Friday, March 02, 2007

High Tatras Village: Starý Smokevec

Saving museum towns for other days, Starý Smokevec was a logical visit for a Monday. When I awoke, the sky was bright and blue, providing a clear view of the mountains. Within a short time, it became overcast, shrouding the mountains with thick clouds for most of the day. The tram to Smokevec was filled with skiers and their gear, who got off at one of the skiing stops prior to Smokevec or at its final destination and its cableway leading up to Hrebienok mountain. Starý Smokevec is the oldest of the Tatra ski villages (about 100 years old) and contained a mixture of old and new hotels, including the luxurious Grand Hotel built in 1903.

Walking around, we noticed quite a bit of activity going on, with people walking about and preparing to go up the mountain. At the information center, we inquired about visiting the waterfall up in the mountain. We decided against it after hearing that reaching it would take a 2 hour hike with good boots and ski insurance. Instead we meandered around the town, admiring some of the pretty architecture, particularly the wooden ornamentation on buildings. I especially liked some of the old, deserted buildings, imagining how beautiful they were at one time. We peeked in two small churches and visited numerous souvenir shops, which contained a mixture of fairly nice handicraft items amidst tacky souvenirs. Once again, we had the national Slovak dish at a pleasant restaurant. After stopping for tea at a smart-looking café in Tatranská Lomnica, we tried out the sauna at our hotel. It was so hot that it was difficult to stay inside for very long. I have decided that I’m not a sauna-type person.

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