Castle country

Trip Start Aug 15, 2006
Trip End Sep 19, 2006

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Thursday, September 7, 2006

Thursday, September 7

Jane's friend Kamila (AKA Kaja) and her Aussie fiancÚ Matt are getting married this Saturday in Slovakia's largest castle, n a town called Bojnice. To save tongue-twisting time, it is pronounced Boy-neet-say, not Bodge-nise, etc. The town is about a two-hour drive from Krivan. The wedding was really the initial purpose of the trip, later prefaced by my cricket tour and then by a visit to Slovenia to fill in the gap between the two events.

Bojnice really looks like a castle town, in that the castle dominates the landscape, attracts busloads of grey-haired, camera-toting tourists and, in turn, generates a fair bit of money for the town. Locals seem a little more willing, or able, or both, to speak English here. For instance, when we check into our hotel, Jane tells the receptionist, in fluent Slovak, that we are checking in, but the girl responds in English. Jane thinks that perhaps in her ten years away from Slovakia, she has picked up some kind of accent that identifies her as different.

However, at the information centre, I preface my question with a polite "hovoris anglicky?" ("do you speak English?") The lady shrivels up her face - "What?!" I repeat my question, although I know she does speak English, but she again gives me the shrivelly "what?". So I try English: "I was just asking if you speak English". "Of course I do", she says curtly. Under my breath I mutter, "I should have asked if you speak Slovak". The highlight of the conversation is her repeatedly describing our accommodation as a "hotle" instead of "hotel". The humour of this offset the distinct lack of information that she was actually providing.

The afternoon/evening is spent at the Woodstock Pub and takes the form of a get-to-know-you party along the lines of what Jane and I had done before our wedding. There are quite a few of Matt's family, all the way from Australia, plus about a dozen mates from Oz, the UK, and us. Then of course there is a Slovak contingent of Kaja's family. To break the language barrier, a game is played in which English-speakers are given a card with a question written in Slovak and they have to find the answer from a Slovak person and announce it to everyone in Slovak. And vice versa. This is also based on the successful Jim & Jane wedding model.

There is a minor crisis when some of the Slovaks complain about the lack of food. Jane jumps into action and she and I run to all the eating establishments looking for some takeout food. We find a quiet restaurant and spark them awake with an order for sixty 'hamburgers'. The hamburgers are more like day-old baguettes with some meat in them, but they fit the bill. Afterwards, the younger folks straggle back to the 'hotle' for a few more drinks and to play some pool.

Friday, September 8

Very quiet day today with no specific wedding-related activities planned. Jane and I walk five kilometres down to Priavidze, the next town, on a difficult mission to change Slovak korunas for Canadian dollars, achieving our objective at the 10th or 11th bank we try. In the evening, all the younger generation (i.e. Matt and Kaja's friends) hang out at the bar across the street from the hotle, playing a marathon game of 'Last Card'. Jane and I retire at around 11pm but apparently the evening continues until 4am.
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