bus to Betliar Castle
Thunder and lightning
A short one today. Our hostess had happily made us coffee for this morning. We had not ordered breakfast, as we needed to catch an early bus (8:15!), but she had gone to the effort, and who were we to say no? She had also gotten us some apples and a few chocolate filled croissants! We were sorry to leave, and could have stayed much longer with them. On finding out that school here starts at 7:30, we are happy not to have to be anywhere before 8, and don’t know how they do it! Especially as last winter they had more than three meters of snow!
The bus ride to Roznova was about the same. Well, it was the same as far as Dobsina. We did get to see a deer after that, grazing in a field, but didn’t think the bus driver would take too kindly if we asked him to stop for photos!
Roznava is a major town for the region, and again an ex-mining centre. It at least has shopping centres.
Stopping at tourist info, we found out that the castle we had come to see burnt down last summer. Apparently there was a grass fire that got out of control, and the whole thing went up. It is a shame, as it has been a museum since the mid 1800’s! It was that good, and supposedly one of the best in Slovakia. Disappointed, we made our way to the hotel, knowing there is still the Aragonite Cave we are planning on tomorrow.
Not used to such an early start, or even such a short trip, we had to work out what to do in the afternoon. We decided on a different castle/palace. Betliar Castle. It is only a few km away, and we went over to check the bus times.
Luck was on our side now, and the bus was just getting ready to leave, so we jumped on. As the trip was back the way we came, we relaxed a bit. There was a good side to the bus trip though. We have been travelling for about a year now, and washing machines can be hard to find at some times. Yet we have never, NEVER, smelt as bad as the guy sitting next to me. It brought back memories of Elcho Island, and people that have eaten turtle or flying fox. Choking back the gag reflexes was the best I could do, whilst gulping in semi fresh air from the aisle. Yes, I smoke, Yes I have BO, Yes, my clothes might be able to stand by themselves and walk away at times, but NEVER have I smelt like that (If I do, kill me then and there!)
Back out in the fresh air was a relief. We had been dropped in the centre of Betliar town. They, similar to other Slovak towns, have notices up everywhere telling you the history of the place, and pointing out special buildings and sites. This is great, and shows the pride the people have in their country/region/town. We love it. To top it off, it is multi-lingual. English, German, Hungarian & Russian. Perfect. More countries should do this, as it makes a place a pleasure to travel.
Easily finding our orientation, we head up this particular stream in town to the right place. On the way, we kept scanning the hills for it, but could not see a thing. Turns out to be not so much of a castle but Noble’s Manor.
It is a beautiful house set in extensive gardens, and mostly dating back to the late 1870’s onwards. Deciding not to do the house, as we have both been in plenty of period places elsewhere, we still enjoyed walking around the gardens.
Andrassy (the original owner) was a bit eccentric and had a Japanese bridge, gazebo, man made waterfall (complete with a couple of polar bears in his day) and lake. It would have been stunning.
Unfortunately, there must have been a very hard winter. We have seen signs of it everywhere, and been told by a few people it was bad, but here, in this protected garden, there were trees scattered everywhere. Most have already been topped and tailed for collection and placed together, but the stumps were split, uprooted and scattered. There were branches everywhere and the place could have been the Atherton’s after Cyclone Larry. The destruction was that bad. At least the Mansion survived.
We had the choice of walking back, or taking the bus. By now there were some dark clouds appearing, with a few rumblings of thunder, but these were disappearing just as quickly as they came. So, we decided to walk. Didn’t we.
Back through the outskirts of town we found the yellow track back to Roznava. It started out fairly easily along the road, then into mountain meadows. Before it came to a big iron padlocked gate, and electrified barbed wire fences! WTF? The path now led us along this for the next couple of kilometres. As it was so quiet you could hear the ticking of the electric fence.
We will try to find out what it was for, as it looked as if it was to keep people out, however the electrified part was almost on ground level on the inside. There were also holes on the fence occasionally where something had pushed through, and at one time looked to be cut. We couldn’t see anything interesting in there, even though then path followed it religiously. Speculation on Bear Sanctuaries to outer prison security or military. There were not even any signs to interpret along the way. At one point we did come across a box hanging on the fence. There was nothing on our side, but as we walked around a convenient corner in the fence, we could see that it had a door and handle? A weird thing to say the least.
By now the clouds had rolled in properly, and just as we made it to the edge of the forest, it started raining. It was not too bad where we were, but the opposite hill was being soaked. It was a bit of fun watching the lightning hit the hill, hearing the thunder rolling through the valleys and watching the veil of rain descend. Until it started on us. We backed further into the trees for protection. This was not just rain, but hail! Still,it only lasted a few minutes and we were on our way again. Without the wind it would have been fine, but the chill caused by the gusts of wind were a bit cool.
From here it was an easy trip to town. We heard a cuckoo bird in the distance, and as we closed in on it, were lucky enough to see it fly off to another tree, then we were in town, walking through a small suburb, past the decrepit hospital. Anna had the right idea when she said they were probably spending the money on health care and equipment rather than the exterior of the building. Back to the town centre and it started raining again.
Now we have a few supplies to last the night, so we can watch the clouds from the comfort of our balcony, but someone will need to go out and get more wine….