One thing we have noticed in Slovakia is they have a great love of live theater. Here in the little town we've stayed in the last two nights, there are two places for stages in the main square where there have been performances every day, on Saturday it was like live Saturday morning cartoons for the kids. Cartoon theater.

We visited Spis Castle ruins yesterday, the largest medieval ruins in Central Europe. We had parked on the other side of the castle from the main entrance/parking lot in a little dirt lot and walked uphill quite a ways to the castle. So when it came time for us to go back, we walked all the way around the castle on the outside to get back to our path.  All the castle ruins we’ve been to here and in Poland are just in open fields that you can walk through and all around the outside of ruins with no restrictions, to your heart's content. The flowers and weeds growing on the hillside around Spis castle were as tall as my head. It was heaps of fun walking through them at the base of this imposing castle. In the end, I couldn't even keep walking ... I had to skip. The fields abloom simply demanded it.

Spis survived raids that decimated much of the rest of the country. I can imagine if I were a raider and my commander told me to go attack Spis castle, as soon as I got near it, I would tell my commander he was mad; I would NOT want to try to break into that castle.

While not quite as deserted as tourist sites in Tunisia, this is the first country that is at all reminiscent to me of Tunisia in this regard. A castle ruin as huge as Spis anywhere in western Europe would have huge parking lots and throngs of people. Instead, here, there was one small paved lot, the “official one,” and one small dirt lot where we parked. And until you got all the way inside the castle gate, you really couldn’t tell that there were any tourists around whatsoever. And when we walked around the outside there was nobody at all intruding into our magical fields of mega flowers.

Slovakia so far has been very pretty and sparsely populated. Makes driving exceedingly pleasant. Road conditions have improved since the Polish border.  Not many English speakers, so we've had a few more linguistic adventures. But that's one of the best ways to know and to appreciate that you're in a foreign country.

Small lonely church along the roadside in Slovakia.

I don't know if northern Poland is more poor, but southern Poland seemed quite well off, and the difference when crossing the border into Slovakia was quite pronounced. Things are definitely not as financially developed here. But of course this works well for us in terms of food and beer prices.  Surprisingly, Slovakia is on the Euro, whereas Czech Republic and Poland are not.

There is a bar right below our hotel here, so I'm glad I brought earplugs. But we checked it out last night, just to see what our "local" was like.  They at least play fun music (since we can hear it so clearly through out window). Our favorite so far is the very silly "I'm a gummy bear." A moving grooving jamming singing gummy bear...  you can hear it too ...

Getting ready to leave on our hiking adventure into the High Tatras. I don't have much more than 10 minutes to type today either. So once again I am brief and forgetting the huge queue of things that I had stored up in my head during the days to write about. I can't remember them under pressure. :-)  But we're well.  The check engine light keeps coming on in our dumpy little rental car... we'll see how far we get.


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Catalonia, Spain


Andorra / France






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-- ASIA --


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