Category Archives: East

After a snowy day I woke up to bright blue skies, the sun piercing through my window on the top floor of the old mansion was staying at. I walked down the big wooden staircase again, past the animal heads and antlers on the walls. On my way out the hotel owner asked where I was going. I hoped to hike to two lakes: Biele and Zelene Pleso. He wished me a good day and got back into the reception area. First I walked through the park towards the incredibly good-looking Grand Hotel Praha. Behind it the trail goes past the Sorea hotel and then slowly up the mountain. At the bottom the autumn colors were still mixed in with some bright green. I crossed a little bridge covered in yellow and orange leaves. It was the most idyllic and serene place. As soon as I walked uphill it changed…

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I’m a big fan of fairytale castles and if I have the chance to visit one, I’ll usually take it. As I researched Slovakia there was an overwhelming choice of castles. All kinds of castles; medieval, fortresses, fairytale, mansions… you name it. Luckily my friend send me a list of recommendations in her home country. Bojnice Castle was one of them. I made a rough trip itinerary and refined it once I was in the country. This gave me the freedom to stay longer in the High Tatras, a place I totally fell in love with. I figured I could just about squeeze in my other top spots and scheduled Bojnice Castle on my way from the Slovak Paradise to Bratislava. I would stay for one night, take a train to Bratislava in the morning and still have some time in the capital. Well… that turned out to be too…

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Of all the canyons in the Slovak Paradise national park, Prielom Hornádu is one of the few, if not the only, that is a two-way street. This made it perfect for a loop, taking a detour via Kláštorská roklina, monastery gorge, up to the monastery ruins, down a steep forest trail, past the Tomášovský viewpoint and back along the river. It’s a 19km adventure taking you over ladders and steps, high over the water, hugging the rocks and immerses you in the forest. It’s a beautiful fall day when I make my way to the start. It’s early, but the sun is already driving away the clouds. I walk down the road, away from the town Hrabušice, and find the Hornád river near an intersection. A sign directs me to a path through the fields, alongside the river. Further along is a small rest area where a man is enjoying…

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Sucha Bela is one of the most famous hikes in the Slovak Paradise. While researching I’d read it could get pretty busy, so busy even that there may be small traffic jams on the trail. Imagine my surprise when I found a pretty quiet Slovak Paradise. It turns out October was not a popular month for people to visit the national park, even though all the trails are still open till the end of the month (some, like the via ferrata, close for winter). It meant that I didn’t have to wait for people on the narrow trails and that all my photos were all about nature. It also meant I was extra careful, and very aware that I was hiking by myself. From my base in Hrabušice I followed the main road to Podlesok. I passed empty parking lots and arrived at the eerily quiet base. There were some…

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For my last day in the High Tatras I took a train to Strbské Pleso and chose the popular route to Popradske Pleso. It felt so much busier than the other trails I’ve done. Perhaps it was because it was Friday, perhaps because the sun was finally out and the sky was mostly blue. Lots of people were arriving in the small town and heading either for the ski lift or the trails. Right from the start of the trail I noticed a lot of people chose the same route I did. I had hoped that after the snow from 2 days ago I would be able to go a bit further than Popradske Pleso, to Hincovo Pleso, but I had never thought I’d be able to climb even higher. Today was the day of the unexpected. The morning started easy, with a pleasant forest path that wasn’t too challenging.…

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A holiday in October… anything can happen. October can bring the unexpected sunshine that makes you think it is spring. It can also quickly remind you that winter is around the corner. Today was one of those days. I woke up to find out the temperature was around zero and rain was forecasted for the majority of the day. I went down to the breakfast room and sat next to the window. But wait… is that… white? The top of the cars was covered in a tiny layer of snow, although what was coming down was mostly wet and not sticking to the ground. Due to the weather and other plans I’d scheduled a short hike and I braced myself for the cold. I had leggings and waterproof trousers, two layers and my rain jacket. I hadn’t exactly packed for winter, so until I started my hike I was freezing.…

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Plovdiv in Bulgaria surprised me a lot. I’d never really heard of the city and when I started researching I found out it has got so much to offer. There are Roman ruins, beautiful old traditional houses, view points and… street art! Plovdiv is a very trendy city with some cool neighbourhoods to explore. Throughout the city you can find works of art, from tiny pieces to massive murals. Just keep your eyes open as you explore it. A lot of pieces were made during the Street Art Fest. It’s become popular and many private owners have asked artists to paint their walls. Because of this you’ll see many impressive, big pieces throughout the city. One particularly trendy area is the Kapana. It used to be the center of crafts and after some renovations it is now a home to artists and youth. It’s nice to wander through the little…

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My second last trip as a tour leader ventured into Bulgaria. It was my first time in the country and I was as amazed as my travellers. I took every opportunity to explore the cities we were visiting, but since I was working I didn’t have that much free time. Last March I was meant to visit Bulgaria again. It was also for work, but this time to train my new team. It would be hard work, but also an opportunity to explore new things. But two weeks before departure everything got cancelled. And soon the world got cancelled. So I’m looking back at my time in Bulgaria. I was on a stressful trip. So many things were new for me and during our time in Romania we’d had a lot of problems with taxis. They tried to overcharge, threaten us, didn’t show up… you name it. I felt so…

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Banja Luka is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s second biggest city. It’s located in the North of the country, close to the border with Croatia. I had never thought to go to Banja Luka and it’s certainly not on the tourist radar where I am from, but I wanted to explore a different side of Bosnia and found out that Banja Luka has an airport. It may be a tiny airport, but there are about two flights a day and on Sunday, one of them goes to Berlin. So I ended my one week trip in the Republika Srpska. From Sarajevo I decided to take a train to Banja Luka. I bought my handwritten ticket in the window and walked to the train. As soon as I entered I felt like I’d entered an ash tray. It was clean enough, but the smell was quite overwhelming. Luckily it got better as we…

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It was August. It was hot. It may not have been the best time to go hiking. But I’d heard about this day hike. I’d seen photos of this day hike. I’d been looking forward to this day hike. I was going to do this day hike! So I set off with a guide and two other ladies. Even though we left Sarajevo early, by the time we arrived at the start of our hike, it was already hot. And we were all feeling it. Our guide Saud said he always tests people in the first 10 minutes. From where we parked the car it was a steep climb up to the official start of the trail… I think we all failed miserably, but let’s face it, this was the worst warming up ever. When we arrived at the top we were all already sweating and panting. We stared at…

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