By Shereen Shabnam
When I think of Slovakia, I immediately go back to a moment in time standing near a rail station, sipping hot chocolate in cold and admiring the beautiful greenery all around me with my husband and daughter. We were on our way to see friends in Vienna and decided to go via Slovakia with a few days stopover in Budapest on the way.
Located in the heart of Europe, Slovakia is a land of picturesque natural attractions, castles and beautiful glacier lakes backed by equally mesmerising mountain peaks.
During my first visit to Slovakia, we stopped near Bratislava, a resplendent old town that attracts adventure tourists because of the many outdoor activities like hiking, walking trails in parks and exploring the flora and fauna by the rivers.
If you like adventure, we suggest paying homage to the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry), the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains and the crooked summit of Mount Kriváň, a national symbol in Slovak literature and popular culture.
There are numerous peaks that reach higher than 2500m and attract hikers from around the world, revealing Slovakia as a nation of adventurers. A trip to the mountains means coming across alpine meadows, lakes, hiking trails, parks and caves.
Architecture in Slovakia is similar to most parts of Europe with quaint churches, small boutiques, lovely chateaux style buildings, fortresses and castle ruins. The country has numerous UNESCO recognised heritage sites.
We suggest a visit to Bardejov, a medieval town with fortified city walls and the Gothic Basilica or Cicmany, the world’s first protected folk architecture where you can step back in time visiting the intricately decorated wooden houses. Here you get a glimpse into traditional Slovak village life.
My favourite journey to Slovakia so far has been on a train between Prague and Budapest. The views were breathtaking and even though I have seen the country before, it did not sleep a wink as the route was full of quaint villages and rolling hills and exquisite scenery.
Slovak meals are hearty with plenty of potatoes, cabbage and cheese and we had to search for meals without meat as vegetarian dishes were not common. Thick soups are a usual lunchtime dish and dessert is mainly pancakes with sweet fillings. Pastries are very good in most cafes so you never go hungry.
We have friends who spend a lot of time in Bratislava for work and they all agree that Slovakia is a melting pot of history, architecture, tradition, culture, art, drinks, food and fabulous people. If you have not been to Slovakia yet, you need to visit the country at least once.
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