Today was a real treat – a manageable 64km ride through super scenic Slovakian countryside, with good roads and little other traffic.
We started out going west along the 520 from Trestna, passing through the towns of Liesek and Cimhova. Here we noticed loadspeakers broadcasting music along the main street again. We first heard this when we entered Trstena and find it very intiguing.
At Vitonova we turned onto the 584 to follow the Oravica river south.
Here we also passed heaps of accommodation, mainly bed and breakfast advertised on private homes, the reason became apparent when saw a ski lift just as we were leaving the town.
Along the 584 we found a wonderful cycle track, the best cycling infrastructure we have seen since Germany. It came to an end at a large ski park that had a ski lift and large warm water spa (you can just imagine it buzzing in winter).
It was a clear but cold day, so we stopped for a coffee at Zuberec in working mans cafe – there were heaters on alongside the tables and I could warm up my feet. Even though it was only 11am, there were a couple of workers there eating very hearty looking food and some more came in while we were there. We were very tempted to try the food, but it wouldn’t have been a good idea to eat a big meal while cycling.
A little while later we stopped for another coffee at a smart cafe along the mountain pass – just before a steep climb! This was a newly built lodge, all made out of wood with sheepskins hanging from the rafters, a roaring fire and stunning views. The patrons were business men and day trippers.
We had a long climb to the top of the mountain in low gears, and then a wonderful downhill run.
We cycled through Liptovske Matiasouce, Liptouska Sielnica, and then to Liptovsky Mikulas. We passed a huge hot bath/ water park/ zoo/ movie entertainment complex just before town. The sun came out and it warmed up as we arrived in Liptovsky Mikulas.
The town had a very smart tourist office with a young lady who could speak good English (it seems like tourism is one of the main industries here). She helped us organise our accommodation at the Penzion Boniface. The main bonus of this place was that it has a huge bath (only showers up to now) – so we could have a good soak.
The town has a large central pedestrian area with cafes and bars. We found a “beer garden” down an alley off the main area – with parking for bicycles right outside. The bar man called someone over who could speak English from among his customers to help us chose a beer, and we ended up with a very good beer that rivals any Wellington craft beer. We enjoyed sitting outside alongside the locals – and especially some of the music, that was some sort of Slovakian rap/ rock.
We had dinner at a traditional style restaurant not far away – cabbage soup and a shared plate of local specialities – potato dumplings in sheep cheese sauce and cheese filled dumplings, something like ravioli. It was very good, just the type of thing you can imagine eating after spending the day on the mountains with your sheep. We finished our evening off with another beer at our new favourite pub.