I could hardly believe it when Mom and Dad told me a few months ago that they wanted to come visit me in Slovakia this summer, but I’m certainly glad they did.
We started in Vienna, where we met up with my Uncle Tommy and Aunt Anne, who were in the city with a tour group at the same time. After spending a day and the first night in Vienna and seeing things like the Belvedere Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we took a train to Prague.
Prague is my favorite European city, and there are tons of things to see and do there. We started with a foot and boat tour of the city. We were the only people who had signed up for the tour (probably because it was pouring down rain in the morning), and ended up with a private tour. Luckily, the rain stopped by the time we got on the boat. We visited Wenceslas Square, Old Town, Prague Castle, and the Museum of Communism, among other places.
Prague from the boat tour.
Busy Charles Bridge.
Look who we ran into in Prague!
After Prague, we headed to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. We didn’t stay in BA long; only long enough to pick up our Škoda that Dad drove around Slovakia and Poland. We drove to Žilina, northeast of Bratislava. I showed Mom and Dad the upper and lower squares of the city, as well as where I’m staying here.
Žilina, looking down into the lower square.
The next day we hopped in the Škoda and drove to Poland. Our first stop was Auschwitz. This was the first time any of us had ever visited a concentration camp, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; I wanted to see it, but I wasn’t really excited about being in a place that had been the center of so much evil. It was quite hot and sunny that day, and it was a strange juxtaposition to be in a place with such a dark and terrible history on a hot summer’s day, squinting in the sun, surrounded by green grass, singing birds, and throngs of tourists.
From Auschwitz we went to nearby Krakow for the evening. Krakow is a nice city, large, but not as large as Vienna or Prague. We ate dinner outside in the main square, and enjoyed the cooler air that we only got to enjoy during the evenings.
We left Krakow around lunchtime the next day and drove south to Štrbske Pleso, a mountain lake and vacation destination in the High Tatras of northern Slovakia. This was probably the most relaxing part of the trip. We walked around the lake, had an excellent dinner on the lakeside patio at the hotel, and relaxed in the hot tub and sauna.
In the morning we headed to Tatranska Lomnica, where we took a cable car into the Tatras. The car that went to the peak of the highest mountain was sold out for the day so we only went up two thirds of the way, but there was still a nice view from the top. Then we headed back to Žilina for the evening.
The next day we went to Bratislava for the last full day of the trip. After we said goodbye to the Škoda at the airport, we went into the city center where my friend Jane joined us and gave us a tour of the city. We had lunch at Slovak Pub, went up to Bratislava Castle, and walked through the Old Town (and Bratislava has the best Old Town, in my opinion). It was terribly hot again, so after walking around for a while, we hopped on a train and headed to Vienna for the night, so Mom and Dad could catch their flight early the next morning.
All in all, we had a really nice trip. It was great to see my parents, and to introduce them to these places.