Poprad, the High Tatras and Spišská Sobota

Poprad and the High Tatras

Having visited Slovakia I was adamant that I was going to get to the countryside this time. The countryside famed for its beauty. Bratislava may be nice but a visit just there may be missing the real jewel of Slovakia – its beautiful mountains and scenery. Having being recommended by the kind Lyudmila I met on the plane to Prague I decided to visit the High Tatras
The gateway to the mountains is Poprad.

 

Kind Host ZuzanaI had a very kind and friendly host Zuzana, who met me in Poprad. Prior to meeting I explored some of the town. Much revolves around one street which has both an Evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic Church very close buy. The Evangelical one dominates the centre of the street from its location. It was surprising both were built so close together. Some nice architecture adorns some streets and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants and cheaper than Bratislava too, which is already inexpensive.

However must see sites don’t really exist but the towns main attraction is that you have to pass through it to reach the High Tatras anyway. And with the nice atmosphere it is worthy of a bases. The second part of the town further way is also historical and beautiful. The town is mostly photogenic and the mountains can be seen in the distance. One of the best views though was from Zuzana’s apartment. Such apartments in London would be super expensive. Poprad is a lovely place to be based.
I walked with Zuzana to some bar a few kms away and also had fresh spring water.

Near to Poprad is of course the High Tatras and I made my trip to Lomnický štít. I was a little unfortunate to have my view completely obscured at times by cloud.

I think visit in autumn and give yourself enough days for the chance of good weather. Cloud aside the visit was great but the cable car fee to the top was excessive. (You will need it or a guide to go to the top with specialist equipment). One Dutch tourist questioned the fees that seem not to be straightforward or clear to the average tourist. There s also a deposit not clearly mentioned on the website that you must pay but can get back on top of that. And there is the optional insurance which should be seriously considered if hiking. I met a Slovak who had to use it. I ascended to Lomnický and then went down to the mid station Start from there I hiked across the mountain coming across miniature but refreshing waterfall and plenty of interesting scenery and many greetings in Slovak from students. The High Tatras was time worth spent and I want to return but possibly after visiting Slovenia which I imagine to also be beautiful.

 

Spišská Sobota

Another place worth visiting and actual my favourite in Slovakia (so far) is Spišská Sobota. Zuzzana (Poprad) recommended the place. it is a place where you can see a wonderful castle in nice settings and an equally wonderful town. I visited in the week and the town did seem a little dead (not the castle) but none the less it was beautiful. The people friendly. I want to return here and for longer.
I was not helped by the weather. The walk up the castle is moderate but not in blistering heat which I had it wasn’t so pleasant. It may have been around 38 or even more. The weather reached at least that during my Slovakian trip. I made the trip, rented the audio guide and was pleasantly surprised to find it actually interesting, and not too long.

There are several legends and stories associated with the castle such as the Tatar Princess. The Robber baron , Gypsies, and Polish King.

The Legends of Spiš Castle

The Tatar Princess

The Tatars attacked Spiš castle but could not breach it so they laid siege. The Khan then gave an order to retreat (temporarily as I understood).
However the Khans daughter either ignored or did not hear the call. As some men left the castle o orders searching for water they captured the beautiful; and brought her inside as a shield against the Khan.
Promising to release the Khans daughter only if he withdraws the King promised his song will be sent as guarantee and both will be released together. The Khan acquiesced.
After 10 days both were exchanged as promised only that unbeknown to the Khan or others the prince and princess were besotted from the time of her capture and had fallen in love and soon after her release she fled back to the princess and they arranged to marry.
The Khan was furious.

The wedding was being held on a balcony but before it could be performed a Tatar soldier fired an arrow from below the walls directly into the princess heart. “A wedding gift from the Khan!” he cried.

 

The Robber Baron

In 16th century a robber baron Sarksko from Kosice wanted to either rob the castle or take control and came up with a cunning idea. By bribing the guards he and his men would be let up by rope and breach the defences. But he was double crossed and on the evening of the 27th April 1543 while being let up Sarsko realised the trap. Demanding to be let down one of the soldiers cut the rope where he fell to his death! His accomplices were captured and bar one (for reasons not given) were beheaded.

 

Gypsies

Partly in fact I cannot do this story justice as I did not record it down however the story goes the Hungarian King was so besotted by a beautiful gypsies girl that he gave great power to the gypsies including a right to rule themselves. The strong protection that gypsies have in Slovakia are said to be retained through these laws to these days.

 

Polish King

A mighty Polish king Philip lived with his wife and had a beautiful daughter Barbora. Once while hunting the King accidentally killed the only son of an aristocrat.
The aristocrat promised revenge which Philip took extremely seriously. He entrusted the care of Barbora to his sister Hedviga (his wife having died).
One day while he left the castle and Barbora into the care of Hedviga the aristocrat struck with a daring plan, disguising a soldier as a minstrel they got him into the building. Hedviga was besotted by him. She realised the deception too late Barbora was gone, held captive by the aristocrat.
Hedviga was absolutely distraught believing Barbora was dead (as false reports reached the castle) for the tower, not releasing the soldier having realised the aristocrats aims for killing Barbora helped her escape and she returned to her father.