Tantra In The Tatras

By Stephen Ewashkiw | June 4, 2013

mindful journeys cycle touring

2650 km so far.

As we headed out of Liptovsky Mikulaš today we seemed to enter a magical landscape where everything was beautiful. The fields were vibrant green and the mountains covered in mist. I have read, and heard, from many people that the Tatra mountains are not to be missed, and this is why we’ve chosen to cycle over three peaks higher than 1,000 m in three days. Today it proved to be worth it.

Related: If you’re going to the Tatras, don’t miss this charming Slovakian town (by Reflections en Route).

I Said Brrrr, It’s Cold In Here

Despite the threat of rain, and some actual rain, despite the weather being downright unfriendly (it must have reached a high of 12C/54F today), and despite having to ride up another 1100 m mountain, I was amazed by the beauty all around us. Fields of wheat and corn gave way to the beautiful town of Liptovské Matiašovce and its incredible 16th century church.

woman on bicycle in tatras slovakia

Checking out the road ahead in Slovakia.

cycle touring in slovakia tatras

A rare downhill.

From there we climbed into the Tatras and the mist. We were surround by pine trees at least 100 feet tall, deer, birds of prey, rocky peaks, mountain streams, and an array of wildflowers.

The lake we came from, and the cloud cover we're riding into.

The lake we came from, and the cloud cover we’re riding into.

As we climbed higher the temperature lowered and by the time we reached the peak we were in the clouds. What better place for a spot of yoga?

You should see all the pictures of Jane falling off of this guardrail.

You should see all the pictures of Jane falling off of this guardrail.

Although the climb had us taking off layers until I was riding in a sweat-drenched t-shirt and shorts, we knew the downhill would be killer cold, so we layered-up again at the top. For some reason (truth be told it was that I was impatient for the downhill to start. I love flying down a mountain at 45 kph+) I didn’t put slacks on, so was still in my shorts for the downhill. It was bitterly cold with the clouds whipping past us at these speeds.

We got to the valley (which is still at 600 m) and to the town of Zuberec, which seems to exist solely for the ski season. This being summer, albeit a very cold one, tourists are few and far between. Just as we were discussing whether to stop for lunch, a freezing rain started to fall.

Might As Well Go For A Sauna

Jane had spotted a rustic, and open, restaurant about 200 m back, so we went. While we were eating the rain kept falling. It took the entire meal for my fingers to thaw.

restaurant suberec slovakia

We shared our lunch stop with an adorable school group.

We realised the restaurant was also a penzion, so we weighed out the pros and cons of staying the night here. Our other option was to keep going another 20 km to a town on the other side of another 1,000m peak where we weren’t sure we would find accommodation.

We walked up to reception and I saw the words ‘Finnish Sauna’. Sold!

I met a Slovak couple in the sauna who are here for their honeymoon. Shame about the weather. We chatted about our trip and they advised me to get to the restaurant early as they were left to go hungry at 8pm last night. When we arrived they were already there, so they invited us to join them. We were hesitant, this being their honeymoon, but they assured us they’d been together for 7 years, so would be glad for the company.

We shared dinner and had a chance to find out a bit more about their life in the capital, Bratislava, and life in the countryside, where we are now. It was really interesting to hear their stories, and see that life really is pretty much the same for them as it is for any of us, or our friends.

Now I must go before the internet spoils any more of the latest Game Of Thrones…

Soundtrack: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Ballad Of The Broken Seas | Mark Lanegan Band, Bubblegum | Radiohead, OK Computer | Radiohead, Kid A  

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