Friday, March 02, 2007

Slovakia Travels - Tatranská Lomnica

For our winter break, Olja and I decided to travel to Slovakia. Since it was organized by a tour group, she was able to get a visa without the normal hassle. Serbians need a visa for nearly every country in the world! The tour bus left Belgrade on Friday at about 8pm and slowly made its way (also delayed for a while at the border crossings) to the High Tatras mountains, dropping us off at our hotel at about 10:30 the next morning. Our hotel room had a great view of the eastern part of the mountain range, including the third highest peak, Lomnický Štít (2,654 m). After a shower we were prepared to begin our exploration of the region. Wearing boots for only the second time this winter (it snowed for one day in Belgrade) we walked the 2+ kilometers to the village of Tatranská Lomnica. Although the village had its share of hotels catering to the many skiers and snowboarders, Lomnica also had a nice park, cozy restaurants and cafés, little shops, and homes, giving it a more authentic feel than some of the other villages in the High Tatras. Here we exchanged money and had a hearty Slovakian meal of Bryndzové halušky, potato dumplings with sheep cheese and sprinkled with bits of bacon.

With our tummies full, we went visited some shops, looked around the town, got information about train travel times for the next day, and then took a little walk on a path leading out of the village. The sky was a deep blue, contrasting with the stark white of the peaked Tatra mountains before us. I took some photos of the landscape, knowing that such clear days might be rare. Who knows how many skiers were up there enjoying the slopes. Although some areas were nicely populated with trees (lots of spruce), there were large areas that were barren of trees. Only the stubs and uprooted stumps remained, a vivid reminder of the strong winds that decimated an estimated 12-14,000 hectars of forest - between 1.5 and 3 million cubic meters of timber in November of 2004. And to think that the winds only lasted about 3 hours!

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