Poprad in N.E. Slovakia is a great winter city break.
I recommend staying at the wonderful AquaCity hotel spa resort.
You can sit outside, wallowing in the healing thermal waters and gaze at the snow-capped High Tatra mountain peaks in the distance, or move into the watery cocktail bar and try a typical - and very warming Demanovka liqueur while still wallowing in the water.
Aquacity even offers cryotherapy, a subzero healing treatment recommended for sportsmen and women, which is said to prolong life!
This canoe ride is really exhilarating. A fantastic feature of Slovakia's Pieniny National Park is the 10km-long gorge. Canoes and traditional rafts (called plt') sail past narrow limestone cliffs and get up quite a speed. Rafters dressed in traditional Goral (the local mountain people) costume give talks on the surrounding sights, flora and fauna. The Polish peak of Trzy Korony (Three Crowns) looms like chunks of white Toblerone. En route there is plenty of opportunity to marvel at the local flora and fauna in spectacular, unspoilt and relatively undiscovered scenery. A gem.
Rafts and canoes usually set off from near Cerveny Klastor (Red Monastery), a fascinating museum in itself.
Check out www.rafting-pieniny.sk for more details.
Poprad is so much more than a 'nondescript town in south-west Slovakia' as called in a recent Guardian travel piece. This is both incorrect geographically and unkind.
For a start, Poprad is in the north-east of the country, nestling at the foot of the mighty Tatra mountains making it an ideal base for family skiing, hiking, spa holidays. The town has an industrial past and some blocks from the sixties that are not too pretty but the town centre square has been pedestrianised and painted and is lined with excellent bars, pubs and restaurants.
There are several good museums and the Tatra mountain resorts are 20 minutes ride away on the wonderful elektricka electric train. There is also a 'suburb' of Poprad, the beautiful medieval town of Spisska Sobota which contains some of the best restaurants and pensions in Slovakia.
All in all, Poprad has everything and SkyEurope flies from the UK several times a week.
There is also the fabulous AquaCity, one of the most environmentally friendly spa lido hotel complexes in the world. The Slovak people are really welcoming and the food and accommodation are world-class. The Slovak beer, wine and slivovica must be tried!
In the High Tatras there is a place called Pod Lesom where I stayed with all my family in a flat, in Febuary half term. Every day there were piles of new snow which meant that every day we could take the tram to go skiing in Strbske Pleso.
In Strbske Pleso I learnt to ski with a teacher called Roland. We got in a sleigh led by a horse called Bonty up the hill to the ski resort. After my skiing lesson I went to the Hotel next to the ski resort and got a hot chocolate. On the way to the restaurant I had a go on a skimobile. The skimobile ride went on for a long time. We then went to the restaurant called a Koliba (a traditional Slovakian mountain restaurant), where I ate garlic soup and fried cheese.
The next day I went to a place called Aqua City in Poprad where there was an outdoor swimming pool which was filled with natural hot spring water and it was huge.
On the last day we went to Lomnica where we went skiing and we went on a cable car (at that point I could ski).
From Johnnie Dowling (age 8).
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