We’ve risked the softening effect of creature comforts.
We’ve been nearly two weeks under roofs, with beds, showers, toilets and cookers.
It’s time to move on, if only locally.
We booked a few days in the Levoca house for Polly’s convalescence, and then a few more for our friends Paul and Heather to come and experience Slovakia.
We moved on to the wonderful faded glory of the Grand Hotel Praha where we stayed for Minty’s birthday last year. One night stretched into two. But by then the tank was empty.
Tonight we’re at the campsite in Podlesok where we stayed before Polly’s first operation last year. It’s at the foot of the Slovensky Raj national park. It’s basic but it has all that we need.
In October there were only a couple of vans here. Tonight there are probably thirty, and twice as many tents, but it’s still far from crowded.
It felt good to pull up, find our level (using the ramps for the first time in ages), and settle down for a low activity day.
At home the common bird about the garden is either the blackbird, or the sparrow. Here on the campsite it’s the thrush. How nice is that?
Approaching darkness it feels delightfully primitive with many fires outside of tents, vans and the pretty pointed cabins.
The big walks of the week.
Back in Tatranska Lomnica I balanced the luxury of the Grand Hotel with two hard walks in the 30+ heat.
The excellent trails are well marked, and give a fair estimate of the time each stage will take. Junctions between major trails are usually busy, but once you’re half a mile from such a junction you’re unlikely to see more than a few other people.
There’s little wildlife to spot at this time of the year in such a popular area, but I was delighted to see a small snake slither across the path yesterday. Unlike the slow worms this one was very fast. I wasn’t going to risk pursuing him for a better photo. It’s an interesting thought than on a hot day in Cornwall you’re likely to see adders far bigger than this fellow, but which are the most venomous I don’t know and don’t care to find out.
Strangely the often surly folk here are really friendly out on the trail. Perhaps they have an aversion to serving.
New bedding arrangement.
Most places we’ve stayed at have had a large bed with two mattresses and two oversized single quilts.
We like the arrangement.
We bought a single quilt at Danish brand JYSK last year when we needed to sleep perched on our two benches to give Polly more room when she was immobile. For no good reason we have persisted with our cumbersome double and single quilts ever since. Today we went back to JYSK and bought another big single. We’re hoping for a supreme level of comfort tonight!
We hoped to go to a few festivals on our wanderings but last year we were never in the right place at the right time.
Today we put that right with the Vychodna Folk Festival.
Rolling up early at 10.30 we slipped into the last bit of full shade parking, paid our 15 euros each and we were in.
It’s four days of traditional folk music, dancing and crafts on the edge of the town with mountains in every direction.
It probably gets going properly in the evening. We didn’t see a lot, but I was hugely impressed people’s readiness to join in whatever was going on.
Dancing on stage? The leader called for people to join her, and up people got.
Someone starts scratching on a fiddle? Someone else starts dancing.
In a large marquee a band started up, three fiddles, a base dulcimer and a double base. Barn dance style, a caller demonstrated moves, and within no time there were nearly a hundred people dancing. And not just oldies, the kids were right in there.
Staff. Stick. Axe.
I need a stick to walk with at times. My knees are knackered!
At the festival there were so many good ones I was torn between which to buy, and ended up with nothing.
One I thought particularly interesting, but perhaps not appropriate for central Manchester, was a walking stick with an axe head. After all, you never know when the need to cut something down might occur.
Eat more stodge!
Any Pole, Czech, Slovakian or other Eastern European who makes it to 40 while retaining a good figure deserves a medal.
Vegetables rarely figure on menus.
Standard fare is heavy on fat, and often deep fried.
Then it’s all washed down with beer. At any time of the day.
And then there are the sweets. Oh my god they’re sweet.
The shift from the labour intensive agrarian society that is only recently disappearing is going to hit their health hard.
At the festival the only vaguely healthy item available was corn on the cob.
Nearly everything else was meat. And with a strong breeze blowing it was all garnished with a light dust from the paths.
My stooge-light lunch was a gnocchi like potato pasta with brown bacon fat, washed down with a glass of sour milk (better than it sounds).
Minty knocked up her own flatbreads which she then smothered in garlic oil. Delicious!
Tonight after a short drive from the festival we’re in the foothills of the Tatras again, further west that we’re used to. A little north of last night’s stop over place at Liptovsky Peter.
Next to us a Czech couple have created a cramped, but cheap, camper from their old VW Sharan MPV. Good on them.
At the Podlesok camp site a good few people were camping in big estate cars with blacked out rear windows and a mattress filling the back.
Others had roof tents.
I wouldn’t want to join their (cramped) ranks, but if their creations get them out into the wilds for minimal expense then I applaud it.
I read this today.
It might be easier to burn a bridge than it is to build one, but in the long run, bridges are what we need.
I’ve burnt plenty in the past, I hope wisdom increases with age.