Sunday, January 7, 2018

Loptoši™ 2017: Slovakia off the beaten path

The theme of Loptoši™ 2017 was discovering Slovakia off the beaten path, with a focus on the east and mid-south.


The trip started with a streak of bad luck. A few hours before the trip we’ve discovered that our car rental has been canceled. And half of our crew (Palo and Roman) suffered from stomach flu in the first days of the trip.

In the end it was a great trip, full of interesting places and experiences. Instead of covering it chronologically, let me describe the 3 most memorable places.

Stužica, primeval forest

Stužica is a primeval forest that hasn’t been touched for 100 years by humans. I’ve been to forests that looked like they have been vacuumed, but I prefer messy unmanaged forest with trees left to decompose. We’ve experienced Stužica during wet and foggy weather, which created just the right atmosphere. Stužica thus became the top experience of the trip for me.

Trees left to decompose

Hiking in the fog

Železník, former mining town

Železník lies deep in the forest high up on a mountain. The mountain used to be one of the largest sources of iron in the area. It was a prosperous lively small village/town, but now there’s very few people left. If you speak Slovak, you can watch a documentary about Železník.

When we arrived there, the Sun was about to set and Ivan was reading out loud an article about Železník from Čierne Diery. His captivating voice, the abandoned structures around us and the great view gave me goose bumps.

Old phone booth and post office

Sunset seen from Železník

Inside blast furnace near Železník

Čierny Váh, the biggest battery in the country

The Čierny Váh pumped-storage plant is a few tonnes of concrete in nature. A top of a hill has been replaced by a water reservoir.

View from the air. Photo by Achernar.sk.

People say that nature should be preserved, but this structure has enormous benefits. During the night, it takes the overflow electric power from power plants that are slow to turn off, like nuclear power plants, and uses it to pump water 400 meters higher. During the day, the water flows back down, generating energy. It’s basically a giant battery and the most powerful power plant in the country.

We could have preserved this particular piece of nature and instead built a plant that’s easier to turn off and start, like a coal plant, but the environmental consequences would have been much higher. Čierny Váh is still the least environmentally harmful solution.

Photos

A selection of my photos is on Flickr and an album merged from multiple people is on Google Photos.

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