We made slow work getting out of our guesthouse this morning, eating the included breakfast and working hard on logistics for phase two of our journey.
When we finally got on the road, we rolled downhill for miles of shaded forest, leaving us grateful we’d gotten a late start. Without any real pedaling to get us warmed up, the descent was cold!
At the bottom, we began another slow climb up a short pass, our last one before the High Tatras would finally be in view. The sun was warm on our faces even though the air temperature was cool. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I enjoy climbing mountains, even if I worry endlessly about the task before I actually face it. Our climbs in the past few days have been scenic and gentle enough to be enjoyable despite our heavy loads. Unfortunately, too many uphll days have left me with a particularly achy hip, so I was particularly glad to reach the top and stretch it out a bit. I desperately need some days off the bike.
Coming down the other side, we caught first views of the High Tatras: unlike anything we’ve seen in Europe to date. Brilliant green meadows lined the flat valley floor with the peaks of the mountains towering behind. A sunny blue day was the perfect backdrop. The scene looked strikingly like a much greener version of Teton National Park.
The city of Poprad seemingly sprouted out of the middle of the valley with no warning. No suburbs cluttered the outskirts and the center of town was tidy and easy to navigate on the bikes. For once, a roll through town was no big deal and we even found a cute old quarter before pressing on to them mountain villages.
Shortly after that, Ben rolled through splatter of broken glass, a big piece wedging itself deep into his tire. It of course, went flat (our first ever puncture flat while on tour). Another thirty minute detour and we were finally headed toward the only two campsites for miles.
The first campground didn’t appeal to us at all (we’ve gotten picky apparently) so we tried a second, an offshoot of a big hotel. It wasn’t much better, but it would have to do so we made camp.
Though we’d only gone 40 kilometers today, collective days of long riding have left their mark. My underside is so sore I can no longer comfortably sit and my legs refuse to spin at anything besides a slow grind. With camp finally made, I crawled in the shady tent and napped the afternoon away.
When I finally came up with enough energy to get moving again, we headed in to town (3 kilometers) to check things out. We decided against taking a ski lift to the top of these peaks especially based on the clouds that were perched over the top, but sat up at the base, enjoying the air and the free wifi and doing a little shopping (more on that in a minute).
We made a quick supply run on the way home and I found a whole section perogies in the freezers! I’ve been looking for some kind of dumplings for weeks, so this discovery made my night. We spent dinnertime sprawled out on the grass where we ate a big salad and a full kilo of potato dumplings.
We also decided that though we’re constantly spilling our guts to this corner of the internet, we’d like to know more about our growing audience. We’d like to hear from you! Anyone who leaves more than one comment between now and the time we get home (August 15) will be entered in a drawing to win the cute Slovakian Christmas ornament I purchased this afternoon. Make yourselves known!