Slovakias best kept secret

Trip Start Jul 13, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Slovakia  , Presov,
Friday, August 14, 2009

I've been here for 2 and half days now and I think I stumbled across this place by luck more than planning. I noted a brochure for a hostel in the mountains and from the pictures alone I knew I had to stay there. I'm about 10km from the Polish border and I crossed countries on a local bus and I couldn't even tell where the border was, as there was no official check, not even the remnants of an old border control or no mans land.
Zdiar is a tiny village, it's a small (v. small) ski resort and it's quite literally at the foot of the (Slovakian) Tatra Mountains. The hostel is located next to the church (& cemetary) and most possibly used to be someones home. (it was built in 1957). It certainly feels as though I've moved into someones house as the staff here are really helpful and chilled out. (& they have a dog!!).

The view from my room, take in the white tower of the church and the green lush fields and the mountains. I arrived on Friday night - which is apparently pizza night - and everyone went to the local pizzeria (I think there are only 4 restaurants in the village!!) for dinner and it was possibly the best way for everyone to get to know each other. I made friends with a group of Scandanavian students the next day we decided to go on a mountain walk together.  
After a large breakfast and stopping by the local shop to replenish our water and chocolate supplies, we set off, initally we were distracted by an abandoned hotel and could resist climbing in and wandering around it's 3 floors looking for evidence of previous life, however it was apparent that all salvagable items had been removed and it was a complete shell (& possibly not very safe!).
The walk was supposed to be a 3 & half walk, but that is clearly an underestimate. After walking for about 4 hrs, I decided to turn back (I was feeling ill, most probably from too much sun and not enough water!) and left the group to continue without me. This turned out to be a bit of a blessing, firstly b/c I was so focused on climbing up the mountain (in some parts you had to use chains to climb up and we on your hands and knees) that I hadn't had time to take in the scenery, so coming back down at a slower place, I was able to stop and enjoy the view & I was also lucky to spot a group (I don't know the collective noun!!) of elk eating the wild flowers in one of the valleys. I made it back to the hostel just after 6, the others did not return until after 10pm, so even if I was feeling well, I'm not too sure how happy I would have been after a 9hr hike...   

My second day here was spent chilling out, catching up on reading and just chatting with the other guests in the hostel  (who had just arrived or who were recovering from previous days worth of hiking) swapping stories and information about places we've visited. 

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