We were relieved to wake up to better weather, the sun was even shining a for a few moments this morning. Today we did 83km from Sucha Beskidzha to Trstena in Slovakia.
We took a little time looking around Sucha Beskidzha and spending the last of our Polish Zloty on new bicycle brake pads and orange juice for the journey. There were many little shops along the main street, an attractive town for tourists.
We headed out of town to the west, alongside the train track and river. There was even a bicycle route for the first few kms. The first town past was Lachowice, then Jesowski Dzial, then Hucisiko. There were a couple of steep hills (both up and down).
Here we had a little adventure at an unmarked intersection. Kris wanted to continue following the train track but wanted to make sure we were on the right road. He stopped to ask a man mowing a lawn nearby, who seemed to indicate we should go back the way we came (which would be a long steep uphill, so we were not keen).
A bus then stopped and the driver began to speak to me. He turned out to be Russian, with only a few words of English. Anyway, he was helpfull and a conversation ensued between Kris, the man mowing the lawn and the bus driver. Another man (pedestrian) also stopped and joined in. Eventually a consensus was reached that we could go either way. We said that we wanted to go on and then bus driver told us to follow him in the bus.
So Kris and I were riding behind this yellow bus, which was soon on a gravel roads with potholes, through a forest, pedalling with effort to keep up! He stopped the bus about a kilometre up the gravel road and directed us from there. He had his daughter, who can speak English, translating for him on his mobile phone at this point. The instructions were to continue up the gravel path for about 1km, turning right at the first main road we came to. Then we would have a long downhill. After ten km, were told to turn left at the next major intersection. Then to keep going until we reach Slovakia.
The directions worked out pretty perfectly even though it was a bit different from the route we planned. Here is a photo of the gravel road we took through the woods. It is a short-cut not shown on any map.
The road to Slowakia took us through lots of little tourist settlements, very pretty and green. There was lots of accommodation around, we suspect for winter skiing. The route was the 945 (which was part of our planned route), which is called the 521 in Slovakia.
There was a long long hill climb just before the border, going through forests, where there was some logging going on, and alongside a little stream. The border is on the top of the hill and it is all downhill from there.
Our first impression of Slovakia is that it is very scenic. We passed a flock of sheep some of which had bells around their necks, so they were clinking as they grazed. There were also regular road-work stops along the route. We reached a huge lake called Orava about 20km from the border. The main town on the lake was Namestovo. It was getting really cold at this point (less than ten degrees Celsius). We pressed on around the southern side of the lake, crossing a dam wall with hydro generators. There was a final hill climb just before we got to the town of Trstena, where we are staying. Here is the view looking back at the lake from the top of the climb.
We were feeling cold when we stopped at the Trstena tourist info and in a hurry to find our hotel. Luckily it was really nearby, and we have a huge room with heaters!
After cleaning up we went to the pizza cafe at the bottom of the hotel and bought the biggest pizza we have ever eaten (50cm diameter) and also some draught beer. The draught beer cost less than NZ$2 and the pizza around NZ$15. And yes we did eat it all and it was good.