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A Very Short Introduction to

Bicycle Camping in Slovakia [ SK ]

Grace Newhaven   bikefish@iinet.net.au

2016/Dec 24

Before you go :

·         A tent that blends into the landscape is very useful !

·         Make a Google map of your proposed journey ( it’s Shareable via www) to plan & calculate distances. Consider a Google plan as well ( also to Share)

·         Download an “off line” e/map and experiment with it. Get a good translation app.

·         Get Google codes if you want to use other computers besides your own.

·         Source a useful adapter, with USB port(s).

Roads & Traffic : Rural roads in SK carry little traffic and are generally well surfaced though there may be significant subsidence at the edges, and only rarely is there a fog line and sealed shoulder. Slovak motor traffic is courteous by Australian standards – most cars will try to give room. On-road signage is OK, though not on a numerical system ( ie unlike the French), but usually easy to follow. There are signed “bicycle routes”, usually on-road, that are at least encouraging for the cross-country cyclist trying to avoid main highways, which will be very stressful. In the countryside, there are a few independent, small but well stocked bike shops.

Maps: Paper road maps are available, but I recommend “Pocket Earth” or similar off-line maps as well ( some are free). Some of these will show bicycle friendly roads and paths, and can calculate and display a specific bicycle route to your destinations. There is some on-road signage of bike routes, but the small signs are easy to miss. Tourist information offices are not common, but may provide some useful local maps.

Water: There is safe, drinkable tap water everywhere in Slovakia. You can also buy bottled water everywhere, if you are prepared to waste the plastic bottles. Generally, it can be a problem trying to find a tap outside ( ie accessible) : parks and private gardens don’t have them. You can ask for water in a bar or café, and cemeteries are good too. It will be useful for overnight camping to have a wine cask bladder or similar bulk container. If you are lucky, you may see a working fountain, or locals will show you to a spring that they use themselves. However you go, be careful not to run out.   

Food : Most small towns and villages have a small, sometimes tiny, grocery store, and “modern” style supermarkets are in most larger centers . In villages, food is adequate even if without the variety of Western Europe. Supermarkets sell everything necessary. Most shops are open long hours, but closed on Sundays, so be prepared. Bread shops may open on Sunday mornings. Food is generally a little cheaper than in Western Europe. There is a wide variety of breads, as well as a huge assortment of processed meats and sausages – some very artificial looking ! Alcohol is very cheap and easy to find; there are deposits on glass beer bottle, but not on plastic bottles.  Bottles are returned at the point-of-sale. Even cheap beer is very good, and you can try the cheap wine. The Aussie stubby holder neoprene jackets are unknown in Europe, you may want to take one, as you will often see cold beer for sale in shops. Fuel alcohol (“denaturovaný lieh”) may now be restricted for security reasons, but was common and around 3 Euro /litre at hardware shops. Shop staff are usually neutral (rather than friendly), and English is NOT widely spoken.  Market stalls and roadside vendors are also useful for small quantities of fruits and vegetables. The very cheapest restaurant meals would be ~ €9.00, with very cheap alcohol  prices ( compared to Australia). In August, the roads were lined with plum trees.

Camping : In my experience there was plenty of accessible, green, public space in forests, reserves etc. Maize fields, with the tall crop, are good for hiding a tent. With a small, discrete tent, you should have no problems.    

Trains : uknown

Internet & WiFi : WiFi is useful, if and when it’s available, ( eg at MacDonald’s), but having connectivity in “real time”, especially from your “wild” campsite, is so useful it’s practically indispensable. I recommend having a local pre-paid SIM card, or a German Vodafone card,( ~E 25)  with phone and data accessible EU wide, which was more useful than the SK cards. To access your Google or Hotmail accounts, you need to make arrangements before you leave home to carry printed “security codes” with you. Be aware too that Slovak keyboards may be difficult for people not accustomed to their layout. FaceBook Messenger is quite useful. Internet cafes are no longer common, so your own device is almost indispensable.

Misc : the Slovak Post office : unknown

Websites :

http://www.visitslovakia.com/cycling-in-slovakia/

Eurovelo Routes ( Slovakia) : www.eurovelo.com/en/cycling-in/Slovakia

A bike camping blog with “no plan”: https://gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/to-slovakia-nothing-not-to-like/

Distance calculator: www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm /

An encyclopedic, private site :www.cycletourer.co.uk/

 

Glossary

English

 

Slovak

Beer

 

pivo

Bicycle

 

bicykel

Bread

 

chlieb

Cheese

 

syr

Fruit

 

ovocný

Map

 

mapa

Meat

 

mäso

Milk

 

mlieko

Vegetable

 

zeleninový

Water

 

voda

Wine

 

víno