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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Do love a good rooftop view.

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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.

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Kerstin had a chance to be tour guide!

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

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Opulent decoration of the Turkish room.  The best room.

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Not many castle have their own caves underneath.

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As well as a tower.

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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.

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The National Uprising Museum.
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 Wreath laying.

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

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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.

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The main square.

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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.