Chilling (literally) in the High Tatras of Slovakia

My first glimpse of the Ginger Monkey Hostel in Zdiar, High Tatras, Slovakia, was this.

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I have rarely been more relieved than I was at that moment.

But that relief was pretty short lived. After 2.5 weeks of a lot of Couchsurfing, I was sorely longing for the hustle and bustle of a friendly and chilled out hostel. I wanted, nay, I needed a noisy dorm to be able to silence the voices in my head (kidding!! I was just starting to get slightly lonely). Getting to the hostel had been quite an experience, so I was really looking forward to a couple of relaxed days.

When I reached, though, I was told that my room was in the building next door. I assumed it was a sister hostel, and chirpily went along. That was when I found out that the ‘building next door’ was someone’s house, and they rented out rooms to the hostel whenever they were overbooked.

So, basically, it was just me in what was effectively an apartment just for myself. To be fair, I would have loved the peace and quiet under normal circumstances. Probably. But at that time, peace and quiet was the last thing I was looking for. I was utterly dejected, disappointed and, simultaneously, infuriated. Infuriated because I had made a reservation way in advance, AND people who had made reservations after me got dorms! I apparently lost my spot because I reached really late, which, technically, wasn’t even my fault! I also think they should have informed me if they already knew that there was no space for me… My travel dates were so flexible, I could have easily gone there later.

The hostel’s full time care taker, Daniela, wasn’t there that night. Two short term staff members were there- college students who were working there during their holidays. When I told the girl that my reservation had been confirmed by her colleague, she said, ‘Oh. I don’t know anything’. Okay. Count slowly to 10. Breathe. Try not to get annoyed. But then what supremely pissed me off (even more) was when I showed the guy the email he HIMSELF had sent me, confirming the reservation, he just shrugged and nonchalantly said, ‘Oh. Then someone must have changed it’. I was like, Come oonnn!!

Trying to not get worked up again.

To add salt to my wounds… It turned out that Daniela had baked some superb cake earlier in the evening, and not even a sliver was left. GAAH!!!

Anyway… The next morning, after a very deeeeep slumber, I was in a much better mood. The view from my window was glorious, and the day was absolutely perfect.

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It was the beginning of August, and every other city I had been to (and was going to afterwards) had been very hot- late 30s to early 40s Celsius!! Zdiar, meanwhile…

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Perfect.

My original plan had been to lay in the hammock and read or write in my journal (which I still haven’t done) all day. But since I’m a studnee, I decided to go for a hike with three other girls.

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I consider myself reasonably fit. I run 10kms every morning with ease, and I have no trouble doing push-ups and burpees and lifting heavy-ass weights… But this hike was a jhand-inducing reality check for me.

I didn’t want to show how DEAD I was while the other three kept marching on. I managed to keep up a respectable pace, but BY GOSH was I struggling!! Also, I was wearing terribly inappropriate clothes. Lesson learnt.

We had taken a map from the hostel, and had planned to eat our packed lunch at a lake we were supposed to reach in a couple of hours. That ‘couple’ of hours came and went and there was no lake in sight. We couldn’t find ANY of the markers the map mentioned and soon we resigned ourselves to the very disappointing realisation that we were utterly lost.

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The views were great though, so it wasn’t too bad… The problem was that we couldn’t find any sort of clearing where we could sit and eat- everything was completely bumpy and FULL of bugs! But, well, hunger eventually took priority over some insect bites. Obviously.

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The hostel has a lot of hiking trails marked out, and almost everyone in the hostel had gone on different ones. Another group had even gone on the one we had attempted (and failed at), and they did manage to find the lake.

Zdiar is really the perfect place to chill in the middle of a trip. The location is pretty great, between Poland and Slovakia, and is well connected to all the nearby cities on the backpacker trail, and the hostel has all the info available (though again, I asked the girl to tell me if there was any other way I could go to Budapest instead of the one posted on the notice board, and she very nonchalantly said that she had no idea. That attitude pisses me off… She works there so it’s her job to help me. At least TRY to find out on the internet or whatever, right?? It’s a pity cause she was otherwise really nice and friendly and welcoming.)

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After the hike, the girls went to another lake for a swim, and since I was without a swimsuit, I came back to the hostel and settled in the hammock with a mug of hot chocolate (I love hostels that give you free tea, coffee and hot chocolate all day!!) and gazed (actually squinted- it was sunny!) at this view.

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This break finally ended with Daniela’s famous French Toast for breakfast the morning I was leaving for Budapest. SO ready to take on the next leg of the trip.

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The hostel atmosphere is great. Really friendly, very easy to meet people. I had made a note of this hostel months earlier, which was why it was such a humongous disappointment when I was told I couldn’t sleep in the dorm the first night. There’s a lot of stuff to do- hikes and walks, board games, and a huge DVD collection. There are animals to play with and all in all it’s very cosy and homely. BUT, I must say that the toilets weren’t that clean. Toilets are important! The attached bathroom in the apartment I got was fine, but the next night I saw that the actual hostel just had one toilet on the ground floor. One shit pot… And 2 dorms- 15 or so beds, I think?

(I just re-read this post and now I’m confused about how I feel about the hostel :/ Hmmm)

I went to Zdiar JUST for the hostel. Really. Zdiar is beautiful, yes, but if it hadn’t been for the hostel, I would never have known it exists. It’s so tiny, I was surprise to find it had its own post office!! If I had got the dorm the first night, I would say the 2-day breather was perfect. So, I’ll try to look beyond that little visit by Mr Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame). Would you ever visit a place solely for an attractive accommodation? Have you done it? Was it worth the extra effort or did you regret it?

If all has been going to plan, I’m in Coventry right now with my sister at Warwick University (my baby sister is studying law there- not so baby anymore, huh). I’m either going to go back to London today, though I’m going to try to visit Bath for a day. Tomorrow is definitely London and the day after that I’m back in good ol’ Milano for the last 2 weeks of my thesis. NEED MORE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LONDON! Come on, people! Show me what you got!! 😀

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3 responses to “Chilling (literally) in the High Tatras of Slovakia

  1. Pingback: Couchsurfing vs AirBnB vs Hostels | perpetuallyperipatetic·

  2. Pingback: Reminiscing… 1 Year On… 35 Days of Summer <3 | perpetuallyperipatetic·

  3. Pingback: Most Memorable Travel Moments- The Bad | perpetuallyperipatetic·

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