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Jasna (Slovakia)

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      30.06.2009 23:48
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      Jasna is the largest and most popular ski resort in Slovakia. I have visited Jasna twice, once in 2006 and once in 2008. I have only been there for the skiing, and I am writing about it from this perspective. ~~Background~~ Jasná is a small village situated in central Slovakia, in the Low Tatras mountains.The Low Tatras are are a mountain range which extends more than 80 km west to east, and are located in their own national park. The village is very small and extremely pretty, nestling in the valley between the mountains and surrounded with pine trees. So far it is completely unspoilt. The centre of the village is the Hotel Grand - a four star hotel which has a swimming pool, a sports outlet, a very sophisticated bar, and a spa. There are no other shops or restaurants in the village, just a collection of hotels and a bar set up in a gazebo at the bottom of the main ski slope. Further up the mountain there are a couple of restaurants and bars - but I have only accessed these during the day while skiing, as they can only be reached by ski lift. ~~Getting there~~ I have always flown into Bratislava, caught the bus to Bratislava train station, and taken the train to Jasna. The train journey is long (4 hours), but there is a lovely little restaurant car on the train, where you can sit at a table with a lamp, and waiter service. They have a good selection of food which is cooked to order. There are also flights to Poprad, and the journey to Jasna is much shorter via this route. It is, however, considerably more expensive to fly to Poprad. ~~The Skiing~~ I have been skiing in Jasna twice, both times in February during the half term holiday. The resort itself is developing very quickly, and it had changed a lot in two years, with more modern ski lifts and many more bars on the slope. The skiing in Jasna is suitable for the novice and intermediate skier. There are few slopes to challenge the expert skier, but a new off-piste area has recently opened which is a bit more challenging. There is also a snow park for boarders and young enthusiastic skiers. There are 28 km of down-hill tracks with 1 brand new six-man chair lift, 3 four-man chair lifts, 1 two-man chair lift, and a very antiquated cabin cable car. The top chair lifts are frequently closed because of high winds. When the top lifts are open it is possible to access the slopes on the other side of the mountain - but this has not been possible when I have visited. There are adequate snow cannons on the slope to supplement the snow in warmer weather. These are often called into use, as the Tatras are a fairly low mountain range and do not get the reliable snow conditions of the higher mountains of Europe. The first time I visited Jasna it was very warm for February and the snow was very poor. The ski schools had developed in the years between my visits, from rather primitive tuition, to organised ski schools very similar to those found in the French Alps. Ski Hire had improved too - in 2008 a brand new, high tech ski hire shop had appeared at the bottom of the main ski slope, with very new equipment and an excellent computer booking system. I have always found Jasna to be very crowded, like all of the Slovakian ski resorts. The queues are very long and because there is not much of a network of runs up on the mountain, you often come back down to the bottom of the mountain to revisit the novice skiers and the huge queues. ~~The Nightlife~~ Do not expect a lively nightlife in Jasna! The most exciting event that we have found is a rather sad stripper that appears in the Grand Hotel every Thursday night. The Grand and a couple of other hotels and restaurants have nightclubs in the basement. I have not been there, but the younger member of our party have given them a go. They report that they are mainly deserted, but they stayed there for a late night drink anyway. Most visitors seem to eat in their hotels, but there is an option of eating in one of the other hotels if you feel the need for a change of scene. I have to say that the food is more or less the same in all of the hotel restaurants, so it is probably not worth the walk! Liptovsky Mikulas is the closest town to Jasna, and many visitors stay in Liptovsky and ski in Jasna, travelling up the mountain every day. There is more nightlife in Liptovsky, with bars and restaurants. ~~Other things to do around Jasna~~ The main attraction is Tatralandia Thermal Aqua Park, which is about 15 minutes drive from Jasna. You can get to Tatralandia for free on the skibus. If you have never experienced a thermal park before you must give this a go! It is perfectly organised and amazingly clean - British pools could learn a lot from the Slovaks! There a several thermal pools of differing temperatures, which are murky looking and smell rather volcanic, but are meant to have great health-giving properties. There are also heated outdoor pools, where local play volleyball and other games, surrounded by snow. Everything is bought via your customer wrist strap - and you can buy a meal, drink beer, and have access to your locker with the wrist strap. Your total bill is presented to you when you leave. ~~Conclusion~~ Jasna has always been a very cheap ski holiday, but is gradually becoming more expensive as the resort develops. The skiing is very pretty and has just enough to keep the experienced skier interested for a week, and Jasna itself is charming, although very quiet. I would recommend a visit before it becomes too commercialised.

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