[Lovely Bojnice Castle pics = here.]
Today is about another big round of bus transfers. Luckily things went pretty smoothly.
I got up early, packed everything quietly, and the breakfast waiting for me was the leftover from last night. I like the tomato salad with yogurt anyway. M. reminded me a couple of things, among them (a) Bojnice Castle is much more interesting than the one in Trenčín, so if I have to skip one I should skip the latter; (b) don’t order salad in a restaurant in Slovakia – her observation is that they invariably and inexplicably add lots of vinegar for no reason. That’s interesting.
B. drove me to the bus station in Banská Štiavnica and shook my hand, wishing me good luck, his eyes gleaming with warmth as usual.
Again I had to ride the bus to Žiar nad Hronom – luckily this time the change is within the same station, rather than rushing to train station to bus station. Luggage is charged extra on every single bus ride.
I arrived at Prievidza to change for a bus to Bojnice. LP said there’re two city buses, and the very kind, non-English-speaking driver to Prievidza also managed to show me it’s Bus No. 3, but I saw a bit Eurolines bus and advanced. On this bus I have to pay (yet again) for my luggage, and for this supposedly very short ride (less than a quarter of an hour I think) I have to pay 0.5 Euro, which isn’t much, but is more than the previous rides and is tiresome anyway. I chose to wait further and succeeded to take that city bus No. 3, which was a good idea.
The lady at tourist info didn’t understand much English, and at any rate I had to speak simple English slowly, but somehow I managed to put my luggage there. She told me the castle takes around 2 hours to see, so I thought I would be able to come back before her lunch break at 1pm (luckily I asked).
The weather was VERY hot.
One needs to take a 105-minute guided tour to enter the castle, and luckily when I arrived it was only 5 minutes away from the next tour. I paid two extra Euros for taking photos – I have always found this ridiculous: what matters more is not to use flash, and in this place and certain other places (if I remember right, quite some not so well restored places in Czech) one needs to pay to take photos, but as soon as one pays, one can FLASH like hell and no-one would say a word. Oh, and the tour was in Slovak, so I wouldn’t say I learnt a lot in the tour. I simply ignored the guide and took time to take my photos – I would wait until everyone (including a guy who kept flashing – both with his camera and his unbuttoned shirt) leave a certain chamber to take my photo, and there was always a clerk waiting behind to close the door, but I took my time, and he or she never bothered me.
M. said Bojnice Castle is “like the King Ludwig castle” – she meant Neuschwanstein –, “only smaller.” I have to say Bojnice is really not all that big (and certainly not as imaginative or crazy – depending on how you judge Ludwig’s ideas – as the German castle. But it’s nice enough. I’m happy I saw it.
Neither of the two restaurants the info lady recommended were much to my liking – no-one came to attend this inquisitive-looking foreigner, and when I was trying to figure out exactly what was the “daily set menu” of the fancier-looking of the two, it took a lot of time, since the waitress/owner thought it was more important to attend to other things. Eventually I found out that it was just soup and fried cheese – definitely not for this crazy hot weather! So the heck with them. I went for a merely adequate but at least cheap kebab.
Right across the bus stop was a small supermarket, and I picked up a bottle of water and some waffle cookies – this seems to become a pattern these days: somehow I rather crave for chocolate waffle cookies of various brands and varieties. On the bus to Banska Stivanica for the first time, namely before meeting M&B, I was a bit anxious how my hosts would turn out, and simply mange the entire pack of MILKA round-shape chocolate waffle cookies that I got in Kosice – the weather was so hot that the chocolate was distinctly melting, but I finished everything despite of that. I know I’ve always loved such snacks – think I-Mei’s (義美) 新貴派, especially their green-tea yogurt flavor! But I don’t know where this craving these days come from. By the way MILKA makes a lot of different kind of cookies and chocolates in Poland and Slovakia, in some cases actually adapting local cookies into their product line. Interesting.
When I finally got to Trenčín it was roughly 4.30; I first checked a bank VUB for exchange rate. A fine-looking young clerk with somewhat a belly helped with translation, although just barely, and it took A LOT of time for them to understand what are “buy rate” and “sale rate” – at one point I somewhat screamed “Oh you’re bankers! How can you not understand this?” Anyway, the spreads are all horrendous, and I can’t change PLN into HUF – I have to change PLN first into EUR and then into HUF. Fun.
And before I walked (with all my SWEAT) into tourist info I saw a tank top in a mannequin in a nearby “textile shop” – there seems to be so many of such shops, and they seem to sell cheap clothes. The young pretty lady in the tourist info doesn’t seem to speak English well, and the fine-looking guy with a moustache sitting right beside her didn’t seem eager to come to her rescue; now that’s an euphemism.
The tourist info was open until 6, and the castle (again guided tours are requisite, even though only in Slovak) closes at 5.30, but I decided it was really enough, so after checking an exchange place (not good rate, no PLN available/allowed), a second bank ( where a couple of clerks of both sexes that can well be catalogue models told me they don’t exchange money), and a third bank (Slovensky Bank, which turns out to be the biggest bank, while VUB and Tatra are the second and third) and changed money there, I decided to sit at a recommended café for my coffee (again with an extra glass of ice at my request and internet. I had a fine time talking with Tz.
And that was partly thanks to my host Lubica being late – she was stuck in work and eventually appeared shortly after 6pm. 而且比照片中大隻. After letting her gasp at the size of my luggage, we walked home with her bike. Upon arriving at her place, she offered some very nice and not sweet pastries she made by herself with poppy seeds (really nice), since “it’s my birthday” – I was a bit surprised that she noticed that. We had a fine time talking some different things, including during our little visit to a supermarket, and she generously offered not only “anything in the fridge” but also a dinner as her treat. “Slovak or Italian? The weather is probably too hot for Slovak?” And her (very!) easy-going guest said we could go for the Italian.
The talk was pretty nice, partly because Lubica can tell a thing and two about her country, even though she has to think about various English expressions from time to time, and listening to such observations is always something I go for.
For the rest of the evening, (a) since her sister was away to Spain, I could take a very big bed all to myself, and (b) the one very big and one very tiny dogs of hers are simply lovely and so well-behaved, even though they do beg for attention.
Before going to bed she checked for me how to go from Trencin to Cicimany, my major destination tomorrow. According to the tourist info (and my own researches using the Slovak train/bus search website), I should change in Zilina to reach Cicimany, and in the afternoon when I return, I should change in Prievidza. Well, Lubica didn’t think so – she told me I should first go to a small town, and then change for another tiny town, and then walk for 9 kilometers. She spent quite some time checking, but from the second town to reach Cicimany the internet simply tells her to backtrack by making MULTIPLE changes to Zilina, and of course that won’t make any sense.
According to the internet searches, one way of the transportation combination takes roughly 2 hours, so tomorrow is about quite some transportation. However, if I manage time properly, I’ll be able to return and see quite a bit of Trencin, including its castle. Yeah, this is what I thought as I fell asleep.
公車：B.Stivanica – Ziar nad Horonm – Prievidza – Bojnice；
Bojnice – Prievidza – Trencin
= 2.8+ 2.4+ 0.55+ 0.55+3.8
水+ 零食：0.92+ 1