Mediaeval dreams in Krakow and Orava Castle

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
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Trip End Feb 02, 2011


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Flag of Slovakia  , Žilinský,
Friday, August 20, 2010

At around seven Marleena arrived and a few hours after that we decided to go out for dinner in Krakow. The hostel receptionist recommended we try a place just down the road which we did and it was excellent - and so cheap, a main meal was about five Australian dollars. We then walked around in the old city for a few hours. Felix and I really wanted to stay a night in the hostel but they were fully booked out until Sunday. There was another option to stay in another hostel but it was right in the city and so the same question as always came up again - what to do with the bike overnight. We never feel comfortable leaving it unattended in a city throughout the night with all our stuff when it can’t be locked shut. So after an enjoyable walk through the city, which is very nice - and so old, at about two AM we rode away from the city towards Slovakia.

 We camped as usual down a little path leading into the forest and this morning discovered we had stopped next to a huge thicket of blackberry plants, all heavily laden with sweet ripe blackberries. So for breakfast this morning we had a feast of blackberries. In the hot sun we ate until we couldn’t eat any more.

 We packed up and moved out into yet another traffic jam. Finally we made it past and were sailing along toward Slovakia on beautiful winding and rolling roads through lush hills peppered with hand stacked drying hay and little villages tucked into the mountain forests. 

 After a few hours riding we rode past Korvin’s Orava Castle on a hill and at the last minute did a big ‘U-ie’ and went back to visit  it. And I’m so glad we did. Sadly we had to go inside as part of a massive tour group. This had it’s advantages and disadvantages. 

 The disadvantage - it was totally crowded and we had to move along at the same speed as everyone, which in a world were people no longer can concentrate on anything for more then thirty seconds is pretty fast. Even me who likes to have a good look but doesn't take that longs felt way to rushed, I felt like I was constantly being hurry, hurry, hurried all the time and didn’t get to look at anything as much as I wanted to. And if it was like that for me I can’t imagine how rushed Felix would have felt, he usually takes five times longer then me to make his way through an exhibition

 The advantages though - Felix thought our tour guide was a hottie and we both thought she was very lovely. The tour was all in Slovakian so when it started we thought ‘oh no, we’re not going to understand anything’ but she must have noticed we were looking totally lost because she came up to us and explained everything in English. With a few others who also understood English better then Slovakian we had a special little English tour inside the normal tour. Being on the tour we could hear many stories and legends from the castle’s glory days. A chair that was rumoured to ensure the woman who sat on it would be married exactly one year and a day after she had sat there. A painting of a King depicted with four fingers on one hand and six on the other because though he gave with one hand, he took with the other. A clock above the king’s maid’s bed with no hands to remind her time did not exist for her, she was always to be at the service of the king.

 It was a really great castle. As well as having a nice place for the royalty to live it also had a super defendable fortress. Now it has steps for the tourist to climb up but back in the day the only way up was to climb a rope. It was so great, my favourite castle we have visited so far, it was so huge and grand. It was so beautiful and like a castle should be. It’s never quite enough for me though, seeing it in this lifetime, I need to see horses and knights, ladies in beautiful dresses and a king strutting around. The fires burning, peasants working out in the fields, maids waiting upon royalty and someone in the stocks. I want to see a beautiful princess sneaking through a secret passage to meet the lover she is forbidden to see, soldiers keeping watch from the top of the fort, a blacksmith working, a witch hiding in the forest and someone drawing water from the well ninety meters deep. I want to ride in a horse drawn coach and sleep in a grand room. Then I would be properly satisfied. But as it’s pretty unlikely I’m going to get to see any of that I’m still very happy to have seen what I have. And now we are sitting under a bridge by a big river cooking up a feast. Someone told me once,  always when there is a big river and a big hill close together there will also be a castle - I can’t remember who said that but so far they seem to be pretty right.
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