when I left Levoča this morning I took the bus to a quite ordinary town called Poprad – quite ordinary, that is, apart from its view of the High Tatras:


These are the highest mountains in the whole Carpathian range, which spreads across six central and eastern European countries. Although it looks from the map below like there are more white snowcapped high peaks in Romania, the very highest ones are the little white ones in Slovakia, up near the Polish border – and those are the ones I saw today:


Then I got on a train to go to the western end of Slovakia, which took three-and-a-half hours. The train ran through a green landscape of woods and hills and the occasional river or lake. I tried to take some pictures to give an idea of this, but it wasn’t very successful because the train moves so fast that what you are trying to shoot has already gone by the time the camera clicks, so you end up with lots of daft pictures like this:


But I did get a few that I thought kind of worked, so here they are, for an idea of something like what Slovakia looks like:





Finally I came to a town called Trenčín, where I am staying tonight. It is another one of those towns that is dominated by a huge castle:


In fact of the two buildings in this picture, guess which one is my hotel?


I had some trouble at first because they hadn’t recorded my reservation and told me I had no room, so I got mad at them and they sorted it out – but it left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth all around. Another disappointment is that I had come to see a carving in the cliff below the castle by one of the soldiers who served out here on the mad bad borderlands of the Roman Empire (as this was then) 1832 years ago, under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (remember him?):


but the hotel which commands access to this inscription is being gutted, so I can’t see it. And the castle only allows people in on guided tours, and that in Slovakian…plus I feel like I’ve seen all the castles I need to (especially after the mother of all castles at Spiš yesterday). Plus the people in the first bar I went in were just rude (though the rest have been much friendlier – and they’re even playing Manu Chao now, the arch-European…) Equals: my plan is to head for Prague – the last stage of my journey before heading back to Paris – as early as I can tomorrow morning…

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