We woke up in Klato and Elena made us omelets + liquor for breakfast, toured a neighbor’s garden and had mushroom soup (made by Michael’s mother, Hana).
Every time we left a relative’s house, we got presents- usually it included alcohol! (See below: my bell + apron!)
On our way out of town, we stopped in Nedanovce (a tiny town a few miles away from Klato) to plan a visit for the following week with another set of relatives.
(Zdenka & Marie: The sisters are 80 & 85 year old cousins of his mother!) It was a pretty old-timey way to set up appointments. They sure were surprised to see us!
Hana’s summer cottage is in Neda Nofsa and she took us over to the cemetery to visit dead relatives.
We headed back to our Slovak ‘home base’- NITRA- It’s a mid-sized college town where dad is friends with a Lutheran priest called Pastor Ivan. We settled in at the Penzion Vila Aria and made plans to drive across the country the next day. Luckily, in Slovakia it will only take us 4-5 hours. 🙂
In the morning, a tiny, hummingbird of a woman, Anka, made us omelets for breakfast and forced me to take a pile of salami for the road. She didn’t speak any English, but she was very concerned that I might go hungry. This often happened to me in Slovakia… I guess I just have that look about me. ; )
Before we begin our cross-country trip we pop over set up a visit with “Young Jan” who also lives in Nitra. Dad knew where Jan lived, so we stopped over- but no one was home. We called Jan’s cell phone and he answered but the connection was bad… until he stepped out onto the front porch! HEY!!!!
After setting up a visit for the 30th, we start our journey to Poprad, at the foothills of the Tatra Mountains.
When we last left the story, we had escaped the frantic pace of Prague and we were cruising the back-country lanes of Slovakia. We arrived in Martin in the late afternoon and got settled at the St. Martin Hotel. Their aren’t really ‘hotels’ in Slovakia… we stay in places that are more like a cross between a motel and a Bed & Breakfast.
There were always comforters with duvet covers, folded sideways on the beds. Quaint and adorable.
We hopped back in the car and headed off to find Dad’s favorite spot for dinner, the Chopper Club. (Yup, it’s a Harley restaurant!)
Dad has eaten there 3 times and always orders the Flintstone Platter; a sizzling slab of rock with a chunk of meat cooking on top!
With full tummies, we headed back to the pension and off to bed. The first day in Slovakia was a SUCCESS!
September 20th, Friday
After an (almost) uneventful breakfast (Dad’s ‘French Toast’ was covered in salty sheep cheese!) we hit the road. Heading to Banska Bystrica to cruise the pedestrian walkway and explore the gorgeous downtown.
There were clarinet-playing buskers serenading us with Stevie Wonder songs, a HUGE rock fountain and a whole slew of lovely saints, carved out of marble.
(Hmmm… taking a second look at this next one, I think her dress is telling me that she’s no saint!)
We strolled through the cemetery and then went in search of lunch. We found a lunch special at a cute little restaurant in the lower level of an alley but had a bit of trouble with the menu.
When the waiter came over we just pointed to the #1 and hoped for the best. Dad may look a bit skeptical, but we ended up ordering a 2nd plate! (It turned out to be fried PORK NECK with boiled potatoes & cabbage. YUM!)
After lunch we headed out of town and headed to Hronsek, to see a 300 year old wooden church. Slovakia is famous for their wooden churches, many with onion domes. Their interesting designs stem from a 1681 set of restrictive laws that were placed on the building of Protestant churches.
What kind of church would you build if it had to be built with the following restrictions:
No metal nails may be used
Construction must be completed in 365 days.
Church may not have a steeple/ bell tower.
The front door may not be directly on the street.
PFFT! That sounds difficult!
The Hronsek church is what they came up with in 1726. I’m pretty shocked that an uncoordinated altar boy didn’t accidentally burn it down, considering they must have held candle-lit services for many of those years.
Next, we head to Nitra- Dad’s favorite Slovakian town! We stay Friday night at the Pension Zorboska.
This window at our Pension has many ‘Slovak’ details:
Lace curtains. (Every house in every Slovak village has lace curtains. Seriously. Every. Single. One!)
Geraniums in the window box!
No screens! Plus, cool windows that can be opened from one side or tilted in from the top so the blinds can still be drawn.
We walked into downtown Nitra for dinner. On the way we passed a new art installation honoring Cyril & Methodious – Slovakia’s patron saints who brought Christianity and written language to the Slavic people.
Even half-way around the world, Mom & Dad show their Spartan Pride!
We keep walking through town, til we get to one of Dad’s favorite parts of Nitra- the ‘Nameste’- or central square. It’s got a fancy fountain with color-changing lights!
Our hunger forced us to move on… until Dad found an Italian restaurant and we had a great dinner. Yum- lasagna and arugula pizza! Dad also drank three glasses of ‘apéritif’… which Mom described as ‘cough syrup with bubbles’. Blech.
Full & happy we walk Back to the Zoborska to bed down for the night!