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Family adventure to Prague
Our trip started in Prague with an overnight stay before taking the overnight sleeper train to Slovakia. We were pleasantly surprised by Prague- its very compact and easy to get around by tram or metro- walking tours of the city are also very popular. It was ideal for family sightseeing- clean, feels relatively safe (though pick- pocketing in built up areas is always a risk) and the people are very friendly. We also had the benefit of staying in a pretty centrally located hotel, within a short tram ride of the old town quarter. It’s pretty easy to find your way around, though we had the added benefit of an excellent city guide Marketa Masova, who had excellent knowledge and use of English. After a night at the Hotel Lunik and a whistle stop tour of the main sights (St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Jewish Quarter, The Old city Town Hall with its astronomical clock) and a couple of excellent Czech meals we were on our way to Slovakia! The train journey is relatively comfortable in 3 berth sleeper compartments, though you don’t get a lot of sleep because of the noise and motion. But you arrive to pleasant countryside at the small town of Liptovsky Mikulas which is only 31 kms from the resort base of Zuberec – home for the next 6 nights.Zuberec is an attractive resort, used extensively for skiing in the winter and popular for outdoor summer activities especially hiking and surrounded by the impressive Tatra Mountains (western Tatras)
At Zuberec we stayed on the outskirts of the village in a wooden built pension ‘Pribisko’ with around 15 rooms. The owners were extremely welcoming and the accommodation simple but clean and comfortable. Though on a B and B board basis, the pension also offered an evening meal option, if you did not want a 15-20 minute walk into the village for other options which include a pizzeria and steakhouse. The pension offered a good range of facilities including a sauna and games room and playground for the kids. From our base we were able to take part in a full programme of different activities each day. Highlights included a visit to the imposing Orava Castle – a medieval structure perched high on a rocky cliff overlooking the Orava River. We also enjoyed a trip to see the Demanovksa Freedom cave which is part of the largest cave network in Slovakia and listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List – the range of stalactite and stalagmite formations is impressive. There was also a gentle introduction to white water rafting – the waters are relatively low this time of year; as well as a chance to experience more traditional forms of wooden rafting. The trip included a full days hiking – traversing some fantastic mountain scenery, lakes and waterfalls. It’s a hike rather than a walk, so proper walking boots/shoes rather than trainers are a must. The route we took covers the Rohasckse Lakes area, with a chance to see glacial lakes and the Rohacsky waterfall – the route brings you close to the border with Poland.
We also hired bikes for a ride through the forest with a stop for lunch and a visit to an open air museum ‘Muzeum Oravskej Dediny’ depicting traditional rural life and customs. There were also some more leisurely pursuits built into the programme, including a couple of sessions at Oravice thermal pools – about half an hour from our base. These are like modern swimming pools, but with delightfully warm water and spas. During our week we had the chance to try a variety of Slovak meals (good if you like pork, cabbage and potatoes!). Quality is actually very good and wholesome, though not to every child’s taste. Most restaurants however have more conventional options. The lunches included on the trip were of a very good ‘traditional’ standard and the Slovak beer is excellent. Eating out is generally good value in Slovak and you can eat very well for £5-10 for a full meal. We had a very good tour leader during our stay in Slovakia – Martina- who oversaw all the logistics. As a qualified secondary school teacher in a local school she had good knowledge and command of English. Our final day was a ‘free day’ but we elected to take a final journey by cable car to Chopok for fantastic scenic mountain views. Then along with our fellow travellers, we took the overnight train back to Prague. This was the end of the official trip but our family elected to spend one more night in Prague to cover off all the main highlights. Overall we enjoyed this trip immensely and enjoyed the company of the other families on the trip– the kids all got on well too, despite there being quite a wide range of ages from 8 through to 15 years- they all integrated very well including the sporty and not so sporty types. For us the real plus point of this trip was the chance to mix up a variety of cultural, historical and sightseeing opportunities with outdoor active countryside pursuits. We liked being busy and having something new to try every day. Prague was also a real highlight and now is number two on our favourite cities list (after Venice). Some general tips would be – take a torch for walking around the outskirts of Zuberec, a waterproof jacket as there can be sudden downpours of rain, sturdy shoes for the hike, a decent towel for the thermal pools and also a supply of Czech currency (crowns) to get you started , rather than just Euros. (Bear in mind Prague is bound to be relatively more expensive than the surrounding country areas)
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