Key terms of the day: eating, gassy, Super Mario.
Luckily I checked last night. (And the tourist info woman wasn’t of any help.) Slovenský raj, according to LP, is a “tricky place to get to”; one has to transfer at one place or another, and it turns out that while there are many buses from Levoča to Spišský Štvrtok, there is only ONE SINGLE bus from Sp. Štvrtok to Hrabušice, rázc. Podlesok. One!
And the Slovakian bus/train website, while very good at coming up with combinations, tend to offer combination that have very short intervals for changing. Therefore I checked the choices from Levoča to Spišský Štvrtok: there seem to be three of them shortly after 6, so I have to get up at 5.
As soon as getting up I hopped to put the two big cups of yogurt under running warm water as well as taking the bag of lettuce out of the fridge. I hastened to finish all the yogurts before I left, which was already quite much. And on the bus I chewed and chewed and chewed on the lettuce.
Back to the buses: turns out that none of them appeared. The timetable at the bus station (with no ticket booth or information desk) says something different from what’s said on the website. Eventually a bus arrived at 6.20 – later than the 6.15 denoted, and the bus driver showed on his ticketing machine that it’ll depart at 6.25.
I arrived at Spišský Štvrtok. There is no bus stop to be seen. I don’t know how to find my next bus. I saw a young girl and decided to try my luck: yes, she spoke English, lucky me, and she told me where I should wait for the bus. Luckily I found her; otherwise I would have stood at the wrong place at the intersection and totally missed the SINGLE bus of the day.
The driver is quite good-looking – the dark-hair type that would be cast as the first villain or a third, fourth good friend of the male lead in a movie. I wonder how he manages to stay skinny – not many men of his age here seem to be able to do that. Must be genes.
So I arrived at Autocamping Podlesok reception probably around 8am – this is the cheapest place and probably the most convenient choice anyway: one bed in a bungalow without showers costs 8 Euros (while there’s an extra 0.5 for city tax), and camping is even cheaper. I checked the several maps the clerk showed, decided I don’t need to buy one, (and later discovered that detailed maps are everywhere in the national park anyway,) and set out hiking.
I hiked for roughly 5.5 hours and returned at 2pm. It’s pretty not bad to sweat a bit, although I was wondering whether “Slovakian Paradise” is some exaggeration – somehow I feel that we have tons of such slopes and mountains at the backyard of Taipei. Europeans (or at least Slovakians) will probably be so happy that they really go straight to heaven if they see what we have in Taiwan. During the begging half of the hike I felt almost obliged to mange my bread, even though I probably didn’t need eating. On the other hand, I was so gassy that I decided it’s time to resort to meds for the second time – after the first time back in Vilnius. Must be because of all the bad bread, or simply any bread at all.
Almost every postcard here features some waterwall with a steel ladder beside it, so I checkedsturan with the clerk exactly where that is. It’s a place called “Sucha Bela,” the most photographed place in the national park, where there’re quite some technical-assisted things for the trail, including chains, ladders and so on, and it’s only allowed to ascend and not to descend.
“It’s only 2pm. You have plenty of time to do it.”
Is it difficult?
“Yes it is.”
“But it’s just as difficult as the one you did this morning.”
Gosh, that wasn’t difficult at all!
“[Even] babies do it.”
OK, I decided to go for it.
As for restaurants, there don’t seem to be many choices here. The clerk, who now appears to have some fine command in English, started to share with enthusiasm. The one right next to the reception “is expensive, but they have nice [pretty] girls.” There’s also a restaurant further along the river at a very nice-looking pension. Otherwise, towards the entrance, which is very close to the reception, is another one, where “portions are big and better. And they have nice guys. You choose; nice girls or nice guys.”
I almost laughed, “OK, I’ll go for nice guys.”
He agreed, “Yeah, money is money.”
I’m not sure if I found the right place, since the place I found offers fast-food: a fried piece of meet, fries, and some “vegetable garnish,” as is said here. I asked to have more vegis, and the clerks did give me more: like four pieces of cucumbers. That’s very sweet of this “nice boy”; after all there’s very limited dining or self-catering choices here: there’s only one grocery store, which opens from 7am to 6pm but has a one- or two-hour lunch break.
Right after the quick lunch I went for Sucha Bela and found it this time. Yes, the ladders look a bit daunting if one is afraid of heights, but the “pure exhilaration” of the excitement of having some seemingly super vibrant waterfall “splashing” right onto one’s face, as is stated in LP, is more than exaggeration. Gosh, what kind of nonsense LP can be!!! But I have to say the overall experience is fine and refreshing – it did bring a smile to my face. On the other hand, a neutral statement is that I think such places abound in Taiwan; the only difference is that we tend to have a guide (often an aboriginal, I would guess) throwing a rope from above a rock and instructing you how to step on the slippery rock to ascend almost vertically (right beside some really bigger waterfall, mind you), while here there’re ladders and chains nailed into the rocks and one won’t get wet at all. I think the idea realized here in Slovensky Raj is pretty nice – they also made me feel like Super Mario the whole time, even though I always SUCKED at playing that game.
And it’s a nice thing I opted for my hiking boots – they’re not 100% water-proof, as the inside can get a bit moist if I insist on soaking my boots in the water, but basically I can step into water without getting wet at all if I don’t linger. That’s very helpful.
Oh and it is really not for babies. Maybe the clerk meant that some fathers may carry the babies on their backs when climbing all these ladders; otherwise these ladders can already be a bit much if one is afraid of height. Technically they aren’t difficult of course.
In the end I hiked for probably 8.5 hours for the day. It was very lucky that I was able to rush back to Podlesok shortly before 6pm; otherwise the big water-drinker as I am wouldn’t be able to buy a bottle of water, and that wouldn’t be nice. Right after I purchased the two 1.5-litre bottles, the old lady shut the door of the grocery store.
After getting my key, I dragged my luggage to the bungalow. Some families were barbecuing in front of theirs; sadly I don’t have those. The good news is, since the place isn’t too fully occupied, the clerk was nice enough to put me in one bungalow without anyone else – hence I would do whatever in the three-bed unit. (Well, almost anything, since the tiny curtains on the windows are totally transparent.)
About shower: one has to purchase tokens; 30 cents each. Each of them grants THREE minutes of hot water. The first time I used it I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough time, so I rubbed all the gel and shampoo on before I punched the button. As it turned out, it wasn’t necessary: three minutes are quite sufficient.
The reception was the only place in the camping area that has a wi-fi point. Of course, one can go to one of the restaurants nearby, but for instance the closest-by restaurant closes at 8pm. After some tranquil “me” time on the bed, I took my laptop to the reception to work a little until I thought I had done enough, and the TV in the common area was blasting some stupid football match watched by a whole bunch of senior fans, some of whom took a peep of this bizarre-looking Asian from time to time.
(It’s funny, isn’t it – I don’t get paid at all, but I have to “work” day and night.)
公車（Levoča – Spišský Štvrtok – Hrabušice, rázc. Podlesok）：
0.85 + (0.75+0.2) = 1.8
明信片+郵資：0.4+0.2+1*2 = 2.6
住宿+淋浴：8+0.5+0.3 = 8.8