Two of ‘the lucky few’ are sunbathing on an ASCI, Austrian campsite near a town called ‘Rust’. The crisps are out, alcoholic beverages have been served, all the normal chores have been completed & the laundry’s hanging on the line, so it’s time to kick-back and pickle a few brain cells. We’ve heard (Internet Radio 2) the UK’s weather’s sunny & warm too, warmer than normal for this time of year, so we hope it will hang on till the weekend for you.
So what happened to Slovakia? Ok, rewind a bit. Motoring south for 3 hours, stopping off at Tatransk Lomnica, a cable car park most in use in winter, taken from (Europe by Camper and Our Tour). We would have paid the €50 to ride the 3 cable cars to the top of Tetra mountains at 2,600 meters, but the cloud cover up there was so dense, there would be nothing to see, so we just had a free night in the car park and a walk around the town.
So after a quiet, free night, we head south-west again to Banksa Bystrica, originally a German settlement, smack bang in the centre of Slovakia, now a sweet little village surrounded by hills full of trees, on the banks of the river Hron. Driving into the town, it seemed to be the recycle centre of Slovakia with huge scrap-yards popping up every 5 km. Just up the road, yipeee…a (closed because it’s Monday) military museum. Soviet T34’s, heavy weapons and anti-aircraft guns just left laying about in the car park means time to go play.
But seriously, the uprising of the Banksa Bystrica Slovaks in August 1944 was one of the hardest the Nazis had to deal with, finally coming to an end when the Russian and Romanian army liberated the town in March 1945. Before that, the locals only knew how to mine copper and fell a tiny proportion of the billions of trees in the area. Must have been a bit of a shock seeing a German tank coming down the road when the standard mode of transport was a donkey and cart. The next nearest town, a three-day walk!
Nice lady in tourist information suggested a route around town, taking in all the sights, the old clock tower and the Church of the holy cross, built in 1452. She also very keen to suggested a route (which we took) across the river and up a very steep hill to the old Catholic church, which was closed, but never mind, the walk was nice. Now a university town of about 17,000 students, the future’s bright, it’s all looking good for Banksa Bystrica.
A bit of a hike up the hill to find it, but worth the climb and €6 pp. guided entrance fee. Originally discovered in 1932 by a young bloke just poking around at the back of a cave. He noticed bats flying in and out and a bit of a draft, so decided to spend a fortnight digging through and what a delight he found. More than 2,700 metres of per-historic caves, never seen by a human being before. Opened to the public back in 1950, a path of steps guides you through the breath-taking natural displays of millions of years of constantly dripping calcite laden water. Stalactites and stalagmites surround you, each one taking millions of years to manufacture. According to the blurb, it takes each stalagmite 10-15 years to produce 1cm of height. That’s loads and loads dripping, some of these structures are over 4m tall, the maths overwhelms me, but its a long time, just left there…undisturbed…dripping…dripping…dripping, peacefully growing producing the most amazing forms I’ve ever seen. There’s no way my photo’s will do this justice…but here goes for a taster:-
Sleep Spots this week:
n49.16776 e20.27100 Tanranska Lomnica cable car park. OK WiFi from CC station. No other services, FREE and very quiet.
n48.73394 e19.15041 FREE. Car park in Banksa Bystrrica. Free on Sundays. Day parking only.
n48.81849 e19.03881 FREE. Car park for the Harmanecka cave, next to ‘Black sheep’ restaurant. Free WiFi from restaurant, toilet empty point.
n48.03190 e17.23000 FREE car park next to mini Zoo and hotel, on an Island ‘in’ the Danube. Great free WiFi from the hotel.
n47.844509 e16.68820 Camping Oggua, Austria. All services and WiFi (€17 +tourist tax of €1.50 pp/pn) Tidy, clean, large site. Great for cycling/walking.