I mainly visited Levoča because I wanted to go to Spišský Hrad, and my original plan to do a day trip from Ždiar failed miserably – I was too busy doing nothing. So I booked myself a nice little hotel room for two nights and took the bus from Ždiar to Poprad, and another from Poprad to Levoča. I should have stayed on the second bus a little longer as it turns out that it stops at the top of the hill right near the hotel – unfortunately I wasn’t aware of this at the time and had a not particularly enjoyable walk for about one and a half kilometres uphill with all my stuff. It only took me about twenty minutes, but it was hot!
I checked into the hotel, Hotel Barbakan, and was very pleased to find that my room had a bath! I always get excited about baths, as it’s been years since I’ve had a bathtub at home. When I occasionally have to splash out on a hotel room rather than a dorm bed in a hostel, it’s nice to have a proper bath in which to spend a few hours…with a bottle of wine and some movies on my computer!
I went for a walk around the town as I heard music, and as it turns out there was some kind of performance happening in a park in the main square. There was a string quartet playing some wonderful traditional music for a while, and then a group of girls in bright coloured folk costumes singing and dancing. There were a fair few people watching – a lot of parents, as the performers looked like they were still in school, and there was a tour bus full of oldies with their walking canes that arrived just as I did and they all hobbled down to join the crowd. I stayed for about half an hour, and then continued my exploration of the town with one goal in mind – find FOOD.
As it was the weekend, the little food stands at the Poprad bus station were all closed and the most nutritious snack I’d been able to acquire was a Mars Bar – a far cry from the delicious salad sandwiches I’d been making for lunch in Ždiar. I found a little restaurant slash bar that served pretty good pasta and divine iced chocolates, which was rather satisfactory. I ate enough that I didn’t really need dinner – I picked up a few snacks and a bottle of local Cabernet from a tiny minimart on the way back to the hotel, although was unable to find any bubble bath. That evening was spent lying in the tub watching movies, and it was terribly relaxing after all the hard travelling I’d been doing lately.
I made it to Spišský Hrad the next day although that’s a story for another post. It was my last night in Slovakia, so I went to a traditional restaurant recommended by the hotel and had an absolutely delicious meal of pirohy, a large Slovakian dumpling stuffed with sheep’s cheese and potatoes with a generous helping of bacon, sour cream and parsley on top. That’s a dish that I’m going to have to make back home. Definitely a comfort food…
My last day in Levoča passed very, very slowly. It’s an incredibly sleepy town and I was constantly surprised at just how empty it was. The central square is quite large, with a church and the town hall and a park, as well as some pretty old buildings surrounding it. I wanted to visit the church however it was padlocked shut and I couldn’t find anyone to let me in. What I did find interesting was the sixteenth century ‘Cage of Shame’ beside the town hall. Apparently it was used to lock up naughty children, but more frequently displayed those pesky women who dared to disobey their husbands in the hopes that they’d be publicly shamed into obedience. It was quite a decorative cage. I imagine that if such a thing existed in modern times, in the Western world it would be filled with disobedient husbands.
Finding very little to do, I ended up sitting in the park eating ice cream and reading a book, waiting until it was time to walk down to the bus station and take a bus to Košice. The bus was about twenty minutes late and I was starting to worry that because I hadn’t booked a ticket, it might not stop at the bus station. Luckily it did, and off I headed to Košice to take a train to Budapest.
A pleasant surprise awaited me at the Košice train station – just after I bought a baguette for the train ride I ran into Mike, another traveller I’d met at the Ginger Monkey, and we took the train to Budapest together – watching episodes of some weird foods TV show that were about Hungary and Ukraine. While I like to try new things…I wasn’t interested in trying dishes like fried rooster testicles with placenta salad. I have my limits!