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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

24 April 2017

Welcome to Slovakia

The view from our hotel, Kosice

The view from our hotel, Kosice

31 March 2017

Slovakia, the country that tourist guidebooks forgot. None of the major guidebook publishers produces a book on Slovakia, although some of them did up to a few years ago (when they presumably decided that being complete-ist wasn’t cost-effective). Generally you find they have a book covering eastern Europe with a single slender chapter on it. Why is this? Well, it’s not a very large country with a population of only 5 million. It’s also entirely landlocked, so there’s no blue seas and sandy beaches. And until a couple of decades ago it was just the poor half of Czechoslovakia, itself an Eastern Block country under Soviet control.

We landed in the second city, Kosice, and immediately liked it. As we arrived late our first view was an evening stroll out for dinner. The old centre is compact and full of handsome architecture, centred on St Elizabeth’s Cathedral; a lovely gothic wedding cake all lit up for the night. It was pretty quiet for a Friday night, though with a population of only 240,000 that’s maybe not surprising.

Burger! Drinky!

Burger! Drinky!

Scorning the more obvious tourist restaurants, we picked one described as being in a converted tobacco factory right on the edge of the old centre. This was a good find. It was full of locals (young locals – we were definitely the oldest folk there!) and was rocking the industrial look. The food was modern… or at least, I had a really good burger served on a wooden platter with chips in a miniature chip pan. Modern by Slovakian standards, anyway. Maureen’s salmon salad was pretty good, and I really liked the potted pork crackling pate she had to start. We drank some local furmint, which left me thinking I’d probably prefer the beer in Slovakia.

Wandering around later I confirmed this in a friendly little bar called Hoblika (which must mean “plane” because there were about 20 carpentry planes hanging on the wall and the bar itself was in the shape of a plane! Neat! That’s dedication to your theme. Good beer, too.

Black angel in Kosice

Black angel in Kosice

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