Trip Start Aug 28, 2011
26Trip End Sep 19, 2011
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Where I stayed
One of the entertaining parts of driving in this part of the world is figuring out whether, when, where and how to pay the toll to drive on the motorway. Bruxi has driven in Austria before so he knew to stop at a gas station before we entered Austria to buy a 10 day permit to drive on the motorway. That buys you a sticker that has to be displayed on your windshield. If it isn't displayed, cameras along the motorway take a picture of your car and the owner gets a ticket in the mail. A rather expensive ticket I might add
We also bought a sticker in the Czech Republic. In Poland you can drive on parts of the motorway for free and there's a manned toll booth that collects the toll from you at points where there's a charge. No need to buy a sticker ahead of time. In Slovakia Bruxi was on alert for signs but saw none when the road we were on suddenly became a motorway. On our map that section of motorway was shown as under construction. Obviously they'd finished the construction but there were no signs indicating whether you needed a sticker.
Looking at the other cars driving next to us I could see a sticker on the windshield so it appeared one was necessary but without having spotted any warning signs or gas stations where we might buy one, we just nervouosly continued driving down the motorway until we got close to the section on the map that was clearly marked as motorway (not under construction). There we got off and followed local roads to Trenčín.
We later learned that, Slovakia requires a sticker but doesn't advertise that fact. I guess you're supposed to learn it by osmosis or something. Maybe because it helps their revenue stream when unsuspecting tourists enter the country
After breakfast at the pension our first goal was to hike up the hill to the castle that looms over the town. As you can see from the pictures, it's a bit of a climb. But then that's been true this whole trip. After breakfast at the pension we began the trek up the hill.
One of the famous objects in the town I was looking forward to seeing (and photographing) was a Roman inscription carved in the rock below the castle. The inscription is dated 179 AD and documents a Roman victory over Germanic barbarians. It's the most northern evidence of the presence of Roman soldiers. A hotel was built over that section of the mountain and, under normal circumstances you can enter the hotel to view the rock and inscription. Unfortunately I picked a time to go when the hotel was completely closed for renovation and there was no way to gain access to the inscription.
Oh well. We made the trek up the hill to the castle which is thought to have been started around the 10th or 11th century. In 1017 King Stephen I (no relation) of Hungary conquered the area which remained Hungarian territory until 1918. The castle was modified and improved many times over the centuries. We signed up for a tour which was a mixed bag. On the positive side it provided us access to areas of the castle and displays that we otherwise would have been locked out of. On the negative side tours of the castle are conducted only in the Slovak language so nothing the guide said did either one of us much good
She did give us some English language printed material that helped provide some information. The castle is the third largest in Slovakia and is in excellent condition. The castle's strategic value was to guard the spot on the Váh River where fords were located making it an important trading route linking the Baltic and Mediterranean seas.
Old Town is fairly small and has two adjoining squares separated by the last remaining medieval Old Town gate, the Dolná brána. We explored the Old Town, had dinner and returned to our room. Tomorrow we return to Bruxi's home in Hungary.