While living in Budapest, a couple friends and I made the trek out to a little village in Slovakia for a spot of skiing. Zdiar, Slovakia is located near the Polish border in the High Tatras mountain range, on the outskirts of the Tatra National Park. Its pretty much in the middle of nowhere making it the perfect place for a retreat.
We were staying at a hostel called the Ginger Monkey. I would highly recommend this place. The hostel has a really great family feel to it and all the people are super nice and helpful. The best thing is they have a dog named Wally and he is the cutest thing ever. He steals everyone’s heart.
Getting to Zdiar is a bit tricky as it is a fairly small village in what seems to be the middle of nowhere. From Budapest, we had to take two trains and a bus. The first train left at 6:30 in the morning and that was rather painful to get up for, but taking the early train meant we arrived fair early in the day. The first thing I see when I get off the train in Poprad are these massive mountains off to the distance. They were gorgeous. We got into a tiny bus and headed towards them. They looked almost as if they were painted on to the sky. It was surreal.
Quaint is the only way to properly describe the village. Tiny wooden houses under a couple feet of snow. They even have their own museum!
We climbed up this massive hill. The snow made it so difficult . You would step into it and then sink a foot down. It was so much work trying to get up the hill. This is the most powdery snow I’ve ever encountered. Snow in Vancouver is just so different. I loved it. Because the snow was so powdery, it took some effort to get a smooth route down the hill. Once someone went down the trail once or twice it was smooth sailing and so much fun.
The next morning we were off skiing. There are two hills near the hostel and both were serviced by a free shuttle. We ended up going to the more advanced hill called Bachledova. It was a decently sized mountain, with plenty of moderate and easy runs, and it wasn’t too over run with people. You could virtually ski right up to the lifts and not have too long of a line – completely different from any other ski experience I’ve had. It had been a long time since I last skied and I was looking forward to hitting the slopes.
I was surprised at how inexpensive everything was. We got our rentals for only 8 euros a day. The lift ticket was 17 euros. Not bad for a full day of skiing. Instead of getting a ticket to attach to a zipper like in North America, we were given cards (kind of similar to the ones you get for hotels). To get on a ski lift, you have to scan the card. The ski lifts themselves were fancy. There is a moving conveyor belt to get you to the chair. You don’t have to do a shuffle to get picked up.
The weirdest thing is that they didn’t use the same colours for designating the difficulty of runs. I thought the colors used were pretty universal but it seems in Europe blue runs are the easiest (to me usually it’s green), red runs were medium (normally blue) and black runs were difficult (the same). I was really confused for a long time until I figured out the new colour system.
The difficulty of the mountain wasn’t too high. The black run seemed like more of the intermediate runs that I’m use to. I decided to do some off-piste skiing and promptly flipped myself over my ski and face planted. It was rather hilarious, I wish I could have seen myself do it. It was right by one of the chairlifts too so I guess people going by on the chair had some entertainment. I’ve never done too much off-piste skiing and this was definitely a first for me.
By the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted and I could feel the ache in my muscles. Such a great feeling.
Sunday was spent relaxing in the hostel before boarding a bus and two trains back to Budapest. All in all, hospital visit aside, it was a great weekend away in the mountains, playing in the snow. I mean, who can deny waking up to this every morning?
Do you like skiing? What is your favorite mountain?