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August 2, 2002

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Trapped on a slow bus ride across Slovakia, we have no other options except bus-hopping to reach Trencin. Like mindless drones, we follow the advice from the Lonely Planet which tells us to visit Trencin, a town we've never heard of before to see a castle we don't care about - such is the power of Lonely Planet. The trip across Slovakia challenges us; it's a bus changing bonanza. First, we swing through Sprisske Hrad (to see another castle, God help us), then we backtrack through Levoca, another bus to Poprad, then Previdza, and here we missed our connection. We made three connections, over 5 hours and 200 kilometers only to miss our last one by a minute. Buses leave precisely on time in Slovakia; don't be late. Because we missed our bus, we stayed in a Previdza, well off the beaten tourist track. We entered a restaurant and asked the waitress if she knew a good hotel. She asked the people gathered in the restaurant if anyone knew English. A few volunteers pointed us in the right direction. At dinner, a man left his own dinner party to sit down with us and help order our food. Several people even smiled; we weren't sure if Eastern Europeans could do that; guess that proves you have to leave the tourist route to find nice people.
Dominating a view over the town of Sprisske Podhradie, the Spissky hrad is Slovakia's largest castle. The original founders fought off the Tatars in 1241.
Two different kinds of buildings make up the towns: large houses that serve as a duplexes for several families or concrete high rises. In most towns a factory sits on the outskirts.