Day 33 - In and Out of Poland

Monday 28th July 2014

The Penzion Pltnik is the starting point for the raft trips down the gorge. Raftsmen dressed in colourful jerkins and matching hats arrive early to get the craft shipshape.

When we saw these craft drawn up on the slip last night we both thought they looked highly dangerous. However when you lash five of the long narrow hulls together it's a different story.

Preparing the rafts for a gorge run
 

And they're off

It's not long before the trippers are piling in and the rafts begin to cast off into the fast running flow.

We set off by other means and head towards the Polish border to the north. A lovely sweeping well-surfaced road winds up through the villages, over a small pass and down to the river that marks the crossing point.

Coffee stop on the border with Poland
We stop for coffee on the Slovak side then continue into the 12th country of the tour so far, and for me the second new one (Romania was also a first for me).


The road is not quite as good on the Polish side, but not bad either. Long straights take us down through the forest to the busy holiday resort town of Zakopane. It's a slow drag through but finally we are back on fast tarmac and in no time we arrive back in Slovakia.
 


 
On the Polish side of the High Tatras
As we head south west towards our overnight stay in Oravský Podzámok there is a huge fork of lightning and almost instantaneous clap of thunder. We've been here before, and it's best to get under cover and wait it out. Fortunately there's a handy restaurant on the hill just above us and we move smartly inside for lunch and fruit tea.

In just a few miles we cross back into Slovakia. We are heading for the small town of Oravský Podzámok where we will visit the famous Orava Castle, reputed to be the most beautiful castle in Slovakia.

We hope to find lodging near to the castle so we can visit on foot tomorrow. We first see the imposing 12th century edifice from a sweeping viaduct that takes traffic past the town. So dropping off the viaduct we follow the signs for the castle. In the centre of town, and just below the castle, is the rather elegant boutique hotel Toliar. It's perfect. Lovely room, excellent restaurant and 50 metres from the castle ticket office. A no-brainer. We check in for two nights and order a beer on the terrace.

Penzion Toliar is just below the castle
The bikes are round the back, in a private car park secured by a chain at night, and the decking above them is the terrace bar. We sit and sup and gaze up at the castle 80 metres above us.

Tomorrow we go see what all the fuss is about. 


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