About Clunegapyears

Travelling around Europe with James in our motorhome

Slow Road to Crete: Based in Brasov


A Long Driving Day


Rather than erect the 2 tents after a long driving day and break the journey, we decided to do a loooong driving day and get to our AirBnb in Brasov, Romania.  830km but 3 drivers.  we struck camp and set off10 mins ahead of schedule at 8.50 a.m, despite my having to completely repack the roof box so we could close it.  I’d done the Hungarian and Romanian road tolls online last night.  We stopped about 3.00 desperate to use the toilet, so had soup or omelette.  No Romanian Leis yet, but fortunately could pay the EUR11 for 3 dishes and 3 drinks on a card.  Going to like these prices!  Or so I thought, they were never to be matched until Bulgaria.  Roads pretty slow through Romania as no motorway … a very limited transport infrastructure.  

Tired and in the dark we struggled to find our apartment … I expertly navigated us to the bins … it was on a map the host had sent!  Thankfully it was ground floor for all the unloading.  And we pretty much unloaded everything, thankfully a large hall with cupboards to stash it all.  We even managed to dry out the tents over the next few days … the smaller we erected in the lounge, where K slept.  The big one went over a washing line I strung up outside.

Flat was fab … bath and shower.  Comfy bed.  Coffee machine.  And …. a washer / dryer.  And all for £40 per night.  we’ve been paying EUR30-35 for the 3 of us … so a no brainer really.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 42 26

Tent drying, but kept CO2 out!

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 42 25 3

Dirty laundry is comfy!

A Slow Day


J and I got up rather late … not sure what time K was up.  But she’d managed to have a cold shower (tap round the wrong way … must be perfect plumbing in Germany) … I had a long soak in a hot bath! 

We set off around the mountain to Brasov.  Actually more like up and over the base of the mountain next to us.  Must be a mountain and not a hill as it had beware of the bear signs and a cable car.  First stop was an ATM.  I took out 1500ROM … seems like such a lot, but roughly 5ROM to £1. So many notes … there is even a note for I ROM.  Then lunch … despite moving away from the main square, the soup was double the price of the roadside country caf of yesterday.  Not for the first time have locals told us they cannot afford to eat where the tourists do.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 39 03

View of Brasov from our FLAT (LOL) walk around the mountain. 

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 39 00

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 39 00 2

In holiday mode, so a mojito.

We wandered the old town.  5th largest in Romania.  Lots of history.  Attractive, but didn’t wow us.  Perhaps we are a bit architectured out.  German is widely spoken here. Saxons were brought in to run the area.  

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 38 58 2

The so called Black Church as it had been burnt at some point, hence the name.  Some lovely Ottoman carpets too … saw others in another church.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 38 59

They adopted Lutheran teachings and changed the Black Church layout to reflect.  Services are still held in German.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 38 40 2

Kerstin translated some of the German sayings … such as when your’e older you can look back with wisdom.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 42 34

The narrowest street was a disappointment … more like a London underpass … graffiti and urine!  Actually none of the latter, but ugly.  Graffiti allowed … but this ain’t art.  Bristol has a graffiti festival where art is created.  They missed a trick here.  

School went back today.  The youngsters looked smart in blazers as they queued calmly for cones of chips.  Only a few in MacDonalds.  And no litter, they put their rubbish in bins.  As if!!!!  We read that they take flowers in for their teachers at the start of term … we saw a number of high school children with bunches.  Can’t see that ever happening in city centre Bristol where I taught! 

Chance encounters often give a really warm feeling.  I spoke to a lady briefly by the wine.  Then she was by the beer.  Romanian, but lived and taught in Leeds for 30 odd years. She taught French and after years of reluctant learners moved from secondary to higher education.  


Not All-Bran


As we arrived in Bran, it tipped down … coffee and local honey cake (Yum).  We took turns to go into Bran Castle.  I walked CO2 round the other side of the castle and saw the old customs house, Bran chapel, the first hydro power station in Romania … the Queen had had it put in and it benefitted the whole village.  The castle did have some info boards on Dracula … Bram Stoker based his book on Bran Castle.  But what was particularly interesting was the information about the post 1900 royal family.  Queen Marie did it up around1910 and it had a homely feel … none of the room were large.  Her daughter Ilena lived here until 1945 when the royals were banished.  Both queens were skilled and talented.  Marie successfully negotiated a unified Romania after WW1 in 1925.  Ilena was a pilot, artist and finally a nun in the USA.  Strong ladies.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 42 19

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 41 01

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 42 22 2


PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 45 48 3

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 45 51 3

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 45 47 2

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 45 50 4

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 45 49 3

We set off for a short walk not too far away near Zarnesti.  The rains had stopped … just along a river, said I!  But to a viewpoint which should have been a clue to the ascent.  A bit of a steep climb up and the paths I’d selected for the down was missing or cordoned off.  So a slightly longer walk than planned.  But so worth it for the views.  This is what we came to Transylvania for … and it delivered.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 45 12

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 48 12 4

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 48 12 2

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 48 14

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 48 15

PHOTO 2022 09 22 19 48 14 3

PHOTO 2022 09 24 13 40 59

PHOTO 2022 09 24 13 40 59 3

 Rather than get her feet wet, the agility dog flew across this pipe.  Several times as we made her do it again so I could take a pic! 

PHOTO 2022 09 24 13 40 59 2

Slow Road to Crete: Under and On Top!

Ice Cave


Expecting to be aching after yesterday’s gorge ladders etc, we were amazed we both felt fine.  Just slightly heavy legs.  I think taking it slow and carefully, and all those chocolate stops helped!  We had planned an easy day, just in case.  But the sun came out.  Should we change our plan and get up to the High Tatras?  We’ve been waiting for a sunny day to get a cablecar / funicular up to walk, but didn’t want to spend the money if we were just going to be in the clouds.  We nearly did sway, but I said we weren’t prepared for the mountains … we hadn’t bought ingredients for a picnic etc … so no.  Mountains when ill prepared are not a good idea.

I’d been looking at Atlas Obscura again … an Ice Cave (also mentioned by the TIC chap who had suggested the gorge ladder walk.  A derelict iron works with a huge blast furnace and another cave of argonite formed into amazing shapes.  Fortunately, we read that the ice cave was by guided tour and there was one at 9.30, early enough for it to still be cool to leave CO2 in the car.  What we hadn’t realised was that there was 2km walk uphill to the entrance.  Kerstin strode on ahead and purchased tickets.  When J and I arrived, she was ‘discussing’ whether we would make it on time.  Just as well we, did, as the next tour was not until 11.00.

We have done lots of caves and generally don’t bother now.  But never an ICE CAVE.  I had not realised ice caves were a thing.  Apparently Dodsinka Ice Cave is one of the best to visit.  Spring water flows in, and then freezes.  During summer, some partially melts but then re-freezes in lower caverns.  Again, a Slovak only speaking tour, but as we hung back an English speaking guide held up the rear and was able to give us some more information.  Some years ago, locals used to ice skate in one cavern.  In the winter, bats move in, as it is warmer in the cave than outside.  Reckon, they must have to clear the bat poop before opening up to visitors.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 12 2

A toboggan slope?

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 12 3

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 12

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 13 2

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 13

Kerstin was on photo duty … we paid extra, so think K took about 100 pix!  She likes to get her money’s worth!! 

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 14 2

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 14 3

PHOTO 2022 09 22 16 16 14

The scant English info. 

The rest of the day did not go to plan.  We found the iron works, but stern looking guards told us to go away.  We think it was being worked on to turn it into a museum.  And we decided  against the 50 min extra drive to the aragonite cave … one cave a day (week, month, year?), is more than sufficient.  So we drove to a small lake we had seen on the drive down and had our picnic.  Then back to base camp via Decathlon (again).


The High Tatras – Extended


We extended our campsite stay for a further night a second time.  The weather was set fair and we were determined to get into the High Tatras mountains.  We were up and at ‘em early doors … with copious supplies of fodder and liquid.  We thought we would arrive nice and early at Vysoke Tatras, but so did everyone else.  Car parks full, so we parked on the road 1.5 km from the funicular.  An early indicator how popular (busy!) walking here is.  Return tickets purchased and we joined the throng in the funicular up the mountain side.  Yes, it was very busy, but the scenery was lovely.  We took it slow and a number of folk over took us.  One lady nearly had a serious accident as passed me … Kerstin was behind and saw the rock she trod on wobble … all I could see was windmill arms … so I instinctively grabbed one.   Didn’t even get a thank you!!!

I failed on navigation duty … missed a turn.  To be fair none of us had seen a path off.  Chatted to a lovely Czech couple who have a motorhome and get away as often as they can.  They recommended that we keep going up (down would have been harder on knees and we would have struggled descending over all the rocks and scree) to a cable car.  Then train from next town.  It was further than J has walked for a long time and when we reached the cable car, he was rewarded with a beer!  We bought tickets for the 3 of us and CO2 for the cable car and didn’t hang around as damp cold clouds were coming in.  What we hadn’t realised was that it was only cable car so far.  The next section was chair lift.  OMG, we’ve 2 dogs with us!  No problem, just lift them on.  So K and I grabbed a dog each and hung onto them tightly.  Only 2 people per chair so J followed with the back pack.  It’s obviously considered quite normal, as another dog was sat (with owners) in a chair going up.  Both CO2 quivered for a few mins once back on terra firma.  Another K9 adventure that we’d not planned.  Oops. We just caught a train to where the car was parked … so I attempted to buy train tickets online with the help of the lady sat next to me … managed to get one adult fare … all of EUR1 for a good 20 min trip.  

A great walk if busy.  If passing we would definitely stop around here again … and further east is supposed to be lovely.  But until this trip Slovakia had not really grabbed us.  There are only so many Austro Hungarian faded towns and castles one would want to visit.  Off to Romania tomorrow.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 45

 Managed to elbow a small child out of the way to get the view from the front of the funicular! 

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 44 3

Hard to get pix without other walkers.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 44 2

Lots of rocks to clamber over.  Sadly CO2 had to be on the lead … I did let O off a few times towards the end when everyone was already off the mountain!

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 43

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 43 2

Did they have porcelain up here???

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 42

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 42 2

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 41 2

Mist coming in.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 02 14

Restoring a property in the mountains … kitchen base layer delivery!

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 02 17

I had to strip a number of times as I’d expected it to be cold up in the hills … ended up just wearing my base layers, so effectively I was in my underwear!  

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 02 20 2


PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 02 21

Cable car – the easy bit.

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 02 18

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 02 23

Difficult to grab a pic unhanded whilst clinging onto a dog. 

PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 04 41


PHOTO 2022 09 22 17 02 13 2

Finally some Romania planning … all base layers on.  It was only 5C at 6.00 the other morning.  I’ve turned into a fair weather camper so we have booked an AirBnB in Brasov for 8 nights starting tomorrow!



Slow Road to Crete: Via Ferata Style


A Travelling and Shopping Day


So a leisurely start.  Owners had absconded and so had most the campers.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves so we spread all our stuff over their cafe terrace to dry, having cleaned mud off first!  Kerstin manage a swim in zipped off shorts!  She didn’t loose these!

We didn’t leave till nearly mid day and since Decathlon was on our route … Kerstin now has a new cosie, but will she get to use it?  I bought base layers and hats for James and I.  We have these, but in Crete … never thought we would experience 5C at 6.00 a.m. in August and super chilly, moist evenings!  This is our SUMMER holiday!  Also tried to find a new electric hob … one ring had a crack and now it had started shorting out.  Amazing it didn’t trip the switch in the Glamping site!  Oh silly me … what trip switch??  

PHOTO 2022 09 14 18 00 59

New base layer, fleece and hat.

Our first choice of campsite could only accommodate us for 2 nights as he was going for a rebuild of the facilities.  Was this a lucky escape?  How much in need of refurbishment were they?  So a few miles on we arrived at a HUGE site on the edge of the Paradise Park!!!  Ooh err Mrs!    The web site states it has room for 600 tents … festival sized perhaps.  Initially we were not over keen … large site with chalets and tokens required for showers etc.  But it had hot water for washing up and you never had to wait for the toilet or shower.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 31 3

We’d carefully left space in the middle of our pitch for the table and chairs … they only made it out once … far too cold!

Poddling over Chata Podlesok


My back etc have been playing up.  Sleeping on and air bed?  Possibly.  Lack of Pilates – more probably.  2 months worth of un-stretch!  Kerstin and I were up and at ‘em.  Morning dew so we threw down our pilates mats (dog bed and reformed tyre mats) on the road.  Until a flat bed went past us, then returned with a chap sat on the rear, hanging onto a skip … Bin day!  He held up 2 fingers, in a nice way (!), to indicate 2 more skips.  So we decamped to the less flat and slightly damp grass.  I then braved the shower … 1 token = 3 mins.  It was a generous 3 mins but I didn’t brave a hair wash. 

Lots of walking directly from the campsite.  A helpful chap at the tourist information enthusiastically gave us lots of info … in German.  Fortunately I had my personal translator on hand.  We set off for a castle / monastery … not sure which as we didn’t make it.  Decided to take the river route there.  Had been warned there were metal steps, but not quite what we were expecting.  After the vertical short section where I had to shove CO2 up, there then followed steps high over the river … proper via ferata style.  Our mountain goat Corrie shot across and 40 m around the bend.  To start the steps had a criss cross weave, barely OK for a game Oscar. Still a panic for me.   But then they were like parallel bits of wire … and  a chap coming the other way said the rest of the steps were like this. No good for Oscar.  In fact, he really should not have been up there at all.  He is not agile like Corrie.  J wasn’t happy either.  Not sure if I was more worried about O hurting himself or us trying to rescue him!   I knew this was one of those situations where I should have listened to me head … so an about turn and back to terra firma.  

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 23 01 6

 Ice cream for late brekkie on way up.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 30

This section was just fine!

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 22 59

CO2 were shoved up here.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 23 01 3

The solid (!) steps.  Would have been easier to swim.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 22 59 8

Yes, do come back!!!

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 23 01 2

Let’s all go back.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 30 9

Beer and lemonade machine back near the campsite!   We used it.  Beer was so good, apparently, K and J had two.

Then K and drove to Poprad for supplies … Mahoosive Tesco – even had sofas in stock.  Food for next few days.  Then after several stores, we found a single electric hob .. that’s fine.  Only EUR16 and I’ve a Remoska with me for stews etc.


Proper Via Ferata … ain’t it?


PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 36 8

CO2 veers patient waiting for J to arrive with breakfast!

Helpful chap at the tourist information had told K about the Sucha Bella gorge.  Ladder, one at 15m, and lots of metal steps.  Not one for CO2.  K wanted to do it.  No pressure on me … but there was … said I’d come too.  Can’t let the German grist beat the British!  J (Irish neutrality) nobly elected to stay at base camp for doggy day care.  But first, so J had a trip off site (and also Kerstin had been told a0 we may not have to pay if we did the gorge in the afternoon and b) it would be quieter).  We went to Levoca for a morning coffee.  Harassed by a beggar on arrival and all seemed pretty dead so didnt think we would stay long … but then it came to life and the sun came out.

PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 36 2

 The Cage of Shame, Levoca. Theives, murders, cheats and even gossips would be locked up on market day.  People would throw things at them … stocks were our village sport!  Apparently spittle was also thrown … thankfully K is just throwing leaves at J!

PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 36 3


PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 36 5

K and I climbed the 216 steps of the tower.  Could see that the large square buildings had courtyards, some covered over.  But would give light to the interior rooms.

PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 36 6

J and I did the church tour.  In Slovak so given an English basic transcript … didn’t have to pay for this one.  The ticket last came to practise her English … explained that the town was part of a Pilgrim route … Camino do Santiago.  All because a lady called Elizabeth had a vision.  She was pregnant so could just have been a baby kick?!  A new church was built on the hill  During Communism less pilgrims but resurrected since Covid.   Other interesting church facts … All the main alter figures are carved from on piece of Linden wood.  The alter is the largest in the former Hungarian empire and has no nails.  A local sculptor was famous and one of his figures of the Madonna was the dace on an Slovak currency note.  Until the reformation, both Protestant and Catholics shared the church.

Once back at base camp, K and I loaded food, drink and chocolate and set off.  And yes, not fee and it was not too busy.  It is a 9km round trip.  At the top of the gorge one can rent mountain bikes, but we were pleased we hadn’t as the track was mostly loose scree.

IMG 20220901 WA0017

Easy peasey.

IMG 20220901 WA0011

Initially I didn’t like the rotten looking planks, but got a bit braver, unless up high.  Kerstin skipped across!

IMG 20220901 WA0005

I walked over some!

IMG 20220901 WA0008

If I could avoid balancing across, I walked the river bed.

IMG 20220901 WA0010

Old and new ladders.

IMG 20220901 WA0013

Which way?

IMG 20220901 WA0014

IMG 20220901 WA0016

IMG 20220901 WA0015

Series of ladders, the highest at 15m.  Fine on these as always 3 points of contact.

PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 35 4

Kerstin heading up.

IMG 20220901 WA0009

PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 35 10

PHOTO 2022 09 14 18 00 19

PHOTO 2022 09 14 18 00 18 7

Lunch stop.  Followed by hocolate stops. 

PHOTO 2022 09 14 17 57 35 8

It was an altogether brilliant experience and I am so glad Kerstin suggested it.  




Slow Road to Crete: Banskas Banked

On the Move to Banksa Stiavnica


Took about and hour and half to strike camp and pack. Seems long with 3 people.  But J largely on CO2 duty and there are two tents and limited space to stash all our gear.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 05 4

Things never go in as well as the first time you pack them.  But we still had room for Kerstin, even with O on her lap!

Bit of a drive over to Banksa Bystrica … I’d rung to book and eventually they had returned my call.  Just as well, as later that evening the site was rammed.  It was a public holiday weekend.  It was billed as a Glamping site.  My arse.  Lovely British / Slovak couple who had owned it for 4 years.  Both teachers so this is what they did in the summer.  BUT no investment – at all.  One shower.  Only worked if no one flushed the toilet.  Toilets gradually rocked or lost their seat as our stay progressed.  Nothing to do with us … honest!  And one rusty steel trough with 3 taps all draining down the hill.  This was for washing self, clothes and dishes!  Thankfully only 3 nights and no desire to extend our stay!

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 32 3

Pitch had some sharp stones so I lay in the mud and wedged a rubber tile under.  Kerstin was determined to catch me on camera in the mud!

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 05 3

Kerstin and I wandered up to the small reservoir and had a few drinks whilst J napped.  So chilled up there, we collected J and had supper … lamb on noodles and cabbage … I was a bit unsure as I don’t like sauerkraut (it’s the vinegar), but eaten together it was delicious.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 05 2

The small lake / reservoir.  Kerstin swam a few times … preferable to the shower?

Banksa Stiavnica and Mine


I do like a good mine.  All mine, mine MINE!  And the attraction of this area was the silver and gold mine at Banksa Stiavnica.  It made the town one of the wealthiest in the Hungarian Empire in it’s hey day of 1770s.  I’d managed to book via email for the morning to join a Slovak tour.  But they emailed back that there was an English Tour at 1.00.  The mine was EUR12 pp and the English tour and additional EUR20 split by the number on the tour.  Another indicator that not many overseas tourists … we were 2 English, one German, one Slovak and 3 Hungarian with the daughter translating!

It was worth every penny.  Not some much for the mine, but for chatting to Emma our 17 year old guide.  A high school student boarding in the town, which apparently is dead out of season … students and old folk.  All her class mates plan to leave Slovakia for university and not to return. This was  confirmed by our campsite host … he thinks Covid may have slowed the brain drain from Slovakia. Unless you work for a global corporate, you cannot afford a house to rent or buy.  We may think there is a lack of doctors etc in the UK, but none here. At least a few 70 year olds who cannot retire as there is no one to replace them.  People do not have money for entrances … we observed crowds around the outside of castles etc but relatively few paying the entrance fees.  We tried to tip Emma … had to force a note on her …. nice lass.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 24 34 2

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 24 34

There was some film footage of the mine … Horses were force fed beer so they could be lowered down to work for weeks on end.  The humans didnt’ fare much better.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 32

After the mine, we had a second attempt to park in Banksa Stianvnica … had failed this morning.  Got the last space!  Did another App guided walking tour.  The town was much larger than we anticipated … but less than a third of the size compared to its heyday.  So many huge and attractive buildings, again in various states of shabbiness.  Actually i do like they they have not all been ‘renovated’ to sterility.

IMG 7261

IMG 7266

IMG 7268

Every town has some monument erected by rich and thankful plague survivors!

IMG 7272

Do love a good rooftop view.

IMG 7275


Bojnice Castle and Banksa Bystrica


Bojnice Castle – the most visited Slovak Castle.  Quite sure it doesn’t merit Best Castle Award.  National Trust property presentation takes some beating. Again, lots of folk outside but few paying to enter.  It was remodelled in the style of a Loire Chateau … Count Palfi seems to think a couple of Towers makes it French style!  He had inherited it with little money, but still managed to travel and collect items and ideas.  He rebuilt one side with the plan to open it to the public, but died before completion.  I guess his numerous relatives inherited or sold the contents as very little of his furniture remains.  Lacking information on the life and times of the Count and before … all a bit dry.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 04 5

Kerstin had a chance to be tour guide!

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 04 3

Do love a tiled fire.  They had opening at the back so the fire could be stoked by the servants from outside the room.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 04 2

Opulent decoration of the Turkish room.  The best room.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 03

Not many castle have their own caves underneath.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 02 3

As well as a tower.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 02 2

DRAMA!!!  Kerstin has lost her swimming cosie.  In fact, we reckon it was stolen!!!  She won’t be able to swim again in the lake!  Or anywhere.  Nearest Decathlon is Banksa Bystrica, so thence we headed.  Bugger – forgot is was a public holiday, so shut.  Oh well, since we are here, we will wander into the town.  This one made its wealth from copper mining.  Managed to get parked and followed the thud of the music.  National Uprising Celebration.  Decathlon may have been shut but the town was properly open.  Bustling.  The National Uprising was when all political parties came together to fight evict the German occupiers.  The uprising was swiftly crushed by German military efficiency, but the day is still celebrated.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 20 01

The National Uprising Museum.
PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 19 59 3

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 19 59 2

 Wreath laying.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 19 59

Couldn’t see the stage, so I watched the Slovak State Traditional Dance Company on the VTR.  Later in the evening it was opera.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 33 2

We started to watch the Uprising reenactment, until they set off the cannon.  I guess we should have known it would be noisy … boys and guns and all that.  Had to scarper pretty damn quick as CO2 quivering.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 32 5

The main square.

PHOTO 2022 09 11 13 21 32 4

A pre-dinner drink and then I fetched dog food from the car (we keep it here now so O cannot help himself!) so we could have a spontaneous supper in town.

Slow Road to Crete Bratislava and Around

Self Guided Bratislava


I AM the Tour Guide Extraordinaire!  Well with the help of Atlas Obscura and Maps.Me populated with bookmarks of what to see.  I dispensed with the umbrella or flag.  And I didn’t have to chase my tour group along or count heads.  There were only 2+2.  The +2 were on leads so had no choice but to follow.

I know it seems lazy to drive the 1.2 km to the bus stop from the campsite.  But we expected to be foot weary at the end of the day.  And that last km is always the killer.  Pay on bus.  CO2 half price.  Muzzled but actually forgot on return and no one blinked an eye.   All of EUR6 one way for an hour journey for the 5 of us.  I later googled what a Bristol to London day return is … £80 off-peak to £176 peak.  Kerstin was staggered.  It would have been crazy to drive.  And it was interesting watching the folk alight … various bus passes.  Some eligible for a discount.  Others no fee.  And we noticed the national genealogy traits of high cheek bones and pale skin.  Not that we are generalising, but we are!

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 51 4

Muzzle (unnecessary) and wedged in!

When we alighted, we were unimpressed.  Architecture is a thing and it seemed all very Communist.  Blocks.  However, the old town with its shabby chic Austro Hungarian buildings was lovely.  Like a different world.  Worth a day trip, but not a weekend.  Unless you want to scrutinise all the museums in detail?

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 51 3

First stop was the TV / Radio building.  Once voted one of the ugliest buildings in the world.  Being worked on and effectively sanitised.  Shame, as I liked the rawness of the rust.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 51

Great abseiling job.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 51 2

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50 8

Largest city fountain and Freedom Square built to remember freedom from Communism … surrounded by (some high rise) buildings from the Communist area.  The fountain is the Linden flower – symbol of the Slavs.  Largest open city space.  Uninspired.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50 7

An Atlas Obscura … Skater girls and a real post box.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50

Camil the sewer worker … on a kerb.  Apparently responsible for a few damaged cars.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50 5

The New Highway completely destroyed the old Jewish Quarter and the Fish Market.  I googled the UFO restaurant as a possibility for lunch but stupid money.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50 4

View of the Danube, the UFO and the surrounding tower blocks from the castle.  We didn’t go in … as rebuilt relatively recently and CO2 unwelcome.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50 3

Also from castle.  Check out those high rises … they are EVERYWHERE  And still being built.  Has no one read the erudite papers on high rises and mental health?

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50 2

Charmed by the shabby peeling Austro Hungarian architecture of the old town … but even MacD here.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 49 8

Town Hall … with …

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 49 7

… a Bonaparte cannot ball still lodged.  Still amazes me how far east he got.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 50 6

Not a cocktail but a fresh fruit lemonade … yum.  We developed a taste for these.  Raspberry, forest fruits, citrus and even lavender.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 49 6

We (I) have misplaced (lost) J’s beard trimmer so J went for a head and chin chop.  K and I used our time usefully.  3 for the price of 2!

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 49 5

The Blue Church.  Modern C19, but I liked.  Grammar school next door by same architect.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 49 4

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 42 56 2

Tour Guide – digital!


Nitra Nice But … Trnava Nice No But


Bit of a long drive to the furthest point Nitra and it was far too long a drive for what was there.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 42 56

Drove through several KM of what must be the largest central European logistics hub.  Impossible to get a pic of the scale of it.  We saw box pre fab new builds with flat roofs for the workers advertised for sale @ EUR starting 249 … property is NOT cheap here.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 49

K and J took a look at the small walled church and a few buildings (castle – small!).  I can’t remember what they said about it, so it can’t have been memorable … I didn’t go in.  We all had drinks and cake on a terrace listening the Radio Swiss Jazz … smooth easy listening which is now bookmarked on my radio app.  All agreed this was the best part of this town.

We moved onto Trvana.  I’d found an app.  Did I mentionI was tour guide extraordinaire!  A self guided walking tour.  Much improved once I realised I could play the text rather than read it.  Slightly dry humour in some comments, so good.  Trnava was the first Slovak free town and still is.  The Town Council had the foresight to build the walls wide to allow growing room, so they are still intact.  And interestingly made from brick as the right sort of soil was available locally … must have been a huge production as there are a huge number of bricks in this huge city wall. First and best university in Hungarian Empire.  Until Empress Marie Therese in about1770, had it moved by barge and road (lock stock and barrel – science labs, books etc) to Buda, her capital.  A new Uni was only established in the 1990s.  Now this was a town we could recommend for a weekend away. Very mellow with more shabby chic Austro Hungarian buildings, but sense that it was loved and lived in.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 39 49 8

Kertsin climbed the bell tower and suffered the bells ringing … J and I repaired for ice cream and a lemonade (for some of us!)

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 40 54 2

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 40 54 3

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 41 46 8


Castel Cerveny and Modra


The Red Castle (although nothing red about it!) is a major tourist attraction (isn’t everywhere in the advertising?). K went in on a timed ticket … had to join a 75 min Slovak tour but was given an English paper with limited info.  She had to pay and extra Euro for this. And we’ve been aware that non Slovak speaking tours are few and far between and you pay extra.  In fact, not many non Slovak folk touring / exploring at all.

Whilst K toured, J and I walked and I climbed the mini tower for a view of the courtyard.  The Fuggers and Palfri family owners used the underground caverns as stores for their traded goods and copper from their mines … protected largely from the Ottomans by the castle fortifications.

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 40 53 8

Lavender lemonade this time .. and cake!

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 40 53 7

Castle Cerveny courtyard

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 40 53 6

O with an unfeasible large stick.  Calf / shin basher.  

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 40 53 5

PHOTO 2022 09 10 21 40 53 4

Quite a complex.

And so onto Modra. Billed in the guide book as the home to the best red and white wines.  Hoped it was better than the supermarket Modra red I bought the other day that I was reluctant to even cook with!  We stopped outside Modra at a wine sign … had a tasting.  Nice whites @ EUR4/bottle.  Apparently the reds are rubbish … well that explains the supermarket trash.  Came away with 4 bottles for the 3 of us.  Chap also made and sold patisseries.  So K bought 4 cakes … for the one of her!

I looked at the Majolica Pottery.  Very predictable, so no purchase.  Would have liked to take pic of the 3 signs on the wall … each with a clock … London, Paris, Modra.  The fourth sign had had its clock removed  … Russia.  Does the Ukraine invasion mean Russia has lost it’s time?

Early supper in Modra was a mistake.  Modern gastro joint with over inflated prices … obviously the place to be seen!   Note to self … get the chap at the Tourist Office to write down his restaurant recommendations, so you can find it later!