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Day 4: Bratislava to Poprad

Today we were leaving Bratislava behind for our next destination of Poprad. Our train wasn't until 11.55 though, so we were able to have a relaxing morning in Bratislava first, walking into the town centre for breakfast and even picking up a handful of children's books in Slovak from a discount book store.

Poprad, which with a population of around 55,000 is the tenth largest town in Slovakia, is located about 330km from Bratislava, in the eastern half of the country. The town is on the main railway line between Bratislava and the second city, Košice, so there are regular train connections, with the journey taking around four and a half hours. The Slovakian Railways operate a wonderfully simple and logical system, whereby the price of your ticket depends on the number of kilometres you are travelling and nothing else, and the price of one-way ticket to Poprad on this basis was €14.92; a bargain when you consider it's only slightly more than it costs me to get from Birmingham to Nuneaton every day!

The train was comfortable and we had some beautiful views of the hills and forests of the Slovakian countryside. As we got nearer to Poprad, the views became increasingly hilly but the weather also became increasingly cloudy. There had been a clear blue sky when we left Bratislava, but it seemed like the forecasters might be right that the weather was a bit more unpredictable further east.

It was still just about dry when we arrived in Poprad around 16.30 and began walking towards the apartment we'd booked. First impressions were a bit mixed; the clouds were obscuring the mountains and the area around the railway station didn't seem to be the most attractive. As we got further away from the station the buildings became prettier though, and we soon ended up in a pleasant suburb where Google indicated the apartment was located. At this point the map we'd printed became rather vague, but as we were having a pause to try and get our bearings, a very helpful man came up to see if we were lost and pointed out that the place we were looking for was just across the road. Phew.

The first drops of rain were just starting to fall as we went inside to check in. The lady on reception was quite serious and seemed to spend a very long time examining our passports, but when she showed us into the apartment I was relieved to see that it was really nice. We were paying €50/night which is quite expensive by Poprad standards, but in return we have a comfortable (albeit rather green!) seating area, a dining table and kitchen area, a separate bedroom and a slightly random alcove in a corridor with two bunk beds.


We also have a bathroom which has something that looks like a sauna in it and overall is about as large as our bedroom at home. Unlike the bathroom at the Mercure in Bratislava, it even has a door too :D


We are staying here for five nights so we unpacked a few things and then set out to find the centre of Poprad. The closer we got, the strong the rain became so when we got to somewhere which looked fairly central, the first thing we did was take refuge in a rather modern-looking shopping mall. We decided to get a drink somewhere while waiting for the rain to hopefully pass, and stopped at a cafe which we belatedly realised was probably quite posh. Poprad prices seem very affordable though; I had a coffee and Tim had a beer, and in total the bill came to €2.90.

We left the shopping centre and tried to optimistically convince ourselves that the rain was easing up, but actually it turned out that it was doing nothing of the sort. We spent a while sheltering in a random doorway and watching the main street turn into a river.


Eventually things did start to dry up a bit and we were able to start exploring.


First of all we found a building that looked very much like a castle...


...and then we found ourselves in the main square.


The main feature of the square is the church of St. Egidius.


There are also some colourful buildings on either side of the street.


We took refuge from another shower in a cafe near the square which happily served pizza (for me) and burgers (for Tim). It was starting to get dark as we made our way back to the apartment, but the clouds had moved on a bit since earlier in the afternoon and we got our first proper view of the Tatras :)


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