These past few months for me meant kind of a hard-core race across Europe and some trips also across the globe with lots of visits to exciting places and people! I was on so many trips that I gave up trying to write about each of them because time in between was too short. Also, I need some space for reflection and “chewing” on what I have seen and experienced, heard and felt, before being able to write about it. But now I feel I want to share my stories – on time before Christmas. I like the idea of kind of closing down the year and starting anew in January!

In the case of the last trip of the year, the winter topic also matches well with the generic Christmas mood! Well.

Directly from Barcelona (ibtm with a great tmf India event and an exciting #simplythebest campaign for a selection of our client destinations) on the Thursday afternoon of the last day of the show, with a whole group of hosted buyers from all over the place to the airport and onward to Vienna. From Vienna with a bus to direction Bratislava (should you not yet know: the Slovakian capital is only 60 km away from Vienna) and then direction North-East to Low Tatra Mountains. As it is often in such packed situations, some additional small obstacle comes its way: heavy snowfalls. It truly felt like starting a big adventure! I loved it! On the last day of a tradeshow I am usually done with all my energy and just want to sit, eat, have a glass of wine and sleep. Instead: on the way in a hitherto unknown territory with a group of unfamiliar Polish MICE planners and my business partner Karishma from India. In a bus. With Snow and heavy wind gusts outside.

A stop at the Tri Studnicki Hotel (no, it has nothing to do with students, but with 3 thermal springs at the place) embraced us with a fireplace, an atmosphere of an American chalet in the mountains and cozy Christmas decoration – immediately all of us sinking in comfortable doze! Great dinner snacks, super local red wine, fun company. And only 10 more minutes to drive to the end of the valley where we had our first overnight. Bed! With snow storm outside! We all enjoyed it!

The breakfast on the next day was planned upon the Chopok mountain in the Rotunda restaurant, but due to the Blizzard, the cable car could not run. So we went to see Tatralandia on the way – a leisure park owned by –Tatry Mountain Resorts. There, the definite highlight was the “Hurricane Factory”, where most of the group tried out how the principle of free fall feels like! Some of us stayed outside to take pictures and videos  – I volunteered for this part 🙂 I tell you it was such fun to watch. They had such a good time to float, spin and go up and down (with a professional supervisor of course!) and it was really great to see that kind of enthusiasm and pride. So this activity offers great entertainment both for those doing it as well as for those watching!!

Next stop: the Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatra hotel in Strbske Pleso. Higher than the Low Tatra (as the name of the mountain range might suggest) and 1,5 meters of fresh snow! People on skis all over (also on the streets) and a heroic bus driver who got us up there safely and with just the right amount of acceleration to get around the curves but not fast enough to have to use the breaks … Those of you used to drive on a fresh layer of snow, will understand what I mean. We have mentioned the Kempinski hotel in some other texts (here are the links: bit.ly/2dch1oT and bit.ly/2e9WPkW), but with all the snow and Christmas decoration, it was just magic this time of the year!

We were invited for a dinner in the fine-dining Grand Restaurant, and at 10.15 were given the possibility of visiting the famous Zion spa which opens until 11.00. I volunteered for sitting in the bar a bit and the picture we saw from there a little later was hilarious: Our group in white bathrobes and slippers walking like a group of penguins through the lobby of the hotel – here is one of the pics for you!

Next day we took the cable car up to The ICE Temple (an enormous igloo with the ICE sculpture of a famous Gothic altar in the area) on top of the Hrebienok and enjoyed the beautiful and fresh winter air, for the quality of which the High Tatra area has been a famous place to treat respiratory problems for all the times!

After that trip we had a great typical Slovak lunch in the restaurant of the Grand Hotel Bellevue – which is the hotel with the largest meeting space in East Slovakia. In combination with the many outdoor options, the functionality and splendid view from the meeting space it offers a very good venue for secluded meetings with high attention to security; in this place everyone is safe, except he/she meets a bear or wolf! We later went to the small city of Poprad, only 20 minutes away from all the pleasures of the mountains and visited the Aquacity Poprad Resort. This is an impressive resort and fabulous place for both health treatments as well as water and sports experiences. It offers the Cryotherapy (the treatment using very low temperatures to cure all kinds of problems), a stadium, Hotel space with 3 and one with 4 stars. Many international sports teams use the place for training and relaxation in the 13 pools in and outdoor. Poprad has its own small airport which is mainly used by charter airlines from Europe.

The last episode for the famtrip was driving to Kosice then, which is only one and a half hours from Poprad and is the economic centre of East Slovakia. Staying in the Hotel Yasmin for the second time this year felt like coming home…. And the dinner in the American Steakhouse Montana, which just opened recently, confirmed our mutual agreement about a great famtrip together!

Thanks to my new friends Mateusz, Danuta (thanks for great company!), Radoslaw (I loved your interpretation of the WC Fitness!!) Michal, Mikolaj, Klara (our flying hero – making up for us backing out of the experience),  Piotr (thanks for our talks!) for building such a good team! Dear Robert and Linda from Slovak CVB for having us there, dear Karishma to bit the biter in sarcasm!! It was a great experience. Happy Christmas to all of you!

Johanna Fischer

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