Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A bit more on my time in Slovakia

It turns out that one of my tasks here will be writing about the experiences offered by our company. I was asked to think of a little something about the couple of days we spent in Slovakia two weeks ago. I hope the piece serves its purpose. Would you like to travel with us after reading something like this?

Who ever knew that such a small country could be so full of life and offer such unique experiences.. A nation of less than one forth of Mumbai’s population has created numerous opportunities for enjoyment and royal treatment.
Stubborn that I am, I arrived in Bratislava not expecting too much, although the Elan team had been informing me of the luxury that awaited. The moment I stepped into the hotel, I was in a different world. The first word that comes to mind is.. Verona! Every time I was in the lobby, I found myself expecting one Juliet Capulet to sneak a peek at me from above and to see her beloved Romeo rush in from the outside. Simply amazing. Also, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone marvel at a soup the way my friend did in the hotel’s restaurant. His taste buds where satisfied to such an extent, he literally wanted to go into the kitchen and hug the chef!
It got even more magical when one early afternoon I was taken to a petite island, a short drive away from  the capital. I had not foreseen how unique the trip was going to be– a small piece of land was filled with numerous spa resorts and hotels! On my way to the main courtyard I passed a little water drinking spot and it was no normal water, but some 60 degrees Celsius spring water that is said to heal your body, if drank regularly. If it is true, I cannot tell you. But the atmosphere of that place itself sure heals your soul. Imagine one of those quiet, friendly little towns that you must have seen in at least one of the Christmas holiday period ‘feel good about the world’ American movies. The difference being that the beautiful houses around me where not lived in, but they are hotels, where one gets pampered with spa treatments and hot springs baths. I happened to be in Slovakia in December and all was white with snow. There’s a fountain in the middle of the courtyard and I found myself joining a small crowd gathered around it to listen to a choir of traditionally dressed girls and women, beautifully singing Slovak carols. So there I was, standing in the middle of a river, surrounded by local families – parents holding hands, children playing in the snow, listening to a language I couldn’t understand but which filled me with such peacefulness, I honestly didn’t feel the need for any spa treatments anymore. And then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, believe it or not, it started snowing! I was absolutely enchanted. With that fairytale feeling I entered one of the hot springs resorts and chose to get a mud bath. I prepared and was led to the first of two pools I would be entering that day. I spent 10 minutes in the 38 degrees water and was taken to a 40 degrees one. I didn’t quite know what to expect, as I’d never had a mud bath before. The moment you step into the pool, you feel the softness of mud under your toes. What a funny feeling! I sat there for about 15 minutes enjoying the smoothness of my skin wherever I’d left the mood dry. A member of the staff would come every couple of minutes to check if everything was fine, as it really is rather hot in there. After I went out, I was given a glass of cold water to cool myself down a bit and was led to the relaxation room, where I lay wrapped in a blanket and started getting rid of all the toxins in my system. Quite an evening, if I may say so!
Another great experience awaited just a couple of hours away and was most picturesque – I was driven to High Tatras, the Slovakian mountains, and what a drive that was! Imagine a curvy road leading you up and down the hills covered with trees and snow, in the light of lanterns.. The hotel we reached was beautifully decorated and very stylish. The lobby and the restaurant were nothing, though, when compared to the rooms I’ve seen. The Honeymoon suite? I’ve had my friends tell me they suddenly wanted to propose, just to have an excuse to take their wives there! Custom made furniture, carpets and lamps by Italian designers, and those stairs leading to the rooftop whirlpool.. My second favorite space in the property was definitely the spa area. The scent, the colors, the staff – everything to my taste. But what captivated me most, was the view stretched out in front of the eyes of anyone who comes here. There’s a glass wall outside of which you see a lake, behind which proudly stand the peaks of High Tatras. Outstanding!
After visiting the hotel, we set off to be amazed again, this time with a delicious salad in a restaurant inside a 16th century castle. Yes, you’ve heard me right – there’s a castle turned into a most amazing hotel, partially dating back to the 13th  century! The place breathes history. Its rooms and bathrooms are very spacious and decorated with antiques, so you might find yourself washing your hands above a 300 years old sink! The evening on the way back to Bratislava was yet another hot springs experience, this time in completely different, and unexpected, settings. We parked in front of a modestly looking building and what a surprise it was to discover that I was going to be enjoying spring water inside a cave!  A quarter of an hour inside is enough to make your head spin. Quite literally, at that :) Then it’s time to relax with soft classical music in the background, to be later treated to a massage. I did not feel like leaving this place.. But Bratislava’s nightlife was calling, and I readily obliged. And let me tell you that The Club for sure is THE Club for having fun!


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