We spent most of our time in the northern part of the country, close to the border of Poland. This is where there are two popular mountain ranges, one in Mala Fatra National Park, and one in Tatra National Park.
Our first day in Slovakia, our couchsurfing host Michal took us up to Strecno Castle for a beautiful view. August 15, 2012.
The Slovakians know how to build interesting hiking trails! August 16, 2012.
In order to get you to beautiful places! August 16, 2012.
Another great trail. August 18, 2012.
Leading to another great view. August 18, 2012.
The only problem we had was a lack of couchsurfing hosts. We think this is attributable to two things. First, many people over the age of 35 probably don't speak any English because they were educated during the communist years and so Russian was learned as a second language. And second, housing is fairly expensive and so it's unlikely for someone to have a spare room. We did end up couchsurfing for only three nights, our first two nights in the country, and our last night. But, there are a lot of "penzions"...guest house type of accommodation. Our costs ranged from $13.75 to $38 a night per couple.
One of our best experiences in Slovakia was when we contacted a couchsurfer in the village of Istebne. She wasn't able to host us, but volunteered to meet us and show us the area. We had a great few days with Jana and her friends, all between the ages of 16 and 22 years old.
Jana and friends took us to Orava Castle. August 22, 2012.
They also took us to Sutovsky Waterfall. August 23, 2012.
Then we carried on to the High Tatra Mountains. We could easily spend a couple of weeks there just hiking. There are so many beautiful trails in this area, and it's a popular hiking destination.
Kevin, hiking in the High Tatras. August 25, 2012.
View of the Tatras from the city of Poprad. August 30, 2012.
Then we headed towards Budapest, Hungary. We did two nights in the city of Banska Bystrica, one in a penzion, and the other with a couchsurfer. This is another area where we could easily have explored more. Oh well, we'll just have to return again some day!
So, what did our 21 days in Slovakia cost? Well, because we couldn't find many couchsurfing hosts, our accommodation costs were higher than expected. And, because Slovakia uses the Euro for currency, things are slightly more expensive than Czech Republic to begin with. Although it's interesting that our actual costs for the three weeks were very similar to our three weeks in Czech republic. Here's how our expenses worked out...
Groceries: $171 (Czech Republic had been $183, so very close. We did notice a lack of decent fresh fruit in Slovakia, although apples are plentiful.)
Alcohol: $54 (Czech Republic was $50, so very close. Beer is ever so slightly cheaper in Czech though)
Misc: $51 (This is mostly for local transportation to and from hiking spots. Ruth did buy a pair of sunglasses for $5!)
Entertainment: $149 (Meals out and attractions. Visited some castles and some caves.)
Overnight $413 (Average of $23 per night, which is obviously very good. Still, the serious budget traveler will notice the extra expense over time if there are no couchsurfing hosts available.)
Travel: $70 (This is for buses and trains to get to our various destinations.)
So, we spent $908 for three weeks in Slovakia...or an average of $43 per day. When you consider that this is for TWO people, that's still very good!