|04-07-2013, 01:34 PM||#1|
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Jurassic Upland Poland
Slovakia: inspiration and spirit
Living in a beautiful location is the significant drawback. You have to do a hard job to find a place cool enough to go for a few days.
If you’re a metropolitan, any place in the world gonna be better than the city. I have to keep the faith I could find a landscape as beautiful
as my beloved Jura.
Hours spent over Google Maps made clear to me that I had already known how I wanted to spend the next two days.
There was a place giving me that blissful feeling and located close enough to weekend trip: Liptovsky Mikulas. I visited the Liptov
region for the first time in 1998 disgusted by eastern Slovakia, eagerly looking for a charming place where I could celebrate
my fresh marriage life. After the gray and bland bulidings of Michalovce and musty beaches of Zemplinska Sirava,
dotted with an amazing mix of exaggerated luxury hotels and tourist attractions remembering the communist times,
Mikulas seemed to be a different world: moody, familiar, just cool. And, what materred most for me and my wife, cheap!
We could take a hotel in the center for the dime. Over the years, with a little help of Euro, cheapness has disappeared without
a trace, but its charming warmth of familiarity is still present there. You wouldn’t find buffoons favourite activities
in Mikulas. I could explain, who’d feel good there, but actually just a buffoon wouldn’t.
Let's go! Firstly I visited excellent my favourite service in Bielsko Biala to check this and that. Everything’s right.
The road from Bielsko to Korbielów reminded me of Cairo traffic jams: crowded, colorful. You need to be very careful.
In a word - messsssy. Fortunately, the Slovak side got quiet and peaceful. Perfect conditions to contemplate the Slovak
nature ambience. The only problem I had was keeping the right speed. Slovak fines weren’t the nicest expense.
Knee grinding geeks are not welcome there.
If you like old rural cottages, you should see the Orava Village Museum in Zuberec. I put down the history matter for the afternoon,
and focused on epic pleasures of Slovak cuisine in Koliba Josu. Slovak cuisine is a synergy of highland, hungarian and czech cuisine.
Mediterranean flavors enthusiasts might be disappointed, but everyone else will find their culinary karma. This food can be healthy
only when you’re hewer. So what? Being here once a year gives you right to force your liver to little stress.
When Cesnakova polievka (garlic soup) and bryndzove halušky (potato noodles) filled me with epic exultation, it was time
to take a road. What a road! From Zuberec to Liptovská Sielnica, there was an astonishing essence of motorcycling fun.
Though it was only 23 km, I found the long straights, a little mad hairpins and wonderful, breathtaking views there. I loved that road!
From time to time I stopped to enjoy the Low Tatras landscapes and take a look at Liptovská Mara lake shimmering at the bottom.
It was my destination.
Before I soak my exhausted feet in the cool water, I had caught the Vlkolínec - the UNESCO village-museum. You could die for the charm
of this place. You could observe a a normal village, where ordinary people live. Probably they were a little upset that someone
was looking through the window and entering the house without permission. Vlkolínec jaunt proved to be quite expensive due to the
warm welcome by the Slovak traffic police. They gave me the opportunity to perform in a short film and showed me the latest
police technology for only 20 euros. Ah ... damned popularity...
Evening was approaching. Though I felt tempted to sink in the abyss of Slovak culinary treasures, I wanted find a place to sleep first
and visit Haj-Nicovo next.
I found the room knocking on the second house in Liptovsky Trnovec. First one first was filled to the brim with compatriots.
The price was remarkably affordable (EUR 9) and the room was neat, though certainly I saw better ones.
Haj-Nicovo is the hill on which the Czechoslovak soldiers cemetery is located. The hill provides a great view of the Liptovský Mikuláš
and Liptovská Mara. If you’d like to do some photos, go there in the morning, ‘cos the sunset limits the possibilities of photography,
especially when you’re a lame photographer like me.
As the evening finally came, I could enjoy the impressive Low Tatra panorama seen from Liptovská Mara bank. That beautiful combination
of lake and mountains you could find far away, in Switzerland or Austria. Despite of many tourists, the ubiquitous pedalos
and pebble beach, Liptovská Mara has something blissful, something that allows you not to worry about these minor
inconveniences. You could feel the cold water of Liptovska Mara enfolds you with a warm peace switching off all overloaded neurons.
Okay, okay, it's time to dive into other depth: hedonism.Firstly: Slovak beer. This phenomenon is worth a few kind words. Most of us
believe that Zlatý Bažant is the best one. But Slovakia has as rich beer tradition as Czech Republic so you should try everything you could grab.
Same as western neighbors, the Slovaks respect the culture
and tradition of beer - for example, you’ll never get a warm beer. Slovaks, unlike the Poles, prefer slightly lighter beer, with a richer aroma
and a distinct hop bitterness. You won’t find corn stinking beer-like beverages here. Smädný Mnich, Saris, Kelt, Martiner - that are just
some of the goodies that I personally checked and I could recommend.
What’bout a beer snack? The first one I’d suggest is Langos - deep fried potato yeast-cake topped with cheese and garlic.
Though the description isn’t maybe temping, that “dish”
represents the Liptov region for me most, despite the fact that its recipe comes from Hungary. If you're driving, a great addition
to Langos is Kofola - Coke-like beverage, with a specific herb flavor. The set tastes brilliantly and Liptov is worth visiting only because
of Kofola and Langos.
But that was an introduction to Liptov taste delights only. On Mikulas main quare once there was a restaurant that had changed my life.
It was called “Liptovska Izba” it was a chamber indeed - a few wooden benches made all equipment. I remember that I couldn’t
put bucks on the table ‘cos it could be stuck for good. But my most important memory is a long queue to the restaurant - a view expected
more in France or Italy, definitely not in Slovakia. I recall the best in the world: zakvas (curdled milk), domača zabijačka
(home blood sausage) and, of course, bryndzove halušky.
Bryndzove halušky - potato noodles with sheep cheese, topped with fried smoked lard are one of those things that taste such good
only in one place in the world. Just a mention of it was enough to elicit a nostalgia. Yeeeaaahhh... I felt in love to death with that taste.
I was developing my cooking skills over the years thinking of it. I’ve been getting back to Mikulas from time to time just to try its taste.
Finally it became an icon of Slovakia forme. So when I found my favourite Liptovska Izba closed I felt like I was dead. Existential pain
I experienced had been changing into something really serious, what can be confirmed by three independent psychiatrists. Fortunately one day
I found my beloved restaurant open and full of people again.
Ehhhh, God is righteous, and he apparently like to eat well.
Psychiatrists were glad too and I was finally right.
Time to go. It is a pity, because these soothing places were pulled down like a bed in the morning. To lift my spirits I decided to take
very spectacular High Tatras route back. The power of mountain massifs gives you that feeling of humility to the world and of respect for nature.
The main point of the back route was one of the most famous places in Tatra - Štrbské Pleso. It’s a mountain lake well known among
the tourists. Its metaphysical charm and sublime beauty was mercilessly supressed by the claws of the tourism industry.
It reminded me a nostalgic note of missing something beautiful, unnamed and barely lost in the name of things that didn’t matter.
Suddenly my sentimental journey turned into spiritual renewal. I regained belief that natural beauty was more important than
the best modernity, that regional culinary treasures weren’t less important than the historical monuments, that we still wanted
to explore other cultures, with their tastes and scents. I was glad that quasi-turistical riff-raff not only wasn’t able to overwhelm
the true beauty of a nature, but made it bigger and more valuable. Let’s leave it at that: respect visited places, allowing them remain
in your memory with its tastes and scents.
|04-07-2013, 04:31 PM||#3|
Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Western Piedmont, NC
Thanks for posting. I hope to visit there some day. Very beautiful place.
Cela est comment nous roulons.
|04-07-2013, 07:16 PM||#4|
Ghost in the Machine
Joined: Dec 2012
Location: Northern New Mexico
This is the land of my ancestors, thank you for letting me see it through the eyes of a fellow motorcycle rider. I hope to visit and ride there some day myself!
New Mexico, not really new, not really Mexico.
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