As soon as I left the valley, taking the turn-off for Vlkolínec, I felt closer to nature, even though I was still in my car. The road was narrow, I did not see anyone around, and I was surrounded by tree-covered mountains and small rivers. Further ahead, the narrow road was steeper, and there were people now: hikers, cyclists, and the odd car cautiously making its way down. I hardly had an opportunity to look up, and it was only when I was on the last stretch of road, that I saw my destination for the first time. I parked at a small space, and started walking towards the village I had so looked forward to see. Right at the entrance, there was a girl selling honey from the village, which was very tempting - but I anticipated some serious walking and realized carrying the honey with me would not be practical. First, I came across wooden sculptures in a pretty field full of flowers; from there, I walked straight into the main street of Vlkolínec.
It was easy to spot the wooden houses for which the village is famous: there are hardly any other structures. A typical Vlkolínec house is made of sturdy logs, that are often painted in pastel colours. I also saw houses that had heavy, dark logs, with a bright red window frame. Yellow houses with red flowers in the window pane. The bright weather, combined with the joyful atmosphere radiating from the houses, make me feel light. I realized that the sun was still too high to take pictures of the houses, and I decided to go for a hike first. I wanted to have a view over the surrounding area, so it was logical to hike up the mountain behind Vlkolínec, and I was sweating my way up the steep trail without any views. I hiked directly to a small mountain pass, where I saw (and heard!) a flock of sheep - Slovakia is full of them, and sheep cheese is a crucial part of the traditional cuisine. The views of the valley in which Vlkolínec lies were splendid: mountains rising from below, all covered with trees and grass, making it look very alive. At one point, I left the trail leading back to the village, and hiked down through the trees and high grass to reach an open space from where Vlkolínec appeared in all its glory. The village, with its one-story wooden houses, blends in very well with its surroundings.
Walking through the village, I soon reached the other side - after all, the village consists of some fifty houses. I walked up a hill on the other side of Vlkolínec, passing a football field, and hiked up to the summit. When I turned around, I knew that I had found the perfect spot to watch. Just beneath me, I saw Vlkolínec lying in a bowl, dwarfed by the mountains behind it. All around me, I saw more mountains, and I thoroughly enjoyed the panorama. Back in the village, the light was much better for having a better look at the houses with their remarkable roofs that extend far beyond the wooden walls, which were almost completely lit by the sun now. The sunlight was falling beautifully on some of the houses, which now seemed even prettier than before. Even though it might give the impression of a museum because of the well-maintained condition of the houses, Vlkolínec is alive, and the houses are really in use. Signs on some houses begging people to respect the privacy of the inhabitants suggests that some of the visitors do not realize this. When I finally reached the end of the village again, it was late: the girl with the honey had unfortunately disappeared.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Vlkolínec (Slovakia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Vlkolínec.
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