topped with scrambled bacon. I tended to order this time and time again on our visits to the mediaeval towns of Eastern Slovakia, sometimes on purpose but sometimes by mistake, not quite under- standing how to read the menu.  Although this dish is usually  rich and tasty it can also be quite oily and starchy, something which would undoubtedly apply to large parts of the Polish and Slovakian cuisine's.




Here am I happily eating away at all sorts of dishes at a basically simple  outdoor restaurant in Zakopane of southern Poland where everything appeared to be traditionally made and quite munchy!  My wife got really hooked on those East European pancakes which you can see in the foreground and which she stuck to during most of our journey in Eastern Europe. The glass bowl to the left is filled with borsht soup, in this case more like a clear broth or a condiment   based on beet  root  while  the dish that  I've gotten myself  into  is some sort of  roll. Although I wouldn't define this type of kitchen as in any way belonging to a certifide fat fighters menu, there are fortunately a few exceptions working to lower your intake of calories,  such as this clear beetroot broth. 






About two or three hours bus ride to the east of Poprad lies this magnificent mediaeval castle called Spiis. It was built on the site of an earlier castle surrected in the 12th century and has since then gone through numerous changes eventually leading to what it is today.





Here you can see how thick the walls of the castle are in most parts  of its domain.  To me it was quite a struggle to climb up and down these confined stone paved staircases which made me unwillingly realize that I am no longer one of those young backpackers scaling up and down the steps while merrily discussing all their world wide adventures!




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There being so much to discover in these captivating castle grounds, we stayed for most of the day until darkness fell.





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And here is a view of the charmingly authentic Spisske Podhradie (Spiis village), a town which you would pass through on reaching the castle itself, which is perched on top of  a very steep hill.





This is one of many entrances to this picturesque little  town, an hours ride east of Poprad.  The day after we had made it to the Spiis castle we decided to make a private  tour of this old municipal where time seems to have been standing still and where there wasn't really that much else to do except admire the worn, old buildings and have a bite at a traditional eater.




View across the country side from up town Levoca.





To me the old and tattered often makes me feel blessed with being part of good old Europe, although in Sweden, where I live, one government after the other has put all their guts into replacing the old with the new to prepare for a modern industrial society, which often means they're destroying the personal appeal of the old, original townships.





Me admiring the view from upstairs in the watch tower of the Egidius church.





There were lots of religious ornamen- tations inside the church all embellished in gold, as were also parts of the incredible panel paintings surrounding these.





So what you would need to wash this rather greasy type of food down with is a pint of sparkling cold East European beer, which is readily served everywhere in this part of the world with the exception of Asian eaters such as Vietnamese and Chinese.




This is garlic soup with croutons and parsley, a dish which we would recommend to anyone visiting these eastern countries for its distinct flavour.



Each morning we were cared for like a king and queen in the restaurant of the nice old hotel which we found in Poprad a few blocks away from the railway station. On our very first morning we were served the most wonderful breakfast we could imagine by this charismatic waiter who we managed to communicate with mainly by gesticulating and using a home made mixture of English and German vocabulary. For some unknown reason he didn't seem to be all that keen on being photographed when wearing his waiter's outfit. So sorry about that, but you looked just great in such a nice old fashion way and you were so friendly towards us each morning!






A view of central Poprad, which is not in any way a major tourist attraction but more of an average town in eastern Slovakia with nice clean buildings, decently low prices and a relaxed atmosphere.






If you look beyond the stupid person waving his hand in the foreground, you can see the central tower which boasts a mesmerizing view of the surrounding hills and villages below as well as the surrounding stone walls which appear to stretch out almost endlessly in most directions.






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It wasn't until we had waited for an hour or two for the bus to come that we realized we must have misinterpreted some of those abbreviations written in Slovakian on the bus stand time table. But eventually a young American traveler came along and so we held out together until our bus finally arrived, then taking us to the village of Levoca where we had to change to a second bus bringing us the rest of the way back home.





Levoca (which is pronounced `Levocha´) is not by far as old as these antique walls of the Spiis castle but the atmosphere is genuinely East European.






The town hall of Levoca.





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Here with the camera facing a church located high on a hill overlooking the town area.





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On our last day in Poprad we went by bus 2½ hours north eastward to the stunningly authentic, mediaeval town of Bardejov (pronounced `Bardeh-yoo´) where there was so much to see. In this particular image you'll find the magnificent St. Egidius church which is seated to the center of the town square.





And here is  the holy virgin Mary with  the holier than holy baby Jesus.





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This is the famous Bardejov town hall built centuries ago in a gothic renaissance style.

 





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