Euro Trip Day # 28: Bratislava Revisited and Off to Rome

21st September 2014

I left Opatova with a plateful of breakfast and a lovely gift (Trencin castle picture in a wooden frame) from Pali’s family. Pali and his father drove me to Trencin train station. The train to Bratislava was to leave at 10:37.

It was half past 12 when I reached Bratislava. Lucia and Anicka were waiting for me. They both are Kate’s sisters and Kate is my good friend from Amsterdam. We had planned to spend the day together. From the train station we headed to Lucia’s apartment home. I dropped my luggage there and off we went to explore the city from their point of view.

We lunched at the famous Flagship restaurant.

At The Flagship restaurant with Anicka, Bratislava, Slovakia

At The Flagship restaurant with Anicka, Bratislava, Slovakia

Beer and food both were good. Post lunch, we saw some Iranian and Indian exhibitions in the market area. There was a 1 Euro thrift store. Every single thing there could be bought for 1 Euro. I was amazed. That was dirt cheap! While we were shopping there (obviously), it started raining. Actually rain forced us to stay more in the shop.

After spending couple of Euros on things we did not really need, it was then time to spend some Euros on a drink we needed the most in the charming afternoon – Coffee! (rain had stopped by then!) A new restaurant in one of the parks had good reviews and Lucia recommended that. The coffee there was good, especially with a brownie.

The Coffee tray!

The Coffee tray!

Anicka then returned to her home and Lucia came to the old town area with me. I bought some souvenirs, chocolate-nuts biscuits, a Slovak speciality. We talked a lot about Lucia’s recent trip to Pune (India), which happens to be my home-city. I shared my impression of Slovakia. Old town of Bratislava is full of curious sculptures including the following: This man was famous for wandering the streets of the city, elegant in morning suit and top hat. He would frequently doff his hat to the ladies he passed and offer them flowers or a song.

Hats Off, Bratislava, Slovakia

Hats Off, Bratislava, Slovakia

My flight to Rome was to leave at 9:30 PM. We had to hurry up a little bit: Going home, taking bags, coming back to bus stop for Airport. Lucia kindly came to see me off. And all this process was smooth (I did not have to figure out bus numbers and bus stops and terminals).

Bratislava Airport is small and beautiful. Flight took two hours and I was in Rome at 11:30 ish. I took a shuttle bus from Rome Ciampino Airport to Rome Termini station. The hostel that I had booked (M&J hostel) was literally 4 minutes walk away. The staff was very professional but not rude. The hostel room I booked had 6 beds and all of them were occupied by guys!

I made some rough plans of sight seeing and went to have much needed sleep. Slovakia days were well spent. I met everyone I planned to. I saw the things they wanted to show me. The affection and welcoming I received there touched me deep. As I said earlier, the people I knew from Slovakia made the feel of country hospitable.

Sweet Domsova  sisters, at Lucia's apartment, Bratislava, Slovakia

Sweet Domsova sisters, at Lucia’s apartment, Bratislava, Slovakia

(to be continued…)

Euro Trip Day # 27 : Castle of Trenčín and the Well of Love

20th September 2014

Zuzka and I left her house at noon (almost). She had a very short vacation for herself and still decided to spend entire day showing me around. I could not appreciate it then in words, but now when I write this (after coming back from a vacation at home), I do realize it.

We wanted to see the castle of Trenčín which is one thousand years old. On our way, we wanted to buy some refreshments. Most of the supermarkets were close. At last, we entered a restaurant near Trenčín station to eat Halusky: dumplings of batter, a delicious dish from Eastern Europe.

Halusky ! A yummy dish of Slovakia!

Halusky ! A yummy dish of Slovakia!

After taking care of our appetite, we marched towards Coffee-sheep, Zuzka’s one of the favourite coffee-shops in the town. I tried home-made ginger lemonade.

Coffee-Sheep, Trencin, Slovakia

Coffee-Sheep, Trencin, Slovakia

There was a torture room (museum) in the alley leading to the castle. A lady attendant there was pretty much uninterested in entertaining us. The room was not big but had a good collection of torturing tools and weapons.

Torture-bed!

Torture-bed!

Trenčín castle is up on the hill. It took us a while to reach the first gate which was built in 14th century. The castle itself had been referenced in 1067. It must have been built before!

Trencin castle!

Trencin castle!

We chose to have a (English) guided tour and waited for our turn. The guide was busy with the previous group.Instead of waiting, we visited other parts of castle which we could have seen on our own. Most notable of what we saw was The Well of Love!  The story of Omar, Fatima, and their depth of love symbolized by the well…

The Well of Love, Trencin castle, Slovakia

The Well of Love, Trencin castle, Slovakia

The legend goes like this : Zápoľský family was ruling the Trenčín castle at that time. A Turkish nobleman (“pasha”) Omar’s  love, a beautiful woman, Fatima was held in captivity at the castle by Stephen Zápoľský. To set her free, Omar promised to dig a well at the castle to make it really invincible. The story has it that Omar together with his 300 companions would spend three years trying to dig through the unyielding rock in search of the precious water. Finally, at the cost of the lives of almost all of his men, he was able to accomplish what he had promised. Omar could take his dear Fatima back home with him.

Locals with traditional wears in castle, Trencin, Slovakia

Locals with traditional wears in castle, Trencin, Slovakia

On the lawn, we saw some locals with traditional attires hanging out. I took some pictures with them. We went back to the main gate on time to start our guided tour.

This guide of ours was too good. She was filled with bubbly enthusiasm and had a cheerful manner. She was like a history teacher knowing ins and outs of the castle as if she spent her childhood in those very walls. The castle was big and beautiful. Our guide’s sincere commentary made our experience even more memorable.

Fortification of the Trencin castle as viewed from one of the towers.

Fortification of the Trencin castle as viewed from one of the towers.

History of the castle goes back to the age of the Roman empire testified by the inscription on the rock telling about the victory of the II. Roman legion at Laugaricio (the Latin name of Trenčín) in 179 AD. This rock was found below the castle in an archaeological excavation.

Rock with the inscription , dated 2nd century!

Rock with the inscription , dated 2nd century!

The tour guide had made our day. I was happy to have learnt so much about the castle. For dinner, we chose a local brewery. Beer tasting with pickled cheese dumplings was our dinner.

Trencin local brewery's beer tasting !

Trencin local brewery’s beer tasting !

Sadly I had to leave Trencin the same night, for Pali’s family was expecting me in Opatova. He came to receive me at the bus stop. We found his cousins Veronica, Karolina and her friends hanging out in a park. Good-bye words were exchanged.

I booked a hostel in Rome and went to bed thinking about the well of love and the ancient castle!

Goats in an observation tower, Trencin castle, Slovakia

Goats in an observation tower, Trencin castle, Slovakia

(to be continued…)