Slovakia, Day 4 - 5

Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Slovakia  , Zilina,
Friday, April 24, 2009

Not much to say about this place.  Our Penzion was on an industrial site (really).  Very weird set up and our visas caused much consternation until an English speaking woman was summoned to confirm what we had been trying to get across for about 5 minutes - i.e. that we were from the UK.  Oh dear.  Only reason for coming here was because it was a base for our day trip to Cicmany and we had to change here for onward travel to the Vratna Valley.

Cicmany is famous for its old dark brown wooden homes decorated with white patterns based on the embroidery that the villagers stitched onto their clothes.  It's basically a bit of a time warp - great to have an insight into a past way of traditional rural Slovak life.  Got talking to a very friendly old man auf Deutsch - hadn't realised how useful a (very rusty) knowledge of German would be in this area.  As we might have expected it's really only older people who live here as all the young people leave once they've finished school as there's no jobs for them.  We went in the museum and were struck by the fact that the traditional clothes of the villagers were all white, embellished with embroidered trimmings to the cuffs and neckline etc.  That can't have been hugely practical for a community who subsisted on sheep farming.  Part of the museum was a house that was lived in from the 1920s until 1985, furnished as it would have been to give you an idea of traditional village life.  Basically two big stoves built into the entrance hall and one large room front and back downstairs with four "cabins" built into the roof space.  We thought it looked quite big, if a little open plan for our standards until we read that it was shared by FOUR families!

We had been told the village was a 4km walk from the bus stop on the main road and had planned our day accordingly.  Turned out it was 7km!  Luckily a couple off hiking stopped and gave us a lift up there and we caught a surprise bus back to what we thought was a large town - Rajec.  We say surprise because there wasn't a bus that would have taken us right up to the village so we didn't expect that there would be one to take us out.  Rajec turned out to be a ghost town - nothing open beyond 11.30am on a Saturday and no further buses for a couple of hours.

From Rajec we carried on to Prievidza where we caught another bus to Bojnice, a few km away, the point of which was to see Bojnice castle.  We knew it would be shut by the time we got there but thought it worth a look from the write up in the Lonely Planet.  Unfortunately due to an error in which Bojnice bus to catch from Prievidza (well who would have thought it was big enough to have several different bus routes) we barely had enough time to take a photo before we had to get a bus back to Prievidza to connect with our bus back to Zilina.  So we learned the hard way not to do more than one main thing a day and spent a lot of time and money on buses!  Was worth it for the journey itself though rather than the wretched castle.  Lots of roadside shrines (they seem a devout bunch these SLovaks) and around each village land had been comandeered for strip farming (like a large allotment) - some of which seemed to be worked collectively.  We saw a group of people setting potatoes in one village and in another a horse was being used to pull a harrow.
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