Welcome to Ugly Town!

Trip Start Nov 15, 2005
Trip End Aug 15, 2008

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Flag of Slovakia  , Košický,
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Having done plenty of hiking recently (averaging 7 hours a day over the last 5 days), I was quite looking forward to getting back to exploring small town Slovakia for a couple of days.

Before parting company, Simon and I had arranged to meet in a town called Spisska Nova Ves for its location rather than anything about the town itself.

(I've had complaints from a few people who didn't quite understand what I wrote about the town, which was a private joke to begin with; I don't wish to cause any offense to humourless people stumbling across this blog, so I have removed a section here. I don't think Spisska Nova Ves is particularly ugly, it's just not as attractive as other places in Slovakia.)

The one good thing about staying in Ugly Town was that it did make the pretty places nearby seem that much more appealing in comparison. One such trip was out to a town called Levoca, home to Master Paul, a 15th century master gothic artist, and possessive of a wondefully preserved old town square, lined with gothic and renaissance buildings and centrewd on the massive St James' church, an ornate town hall and a rather plain yet enormous Lutheran church. A shame there's only a very small Lutheran population there anymore. Even better, outside the town hall they had a 'cage of shame'. Something every town needs, I think.

Our first mission on arriving in Levoca was to reach the Pilgrimage Church, some 2km out of town atop a hill. There is a short path leading directly there, though we totally failed to follow this. Instead, after getting a little lost we asked some locals for the way. This was a mistake, as he just pointed us straight up the hill. No path, just straight up. I'm sure he did it deliberately. Still, at least the Pilgrimage Church seemed to justify it's name this way - absolutely no suffering involved if you go the regular way. Beating your own path through mud, nettles, brambles, small streams and what we suspected to be ecclesiastical fecal matter, we felt like we had actually achieved something when we reached the top. The church didn't even seem all that special, but the views of town were quite nice.

From Levoca, we went to Spissky Hrad, Slovakia's largest castle ruins, and damned impressive they were too. From a distance, at least. Once we were inside, they felt a little too touristy and too much was out of bounds for my liking, but still worth the visit. Annoyingly, whilst there we ran into out austrian 'friend' from the Low Tatras mountains. She was just as irritating this time. Why is it that we run into her and not one of the many, many amazing people we have both met? Evil sense of humour, I'm telling you...
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