Well, we had great plans for today – continuing our tour of Central Slovakia, stopping in Zilina, famous for its colourful historic centre. The fates however have other plans.
Our path skirts the Tatras mountains, a series of three gentle ranges, home of ski fields, nature reserves and hikers’ paths.
It’s interesting, seeing Slovakia without the ever present veil of tourism. The contrast between pre and post communist eras is clearer here. The Soviets were not knowing for being generous with their purse strings – roads are in poor condition, driving us onto the toll roads, whose income offers at least a semblance of maintenance.
The villages we pass are classic builds,
but where populations have exploded, they’ve been housed in endless, soulless highrise.
The drama and romance of the past, punctuated by the occasional castle, is missing from these areas. We’ve lost something quite valuable there, I think.
Something else is evident on our drive – the prevalence of people quietly going about the business of building their own home. Occupied well before completion, it’s not unusual to see a homeowner out front, applying render, roofing, or otherwise completing a required task.
Eventually we reach Zilina. It’s another city with a historical heart, surrounded by communist era highrise. We have a lazy afternoon planned – a little exploration, a little lunch. Himself has suitable parking located, courtesy of a very reliable app, but despite three passes, it fails to materialise. Frustrated by each attempt, not to mention the effort in swinging the motorhome about in heavy traffic, Himself calls it: “I’m over it” he says, “let’s move on” And in the absence of an alternative, we do, travelling further north, to Oravska Poruba.
Located just south from the town of Dolny Kubin on the river Orava, we’re in amongst rally and canoeing groups who’ve come from far and wide. It’s not quite the afternoon we had planned, but it’s lovely still, affording us the opportunity to catch up with chores and spot new wildflowers on a late afternoon riverside walk.
There’s even the work of an elusive woodpecker to admire. Himself tells me that little birds make their nests in these pecked out hollows – it makes me wonder, do they call the woodpeckers back in, when they want an extension added on?