Popart in Poprad or Thunder and Lightning at the End of the Season

(Sep 2, 2023) The end of the heat wave announces itself. There is lightning and thunder, a natural fireworks in the mountains of the Low Tatras. Sometimes you can read a book at night, when the lightning flashes from one wall to another. That’s how it seems to us. Hailstones the size of hazelnuts come down. The tent holds, and no one – not even any of the fellow campers – is struck by lightning.

Our starting point is the campsite belonging to the Byrstina Resort in the Demänovská Valley.

Great starting point for hiking in the national park. We are in the karst area which has formed many caves. The Freedom Cave is one of the most visited, although just closed. The second one is the Ice Cave. Besides, a few kilometers and meters upstream in Jasna is the most important ski resort in Slovakia.

River through the Dämanovska valley
From the outside you can guess the karst caves
Wild delphinium
By lift to the ridge of the Low Tatras whose highest peaks are more than 2000m high.

Two days of luck with the weather. Then we decide to cycle on to our destination in the High Tatras, the smallest high mountain range on earth. Despite bad weather forecast, we book a private room in Poprad, the gateway to the High Tatras. This city has about 46,000 inhabitants. For this size it has a lot to offer.

Pedestrian zone with cafes, ice cream parlors, restaurants, cultural summer, jazz festival
Our regular espresso bar in Spisska Sobota, the suburb in Poprad where we live
Spisska Sobota

In terms of sports, Poprad reminds us of Little Valencia: two-lane bike paths, floodlit ping-pong tables, fitness equipment, covered picnic areas along the river. The aqua park is the most sustainable in Europe. It is fed by water heated to 50 degrees celsius which is extracted from the earth.

Ice hockey stadium and football stadium, plus excellent training hall and pitches
Art gallery in the former steam power station of the Tatra Railway
Cultural highlight: opening of the Juraj Bartusz exhibition. We are invited as guests of honor.
Juraj Bartusz, Slovak sculptor, 89 years old, is present himself.

From Poprad we cycle towards the High Tatras to Stary Smokovec, as long as the weather holds. The High Tatras are the smallest high mountains on earth and one of the last we cycle in Europe. Because it is so small, high pass crossings are stingy. It is rather jagged and rough. 30 kilometers is the ridge over the peaks with up to 2655m height.

High Tatras at a glance
Cycled up and saved 23€ for the rack railroad. In the background second highest mountain of the High Tatras, Lomnický štít, 2632m.

After three days in the city, the farm camping “Sedliacky Dvor” is on the program as a contrast program. We cycle towards the southwest and cross the “Low Tatras”.

Trans (Low) Tatras
The campground is a blast.
The chickens first examine the new arrivals
In the communal kitchen there is a roast. In the background the fireplace, which later the campsite boss lights to chat with his guests.

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