Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Slovakia  , Presov,
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We still weren't ready to head back into a big city so we took another few days and stayed in a really small town called Zdiar in Slovakia. We got off at the wrong bus stop and had to hitch a ride with a guy who was leaving the grocery store.  Nice guy.  Our first choice of pension was closed for the season so we stayed at another house in town.  Basically locals advertise extra rooms they have in their homes.  We found a great place.  There were only 4 rooms and a kitchen.  The owner spoke no English so it was funny communicating with her about our room.  Very silly, laughing lady.  We went out for a walk around the town and when we returned her son was looking for us...with a bottle of vodka.  Homemade.  He welcomed us with that.  So good - strawberry flavored.  Then he helped us figure out all there is to do in the area.  Also in the hostel were 3 girlfriends from Australia that were on a similar trip as Brian and I.  We had fun talking with them as we sampled the homemade vodka.  Another great thing: homemade chocolate cake and blueberry cake.  Yum!  They also had a fire pit behind on the house, right on a large creek.  As soon as Brian saw that, I knew what we'd be doing every night.  So every night we had a nice big fire.  So beautiful with the mountains and the water right there.

Our first day we wanted to do a long hike because we're in the mountains and everything.  Our choices were 2 shorter hikes (about 2 hours each) or one long 7 hour hike.  So we thought it'd be better to do the 2 shorter ones.  The first one was nice and followed the river then through some pastures and ended at a ski hill with a restaurant on top.  We stopped there and had a beer and looked out over the mountains.  Afterwords we tried another hike that went along a ridge over the town and through some more forest.  Our plan ended when we realized we took a wrong turn somewhere (badly posted trails) and came out early and back into the town.  So frustrating.  Even worse when we found out the 3 Australians did the 7 hour hike and walked along with 2 older people and their small dog.  If they could do it, surely we could have.  But oh well.  That evening we hiked up another steep hill and watched the sunset in a pasture.  The farmer and his son came up while we were sitting to get some hay.  They actually use horses here as farm equipment still!  Had another fire. 

We also went to the nearby town on Lomnica that has a huge gondola to one of the highest peaks in the region.  We discovered it costs 30 Euro (!) to take it up.  That's about $45 so we passed.  Instead we did the Tetrabob in town.  It is like the ride we took in Zakopane but much faster.  I am still trying to figure out how Brian likes these rides and doesn't like Great America (but his mind might be changing).  We also found a really unique bar in this town.  It was called Relax Bar and it had a run-down mini golf course and a dirty pond with a paddle boat.  All the outside furniture was falling apart and they were blasting SlipKnot.  But we still wanted to try it.  I actually got COFFEE this time, not beer.  It was the only place in a town surrounded by mountains that you could actually get a clear view of the mountains.  We enjoyed our drinks and some SlipKnot.  The best was when 2 older couples came and one lady took off her clothes, down to a bikini and laid out on one of the old picnic benches.  Strange.

Back in Zdiar that evening the owner's son had called his cousin and set up a time for us to horseback ride.  We went right around sunset.  We got to the cousins house and waiting while they got the horses all ready.  They had 2 golden retrievers so you can imagine how much attention they got from us.  What's better then horses AND dogs?  So, he was only getting two horses saddled up - so that meant, he was going to walk us, we would be sharing a horse or he thought we were good riders and we'd be on our own.  I was a little nervous because I haven't ridden a horse since Girl Scouts and Brian never has.  Turns out, he would be walking us.  It was a little embarrassing...this guy walking 2 giant horses with 2 giant people on the back of them.  I felt like we were at a carnival or something.  But regardless it was awesome.  He took us through some back trails and into the woods and pastures.  It has rained the night before so it was super muddy.  I few times I thought my horse would get stuck.  One of the Golden's was with us the whole time too - her legs were completely brown when we got back.  Brian's horse kept misbehaving and mine had a cool haircut, so all in all, really fun time!  When we were done I knew my bum would hurt but I had NO idea how bad my knees would hurt.  We could hardly walk - I don't remember that from when I was a kid.  Really nice family.  Zdiar wasn't in Lonely Planet, so it shows that they don't cover all great spots.  Fun to get off the tourist track.

In the morning the owner's son drove us to the train station on his way to work.  This was after he spent a good 2 hours the few nights before helping us with different stuff.  When our computer wasn't working, he got his out and booked reservations for us.  Good train ride to Bratislava where we had to change to a bus and finish in Vienna!!!  We made it to Austria!!!
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