191 Kms from Debrecen
296 Kms from Debrecen
Next was the Wieliczka salt mine. It was an active salt mine for about 700 years, closing down and turning into a full time museum in 2007. A hallway carved out of the rocksalt, and logs used to support the tunnels, caked in the salt after centuries of exposure. The various jobs that existed in the mine, depicted by gnomes…it felt a little bit like Disney world. All the tunnels and chambers in this mine were carved out completely for mining purposes…nothing was natural, yet it was surprising how cave-like some areas felt.
232 Kms from Debrecen
Next, I was in Zakopane, Poland, in the Tatra Mountains, near the border with Slovakia. I loved it there, but unfortunately, it’s still raining quite a bit. It was absolutely beautiful, and pretty cheap too. Sure it was offcseason, but even in the off season in a similar town back home (say, Breckenridge), a hotel room hasn’t been had for $13 since 1947. And then there’s the meals…amazingly delicious, and huge meals, all at TGI Friday’s prices…and good beer for cheap too! And after a day of hiking in the cold rain, nothing beats a nice porter, with a garnish that’ll make you feel like you’re on the beach.
195 Kms from Debrecen
Arrived in Poprad, and first thing to do was find a place to stay. I had done some research ahead of time, so I knew that Poprad is a touristy city of about 55,000 people. Quite a few private places to stay, similar to what we have been in, but definitely with higher prices than we're used to. We walked the twenty minutes or so to the information centre, and made it just in time because yesterday was a bank holiday in Slovakia so most places were closed, and the info centre itself was closing at noon. While we were dragging our bags around, we walked past a penzion (guest house) that I thought would be fairly expensive, but you don't know if you don't ask, right? The lady said they had one room available for three nights and I went and looked at it. Very nice. But it was fairly expensive, at €32 ($40) per night. And there are no kitchen facilities, so we would be spending more on meals. But they do a nice buffet breakfast every morning for an extra €5 ($6.25) per person. The city is divided by the railway tracks. Mostly industrial and business on one side, and mostly residential on the other side. We were on the business side. Poprad exists partly because it is close to these mountains. During our walk around the city, we were looking for somewhere suitable to have dinner later on. Once again, prices are a little higher than we're used to. Usually, if you look at the price of a beer in a restaurant, it is a good indication of the price of the food! For example, there is a cheap pub in the front of our guest house (but it doesn't sell food). Beer there is between €0.70 and €0.90 ($0.87 and & $1.13). So when you see a restaurant advertising beer for €1.40 ($1.75), you can be pretty confident that the food will be more expensive too.
199 Kms from Debrecen
After shivering in the snow for a few hours, I gave up on couch surfing and went to find a hostel. Quick Google search + Google Maps, and twenty minutes later I was in front of Hostel Costel. THANKFULLY they had room, and the hostel was nice and non creepy (that’s not something I can say about the hostels I stayed at in Rome. Shudder!!!).
271 Kms from Debrecen
Everything is better after you’re full, no? I didn’t have much to do. It gets dark quickly in the winter so I just decided to make the most of whatever little time I had and walked around the city. What can I say about Timisoara? I don’t know much about it, frankly, and I didn’t get a chance to find out either. I can tell you it’s in Western Romania and is the third most populous city in the country. I can tell you it is called ‘Little Vienna’ for some reason (but I was in a foul mood that day and I refused to agree with whoever told me that). And I can tell you that it is a pretty city. If prettiness can show itself inspite of the snow, it’s a pretty city indeed!
283 Kms from Debrecen
Our Zilina couchsurfing host Michal had said that he would meet us at the train station and we had no problem spotting each other. He asked what our plans were and we really didn't have any, so he suggested that he show us around a little bit. Okay! So we got acquainted with Michal while wandering around. He works for a large industrial company, but he's on the road a lot and works mostly from a home office. Zilina is a fairly industrial town and there is a Kia car manufacturing plant here that employs 3,000 local people. Michal has a wife, Ivona, and a two year old son Daniel. But Michal has also taken courses to become a certified tour guide for the area, and he was practicing on us. We think he's going to be very successful! We decided to visit another castle about 15 kms away called Strecno Castle. We parked the car and it was going to be an uphill 20 minute walk to get to this fascinating castle! We spent the evening talking about travel and what to do in the area. There are some gorgeous hikes within 35 kms of here and Michal showed us some pics of the area so we'll know what to expect