«Little big country» was written over the hat’s visor we bought, when we came to Slovakia for the first time.
And now we’ve been here for almost two years.
The hat has worn off and I can confidently agree with the notion: “Slovakia is a little BIG country”.
Slovakia is in fact very small. You can cross it from border to border (east to west or south to north) in one day. And, it can happen, it’ll seem old-fashioned and provincial for citizens of big countries and big cities.
But when you get here, it’s as if you’ve entered the Kingdom of Narnia, hidden behind the rear partition of the wardrobe.
Mountains, meadows, rivers, lakes, caves – you can find it all here. In summer it’s the heaven for trekking. Slovak mountains yield even to young tourists, that’s why they’re perfect for family holidays. They beckon you whatever season it is. In autumn – they are forests, donned in golden gowns. In spring they’re silence and solitude, low-pitched brawl of the creeks, humidity and eternal magic of revitalizing. Winter is reserved for winter sports aficionados.
We began to get to know Slovak beauty in summer with an outing to the Vratna valley. Starting point “Cabin Vratna” (Slovak “Chata Vratna”) is situated at 740 meters above the sea level. Using the cable road, you’ll be on top in no time.
From there it’s only a short walk to the Mount Chleb (1645 meters above the sea level). The views opening are breath-taking. Having reached the summit you can turn around and set off on the magnificent journey by the charted trails encountering indescribable beauty and vastnesses, which make you feel dizzy.
Our first itinerary led us to the mountain shelter “Cabin upon Grunya” (Slovak “Chata na Grúni”). Walking is easy, moderate ascents alter with gentle distances.
Take a break if tired, seat on the grass-covered ground and rest, enjoy the marvelous nature. It’s great to chill out on the top with a cup of tea from thermos, when wind cools your red-hot face.
You can’t possibly be lost. Trodden paths weave along the mountain ridges. They’re all marked in their color. But make sure to remember what the color of your track is. There are signposts erected on the key points with different vectors to places, where you can go and the average times it’ll take you.
The hike is rather long. It took us about 5 hours. In addition we had children with us. Descending to the “Chata na Grúni” (970 m.a.s.l.) valley is rather tense. Here you can halt and stretch out your legs after the abrupt descent.
Canon 5D Mark II timelapse video: Slovakia,Vratna valley near Chata na Grúni.
There’s a creek nearby, where you can restore your water reserves.
Farther the road leads you through forests and clumps of wild raspberries, near which we lingered eagerly.
A stretch from “Chata na Gruni” to “Chata Vratna”. Pure magic! Those are the places to gorge on wild raspberries.
Fatigued, but happy we return to the starting point. All efforts spent are worth the condition of inner peace and happiness that is left after long walk.
Our second visit here took place in summer of 2015. And then we decided to subdue the route in an opposite direction. I.e. ascended, where descent to the “Chata na Grúni” is, and descended using the cable road. The adventure was filled with adrenaline! Since it’s difficult to go down by the steep mountain (from time to time you just wanna slide on your fanny), the going up is substantially tougher. It anyhow contributes to overcoming your weaknesses and finally getting to the top.
Next time I’ll write and show the pictures of another beautiful place in Slovakia – Jánošíkove diery. I wanted to write a post with photos from places in Slovakia we’ve visited. But as it turns out there are a lot of photos for one post. So, read next post about little big country, PART 2 ..