Kosice, in eastern Slovakia, is an unassuming town in an unassuming country. With a population of just around 250,000, it's small and welcoming. It's also almost completely undiscovered by Americans says another former Peace Corps volunteer, Jordan McCarron, who visited three times between 2004 and 2005 while he lived in Eastern Europe. "I didn't see any other Americans, [except for] the ones I was traveling with. Americans should come for just that reason."
"Kosice is far enough east in Europe that you'll find many shops without an English-speaking clerk," adds McCarron. "This will make your stay in Kosice more of an adventure—you might have to get creative in communicating with people. I think it's refreshing to visit places not overrun by English signs and the English language. But, everyone is very friendly and polite and patient, so you'll get what you need."
So what does Kosice offer, besides the opportunity to use hand gestures? For starters, it has a compact city center paved with cobblestones, outdoor cafes, and restaurants. It's the perfect city for strolling. It's also ancient and filled with important architectural monuments. St. Elizabeth's Cathedral towers over them all. Built between 1378 and 1508, this structure is a gothic masterpiece and a definite must-see. Then again, you can't miss it, as it's the tallest building in the area.
Accommodations in Kosice tend to be small and locally run. Expect to pay between $25 and $70 per person for mid- to high-level properties, less for a budget hotel. For example, the popular budget hotel K2 charges only $15 per person per night.
Quality three-course meals at touristy restaurants in the center go for no more than $10 per person. The food is decidedly Eastern European, meaning meat and potatoes, but this region is also well known for its spicy paprika. For nightlife, a little searching will lead you to trendy underground lounges, funky pubs, and even wine bars. Tasty local brews and even killer Long Island iced teas can be had for as little as $1.
The easiest way to reach Kosice is by flying into Bratislava, which can run between $700 in the winter and $1,200 in the summer from New York, before taxes or fees. From there, it is possible to hire a car, or to travel by bus or train to Kosice. Local transportation is cheap and reliable, but the 250-mile journey from Bratislava takes five or more hours due to poorly maintained roads outside the city.
For more information visit Kosice.info.
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