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 SLOVAKIA

Slovenska

 

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We entered Slovakia in the far south eastern corner, at the beginnings of the Piedmont section of the northern wing of the Carpathian mountains.  The countryside was magnificent.

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Kosice

 

Our first stop was Slovakia's second city in the far eastern part of the country.

 

A 500 meter Walking street with numerous arcades at right angles made for an enjoyable amble.

 

Baroque style houses and offices fronting the street presented a harmonious look.

 

Kosice is Slovakia's Steel City.  When the Communists fell the mills were required to compete in a capitalistic world.  They suffered badly and 20,000 or so lost their jobs.  The state put the mills up for sale and the winner was:

United States Steel Kosice

They have since invested over a half a Billion Yankee Dollars there.

 

The Dancing Water fountain where you are allowed to enter - if you dare.

 

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Some hilltops simply demand "Castle Me!"

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does not disappoint.

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Spis castle

Construction began in the early 1200s and continued for 500 years.  From the 1300s to nearly the end of the 1700s it served as the capital of the Spis region.  Abandoned in the 1790s and nearly burned to the ground in the 1800s, the ruins have been restored and preserved and it is one of the premier tourist attractions is eastern Slovakia.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has a fine small museum and hosts numerous concerts during the year and is well lit at night.

 

 

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*  Thrill Ride  *

Whitewater

Rafting on the Dunajec River

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Class 5 it is not, but a great afternoon outing.

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The Dunajec (pronounced do ny ess) separates Poland on the left and Slovakia on the right.  In the background is the mountain called Three Crowns.

 

 

About a 5 mile float between the 2 countries, though the Polish version is a couple of miles longer.  At the end you pick up mini-busses or public transportation back to your starting point.

 

 

We selected public transportation and I must say that it is a little different than the USA.  There is a very much easier attitude toward rules and regulations there.  Here you see the driver has decorated his vehicle and drives with the front door open on a somewhat muggy day.  We also were drinking some beer from an open bottle.

The driver also delayed our scheduled departure 5 minutes because one family was waiting on a "to go" order from the cafe at the bus stop.  

No one seemed to mind.

 

 

 

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A first for us

Levoca

Late gothic church architecture with early renaissance interior decoration and the wonderful winged High Altarpieces of Central Europe.

Settled in the early 1200s by Saxons brought in by King Bela of Hungary, the town is as spic and span as can be.

Pride of the city belongs to the church of Saint Elizabeth and the Master Works of master woodcarver Paul of Levoca who worked here in the early 1500's.

In front of each square pillar is an altarpiece of wood.

Taking 11 years to carve and gold gild the High Altar is one of the National Treasures of Slovakia.

 

The church forbids the taking of photographs inside.  These 2 pictures are photos of photos within the guide book that they sell.  Plus they charge you 4 dollars each to enter.

This church captivated us such that we bought the guidebook and came back a couple of days later for a much more detailed study of every altar.

 

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The High Tatra's

The highest peaks of the entire Carpathian Range reaching 9,600 feet on the Slovak-Polish border.

 

They create their own weather.

Yep! Them's my skivvies ablowin' in the breeze.

The cable car runs to the summit of the right peak and a smaller gondola runs to the saddle to the left.  Both were closed due to high winds this day.  Maybe next time.

 

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The UNESCO World Heritage City

Bardejov, Slovakia

 

The Old Town Market Square

 

The Basilica of Saint Egidia, like many Central European churches is filled with wood carved altars from the 15th and 16th centuries.  Unlike many that we have seen in the east, this had a small admission charge but you were allowed to take photographs in the interior.  There were over a half dozen side altars as well as the big main altar.

It was hard to limit my photo choices to just four.

Altar detail

Altar detail

 

The Gothic wing altar of the Virgin Mary

Left: Open

Below: a photograph with the wings closed

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Papillon pitches in to help win WWII.  Here he boxes in a Nazi panzer so that the Red Army T-34 can destroy it.

This is a well maintained memorial celebrating Soviet and partisans victories at Dukla Pass on the Slovak - Polish border near the Ukraine.

A hard up hill struggle of no real military value, but of tremendous political value in shaping the borders of Europe after the war.  It put Red Army boots on the ground in Slovakia and as we say, "Possession is 9/10s of the law."

 

 

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