Scenery east of the town of Trai Mat near Da Lat, Vietnam.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Da Lat, Vietnam.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure yet!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Another new country for us, and so far, we're impressed! Once again, some of that comes down to the people you meet, and our new couchsurfing hosts here in Zilina are once again, fantastic!

We had said goodbye to Blanka the night before, because she was already gone to work when we got up yesterday morning. Thanks Blanka! We had a great time with you and Miky the dog!

We didn't have to rush out of the house though because our first train wasn't leaving until 11:45 am or so. Shortly before that time, we packed up our Heys ePac17 Roller backpacks and set off for the short walk to the train station.

Ruth, heading for the train station.

It was only a ten minute ride to Vallaske Mezirici where we had a forty minute wait for our train to Slovakia. I had bought the tickets online in advance this time, and they said in the fine print that we had to get them stamped at the office before leaving the country. So Ruth waited with the bags while I went to find out about this. The woman at the ticket office didn't seem to know much about it, but she made a phone call and sure enough, they were stamped. The fine print was in both English and Czech, so it was fairly easy to point at the paragraphs to explain myself.

Then, we had to spend about 100 korunas ($5.00) of change we had in our pockets because Slovakia uses the euro and it would be of no use there. Bought some snacks in the train station, but it was almost hard to spend that much! We bought a big bun sandwich thing that cost only 21 korunas ($1.05) as well as a couple of bags of peanuts and some rice cakes and a chocolate bar!

The train was on time, and we were off! It was about 115 kms (71 miles) to our destination at Zilina, and the tickets cost 9 euros ($11.25) each. The conductor stamped our tickets again. Just before the border, a different conductor came by and stamped them again! Our tickets were well stamped!

Taken out the train window. Funny little chalets.

Spotted a castle ruins far in the distance.

Our Zilina couchsurfing host Michal had said that he would meet us at the train station and we had no problem spotting each other. He asked what our plans were and we really didn't have any, so he suggested that he show us around a little bit. Okay!

Michal, showing Ruth the new plaza of Zilina.

And some "art" in the old plaza. I don't get it.

There are a lot of castles in this area! 

We walked around the grounds of Budatinsky Castle.

So we got acquainted with Michal while wandering around. He works for a large industrial company, but he's on the road a lot and works mostly from a home office. Zilina is a fairly industrial town and there is a Kia car manufacturing plant here that employs 3,000 local people. Michal has a wife, Ivona, and a two year old son Daniel. But Michal has also taken courses to become a certified tour guide for the area, and he was practicing on us. We think he's going to be very successful!

Strecno Castle...very cool!

We decided to visit another castle about 15 kms away called Strecno Castle. We parked the car and it was going to be an uphill 20 minute walk to get to this fascinating castle!

Along the way we saw this car ferry.

Check out the operators room!

Made it up to the castle, and because it was near closing time they let us in for free to wander around the grounds. 

Ruth and Michal admiring the view.

This is a beautiful area!

Kevin, Ruth, and Michal.

By this time, it was getting past 5:00pm. We stopped and picked up Michal's wife Ivona and went back to their flat for dinner. Their son Daniel was with Ivona's mother, but we will get to meet him today. Ivona made a traditional Slovak dish for dinner, called Bryndzove Halusky, made with potatoes and cheese and bacon. 

We spent the evening talking about travel and what to do in the area. There are some gorgeous hikes within 35 kms of here and Michal showed us some pics of the area so we'll know what to expect. He's going to drop us off on the way to visit some clients this morning. I hope the weather is clear enough that we'll be able to get some good pics because this is going to be a fantastic hike! Apparently there are ropes and chains and ladders along the trail!

Where we are now.

Contact for more information!


  1. the two of you are sure experiencing all that Europe has to offer!!..enjoy..hope the weather is great and the views are amazing!

    1. nice header picture too..Ruth looks 'pretty in pink'!

  2. It certainly is beautiful. Another amazing place.

  3. Another great day of exploring, now tomorrows hike sounds interesting too.

  4. Love, love, love the header photo - gorgeous view and our own personal tour guides look great, too! I looked up Bryndzove Halusky and the article pointed out of 100 Slovak people, 90 would call that the traditional meal. Do you have the recipe by any chance?

    1. Well, Ivona doesn't really use a recipe but I did watch her while she was making it for the most part and I just googled a recipe for it and this one seems fairly close to what Ivona did. The only adjustment she made was that she used some of my gluten free flour instead of regular flour and she said it turned out very close to how she regularly makes her.
      If anyone has any other recipe that is better than this please let us know. As I said this was very close to how she made it, also Ivona did make with the sheep cheese and it was very good.

  5. A new to us country, too. Thanks for taking us along.

  6. Well tomorrow certainly sounds exciting!
    Your header picture is incredible, what a fantastic view and you guys look pretty fantastic too.

  7. It was nice of Michal from Slovakia to give you a warm Canadian welcome to the Canadian couple visiting. Couldn't help but notice the 'Roots' hoodie he was wearing. Think it was planned? Enjoying your travels.

    1. Michal and his family have welcomed us with open arms. He is proud to show off his country to us and has been so helpful with telling us what trails to hike and places we should visit in Slovakia. He has traveled much of the country for his job and with his wife and friends. He is a wealth of knowledge. I think the Roots shirt was planned so that we would recognize him at the train station.

  8. Looks like another great adventure! I will be looking forward to your upcoming hike.


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