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Hills of Slovakia

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There's something about being surrounded by mountains and hills that brings me inner peace. I envision them as nature's hug, for the sea is equally as beautiful but more fluid and turbulent. Mountains and hills for the most part sit peacefully, blanketing you with their presence from the road, air or foot. It was in Slovakia that we first encountered such landscapes on our Eastern Euro journey. Slovakia is the only country on our route to which I previously traveled, making a brief stop in Bratislava and neighboring Czech Republic a few years ago. It's here that we saw the most beautiful nature on the entire trip. I never tire of such scenery anywhere on the planet, even though I can view all of the same landscapes in my own country. The Slovaks typically are pleasant people, living quiet lives in a country that's not so popular on the European tourist trail. So, let's take a look at some of the rural areas and people we encountered.

1. In Slovakia, we traveled on a lot of back roads but as you can see excellent pavement. Everywhere colors of fall and temperatures here were much warmer than Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. On some days, I even got hot.

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2. Many of the rural landscapes blend together so it's sometimes hard to tell when you leave one country and enter another. These marked signs let you know. For me, the landscapes changed so much in Slovakia that it was immediately clear we were in another country. Seamless. borderless transition from Poland. I'll write about Poland at another time, but I liked the country very much.

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3. We drove for only a few minutes before encountering farm workers. It seems many people are still working old school style, hand picking potatoes and other vegetables in small fields.

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4. With the help of some modern conveniences, like this tractor.

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5. The mountainous landscapes lend themselves to adventure sports like hiking, mountain biking and rafting. We saw many outdoor enthusiasts, notwithstanding the fact that summer season had passed. In winter, Slovakia hosts many snow skiers and the lodges there looked quite nice. One point on the route was Cerveny Klastor, a village on the border of Pieniny National Park. It sits right on the Dunajec River, which makes it a popular tourist and rafting spot. Even in cool, windy temperatures people were riding on the decorative rafts.

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6. Such beauty from the river, it's easy to see why they endured the windy ride.

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8. Good infrastructure here to accommodate all the cyclists and families walking in the area. Those traveling outside summer season face some challenges, as all restaurants and shops in the area are closed. I noticed the cute signs in Slovakia many times. For pedestrian crossings, the male image is always wearing a top hat and the female child has pig tails. But look closely at this one. Why defile such a cute sign by drawing a dick and boobs on the people? I suppose artistic perverts of the world find it difficult to restrain themselves, even in this serene environment. :)

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9. Impressive pedestrian bridge. One side Poland - the other Slovakia.

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10. The Tatras! Here come the mountains! Both days surrounded by thick, grey clouds. At times, we couldn't even see them and all shots were taken from the passenger car seat which made it even more difficult.

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11.
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12. The highways here are completely normal. Slovakia was the only place where we were stopped by local police at a traffic check point. We slowed down, they waved us over and explained that some type of window sticker was necessary to drive the local highways. Amazing on this trip that Alexander spoke Russian and everyone else spoke their native language, yet complete understanding. The languages so closely connected that there were essentially no problems with communication in any of the countries. Slovak police were friendly and polite. We payed a small fine of 20 EUR and moved along.

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13. Scenery here reminded me very much of my beloved Wyoming, where you are surrounded by the Grand Teton mountains but at a much closer range. If you haven't done so, be sure to check out my reports from this State. They are some of my favorites from this year.

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14. Housing in Slovakia is colorful! So much nicer than dull, grey facades.

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15. There's a large gypsy population in the Tatras and here you can see one of their villages. This lifestyle completely fascinating. We passed many gypsies on the road, carrying sacks of potatoes. I really wanted to get closer to this village, but even from a distance they spotted us with our cameras and stood with menacing looks on their faces. Some even holding axes in their hands. I've encountered gypsies in Budapest but they were of another kind. Pawing at you and friendly because they were selling handmade sweaters and wanted your money. These Tatra gypsies were more intimidating. I recently read Varlamov's reports on the gypsies in Romania. I can't say I'd be brave to walk around such a place, even with an escort. Has anyone visited one of these roma villages?

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16. A lot of apartment complexes plastered with advertisements. This is so ugly but everywhere in Russia and Eastern Europe. Very rare to see advertisements like this on American apartment buildings. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen them.

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17. Picturesque yard. Is it an old Soviet car? It reminds me of yards in America where you will sometimes see beat up pickup trucks.

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18. I'm a branding/trademark lawyer and always notice signs and marketing materials no matter where I am. In all of these Eastern European countries, almost all ads feature women and usually in some type of construction or fireman outfit. You can definitely tell that men in these areas are engaged in hard labor and construction, thus the local ads are targeted to their taste.

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19. Sexy construction girl, but I think this was in Poland? Similar ads throughout Slovakia.

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20. A lot of billboards for erotic shops and strip clubs can be seen from the road. Sparkly boobs!! It even distracted me.

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21. More traditional advertising. Beautiful people, hints of romance, cozy hats and scarves. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Perhaps the half naked women had the same effect on some of you? :)

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22. In addition to all the billboards, there are small huts in every village where you can stop and buy fresh cheese and meats. I didn't know what they were until Alexander pulled over and told me to go into one. There I met this lovely woman who sold me sheep cheese. She spoke perfect English! What a shock and nice surprise. She lived in the UK for several years and now manages this small hut for the farm owner. I had never tasted sheep cheese but liked it! I purchased a large chunk and ate it for several days. Food on this trip sometimes a problem, so I was happy to have the cheese.

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23. Colorful Slovakian hills.

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24. Nestled in these hills is a unique village called Vlkolinec, which consists of 19th century wooden houses. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site but still an active residential village with over half of the homes occupied. A small portion of the village was burned during a fire in the Second World War but never rebuilt. The homes are constructed from logs and supported by stone footing. All very bright and cheerful.

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25. Street signs and tourist directions.

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26. In most cases, the residential homes are clearly marked to avoid interference by tourists.

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27. Lots of flowers in the windows, signs of life.

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28. I can't imagine living in the middle of a tourist attraction, with people constantly walking up and down your road, shooting photos of your home, etc. But it's obvious residents here live completely normal lives, washing clothes and hanging them out to dry.

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29. Gathering firewood...On this trip I saw so many cute babushkas. This woman wasn't so friendly, in fact she became very angry and yelled at me when she saw my camera. However, it really made me miss my grandparents who are now deceased. I want to adopt one of the nice babushkas, take her back to America and care for her. Drink tea, listen to her life stories. Maybe it's forbidden. Is there also a babushka adoption ban for Americans? :)

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30. I don't know the name of this statue, but it's one of the many carved wooden structures throughout the village. I like it a lot and envision her to be the keeper and protector of the village.

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31. On the drive up the steep hill, we passed many goat crossings. Btw, I learned on this trip that in Russian men are called "goats" when they behave badly. We don't call them the same in English, instead referring to them as "pigs." Strange how asshole men around the globe are called different farm animals depending on the language.

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32. How can it be? Goats are so cute! Unfortunately, the same can sometimes be said about the bad boys who acquire this name.

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What do you think, do you like Slovakia so far? I would love to live in a place like this, far removed from the chaos of life. Tomorrow we'll continue with more stories and I'll tell you about some Slovakian castles and the charming town of Trencin.

Comments

( 61 comments — Leave a comment )
fesma94
Nov. 25th, 2013 04:13 am (UTC)
Thanks for post ! May be,one day I'll decide to travel there.
Rafting looks not so safety ? A? Nobody wear life jackets )
peacetraveler22
Nov. 25th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
Most of the people on the raft had on heavy coats, so it's difficult to tell whether they were wearing life vests. You should visit if you like these rural areas. Bratislava is a busier city, but still comfortable and pleasant.
(no subject) - fesma94 - Nov. 25th, 2013 06:43 am (UTC) - Expand
siberian_cat
Nov. 25th, 2013 04:45 am (UTC)
17. It's a Trabant, an East German car, cheap yet inferior even by Soviet standards.

32. You won't believe me, "petukh" (a rooster) is even worse insult! A hardened criminal may kill you for this.

peacetraveler22
Nov. 25th, 2013 02:41 pm (UTC)
"petukh" - it's another insult for a man behaving badly? Never heard of it. Thanks for clarifying the model of the car. I didn't know it was from East Germany. The car is cute, but I would not want to ride in it!
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Nov. 25th, 2013 11:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 26th, 2013 12:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asharky - Nov. 27th, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 27th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asharky - Nov. 27th, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 27th, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
Nov. 25th, 2013 05:04 am (UTC)
Great story!
peacetraveler22
Nov. 25th, 2013 02:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Denis. Another story from Slovakia tomorrow. Do you snow ski? This is the perfect place for that.
(no subject) - mybathroom - Nov. 25th, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
nar_row
Nov. 25th, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
Good post. There's some nice nature.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 25th, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Why don't readers want to talk about Slovakia? Russians aren't interested in this country? Or maybe my post is boring. It's very pretty here! I know you haven't been on a plane, but I suggest you make a trip here sometime. :)
(no subject) - nar_row - Nov. 25th, 2013 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 25th, 2013 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nar_row - Nov. 25th, 2013 05:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - concsious - Nov. 25th, 2013 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 25th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - concsious - Nov. 26th, 2013 07:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 26th, 2013 02:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
yarowind
Nov. 25th, 2013 06:26 pm (UTC)
Interesting, thanks!
peacetraveler22
Nov. 25th, 2013 06:41 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! I'm waiting on your reports from the Dakotas. :)
(no subject) - yarowind - Nov. 25th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 25th, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yarowind - Nov. 25th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
vitsky
Nov. 25th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
I was in Slovakia a year ago and also enjoyed this country. Very nice landscapes, interesting arcitecture.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 25th, 2013 07:27 pm (UTC)
Which cities did you visit?
(no subject) - vitsky - Nov. 25th, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Nov. 26th, 2013 03:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
g_kar
Nov. 26th, 2013 12:55 am (UTC)
Looks like a very nice trip :)
peacetraveler22
Nov. 26th, 2013 01:04 am (UTC)
By this point of the trip I was very tired and exhausted, but Slovakia is an interesting place. Great beauty there!
andrey_kaminsky
Nov. 26th, 2013 06:39 am (UTC)
Скоро новый год.
A piece of red spruce is present in the picture in paragraph 7. I have never seen such a tree. This communist tree (and vodka, of course) can update and make shine old musty Christmas holiday.

Edited at 2013-11-26 11:16 am (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Nov. 26th, 2013 02:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Скоро новый год.
You're right! It does look like spruce and I've never seen red either. On Friday, we'll go cut our Christmas tree down at the farm and we usually pick spruce trees. So fragrant! During the holidays, I drink cranberry infused vodka, with fresh berries thrown in. Very festive and delicious!
lavagra
Nov. 26th, 2013 07:42 am (UTC)
Interesting post! I was in Slovakia three times and want more. After this post I want to be babuska and drink tea in Boston too:)
peacetraveler22
Nov. 26th, 2013 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I really like this country. Even Bratislava is charming and quaint, but I have no photos from there because I broke my lens at the end of the journey. :(
pasha1980
Nov. 26th, 2013 02:29 pm (UTC)
It looks like it's a beautiful country that has almost fully recovered from the scourge of communism that the Russians tried to impose on it in the Soviet times.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 26th, 2013 02:47 pm (UTC)
I didn't see many Soviet remains here, even in villages and rural areas.
(no subject) - pasha1980 - Nov. 26th, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
pasha1980
Nov. 26th, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
By the way, did you see the movie Eurotrip? It's a hilarious movie about the journey of American students across Europe. My favorite scene is when a truck-driver drops them off in Bratislava instead of Germany. They get out of the back of the truck and see gloomy apartment buildings, a stray dog gnawing on a bone, some old woman pouring dirty laundry water from her balcony, and an old guy saying to them, "It's good that you guys have come in the summer - it's gets a little gloomy here in the autumn..." :)))

Edited at 2013-11-26 08:42 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Nov. 26th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
No, I haven't seen it but it was the inspiration for Alexander's trip there. :)) We discussed scenes from the movie during the trip. I need to watch it. I'm sure it will bring back some good memories.
pasha1980
Nov. 26th, 2013 08:45 pm (UTC)
The Bratislava scene from the movie Eurotrip
Here, I've found that scene on Youtube for you - please, please watch it! It's funny as hell.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mYqY5YELd0

Edited at 2013-11-26 08:45 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
Nov. 26th, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
Re: The Bratislava scene from the movie Eurotrip
"Do you know if there's a train coming soon?"
"YES! Very soon...they're building it now." :)))

I didn't see any old men bathing on the streets. Too bad, it would have been an excellent photo opportunity!
Speaking of naked men in the streets - pasha1980 - Nov. 26th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Speaking of naked men in the streets - pasha1980 - Nov. 26th, 2013 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
real_marsel
Nov. 30th, 2013 03:21 pm (UTC)
My mate works in Preshow.
peacetraveler22
Nov. 30th, 2013 06:38 pm (UTC)
I recommend a visit here! However, if you like big city life you will probably be bored. Even Bratislava is slow paced. :)
robuste
Dec. 20th, 2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you for continuing my Slovakia trip :) Such a beautiful mountainous terrain...
peacetraveler22
Dec. 20th, 2013 08:13 pm (UTC)
Пожалуйста! :)
(no subject) - robuste - Dec. 21st, 2013 08:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 21st, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - robuste - Dec. 21st, 2013 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 22nd, 2013 02:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - robuste - Dec. 22nd, 2013 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Dec. 23rd, 2013 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 61 comments — Leave a comment )

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