Slovakia Trip Report, Part 3

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Oct 3rd, 2017, 08:37 AM
  #1
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Slovakia Trip Report, Part 3

Part 3. High Tatras

I took the train from Kosice to Poprad and then transferred from Slovak Rail to the TEZ (Tatra Electric Railway – separate ticket) at the Poprad station on the upper level. TEZ serves the mountain resorts. (If you don’t have time or desire to visit Kosice, Poprad is a smaller version with cathedral, square, pedestrian zone, etc.) Poprad and the Tatras are definitely geared for tourism, the mountains are big for winter sports and hiking and camping in the summer.

Stary Smokovec is the first major stop on the TEZ and central place to stay. It sits between Tatranska Lomnica to the east and Strbske Pleso to the west. Stary Smokovec is a small town geared for sports and spas (originally founded in the 1800s as a spa town before skiing became popular.) From Stary Smokovec you can buy ticket on the funicular railway up to Hrebienok. Several easy hikes and a waterfall there.

Tatranska Lomnica to the east is the main hub of skiing and some challenging mountain hiking trails. From Tatranska Lomnica at the base of the ski resort (in winter) you buy a gondola ticket to Skalnate Pleso midway up the mountain (1145 meters). From there you can go further up to Lomnicke Sedlo (2190 m) by chair lift or to Lomnicky Stit (2634 m) by cable car, or both. Each of these rides is a separate ticket and you can purchase any or all at the base. I bought all three which was €49. The cable car to Lomnicky Stit requires a specific departure time, which you can book online in advance, or in person at the ticket office at the base, however, no telling what time you might get (I was there about 10 in the morning got a departure time of 2:20 in afternoon). It was sunny in the morning when I bought tickets, but the peak was in the clouds in mid-afternoon when my time came and couldn’t see hardly anything.

Further to the east of Tantranska Lomnica are the Belianska Jaskyna caves. Viewing the caves is by guided tour only and only in Slovak language. The tour is very easy, they have created concrete steps and walkways inside the cave and the caverns are extremely large with stalactites and stalagmites. Unless you are an avid spelunker or need something to do on a rainy day (as I did), I would skip this. Need to take the bus to get here, only 15 minutes from Tantranska Lomnica. This bus continues on to Zakopane, Poland if you are interested.

Strbskse Pleso is more family vacation oriented. It has a fine lake and boating in warmer weather, skiing and ski jumping in the winter, and spa resorts year round. The highlight of my trip occurred here when two older Slovak couples asked me to take their photo. I did and then asked them to take mine. They did not speak English so I pointed to myself and said I was American. One man’s face lit up and said “Oh, American!” He then pulled out a flask of schnapps and two shot glasses made of tin and we proceeded to drink to my health, then the other gentleman did the same. Instant friends!

From the Tatras, I took the train to Vienna via Bratislava to complete my visit.
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Oct 3rd, 2017, 11:41 AM
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Nice trip reports, thanks. We drove from Budapest to Kosice to Bardejov to visit a village up on the Polish border. Interesting region with lots of wooden churches. Bardejov had a main square which was a gem. If you get back there, try to explore this region.
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Mar 25th, 2018, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by garybear View Post
Part 3. High Tatras

I took the train from Kosice to Poprad and then transferred from Slovak Rail to the TEZ (Tatra Electric Railway – separate ticket) at the Poprad station on the upper level. TEZ serves the mountain resorts. (If you don’t have time or desire to visit Kosice, Poprad is a smaller version with cathedral, square, pedestrian zone, etc.) Poprad and the Tatras are definitely geared for tourism, the mountains are big for winter sports and hiking and camping in the summer.

Stary Smokovec is the first major stop on the TEZ and central place to stay. It sits between Tatranska Lomnica to the east and Strbske Pleso to the west. Stary Smokovec is a small town geared for sports and spas (originally founded in the 1800s as a spa town before skiing became popular.) From Stary Smokovec you can buy ticket on the funicular railway up to Hrebienok. Several easy hikes and a waterfall there.

Tatranska Lomnica to the east is the main hub of skiing and some challenging mountain hiking trails. From Tatranska Lomnica at the base of the ski resort (in winter) you buy a gondola ticket to Skalnate Pleso midway up the mountain (1145 meters). From there you can go further up to Lomnicke Sedlo (2190 m) by chair lift or to Lomnicky Stit (2634 m) by cable car, or both. Each of these rides is a separate ticket and you can purchase any or all at the base. I bought all three which was €49. The cable car to Lomnicky Stit requires a specific departure time, which you can book online in advance, or in person at the ticket office at the base, however, no telling what time you might get (I was there about 10 in the morning got a departure time of 2:20 in afternoon). It was sunny in the morning when I bought tickets, but the peak was in the clouds in mid-afternoon when my time came and couldn’t see hardly anything.

Further to the east of Tantranska Lomnica are the Belianska Jaskyna caves. Viewing the caves is by guided tour only and only in Slovak language. The tour is very easy, they have created concrete steps and walkways inside the cave and the caverns are extremely large with stalactites and stalagmites. Unless you are an avid spelunker or need something to do on a rainy day (as I did), I would skip this. Need to take the bus to get here, only 15 minutes from Tantranska Lomnica. This bus continues on to Zakopane, Poland if you are interested.

Strbskse Pleso is more family vacation oriented. It has a fine lake and boating in warmer weather, skiing and ski jumping in the winter, and spa resorts year round. The highlight of my trip occurred here when two older Slovak couples asked me to take their photo. I did and then asked them to take mine. They did not speak English so I pointed to myself and said I was American. One man’s face lit up and said “Oh, American!” He then pulled out a flask of schnapps and two shot glasses made of tin and we proceeded to drink to my health, then the other gentleman did the same. Instant friends!

From the Tatras, I took the train to Vienna via Bratislava to complete my visit.
I recommend to buy Tatra tea next time
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