Kosice · Poland · Slovakia

Day 9

KOSICE and SPIŠ CASTLE, SLOVAKIA and ZAKOPANE, POLAND – SEPT. 19

Today got off to an early start as a few of us wanted the chance to walk around Kosice while it was light out before leaving for Spiš Castle. I knew I definitely didn’t want to leave without seeing the town in the daylight, so I got up a good three hours earlier than necessary and went out to walk on my own. Probably due to the early rise time, I mistakenly left without my camera, so after a very short loop around the main church I headed back to the hotel. By then a few other people were awake so we ate breakfast together and went on a sightseeing walk together.

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The next stop for the day was Spiš Castle. Unlike Bran Castle, Spiš is mostly a ruin…so basically I loved it. For this castle we actually were able to have an audio guide, and honestly this did make a difference. Maybe I won’t remember all of the stories–and some of the legends were ridiculous–but it helped connect me with the history and added to the fun. So I know I will remember the experience: I will remember the cheesy medieval sounding music that played before and after an audio guide section, I will remember all of us demanding Piotr click the red button that would tell us a new legend depending on which location we were in, and I will remember how some of us ended up renaming it the red button of doom since all of the stories ended tragically.

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Lunch after the castle was an interesting experience. Best I can tell it was a sheep-themed rest stop. By this I mean sheep were everywhere: actual sheep, wood sculptures of sheep, pictures of sheep, and a good 80% of the menu was sheep. Sadly I don’t have any pictures of this place, in the moment I was just sort of in awe of the place and all 50 of the cow bells hanging in the bar area that I completely forgot.

While I may have forgotten to take photos of the crazy sheep place, I did not forget to take some scenic shots of the drive to Zakopane. The whole drive was absolutely beautiful…well right up until the end. It was probably gorgeous for all I know, but the fog was ridiculous! There was a good 40 minutes where I literally couldn’t see anything.

Sadly this also meant that when we got to Zakopane it was raining and freezing. Thank God for Shanna and her extra rain jacket! She is a true “ledge,” as my new Aussie friends would say. Speaking of, I just realized I never told you guys that I am the only American on this trip. Well, that’s technically a lie since Jacqui is a fellow Canadian and therefore American; but I am the only one from the states. This has left me in the lovely position of having to try and explain Donald Trump to everyone…yay. I have no idea what to tell everyone because there really is no logical explanation, but I have tried to point out that we aren’t the only country dealing with idiot politics right now. After I am all done traveling I will try to touch back on this topic when I have the time to give it some more thought and attention so that I can better explain my thoughts/feelings/etc.

Sorry, got a little side-tracked there, so back to my day! Like I said it was unfortunately raining when we got there, but we still walked around the city center. Zakopane actually reminded me a lot of Aspen. Granted I couldn’t really see the scenery due to the fog, but I know it is a ski-resort town, and stylistically speaking they were fairly similar.

Since Piotr is from Poland, he was definitely in his element at Zakopane and he told us all of the things we had to try. So we found a covered outdoor area and ordered some mulled wine. Turns out that while I am wine fan, mulled wine not so much. For me there was too much clove in the drink and it tasted like one of those oranges we used to stick with cloves when we were kids to help make the room smell better. However mulled wine is not Poland’s main drink, they are known for their many different flavored vodkas. So even though it was only 4:00 in the afternoon we all had one shot of hazelnut flavored vodka…when on vacation, am I right? The other must try thing in Zakopane according to Piotr was this dish that was essentially a piece of cheese cooked and with a sort of hard outer shell that you then put some cranberry sauce on top of. I wasn’t too hungry at this point, but Taryn was nice enough to let me try some.

Because it was so cold and rainy we actually took the main bus to get to our restaurant for dinner instead of doing the 30 minute walk. For the first time on this trip I was actually in the mood for some soup to warm me up. I have no clue what the soup that we got was except that it was clear-ish and had some noodles and carrots in it; it was delicious! Also making the evening more enjoyable was the fact that our waitress was hilarious. She had a little quip for everything and just overall was really nice. The only low point for me was the dessert. I’m not totally sure what it was but it was a poppyseed filling, so not really my thing.

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