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Adventure is out there

While legend has it that swallows are the messengers of spring, hot air balloons herald the beginning of summer in the Košice region. Every year in June, the skyline in Košice is packed with balloons piloted by teams from all across Europe.

(Source: Courtesy of Balonová Fiesta)

While legend has it that swallows are the messengers of spring, hot air balloons herald the beginning of summer in the Košice region. Every year in June, the skyline in Košice is packed with balloons piloted by teams from all across Europe.

“Everyone who owns a balloon can sign up,” said Zuzana Korchňáková, organiser of international festival Balloon Fiesta Košice. For the less adventurous or experienced, commercial (and professionally guided) balloon flights are offered all year round. It is a fitting way to take in some of the top highlights from the region like Spiš Castle, Košice’s historic city centre or the Tokaj wine region.

READY, SET, GO!

If hot air balloons are not quite the right speed – meaning they are too slow – fear not as the region offers a number of options for the extreme sports enthusiast. Just ask Michaela Čorbová, a 23-year-old student and avid skydiver who says jumping out of moving airplanes helps her “fight with stress and have new energy.” Visitors that aren’t too stressed about the idea of taking the plunge have several options in eastern Slovakia. Aspiring jumpers can go skydiving in Spišská Nová Ves, Prešov or, perhaps most beautifully, in the High Tatras.

Before going up in or jumping from the airplane, everyone has to go through a training course. Even the alternative tandem jump with a professional also requires a 30 minute short primer course. Jumpers fall from 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) up, eventually reaching a top speed of 200 kilometres (124 miles) per hour before their parachute opens mid-fall and they glide safely down to earth.

Speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour are also typical at several car races in the region, perhaps most notably the FIA European Hill Climb Championship at Dobšinský kopec (Dobšiná hill). The seven kilometre long race includes some 30 turns and draws auto racing fans every July for three days of high speed competition.

“Every one of us are pushing the limits of the cars and ourselves,” said Jaroslav Baránek, a car racer.

A great deal less speedy, but no less extreme, there is another option for automobile lovers in the region. Visitors can ride – and if they are lucky, even drive –
a military grade UAZ off road vehicle around Slovak countryside on the outskirts of the village of Svinica (20 km east of Košice).

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