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A city break to Kosice, Slovakia

Just before Christmas I decided that I wanted to treat Tom and I to a few days away in January to give us something to look forward to and get us through the post-festive-period depression.  I initially wanted to take us to Iceland to do a Northern Lights tour but as it was intended to be a little bonus Christmas present I thought that £600 (the cheapest I could find for both of us) was pushing the budget too far.  In the end I found a few good deals on Secret Escapes, and after a bit of research, plumped for Kosice in Slovakia.  I'd wanted to visit Slovakia for some time and had heard that it was a relatively cheap place to visit with lots of good food.  The last thing I wanted to do was treat us to a little break where we ended up then having to spend loads of money just to eat and get around (*looks sideways at Copenhagen*) so I thought this sounded like a great deal, especially as the package included a room upgrade, breakfast and a three course meal every night at the hotel and entrance to the hotel spa.  I made a little printout with a photo of the hotel and what was included in the package and put it in Tom's Christmas card which I gave to him last, at my parents' house on Boxing Day.  His face was a picture when he opened it as he thought he didn't have any more presents so it was really nice to see him so excited.

We jetted out on the 15th from London Luton via Wizz Air which was relatively easy and we arrived in Kosice about half five in the evening.  The taxi ride took us through the city and up some dark and winding roads out into the middle of the forest where our hotel was.  It was quite a magical location.  We were given glasses of champagne on arrival and shown to our room, which was wonderful, a huge suite with a window overlooking the forest and curtains that pulled across the windows and over the bed like a canopy.

We went down for our three course meal not long after arriving.  I am a bit of a cheese-aholic and couldn't help but choose their 'fried cheese and chips', which came out like two whole blocks of cheddar encased in breadcrumbs! It was amazing but I must admit I could only finish one (although I saved a bit of room for cheesecake for dessert!)

The next day we went into the city to explore.  I love the excitement of exploring an unknown city; ambling up alleyways not knowing what's at the end, reading maps, following your noses to find a lunch-spot... We made like proper tourists and went into the tourist information for a map and a guide as to what to see.  It's a really interesting city, with industrial style buildings interspersed with beautiful architecture, churches and palaces.

I have always really enjoyed 'interesting' looking buildings - graffiti, peeling paint, interesting posters and advertisements, textures and colours.  I put my photos up on Facebook and someone commented that Kosice looked like a bit of a 'hole' but I promise it's not! There are lots of beautiful buildings and tourist spots, I've just always preferred capturing slightly different things than your typical postcard/chocolate box type shots.

Kosice, Slovakia 

The main street (Hlavá) had lots of beautiful buildings in different colours and shapes and sizes.  The tram lines run down the middle of the street.

Hlavna St Michael Chapel Kosice, Slovakia 

Kosice was named the 2013 European city of culture and a lot of effort has been spent in promoting art and culture in the city, with some interesting murals and art installations.

Graffiti 

We visited the 'Kunsthalle', previously an indoor pool but has now been transformed into an exhibition centre.  When we visited there was an exhibition of British art in there on loan from the British Arts Council, which was interesting to look around (with some slightly odd 'modern art' videos that Tom and I couldn't really understand the meaning of!)

KunsthalleKosice, Slovakia  

After lots of exploring it was time for lunch.  After trying a few restaurants that we'd seen in the tourist guide and finding them to be closed (January seemed to be out of season with a lot of restaurants and shops looking closed or empty), we followed our noses to a pizza restaurant up a deserted alleyway.  We then followed them down some stairs and through some doors to a strange restaurant with pumping dance music and CSI on the TVs.  We managed to do enough broken Slovak and gesturing to get an English translated menu and we both ordered pizzas... which, when they arrived were huge.  I think the photos belie quite how huge these pizzas were.  Mine had proscuitto ham, olives, onion, mountains of cheese, cherry tomatoes and blue cheese on it.  I honestly think it's the best thing I've ever eaten.

Pizza Pizza 

I had two glasses of wine and Tom had two beers (tall beers in giant glasses I might add!)  The bill came to €17, about £15.  With full bellies we then did a little more exploring before heading back to the hotel.  This was the view from our hotel window as we had a little post-pizza snooze and read our books.

Hotel Bankov 

We went down to dinner about 7pm, having booked our complimentary massages for 7.45.  After the giant pizza, another two-courses and a glass of wine however we decided to cancel the massages as, after eating more food than I usually eat in two or three days, being pummeled within an inch of my life did not sound appealing.

The next day we went back into the city to visit the things we'd missed the day before.  We went into the cathedral, which was beautiful.

St Elisabeth Cathedral

And I took some more photos of interesting doorways and buildings...

Kosice, Slovakia Kosice, Slovakia 

It was so cold that we decided to make a trip into Aida, a patisserie on the main street, to warm up mid-morning.  I gave Tom a €10 note to get us tea, coffee and pastries and it was €3! I had a delicious green tea and a miscellanous slice of cream, custard and chocolate that was utterly delicious (and probably about 90p!)

Cake at Aida Patisserie Aida patisserie 

We then went to Miklus Prison, a tour of the executioner's house and the prison in Kosice that was in use until the early 20th Century.  We were the only ones in there (even the ticket office was offsite) so exploring the dungeons, torture chambers and executioner's house was a little creepy! 

Old jail tour 

After that we went into a nearby restaurant for lunch.  I had a traditional Slovakian meal - Bryndzové Halusky, which is potato dumplings (a little like gnocchi) in a sheep's cheese sauce with crispy bacon.  It was amazing, but very filling!

After more of an explore we headed back to the airports to get our flights.  I think I returned about a stone heavier after all of the food that we ate but it was very worth it! I would massively recommend a trip to Slovakia for anyone looking for a mini-break, Wizz Air fly there from London Luton from €29.99 so you can get package deals relatively cheaply.  I'm hoping that although we're saving for the wedding that we'll be able to do a bit more travelling this year, we're hoping to be able to book a little USA trip for September so I'm sure I'll be excitedly sharing any developments in that area over the next few days!

Have you been to Slovakia or other countries in Eastern Europe? Where else would you recommend visiting? I've bought a Lonely Planet 'Europe on a Shoestring' book and I can't wait to tick some more countries off the list! 

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34 comments

  1. Looks like you both had a wonderful time! I love the photos of you with your massive pizzas - made me chuckle! It definitely does sound very affordable there!
    Where abouts in the US are you hoping to go? I'd love to go back to New York - had hoped to maybe this year, but my boyfriend has just bought a house(!) so I think we may end up just doing a little break away in the UK!
    xx

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    1. We're hoping to do a Trek America tour on the West coast of the USA, just need to see if we can save enough pennies! I'd love to go to New York again too. The UK has some absolutely beautiful places so I'm sure you'll find somewhere lovely to visit :) xo

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  2. Great photographs, looks amazing! x

    http://lornaswishingwell.blogspot.co.uk/

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  3. Your photos are absolutely stunning! :D And it looks like you had a wonderful time as well! :D

    www.amiciarai.com

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  4. This looks like my sort of trip! And those pizzas look ridiculously good. I interrailed around a bit of Eastern Europe...went to Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia...accidentally ended up in Slovenia for a couple of hours. It's a really interesting part of the world and I would love to go back. Perhaps Slovakia is next on the list :) xxx

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  5. Looks fab! Me and the hubby are gagging to travel more. This seems pretty reasonable, somewhere I'm definitely going to look into going to!!

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  6. Where are you hoping to visit in the US? I'm a few yours from New York City and we took our children for a day last summer. We enjoyed it very much. I don't travel much - air fare is too expensive here. I have managed to visit the Continental 48 States so maybe someday I can add in Hawaii and Alaska even if I'm not a world traveler. It fascinates me that you can visit an other country so economically although I would have to look up what you spent to understand it as compared to my American dollar.

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    1. We are hoping to do a Trek America tour on the Western coast; San Francisco, LA, Yosemite, Grand Canyon etc. It's quite a full on trip in a short time but should be wonderful! I'd love to go to Hawaii and so would my keen surfer boyfriend! The pizzas, wine and beer would be about $22, I'm sure you could get that in the US but in England you'd be looking at more like abour £40, about $65.xx

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  7. This is really interested, I've never thought to explore cities like this, heading more towards ticking Amsterdam and Barcelona off my list!

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    1. Amsterdam is wonderful, I absolutely loved visiting there, I've been to Barcelona but a long time ago. I love little trips away, so much fun exploring new cities! xo

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  8. Interesting looking buildings are my favourite type of building too! Especially big, old, degrading buildings. They are so fascinating, I could look at them for hours!

    The pictures of you and Tom are so cute! You look awfully chuffed with your food. I love that there are just five tomatoes just plonked on your pizza! I absolutely love cherry tomatoes, mmm. x

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    1. Haha well we REALLY like pizza! :) I love interesting looking buildings too, I can't help but want to photograph them, and interesting doorways. Maybe my holiday photos aren't conventional but I hate coming home with all the classic 'tourist' photos, I like to look out things that are a bit different :) xo

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  9. Ah your photos are amazing! Look how excited you are about that pizza haha!
    x

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  10. Wow, this looks amazing... I've never heard of it before but I definitely want to check it out. Those pizzas look epic!

    Liz xx

    Distract Me Now Please

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  11. This looks AMAZING. I am a massive fan of eastern europe and I can't wait to get my hands on Slovakia! Which hotel did you stay at? would be interested to have a nose :P

    Thanks for Sharing
    Grace
    x
    theartofwandering.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Hi Grace,
      I am positive it was hotel Bankov. If you have any questions about Košice, feel free to ask me, preferably via twitter (@MatkovskaZuzana). Košice is my hometown, so I may be able to give you some advice how to get the most of your visit here.

      Beste regards
      Zuzana

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    2. Thanks Zuzana, you are right, it was Hotel Bankov. I got the deal on Secret Escapes but there are lots of good deals on Expedia too for flights and hotels xx

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  12. Wow these pictures look amazing!

    http://chelsealeighbeauty.blogspot.ca/

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  13. Looks fab!Vilnius in Lithuania is pretty cool. I also loved Llubijana in Slovenia. It's similar to Italy but cheaper and is beautiful!!

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  14. Hello Rosie!
    I found your blog by accident and it was a real pleasure to read it.
    Thank you for all lovely things you said about our city. If you ever consider comming to Košice again, feel free to contact me. Since you have a thing for unusual athmisferic places (judging by some of the photos), it would be a pleasure to show the rest of the city and a nightlife of an artistic community.

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  16. beautiful pictures. the city looks like an interesting place to visit.

    xoxo, Oleah
    travel-simply.blogspot.com

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  17. I'm really big on going 'unusual' places on holiday but haven't managed to tick Slovakia off my list. I'm hoping, since my cousin is engaged to someone from Latvia, that I might have a reason to go to the Baltic states in the next few years!

    Morag x
    moadore.blogspot.com

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  18. What a great little trip! I really need to find a good deal and book somewhere, I bet it lifted your moods so much :)

    Sophie
    http://what-sophie-said.blogspot.co.uk/
    xxx

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  19. Your photos as always, look amazing. I like that you shy away from the "picture postcard perfection" route. I have never thought of going to Slovakia, tbh.

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  20. Wow fantastic photos and sounds like an absolute dream!! :D I've never been to Slovakia and tbh it's not somewhere I'd ever really even considered but it's definitely on the list now! I'm desperate to get a little trip in this year, it's been so long since I've been able to afford a holiday!
    Raffles Bizarre Blog

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  21. Sounds like you had a great time, that pizza looks so HUGE! x

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  22. This looks like a lovely city! I have a few friends in Kosice actually haha :) xx

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  23. Wow this looks amazing, not a place I would have thought of visiting before :)

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  24. I've been to Bratislava last summer and I'm heading back to Slovakia again this year, as a starting point for travelling through Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. I was so interested to read your views on Kosice, as I loved Slovakia! At the other end of the country, it's not a place for this year but it's definitely on my list now! Thanks!

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  25. i would recommend budapest...beautiful, cheap and you can spend a day in the thermal baths! perfect!

    www.capturingingthewanderlust.blogspot.co.uk

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  26. I love the photo of you and that pizza - you look so happy!! Haha! Looks like a cool place! Glad you had a good break xx

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Thank you in advance for your lovely comments, they mean the world to me! If you have a question or want to get in touch, tweet me at @rosieoutlook.