Snowboarding in the Lower Tatras

168916_10150382048575220_2950371_nWe took the train from Bratislava to Liptovsky Mikulas (€15, 3 hours), a tiny village at the foot of the Lower Tatras mountains which, despite the name, are actually very high! We stuffed all our snowboards and gear into the back of a €10 taxi and took a quick 20 minute drive up into the mountains to the ski resort.


We checked into our relatively nice accommodation which consisted of a shared apartment although we seemed to have it all for ourselves. I thought it came with a 179326_10150382048925220_6681186_nkitchen but actually only had a kettle. Not a problem though as the nearby restaurant was very cheap, as we soon found out as by now it was dinner time. As is common with Eastern European countries the fare consisted mainly of meat and potatoes, which is great since it was freezing and it’s the perfect food for winter. We were also happily introduced to a lovely dark beer called Zlaty Bazant, which we proceeded to imbibe in large quantity for the rest of the weekend since it cost only €1.50.


The next morning we awoke early and get ready for some serious snow action – it was coming down fairly hard but luckily all the lifts seemed to be open and visibility wasn’t too bad. We spent the morning getting accustomed to the lay of the land and the different runs. Luckily the resort is quite small and wasn’t very busy, so we had most of it to ourselves. The snow was so thick that I accidentally road my board straight over a fence that was completely covered, cutting a deep gash into the bottom!  Luckily the onsite snow shop was able to repair it that evening for only €30.

After a successful day on the slopes practising some jumps and doing mad tree runs we headed out to find the other side of town to see if it was less dead than our side, since we were literally the only people on our side. We found a hotel with a bar and a few people but it was still very quite.  Anyway, we proceeded to get very drunk and then very lost in a snowstorm on the walk back. For awhile it was touch-and-go…. I was pretty sure we were goners, but it turned out we were actually just a few hundred metres from the resort. Luckily the booze kept us warm!

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We hadn’t ventured right to the top of the mountain yet so the next day we decided it was time – only to find that the snow was too thick and the top ski lift was closed! No problem, we’ll just hike up! I don’t know who’s crazy idea this was but we spent the next two hours walking up the mountain in a sideways blizzard in -20 degree temperatures carrying our boards! I thought we would never make it but eventually, like Hillary peaking Everest we reached the top! No wonder the lift was closed – it was completely frozen over, like something out of the North Pole!!

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Fortunately over the crest of the mountain the blizzard had stopped and the sun was shining, so we had quite a nice session boarding down that side, and even more fortunately the lift back up was working so we had a way back.

Once the weather cleared we spent some time in the snowpark doing jumps under the guidance of a French guy we met there. The jumps were a fair bit bigger than what we had done before but we managed to clear them all fine and got some excellent shots on the GoPro.

Watch the video here: Snowboarding Slovakia

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Bratislava

I visited Bratislava in 2009 with two friends for a snowboarding trip in the lower tatra mountains, near the small village of Liptovsky Mikulas. We flew into Vienna in Austria because it was cheaper than flying into Bratislava and only a short train ride across the border.


168056_10150379953275220_3087209_nOnce arriving in Bratislava we walked the short distance to hostel Pollonium, which – bizarrely – is themed after the movie Hostel which was set in Slovakia (although apparently filmed elsewhere). As a result of this movie and a general perception of eastern europe as being dangerous, tourism to countries like Slovakia hasn’t flourished – which is not only a complete misconception, but is also great because I would hate to have to fight through the kind of crowds you find at the Eiffel Tower while exploring the beautiful city of Bratislava.


167342_10150379950140220_2140217_nIt was the middle of winter so everything was covered in a blanket of snow as we wondered about exploring beautiful old buildings, riversides and deserted streets. As evening descended we popped into a welcoming looking bar which was completely empty and quickly made friends with the staff. In between games of pool they introduced us to real 166391_10150379949840220_1554538_nSlovakian absinthe (not the fake stuff) and after a few shots and a couple of pints they told us (through admittedly slurry and broken English) about a party that was happening that night in an abandoned World War II bunker! Since we had no other plans we followed them through the dark streets to a hill on the riverside and true to their word we discovered a bunker carved deep into the hillside with pumping music and lights emanating from inside!

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Once inside we were greeted with one of the best underground venues I’ve ever seen – super old vaulted ceilings with bars and chill areas hidden down dark passages, graffiti and various artworks adorning the walls, lights and UV everywhere and a huge mainstage decked out with an incredible soundsystem! We drank, chatted and danced for a few hours to a pumping electro band with a beautiful Slovakian girl singing in, well, presumably Slovak. 165652_10150379956045220_6554956_nAround about 3am I was exhausted and told the guys I was going to head home, which luckily I somehow managed to do alone in my inebriated state. I believe they followed soon after.


The next day unfortunately we had to head off early to our snowboarding trip, so we didn’t get to see much of Bratislava, but if that experience is anything to go by I will definitely be back!

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