Saturday 9th April
Temperature: 10 C
Weather : bit on the chilly side
I felt a trip out of Bratislava was needed before my homeward holiday, so with the help of my trusted Lonely Planet, I chose a town with a castle about 90 mins East of Bratislava: Trencin (pronounced Trencheen)
The weather was chillier than I’d hoped and the town wasn’t as vibrant as it was described, but the castle as always was impressive and a good day out of the capital was achieved.
The problem, or perhaps the fun, of trains in this part of the world is that you have to share your train compartment with 5 other passengers, who unless you have travelled with a group of friends, are likely to be strangers. Myself and my two companions were accompanied by 2 old men who I affectionately named Granddad 1 and Granddad 2 and a woman with earrings that were small scissors ( loved these!) and a can of beer ( loved this too!)
In Espein I would never have got on a train for a day out, the beach being my number one destino, without a beer to while away the journey. It seems it’s the done thing here too. As the train sloped out of the station Granddad 1 ( Gd1) opened his bag and produced 2 cans of beer whilst Granddad 2 ( Gd2) brought out 2 plastic shot glasses and a bottle of something potent.
They chatted, drank and paid us little attention until I pulled out my knitting (another thing I tend to do on trains here and there). They did a bit of a double take as I knitted away quite happily and appeared to be discussing this rare sight quite openly, to which I just smiled politely. Disaster struck as my cheap wool got tangled up and confused, which caught the Granddads’ attention. “Schiezer!” said Gd2. I agreed. As we began the task of unravelling it the Gds attempted conversation with me in German ( naturally, happens all the time.) My lack of response caused Gd2 to pour me a glass of the unknown substance and true to form I accepted, somewhat touched, somewhat embarrassed and with a “Naz dravie!” (cheers!) downed it. Fire descended down my throat and into my stomach as they both chuckled. “Good?” Asked Gd1 grinning, “ Ano, Velmi Dobre, Dakujem!” ( Yes, very good, thanks!) which of course bowled them over, but not enough to offer me another drink, thank god.
The rest of the journey was fuzzy and warm, arriving in Trencin high-spirited. The town itself is quaint, but of course closed. I find that on Saturdays in this country everything closes at 12.00 and can’t understand why they aren’t cashing in on tourism and staying open a bit longer. Finding a place to have lunch was a challenge in this “fun-loving university town” as everyone seemed to have gone home. But we sat on an empty terrace, with a Japanese family enjoying lunch next to us, admiring the castle that sits on a craggy rock towering over the town.
As we made our way up to the steep winding path to the castle, picking our way around broken wine and vodka bottles, I felt a sadness that comes over me when I realise repeatedly just how beautiful this country should be if only its residents respected it a little more.
A bit of castle bumf: Trencin was the northern-most camp in Eastern Europe as its castle guarded the south western gateway to Slovakia, where the Vah river valley begins to narrow between the White Carpathian mountains and the Starzov hills. It has beautiful views of the river plain, which I hope my photos illustrate, from the top of Mathias tower. You have to pay to take photos inside most castle in Slovakia, which I didn’t opt to do, as we only had time for the mini tour ( of course it closed early on Saturday!). Most of the castle was destroyed by a fire in 1790, but the original structure dates back from the 15th Century. I really would need to spend a lot more time in Slovakia to really enjoy all the castles and world heritage sights it has to offer. It’s a country with such a rich history of kings, queens, emperors, battles and revolutions, that they could really boost tourism if they advertised themselves a little better.
A stroll around the town after our castle trip didn’t offer much to do, although after much hunting Icecream was found and one of the things I LOVE about this time of year is that it’s 50 cents a scoop!
A happy day out!