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HOCKEY AND HORSEBACK RIDING ARE AMONG THE SEASON'S HIGHLIGHTS

Trenčín has made a name for itself as a winter haven

Of Slovakia's cities, perhaps none rises to the occasion of winter better than Trenčín, the western Slovak town where 56,000 people make their home along the banks of the River Váh. Here, halfway between its origin in the High Tatras and its destination in the Danube, the sleepy Váh freezes over for three months months a year, inspiring countless children to lace on their skates.
Many of these local boys play ice hockey in their elementary schools, and every winter morning at 6 a.m., dozens of them can be found training at the city's hockey stadium in the northeastern district of Sihoť. Some of those continue on to play at Trenčín's sports secondary school.


Horseback riding in Trenčín.
Danka Hašková

Of Slovakia's cities, perhaps none rises to the occasion of winter better than Trenčín, the western Slovak town where 56,000 people make their home along the banks of the River Váh.

Here, halfway between its origin in the High Tatras and its destination in the Danube, the sleepy Váh freezes over for three months months a year, inspiring countless children to lace on their skates.

Many of these local boys play ice hockey in their elementary schools, and every winter morning at 6 a.m., dozens of them can be found training at the city's hockey stadium in the northeastern district of Sihoť. Some of those continue on to play at Trenčín's sports secondary school.

And the very best become members of Dukla Trenčín - perennially one of Slovakia's best professional teams, which developed the likes of Žigmund Pálfy and Róbert Švehla, who went on to star in North America's National Hockey League.

Romans stayed here

But the fame of the Trenčín's hockey players is fleeting indeed, compared to the historic figures important to the town's past. Moving southwest from the hockey stadium towards downtown is the renovated art nouveau Hotel Tatra, and over it Trenčín Castle. Through a window off a staircase heading to the hotel's second floor, a relief can be seen in the castle rock. The inscription in which Valerian Maximilianus and his 855 soldiers salute their emperors, is the oldest written evidence of the Romans' presence in Slovakia.

Christmas events

Trenčín's traditional Christmas festival starts in the town center on December 5. On that day, St. Nicholas will descend upon the Christmas tree on Mierové námestie. Mikuláš, as he is known in Slovak, will be bearing tickets for children to watch fairy-tale movies at the Hviezda Cinema. Then, every second evening beginning December 12, there will be Christmas carolling near the big tree. A highlight of the seasonal festivities will be a concert by the chamber orchestra of conductor Bohdan Varchal on December 19 in the 200-year-old Lutheran church. And of course, Trenčín has its seventh annual outdoor Christmas market with an array of folk music, traditional tree ornaments, ginger bread cookies, mead and hot wine, and presents for family and friends.

Horseback riding

One of the area's most exhilarating Christmas season activities is the December 26 horseback outing dubbed Štefan's Ride. Go to the Riding Club in Nozdrkovce (5 kilometers from central Trenčín). There, you can ride to the village of Soblahov 5 kilometers away and back, a trip that takes about six hours. The tradition dates back to the end of the World War II, when a young Soblahov man named Štefan drove the village's horses into the mountains in an effort to save them from the occupying German fascists.

The horses were saved from the fascists, but Štefan was found and killed by them. His memorial to this day is the annual horseback ride, which is open to anyone with experience in galloping.

For those interested in a less rigorous jaunt, or in riding on another day of the year, the Nozdrkovce Club has horses and skilled trainers available for hire for approximately 200 Sk an hour.


S&S Travel tips

Trenčín Information Service- Štúrovo námestie 10, tel: 0831/301-40. Mon-Fri 8:00-18:00, Sat 8:00-13:00.

GETTING THERE

From Bratislava, take Route E75 130 Km past Trnava, Pieštany, and Nové Mesto (NNE).
On the Bratislava-Žilina train route, an hour and a half from Bratislava.

LODGING

Hotel Tatra- Ul. Gen. Štefánika 2, 0831/506-111, 506-241. Classy art-nouveau hotel just off the main square below the castle. Double: 3,200 Sk.
Hotel Brezina- 0831/239-38

DINING

Bio Reštaurácia- Farská ul. 0831/314-01. < 10:00-18:00, Su-F. Fresh salads at the foot of the covered steps, with quality food and service.
Gastrocentrum- 0831/314-01. < 10:00-18:00, Su-F. A café, restaurant and billiards hall.
Inn 33 Club- Palackého 33, 0831/534-074. Rustic bar room plus restaurant. In either, dine on chicken and turkey. 10:00-23:00, M-Su.
Lemo Pizzeria- Hviezdoslavovo 2. 10:00-18:00, M-Su. Spaghetti and pizzas.
Plzenská Pivnica- Pasáž Zlatá Fatima. 10:00-22:00, M-Su. Slovak and Czech beer in an authentic beer cellar.
Malá galéria umenia- Farská 10, 0831/343-20.
Rozmarín- Rozmarinova ul. 6, 0831/537-589.
Reštaurácia Hotela Tatra- Mierové nám. 10:00-20:00, M-Su. Excellent wine, food, and service.
Club Lúč- Kniežaťa Pribinu 3, 0831/532-834.
Club Fatima- Matúšova 4,0831/347-13.
Kleopatra- Palackého 31, 0831/352-18.

IMPORTANT PLACES

Nozdrkovce Horseback Riding Club- 0831/580-293, 520-531.
The Castle- 0831/356-57. Daily 9:00-17:00.
The Trenčín Museum- Mierové nám. 46, 0831/355-89, 344-31. Tue-Sun 9:00-14:00.
M.A. Bazovský Gallery- Mierové nám. 7, 0831/ 340-67, 368-58. Tue-Sun 9:00-17:00.

Topic: Tourism and travel in Slovakia


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