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After the disappointment of AquaCity in Poprad, we decided to go for a do-over in Piestany, where they was a entire island full of spas—appropriately named “Spa Island”.
As soon as we arrived we knew we were going to have an intense relaxation experience given that people from all over the world (60% of the people who visit Spa island are foreigners) come all the way to Slovakia to get treatment for all sorts of ailments—like rheumatic arthritis, muscle injuries, and overall stress relief.
The treatments are so successful and world renown that their symbol for Spa island is this:
So we crossed the bridge into Spa island, went to the Irma Spa and asked for the “mud bath” treatment, which is not only supposed to release tension, it’s supposed to also get rid of dead skin and make your whole body feel completely smooth like a baby’s butt.
We got a 1 hour package and went our separate ways into the change room (men and women are separated in Slovakian spas). There were 5 of us women in the group, and we were given lockers to put our clothes in and a massive sheet-sized cloth to wrap ourselves.
First up was the thermal water, naturally steaming at 67-69 °C. I floated happily for 15 minutes, staring at the domed art deco ceiling.
After 15 mins, the attendant, a stocky smiling Slovakian woman, told us it was time to move onto the mud spa.
I followed the other women carefully, while holding onto a railing, taking the stairs down into what looked like another thermal pool, but this time the bottom was completely covered with mud. The attendant demonstrated reaching down, cupping a handful of mud and rubbing it over her face, neck, and arms, and we followed suit, being careful to avoid our eyes.
At first it felt a bit awkward to be wading around in slippery mud, but I soon got the hang of it and started to rubbing the stuff all over myself, feeling like a kid.
Once I was properly covered in mud, I floated around a bit, and after 20 mins, the attendant told us it was time for my wrap.
So I got out (carefully) and rinsed off in the hot showers right outside the domed mud spa.
After that I was directed to a room with massage beds separated by dividers. I lied down, closed my eyes, and it wasn’t long before someone showed up and wrapped me up like a burrito.
Feeling sleepy and warm, I quickly drifted off and didn’t wake up until an attendant gently tapped me and told me it was time to have the last shower and get dressed.
I met up with Wanderer outside and he told me he had an equally relaxing experience.
I left the Irma Spa feeling like a million bucks, even though I’d only spent 15 Euros for the whole experience.
After we left Piestany, we took a train to Bratislava, about an hour away—where I ended up finding the nicest McDonald’s I’d ever been in. Now, our general rule when travelling is to avoid restaurants from back home, and try the local food, but I was so thirsty for a smoothie, McDonalds was the only one that had remotely what I wanted.
This is what we ended up getting, and to this day, I haven’t been able to find another McDonald’s quite like it.
After I was sufficiently hydrated, we joined a walking tour, where we found out that Bratislava was the setting of the 2006 horror movie Hostel, which had the effect of dropping tourism by 70%. Yikes! Despite the fact that it was depicted as rundown and dangerous, the actual city was far from it. I mean, clearly it’s a beautiful city is Hans Christian Anderson ended up calling it “a fairy tale”. But our tour guide told us that the city council tried to get the director of Hostel to come to the city for free so they could prove his impression of Bratislava wrong, but maybe he was worried that he was going to get murdered or something because to this day, he refuses to go.
Which is clearly his loss, because walking around the city, we saw beautiful fountains, historic buildings, and even a massive castle:
There was a church that looks like a giant blue wedding cake or a smurf’s house. The guide said the church was so popular for weddings it’s usually booked out 3 years in advance!
There was also Tatra tea—which is as opposite from tea as you could possible get. Don’t let the shiny, pretty bottle fool you as this stuff is practically lethal at 72% alcohol!
We also found the Slovakians have a great sense of humour when we discovered this quirky little statue sticking out of a sewer grate in the old city. The story behind it is that this is “Cumil”—which translates to “Watcher” , depicting a sewer worker from the communist era watching people pass by. Some say that he’s there to peak under women’s skirts and that’s why there’s a sign above that says “watch out for creepers underfoot”.
Ha, jokes on him! I’m retired so I barely wear pants most of the time, never mind a skirt.
Overall, we had a great time in Slovakia, and after leaving Spa island, the luxurious feeling of relaxation stuck with me for a long time afterwards.
Here’s how much we spent in Piestany and Bratislava:
|Category||Cost in USD/couple||Cost in CAD/couple||Notes|
|Accommodations:||$39 USD/night||$49 CAD/night|
|Food:||$21 USD/day||$26 CAD/day ($15/day for eating out, $11/day for groceries)||Food was extremely inexpensive in Slovakia, and the mcCafe's was shockingly good!|
|Transportation:||$8.70 USD/day||$11 CAD/day|
|Entertainment:||$14 USD/day||$18 CAD/day||We spent 15 Euros for the mud spa treatments, 8 Euros each in tips for the Bratislava tour, and 8 Euros each for entrance to the castle. Not sure the castle is really that worth it since I've been better castles in Europe but it was still nice to look around.|
|Total:||$83 USD/couple/day||$104 CAD/couple/day||Slovakia was slightly more expensive than Poland but we enjoyed the spa experience in Piestany and the walk tour in Bratislava. Definitely worth a look if you're going to Poland anyway, since they are neighbouring countries.|
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