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Trip Start May 31, 2005
Trip End Dec 25, 2005

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Flag of Slovakia  ,
Wednesday, August 3, 2005

I'm in Slovakia now (yes it is a different place than Slovenia, where I was before). I took the train from Budapest to Poprad, then a train that goes up into the mountains to a town called Stary Smokovec. I'm actually in a town a 3 min walk down the road called Horny Smokovec. The mountain range is the Tatras, and is part of Tatras National Park. They are actually the next biggest mountain range after the Alps in Europe. I came without a reservation because my guidebook had so little information on this region, someone actually gave me some pages from their book while I was in Slovenia because they had already come through this region. Everyone seems to be going the opposite way than me, which is great because then they have advice for me. I got a room through an agency, which is a great way to find a room without having to wander the streets. I splurged on this accommodation - a room in a hotel with two beds, a sink, a balcony, a tv (if i could watch tv in slovak) and a radio (it is a shared bathroom) - for total including taxes $10 a day. It is incredibly cheap here. My dinner last night cost $2. I find myself checking the conversion over and over because I can't believe it's actually right. This is also considered high season! I'll have to come back in the winter, the other high season, because apparently there is great skiing here.

Not too many english speakers here, and everyone keeps trying to speak to me. They just randomly come up to me - either they are incredibly friendly here, or are full of questions. On the trails there are lots of people, haven't heard anyone speaking english, but I figure that if I fall and start screaming for help they'd understand.

A few hostels back someone asked where I was from, I told them D.C. and they looked at me and said, and I quote "wow you are dark, or are you from another place originally". I guess walking around cities all day long for 2 and a half months (yes, passed that mark yesterday!) has really given me a nice tan.

I laughed yesterday when I was so happy to have my own "hotel room", and realized my standards had really changed. If work had put me in a hotel like this, I would have walked right out the door:) When I saw the sink and the balcony (aka the washer and the dryer), the first thing I thought was LAUNDRY!!! I knew I needed to do it but after seeing the color of the water after washing my clothes, I realized I should do laundry more often:) However, hostels tend to charge exhorbent rates - the last place it was $6 for washing and drying - as one of the people there said "that's practically another nights accommodation!" Of course I look back at my old life and realized that was a cost of one beer on a Saturday night. Oh how things have changed:)

I'll be in Poland next week, and for those of you who don't know, Gomolka is Polish and I'm actually half polish. It was great calling the hostels and not having to spell my last name for once. I thought it would be easy to get places to stay since, well it's Poland. I was trying to book a week and half to two weeks in advance (usually I just do it the night or day before) and a lot of them were booked or only had one bed left. Anyone have any idea what's going on in Poland?

I saw an english Time magazine the other day and went to reach for it, then pulled my hand back - I don't need to read about news! I'll glance at papers every once in awhile to see if there are any big pictures of huge headlines but haven't seen any so far, so I figure things must be ok. Thanks everyone for the emails - especially those that tell me my trip is dull compared to their exciting work lives :) There's always room for one more traveller on the road ....
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beth on

Harry Potter Mania!
Thanks for reminding me. Harry Potter is crazy over here - EVERYONE is reading it, actually I've only seen adults on trains and buses reading it. The favorite book of other backpackers is The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons. I can honestly say there is at least 3 people in every hostel reading it. Aren't there any other books out there?

beth on

Re: Everything
Yes I hace been remembering all the beers. I can't wait to go back to the states and pay 5 times as much for these beers.

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