After a long walk Thursday along the Slovak-Austrian border, we headed out on new adventures on Friday morning. The fog was still heavy in Bratislava when my brother and I left his apartment to head to the airport in Bratislava. At the airport, our plan was to rent a car for the weekend. Two friends of my brother also came along. This day would be the day that we were driving into the fog for new adventures.
Our Plan – Driving Into the Fog
The plan for the day consisted of driving to the town of Zvolen in central Slovakia. Along the route, we had two planned stops. The first one was Beckov, to see the castle ruins. As a second stop, we had Bojnice; a historical town with a castle so many had described to us as the most beautiful castle in Slovakia.
First time driving in Slovakia
It was the first time for me to drive in Slovakia. This being only the fifth country in total that I now have driven in, previously the list was only made up by Sweden, Finland, Namibia and South Africa. Slovakia was going to be different compared to all of them. Well, maybe a combination of them all. The rules and roads are quite similar to Sweden and Finland, with just a few exceptions. When it comes to the way of driving it is more like Namibia and South Africa. The drivers are a lot more aggressive and they do not keep the same distance to the car in front of you.
It will be hard for me to ever understand why you need to drive only centimeters behind someone, just because they keep to the speed limit or why you need to keep minimal distance when with the cars when changing lanes on the highway. Well, I will probably just accept that I will never understand why saving a few minutes if worth that dangerous driving.
After driving in the fog for a long time we finally reached the town of Beckov. It is a small town and we were able to park at one of the few spaces at what seemed to be the main square. What did strike us when arriving was the sight of the castle – Hrad Beckov. It is located on a hill overlooking the town, it did really rise from the fog this day.
What to do when visiting a castle for the first time? What we did was walk up to the entrance. It was only up until then that we could follow our plan. Seeing the entrance we tried getting there, noticing that it was really slippery due to the ice. It did take us some effort to get close enough to read the sign that told us that the castle was closed during the winter. Well, considering the challenge to reach the ten meters that we had needed to read the sign, it was possible to understand why it was closed.
So what to do next? No, we did not give up. Instead, we decided to enjoy the view of the castle ruins from the distance and walked along the streets of Beckov to try to find the best view of the ruins. The sight of the castle really is something to remember and hopefully, we can go back when it is actually open.
After Beckov we were once more driving into the fog. It was not until we reached the town of Bojnice that the fog eventually started to lift. As it turned out, Bojnice did the same as Beckov – offer us an amazing view upon arrival.
What did take us some time was to find parking for our rental car. Once that was done, we only had once sight in mind, the Bojnický zámok (Bojnice Castle). This castle really looks like something out of the fairy tales. That is at least the best description that I can give. Walking around it offers some amazing views.
We did take the opportunity to also see the inside of the castle. The castle houses some beautiful rooms. What we did miss was a guide that knew English and a possibility to enjoy the view from the towers. One of the most amazing aspects of the tour was the caves beneath the castle. Even though some of the pillars looked quite weak to hold up all the stone above them.
It began snowing during the time that we spent inside the castle. Coming back out again we soon began to freeze and hurried to find somewhere to eat lunch. Luckily we had a few options and were soon awaiting our food.
Yes, we were once more driving into the fog. Well, this time it was not so much fog as it was more snow instead. From Bojnice we only had an hour’s drive to Zvolen and we hurried to reach the town before dark. We almost achieved that goal as the darkness fell just when we reached the outskirt of Zvolen. With the help of a GPS, we soon arrived at our hotel. So far we are quite happy with the hotel and are looking forward to a weekend exploring the area. Our current plan is to at least explore Banská Bystrica and Banská Štiavnica this weekend.