You get to see some strange things on the road in Slovakia
Photos by James Thomson
A previous author of this guide once described Spectacular Slovakia as a love-song to the country. This is particularly apt: it really is a wonderful place, and one with which (unlike many other, more anodyne, destinations) it is possible to fall in love. But in some ways love is what you will need if you are to overcome the idiosyncrasies which will, periodically, drive you to distraction.
As a result this guide is not intended just to sing Slovakia's praises - despite the best intentions and hard work of its various tourist authorities (thank you: your efforts to help me were valiant). Most of the places I visited were impressive, interesting or just plain weird. Some - the best - were all three. A few - not many - were dull, or worse. (Is there worse than dull?) If I encountered mishaps or disappointments which were likely to afflict another tourist, I have mentioned them.
Along the way, I visited each of the neighbouring countries, travelled partly by bicycle, and explored a little of Slovakia’s recent history. I found it a fascinating, and in many ways inspiring, story. Several of the places described in this guide played a part in that story: I have tried to explain how.
With sincere thanks to everyone who helped me, the views expressed herein are entirely my own, as are any mistakes.
Many people contributed their ideas, time, advice and occasional liquid refreshment to the making of this guide.
My particular thanks go to: Jarmila Archlebová, Anton Bača, Katerina Bačé, Beata Balogová, Maroš Borský, Natália Branská, Emma Dewson, Alena and Alexander Didyk, Marta Fukasová, Beata Fojtíková, Lenka Gašparovičová, Erika Godlová, John and Simona Gould, Jonathan Hill, Soňa Horská, Martin Janoško, Dada and Karol Jurica, Dušan Kováč, Peter Kováč, Roman Král, Klára Kuzmová, Ľuba Lesná, Jana Liptáková, Eva and Russel Lunday, Sylvia Maliariková, Ladislav Malík, Peter Mišák, Štefan and Susanna Mrvaň, Zuzana Orlíčková, Ján Pallo & family, Dáša Reháková, Andrea Sivaničová, Michaela Stanková, Martina Šmatláková, Petra Šrámková, Tatiana Štrauchová, Lucia Valentová, Martin Vančo, and Marta Zimanová.