The refuge/hotel was really busy this Saturday night and there were people sleeping in the corridors. Although our dorm had two spare bunks, later we understood why.
We were planning an easy last day of walking and did not rush to breakfast. Before we went down I heard some distinctly English voices in our corridor. I went to chat with them. They had to bed down in our corridor because they arrived after dark and were told the place was fully booked. They had walked over Rysy from Poland and had not known that this hotel existed. I asked where they were hoping to stay last night and they said they had reservations at Popradske Pleso refuge, where they were staying for two nights. I told them they were there already. They said it can’t be. Where is the lake? I told them it was just 20m away from where we were standing. So, probably our two empty bunks were actually theirs and there were two others elsewhere in the refuge/hotel. I left them quickly to seethe.
We had another filling fried breakfast with fruit and bread and honey and discussed where to go. Eventually, because we both had legs sore with lactic acid build up, we decided on a gentle walk down the track in the direction of Popradske Pleso train station.
There were hordes coming up the track in clusters, eager to get to the lake and perhaps up the mountain. It was another lovely sunny morning. At the station we took the train to Strbske Pleso. The ticket cost 0.5 Euros and we had to buy it at a drinks kiosk near the station. Strbske Pleso is a thorough-going holiday resort with two lakes, lots of hotels, ski and bike hire shops. It was very busy and quite a contrast for us. We walked around the larger of the two lakes and admired the views
One of the wonderful features, for me, was the grand hotel Kaminsky. I did not get a good picture but the following website gives you an idea of its’ grandeur. https://www.kempinski.com/en/strba-strbske-pleso/grand-hotel-high-tatras/
It took nearly an hour. It was a very picturesque ride and cost only 2 Euros, excellent value even if only for the views.
At our Pension we took a beer in their garden before cleaning up and taking a walk around the attractive village square with its ancient “Burgher houses”
with a fine final view of the High Tatras.
We were lucky with the weather. It rained on the day we arrived but was dry for the remainder of the time and was mostly sunny but not too hot. The High Tatras is a brilliant rugged rocky area with spectacular views. We found the walking to be hard and anyone trying it shouldn’t be fooled by simple consideration of distances and elevations. The terrain we think is generally difficult and demanding and to avoid possible injury we had to spend almost all the time looking down at the ground rather than gazing around at the scenery. We found the times displayed on signposts and on the map very optimistic. although when walking by myself without a loaded backpack I found them pretty accurate. As part of our reservation we were presented with a 1:25000 walking map of the area. This was brilliant and it includes plenty of descriptive information in English on the reverse side. I cannot recommend it more highly. It is called “The High Tatras” and is map number 2502 ISBN 978-83-74990-89-9. Do take a torch and a sheet sleeping bag if you want to avoid sleeping in other peoples bedding. Take a universal sink plug with you if you like to fill a sink for washing. You can get by with just English but it is better to learn a few Slovak words like dobry den (good day or hello), dakujem (thank you), pleso (lake or tarn) and sedlo (saddle or col) If you are intending to climb Rysy try and avoid doing it at a weekend.
I had a very enjoyable week and came away very impressed with the High Tatras.