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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Future; Nostalgic on Tour 2010: Part 4 – Vitajte v Jasnej (Welcome to Jasná)


After sleeping late (we reckoned we’d deserved it) we ambled down for a leisurely breakfast. Breakfast in Slovakia, at least at our hotel, is a fairly expansive affair. The menu comprises (takes a deep breath) coffee, tea (black tea, fruit or herb tea), hot chocolate and juice, a choice of cereals (including rather nice chocolate-covered bran flakes), fresh fruit, cakes and doughnuts, yoghurt, sliced ham, salami and cheese, salads and saukraut (which is sweet in Slovakia), a variety of breads, jams, honey, cream cheese and local butter.

If you’ve any room after all that lot, there’s always a cooked breakfast option for which we coined the term ‘the full Slovak’ on our first trip – fried eggs, scrambled eggs with bits of ham, or little omelettes with peas in them, and some combination of frankfurter-style sausages, fried sausages, little fried sausages, big fried sausages, sliced fried sausages, spicy fried sausages - can you see a pattern emerging here? There was also a sliced spicy sausagey-hamy sort of a thing, difficult to describe but very tasty, and not forgetting Slovakian bacon, which is very nice but has a good deal more fat than UK bacon.

There is a particular sort of bread roll, for which we developed a liking on our first trip, that has so far resisted all my efforts to photograph it so I’ll have to try describing it instead. These rolls, which we nicknamed ‘Litpov Torpedos’ are cylindrical and around six inches long, with a texture somewhere between bread and a croissant; they appear to be rolled in the same way as a croissant but are baked straight, rather than crescent-shaped. If anyone reading this happens to know if they have a particular name, please let me know, it might help tracking down a photo of them; this might seem a bit insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it’s been bugging me since our first trip as I keep forgetting to take my camera down to breakfast.


The restaurant at Hotel Grand Jasná
Picture © Tatry mountain resorts, a.s. All Rights Reserved.

Staggering out from a very large breakfast, and thinking we really ought to walk it off a bit, we wandered outside to see if much had changed since our last visit. Incidentally, before setting off we stopped by hotel reception to ask for a couple of extra pillows and by the time we returned from our walk, no more than half an hour later, we had an extra pillow and an extra duvet each; Holiday Inn Express Stansted, please take note!

The biggest difference is the brand spanking new Grand Jet gondola (more on that in the next installment), which runs from right outside the hotel to the top of Otupné’s Brhliská ski run. Hang on though, this is going to get a bit confusing without a map:


Chopok Sever Trail Map
Picture © Tatry mountain resorts, a.s. All Rights Reserved.

We decided to walk the five minutes along to Biela Púť, which is technically Jasná’s nursery slope, but which knocks spots off anything available in the UK, before wandering back to the hotel in search of ski hire. It was a bit of a shame to find the Post Office and souvenir shop on the ground floor of the resort headquarters building were no more, now replaced by a ski shop and ski pass sales kiosk. We have fond memories of the souvenir shop from previous trips – the old couple who ran it spoke a little Russian and German but no English, so buying anything was always an interesting experience. Never mind, there was bound to be a Post Office somewhere, we’d find it later.


Ski Depot at Hotel Grand Jasná

Back in the hotel, the ski depot staff were very helpful so skis and poles were soon duly hired and we set off for Biela Púť again and some actual skiing – after all, that’s what we were here for!

Travellers’ tip: Hiring skis (and ski instructors) was something we’d worried about before our first trip to Slovakia as we weren’t able to make contact with anyone by phone or email before we’d travelled. As it turned out, there was no need to panic. If the hotel’s ski depot hadn’t been able to provide the equipment we were after, there were plenty of other places we could have tried – Crystal Ski maintain a ski hire depot next to the bus stop outside the hotel, and there’s also a T-Ski hire shop at Biela Púť; for the snowboarders among us, all three places also hire snowboards and there is a dedicated Burton Snowboard hire and shop on the ground floor of the Biela Púť Apartments.

The hotel’s ski depot also hires what they term ‘snow fun tools,’ snow bikes and snowboard bikes, as well as sledges, the latter of which makes life much easier for the mobility-impaired traveller getting around the resort; I must remember to pack the huskies next time.

Biela Púť is around three times wider than the dry slope our ski correspondent uses back in the UK, and at 770m long, it’s about five times the length too. The old POMA ski tow was replaced by a four-person chairlift prior to our last visit, which takes around eight minutes to transport skiers up to the top of the run.


Our first view of Biela Púť

Since both our ski correspondent and Mrs Future; Nostalgic were taking to the slopes, yours truly decided to go in search of refreshment and, err…leave them to it!

Our ski correspondent was in full ‘ski instructor’ mode as she put Mrs Future; Nostalgic through her paces for an hour or so before heading off for some ‘proper’ skiing (her words, not mine!).


Mrs Future; Nostalgic and our ski correspondent on the slopes.

Having adjourned back to the hotel after lunch, Mrs Future; Nostalgic and our ski correspondent headed off to the hotel’s Wellness Centre - much more than just a swimming pool, the Wellness Centre features multiple saunas, the pool, a gym and you can book a variety of massages and other treatments to work the stiffness out of a skier’s muscles following a day on the slopes.


Hotel pool and Wellness Centre at the Hotel Grand Jasná
Picture © Tatry mountain resorts, a.s. All Rights Reserved.

There’s also an after-sauna shower, which comprises a rope-activated bucket of freezing water, nicknamed by us the ‘Monkey Shower’ on account of the, “Ooooooh-ooooooh-ooooooh, aaaaaah-aaaaaah-aaaaaah” noises heard issuing out of the cubicle when icy water hit nicely warmed skin!

I’d thought I might get down to a little writing while the family was enjoying the pool, and I would have done…if they hadn’t woken me up on their return.


A panoramic evening view from our hotel room window.

It was soon time for dinner, after which I managed to keep my eyes open just long enough to take a few photos out of our window before giving in and having an early night. Aprés ski would have to wait till tomorrow then.

[edit: Thanks to a lovely comment left by island, the mystery of those bread rolls has now been solved - they're called rožok. Thank you island, I really appreciate your help. Now, if I could only find a source for them in the UK...]



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16 comments:

Josie said...

Yay for skiing! And I love the look of that pool and Wellness Centre ... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm deliciously relaxing. The Slovak style of breakfast sounds like it'd be the only meal you'd need all day, and I like the sound of the bread-croissant-roll thingies too :-) And snow bikes etc, what a brilliant concept - the only things I'd heard of were skis, sledges and snowboards. I have been educated!

Sam said...

Josie - Yes, we felt the skiing had been a long time coming, but it was all the better for having to wait for it. There'll be more on the Wellness Centre in future installments, it really is a wonderfully relaxing way to while away a couple of hours.

The Slovak breakfast gets a huge thumbs-up from me - it's a far cry from the Stansted hotel's 'early breakfast,' eh?

There are pics of the snow bike coming soon - in the next installment we get to play with them while night skiing. :)

phonelady said...

glad you are having such a great time and love the pics and how awesome of a trip for you and your family . have a great time .

Sam said...

phonelady - Thanks and yes, it was a great trip, I really wish we were still there now. Glad you're enjoying our antics and the pictures; stay tuned there are more of both to come. :)

Laura Eno said...

Those roll thingies sound delicious! What a huge breakfast.

I'd love to while away the hours in their spa and stare outside at the beautiful snow while sitting next to a cozy fire having a hot drink. :)

It sounds like you finally got to relax!

R.E. Wolf said...

What a gorgeous place!

Sam said...

Laura Eno - Oh, they are delicious! Now I wouldn't want you getting the idea I managed to get through all that lot every morning - I usually settled for rolls with jam. You're right, it was nice to finally be able to relax.

R.E.Wolf - Yes Ryan, I have to agree with you there, Jasna is a gorgeous place. Just wait till you see the rest of the pics.

island said...

Hello Sam,
so these breadrolls you like so much... we call it "rožok" or "rohlík". The second one is czech word, but this language has a strong influence in Slovakia ;) It is nice to hear that your trip was so good and I hope you will come back again and see another parts of the land:D have a nice day.

Sam said...

island - Ďakujem veľmi pekne! That is correct, isn't it? I wanted to say thank you very much, but I only speak a little Slovak.

Anyway, thank you so much for solving the mystery of the rožok for me. I only wish rožok were available here in the UK.

Marisa Birns said...

I would definitely take advantage of all the Wellness Centre offered...even though I would not have been skiing all day.

Or at all ^.^

What a wonderful trip you're describing (despite the not so wonderful parts of travel)!

Love the picture from your hotel room window. Magical.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Sam,

What a lovely place and I'm so glad you had a great time after that travel nightmare. I haven't had breakfast yet and you made me sooooo hungry. I could go for those rolls and sausages right now, but I will give you the chocolate covered bran flakes - that is just so wrong.

And, I would love the warm water in the wellness center - but I can't believe anyone would want a cold bucket of water poured on them! Awful monkey shower!

Sam said...

Marisa Birns - Thanks, that particular photo is one of those I'm most pleased with. I was still trying out some new panorama software when I made it by stitching two pics together.

The hotel's Wellness Centre is definitely worth a visit, the only thing not included in a stay at the hotel are the massages, though they're very reasonably priced.

Anne Tyler Lord - It made me hungry too just typing that part of the story! Strangely enough, the chocolate covered bran flakes were a lot nicer than they sound.

The pool is lovely - there is even a jacuzzi and a waterfall in different parts of it. I'm with you where the monkey shower is concerned!

isllands said...

Sam, it was absolutely correct, even with the special marks:D the usual answer to this is: "Niet za čo" (You´re welcome) :)

Sam said...

isllands - Thank you again! If I remember correctly from my travels in Slovakia, I reply to your "Niet za čo" with Nech sa páči. I think that's correct.

I have tried to learn a little Slovak, I felt I ought to learn the language of the country I was visiting, but Slovak is not easy to learn in the UK - there are no classes I can take and very few books about the language; in fact most of my Slovak books I bought in Slovakia because there were none in the bookshops here!

isllands said...

Hello Sam,
I can imagine that it is really a problem, but if I can help you (look for the books or just help you with Slovak grammar), just let me know. Wish you and your family nice weekend:)

Sam said...

isllands - Thank you very much, I would really appreciate your help to learn more Slovak grammar.

Before our first trip to Slovakia in 2007 I wrote my own phrasebook because I could not buy one in the UK - I am sure my book still has many mistakes in it, and I would like to improve it before my next trip to Slovakia.

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