The journey through the now non-existing country of Czechoslovakia here continues with the eastern part of Slovakia.
The present-day Czech Republic is presented in the previous post. At the bottom I also present some impressions from Czechoslovakia that I took note of in my diary at the time.
Thursday 13.9.1990, Košice – Prešov
We woke up to a brilliant morning. The train rolled down a beautiful, green valley. When the valley opened up we arrived in Košice. At the station we put our bags in a locker for a koruna and looked into the bus terminal next door. We found that the Prešov buses ran fairly frequently, so we decided to look around town before continuing.
View from train, Slovakia
Kosice early morning market
Košice has put emphasis on giving visitors a warm welcome. The bus and train stations are adjacent while local buses stop in front of the terminals. For those we wish to walk the short distance to the centre (like us) the trip goes through a park, past a castle and into a pleasant pedestrian street. Košice looks like, judging from walking the streets for an hour, consisting of a main street, the Leninova, with nice churches (!) and some side streets with smaller houses of varying beauty. On the hill sides around the town are the new dwellings, mostly blocks of flats. This is a city plan much like the ones we have seen elsewhere in Czechoslovakia.
Prešov is according to our guidebook less interesting in itself, but is a better starting point for small trips in the region. So, as we wanted to see the region and felt that we already had seen Košice we took an hour’s bus ride north for 3 NOK.
Also here in Prešov the bus and train stations were close, but the area around looked very desolate. Not as nice as in Košice. We headed for the centre and found the hotel we were looking for, the Savoy. 124 korunas for a double without toilet or shower. Clean, nice and cheap.
We walked around town a bit. It is nice right on the square in front of the hotel, but otherwise boring with some modern party buildings in the outskirts. We visited a pleasant viňara (wine cellar) in the evening.
Prešov official building
Friday 14.9.1990, Bardejov, Košice
The last day in Czechoslovakia. Tomorrow morning we are off to Hungary.
We checked out of Hotel Savoy and walked up to the bus station to find a bus to Levoča further west; we wanted to see more of Slovakia. But it turned out that lack of transportation is known here too. We didn’t bother to wait until late morning and queued up to go to another small town, Bardejov. Unfortunately that bus was an hour delayed so we could have taken the Levoča bus. But there the queue had become too long. After a short bus ride we arrived therefore in Bardejov.
It was a nice trip as we passed a hilltop castle, and several villages not all with traditional houses. Bardejov had remains of an old town wall and a very pleasant “plaza”.
Bardejov central square, Slovakia
The bus back to Košice was full and we had to stand for a long time. My girlfriend has caught a severe cold after mine disappeared. She all of a sudden started to feel dizzy, sweat and nausea. Luckily some locals noticed and offered her their sit. It passed over.
In Košice we checked into the Hotel Europa right by the station for 210 and had a lovely shower. In the evening we went out and used the rest of our korunas in a better restaurant. The next day the town of Eger in Hungary was waiting.
Some impressions from Czechoslovakia (ČSSR)
The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic is very cheap. We spent in 7 days 260 DM, equalling around 70 NOK a day on average (12 USD). Dinners was around 10-20 NOK, pints 2 NOK. Accommodation for us was maximum 50 NOK per person. It was interesting that our hotel in Košice, and possibly others as well, demanded considerable more of us than locals. 210 korunas against 60 for a double room. In earlier times tour-groups came away a bit cheaper.
Czechoslovak transportation is arranged alright. Clear tables showing arrival and departure times for both buses and trains. But as mentioned earlier it is a potentially very large problem that the footnotes are not easy to understand. It can be fairly bad to assume is running daily when it in reality only runs on Tuesdays.
The Czechs know some German, a bit less in Slovakia. English is much less widespread. The schools have now dropped Russian as a foreign language and included English instead. German has all along had a fairly central position.
Czechoslovakia gave in general a rather mixed impression. Praha was lovely, but everything closed early in the evening. Other cities had also something to show, often centred on a market or square plus a little more. The villages we passed seemed alright, but the East-German ones more interesting actually.
The shops here too were depressing; jeans are in, surprisingly many blond people to see and quite a few well-dressed as well. Many drove Skoda naturally. The locals are clearly fond of flowers, they sell them everywhere and people are buying. Fine wrapping too.
All chapters in this series:
- (1) East Germany: This is my diary from a four week train journey to Eastern Europe. We started in Oslo and crossed the Baltic Sea from Sweden to East Germany, at the time it was still DDR. After this we continued to Czechoslovakia and Hungary before cutting straight west through Austria to Belgium, visiting friends there. The return brought us back home by way of Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
- (2) Czechoslovakia (1): Unlike East and West Germany, this next chapter is about a country still united, later divided. It tells the story of a country rich in history, and may give some hints of an emerging future. I have split this description in two, this part is about the present-day Czech Republic, the next part about Slovakia.
- (3) Czechoslovakia (2): My journey through the now non-existing country of Czechoslovakia here continues with the eastern part of Slovakia.
- NEXT CHAPTER: (4) Hungary: Hungary is a very nice country, with beautiful scenery, good wine and transportation challenges.
- (5) – Austria: These last parts of this one month InterRail to Eastern Europe involves going west to Austria and Belgium and the long way home to Norway. I have split the story in two. First off is Austria.
- (6) – Belgium: Famous squares and statues in Brussels and the return to Norway.