We left the beautiful Budapest on Wednesday morning and drove to Eger, which is about 140kms to the north-east. Historic town, wine district, thermal baths. We camped at a campground just a couple of kms from the old town and wandered around it on Thursday morning. One of the most interesting pieces of history is the 16th century 40-metre high Minaret, which is the northern-most historical building of the Ottoman empire in Europe, and the only remaining evidence of nearly 100 years of Turkish rule in the area. It is possible to climb to the top, but it’s very squeezy and uneven, so we decided against that.
Then a nice drive through the Bukk (Beech) National Park to Slovakia. No checking at the border, we just had to buy another Vignette (10 euros) to be able to drive on Slovakian freeways. We stopped at Spis Castle, one of the largest European castles by area. Very impressive, but the lack of signage to and within the castle was disappointing. We parked and paid at an ‘official’ carpark for the castle, then slogged up the hill to the castle walls but had trouble finding how to actually reach the entrance. We asked a couple of people on their way back down to the car park and eventually found where to get in, had a look around the main castle buildings, but didn’t walk on the extensive castle walls due to lack of time and needing the energy to get back down the hill!
We camped at a campground near the High Tatras, the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains. Close to a ski resort town, at this time of the year it’s a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers. This morning we drove up to the car park at the bottom of the chair lift, which was a hive of activity with walkers, bike riders and groups of people getting ready to start their day’s activities.
We decided not to visit Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. It’s almost on the western border of the country, on the Danube River. It would have been a big detour for us, just to see another capital city and we’re much more interested in spending time in Krakow in Poland. It was only 150kms north, but took several hours to drive because of heavy traffic, a truck broken down on a narrow stretch of road, lots of villages along the way, heavy traffic, one-way streets and heavy traffic. We’re staying in an Airbnb apartment in Kazimierz, the old Jewish Quarter just south of Old Town. More about Krakow and Poland later.