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Clare
Clare

Day 8: Tatranská Lomnica

The weather forecasters seemed to be divided about what the weather was going to be like today, but we were gambling on it being good or, at least, not raining. Our plan for the day was to travel to the village of Tatranská Lomnica, from where we would be able to take a cable car up one of the mountains.

Tatranská Lomnica is a stop on the Tatra electric railway, but in the opposite direction to Štrbské Pleso where we had been the other day. From Poprad we had to take a train to Starý Smokovec, and then change for the connecting train to Tatranská Lomnica. We had a wait of around 30 minutes in Starý Smokovec between trains, so we had another stroll around, making the most of the fact that it wasn't raining.

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The weather was even good enough to see some of the mountains above the village today.

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We had a much better view of the mountains when we arrived in Tatranská Lomnica though.

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There was even temporarily a blue sky in places!

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The cable cars in Slovakia seemed quite expensive when I'd researched them, but it was cheaper if you bought your ticket online in advance. I did this a few weeks ago and bought two return tickets up the mountain as far as a place called Skalnaté pleso. The cable car company subsquently posted me some sort of pass card, together with a letter (in English) saying that the tickets I'd purchased were loaded onto the card and so I didn't need to queue at the ticket desk, but would just be able to swipe the barriers. It sounded good - what could possibly go wrong?!

The first part of the journey is in little four-person gondolas. We made our way to the cable car station and joined the queue to swipe through the barriers. Tim went first and the swipe card worked perfectly, immediately opening the barrier. He passed the card back to me, I swiped it... and nothing happened. Oh dear. We were just trying it again in case I hadn't quite done it right first time around, when we attracted the attention of the man supervising the gondolas. He looked a bit like a troll and had a similar personality. He started shouting at us, I think for trying to use one card between us. I had the receipt for what I'd purchased in my pocket so I took out the paperwork in order to prove that we had definitely purchased two tickets. This didn't impress him at all and he shoved the papers back at me, saying "Info Centrum. Info Centrum" over and over again.

I gathered I needed to find somewhere called the Info Centrum to try and sort this out. Tim was already behind the barrier and the man wouldn't let him back out, so he had to stand and wait for quite some time while I went to track the Info Centrum down. Luckily it wasn't far away, but there was an enormous queue of all sorts of other people who seemed to be having problems with their tickets. When I eventually got to the front it took a while for the woman to understand what I was trying to say, but eventually she explained that each person needs to have a separate pass so I should have come to the Info Centrum first in order to get a second pass. How I was supposed to know this I have no idea, and I'm still not quite sure I understand the logic of allowing people to order two tickets online and then posting them a pass for one of them!

She agreed to sort me out a second pass anyway, which was good, but then we hit an unexpected second problem because I needed to pay a deposit of €2 for the swipe card. That's not a lot of money obviously, but all our money was in Tim's wallet which was in Tim's pocket behind the ticket barrier! So I had to go back to the cable car station, attract the attention of Tim, get two Euros and then join the queue in the Info Centrum again in order to get the card. Tim may have taken the opportunity to give the troll on duty a piece of his mind!!

Eventually it was all sorted though and we were off in the gondola towards the intermediate station, which is at 1,173 metres.

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From there we changed to what was described as a 15-person cable car for the remainder of the journey up to Skalnaté pleso. Personally I think 15 people would have been a very tight squeeze!

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There were some amazing views as we went higher and higher.

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The station of Skalnaté pleso is at 1,751m. It looked a very long way back down to Tatranská Lomnica.

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The mountain in the background is Lomnický Štít, the second highest mountain in Slovakia. There is another cable car which goes from Skalnaté pleso right to the summit, but this one is ridiculously expensive (€46!) and only a limited number of people can travel up each way, so the tickets sell out a long way in advance.

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The views from Skalnaté pleso were great anyway.

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The name Skalnaté pleso means something like "rocky mountain lake" and this turned out to be a good description.

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The guidebook had mentioned that the path around the lake was rocky, but until we got there I hadn't appreciated quite how rocky they meant!

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This was the path.

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Some parts of it were okay, but other parts of it were rather challenging!

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The lake was really in a beautiful location though :)

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Once we'd managed to walk around it once without falling over, we decided it was time to head back down.

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We had a late lunch of chicken schnitzel and chips, followed by some lovely pancakes.

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The weather still seemed reasonable so we decided to catch the train back to Starý Smokovec, and from there get a connecting train to Štrbské Pleso, where we had been the other day. We were all ready to jump off the train once it got to Tatranská Polianka and get onto the replacement bus service, but they seemed to have done some quick repairs to the track because this time the train was able to go straight through.

We got off the train in Štrbské Pleso about an hour after we had left Tatranská Lomnica... and found it was starting to rain!

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The cloud seemed to be much lower over here than it had been back in Tatranská Lomnica, so we still didn't manage to get a view of the mountains.

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The lake was beautiful though and it was nice to be able to see it again :)

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We managed to do a circuit of the lake and get back to the station in Štrbské Pleso just on time for the next train back to Štrba and Poprad.

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It was another exciting day in some beautiful surroundings. Tomorrow will mostly be a day of travelling, with a 4.5 hour train journey back from Poprad to Bratislava followed by the flight home, so it may not be worth a blog entry. We have had a brilliant time in Slovakia though and it's definitely on our list of countries we'd like to travel to again :)

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