Europe Day Eight: Slovakia: A Hike In The Hills Outside Of Kosice.
On Tuesday morning, my second full day in in Slovakia, I decided to hike in the woodlands near Kosice. I didn’t rent a car, as originally planned, on this trip (I got my first International Divers license for the trip). I had arranged, on Wednesday, for a driver to take me to look for the villages where I believed my great- parents were born . So I looked at my AllTrails App for a hike near the city and decided to try the Cermel Trail. It was located in the hills five miles from my hotel in downtown Kosice. It was near the town of Bankov. After my morning coffee, I took a taxi and was dropped off at a children’s train railroad station on Highway 547. After getting orientated , I found the trail and began my hike.
As I noted in prior blogs, this was a last minute trip. I usually don’t rely on my iPhone app in deciding on hikes in foreign countries. This time I did so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The trail began on a fairly steep upgrade.
The trees in the woodlands along the trail appeared to look like beech trees I know in my native Pennsylvania, and, using my PictureThis plant identification app, I learned they were European beech trees.
There were also some maple trees in the woodlands which were identified as Norway maple trees.
It was nice walking under the canopy of leaves created by the trees with the morning sunshine filtering down through the leaves. I reflected on how my great-grandparents would have walked under similar forest over a century ago.
The soil on the trail and in the surrounding woodlands was very dry. My driver told me there was not much rain in the region for a few weeks. There still were only a few wildflowers growing along the trail, mostly these common hawkweed flowers I am very familiar with on my walks in Pennsylvania. I learned they are actually native to this region of Europe.
There weren’t a lot of wildflowers but there were a lot of ferns, these my app identified as male ferns.
The ground was also covered with these plants which I believe are sweet woodruff. I love learning about new plants when I visit foreign countries.
There were a lot of birds singing high in the treetops. However they were difficult to photograph. This was the best photo I could get of the many European robins I heard singing in the tree tops.
I also saw some song thrushes,
and a few Eurasian nuthatches. It is amazing how similar these birds are to the same species in Pennsylvania, yet so different in colors and size. The photos aren’t the best I could manage because of the distance and dim late under the canopy of leaves.
The trail was nice, but it wasn’t quiet, busy Highway 547 was below the trail and I heard the constant din of traffic as I walked in the woodlands above the highway. . I only saw two other people on the 1 1/2 mile hike on the trail. I had originally planned to do this 3 mile loop trail, then hike to the botanical gardens, about 2 miles away.
However when I got to Hotel Bankov, a famous hotel which I will discuss later , and the turn around point on the hike,
I decided to explore the area instead of hiking back. I soon found this map with a whole series of trails in the area. I later learned the map described the city of Kosice’s forests and surroundings with the many hiking trails in the area. It seems the city of Kosice owns extensive tracts of lands in the surrounding hills.
There was information about the historic trails and roads that passed through the area,
and there were many nice campsites nearby. Many were occupied by folks enjoying the woodlands so close to the city. I would love to camp here someday.
Looking at the trail map I saw a small lake which I decided to check out. I followed the trail which left the older forest
and I soon came to some open fields with views of the city of Kosice and the distant mountains below.
I was disappointed I couldn’t access the small lake, but I did see some more wildflowers in these open fields including Robert geraniums,
I walked back toward the trail map and camping areas and, on the way , found a trail that took me up the hills and into a deeper oak forest. It was quiet here . No traffic noise here and I only saw two hikers while walking on this trail for about three miles.
I loved these old woods. I again thought of my ancestors and them enjoying these beautiful forest. In these woods I heard a lot of bird song and here I saw a great tit,
and a pretty wood warbler. It had a beautiful song. Here is a link to a gallery with more photographs of the the birds I saw on my hike. Europe Day Eight. Slovakia, Kosice hills hike birds June 7 2022.
I followed the trail up the mountain and into a mixed oak, pine forest. It was a peaceful feeling walking in these woods.
Here I saw my first Slovakian mushrooms. I wasn’t familiar with the species but my driver, Marek and I discussed the many edible species of mushrooms that grow in these mountains. I am a passionate mushroom hunter and gather over 70 wild species in the woods of my native Pennsylvania. It is in my Polish, Ukrainian and Slovakia genes.
I also found this delicate orchid blooming in the dense woodlands. I love finding this beautiful flowers.
I came upon this cool old cabin that looks like it was used as a campsite. I thought of the folks who many have stayed here over the years.
The trail soon came to a wider road that may have been use for mining or lumbering in the distant past. I followed it for a while, as it made it’s way through the deep forest, and, using my All Trail map started making my way back to the camping area near the Bankov Hotel.
There were more wildflowers growing along the roadway, including field scabious,
many wild elderberry flowers. I was told they are sought after by the local folks for jellies and jams just as they are in my native Pennsylvania.
I also saw these familiar black locust flowers. The black locust is an invasive species here. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of the wildflowers I saw on my hike. Europe Day Eight: Slovakia Kosice hike flowers June 7 2022.
I followed the road/trail down the hill I had climbed. It would have led me back to the camping area.
However, I noticed a cross on one of the trails on my iPhone map and decided to hike toward it. After following a lot of side trails I eventually came to the spot marked with a cross and discovered it was the site of an old Shrine on an old mountain road visited by local pilgrims . It was a shrine to St. Jan Nepomucky
The original wooden Shrine was replaced with this concrete one and is still visited by local pilgrims. I wondered if my great grandparents may have visited the Shrine.
I had now walked about 6 miles and decided to follow the road back to the quaint and historic Bankov Hotel,
It was near noon and I changed my plans. I decided to eat at the hotel and then take a taxi back to my hotel. It was a great decision.
I loved this little hotel. The host and waitress were pleasant and accommodating. The hotel and it’s furnishings were beautiful,
I was dressed in my hiking cloths and they told me this would be no problem. I had a goat cheese spread on toast as an appetizer. It was delicious.
I next had another dish of the national dish , halusky. It was the best I had on my visit to Slovakia.
And the waiter convinced me to try the famous Lujza cake, made with the same recipe used by the matron of the hotel over a hundred years ago. It was delicious too.
I was very full when I left this charming hotel, I would love to return and spend a few days here.
After my delicious and filling lunch I had a taxi called for my ride back to me hotel in Kosice . It was a great walk in the woodlands of my ancestors. Here is a link to a gallery with more photos from my hike Europe Day Eight. Slovakia Kosice hills hike June 7 2022.
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” – Henry David Thoreau