Today was amazing, and in many different ways. I got to experience so many firsts today, I am worried that I won’t be able to get it all in one post! I was able to see a fantastic castle and art gallery, and I was able to try the Slovak train system! I am very thankful for my fantastic new friends who went totally out of their way to do this, I couldn’t have done it without them. That being said, you wouldn’t believe what happened…
I woke up very late today, as I was working hard on a secret project last night. By the time I had gotten dressed and ready for the day, it was lunch time. My host dad made this fantastic dish, which was sausages, potatoes, tomatoes, and onions all baked together into one fantastic meal. Apparently my host parents even made the sausages themselves, and they tasted fantastic! It was not long before it was time to meet my friends Tim and Peter at the local mall, so we could be on our way to Zvolen.
Tim is such a great guy, and was a fantastic host. He bought my train ticket, which made me feel a little bad but he said it was no big deal. It was nice to be able to sit down and wait for our train, and to be able to talk to them. At school it can be pretty tough, because once one person starts talking in Slovak everyone does. That does make it a bit tough to just jump right into a conversation. Once the train got to our station, it was just us and the open… Road? Tracks?
The ride to Zvolen did not take too long, as it was only 20 km away. I was like a dog the entire time though, sticking my head out the window. I probably looked really weird waving to all of the people on the streets as we passed by in the train, but I was having a ton of fun. It really made me happy when they would smile and wave back.
Once we had gotten to Zvolen, we walked towards Tim’s house, where we met his sister Dorota. Once we had met up with her, it was onwards to the castle!
On the way to the castle, we passed by a German armoured train from WW2, and there was no way I was walking past that without taking some pictures. I find it interesting, no I find it almost bizarre that they just walk right past these things without a second thought. I find it so cool that they live so close to such an instrumental piece of history.
I hadn’t really known what to expect of the castle. Unfortunately, the “good” side of the castle was on the other side of the train tracks, so I was not able to get a good picture of it. I did however, get loads of pictures of the statues, paintings, and other historical objects that were in the Slovak National Gallery that the castle hosted.
Here is a little background on the castle.
Zvolen Castle was built for the Hungarian King Louis of Anjou in the final third of the 14th century, on the site of an older manor. Originally it server as the occasional seat of the royal court, from 1424 it was part of the estates of Hungarian queens. The castle has been part of the Slovak National Gallery since 1961. Taken from the pamphlet I was given at the beginning of the tour.
The art was fantastic in the castle, a lot of it ranging from the early 15th century, all the way to the 19th century. It was really neat to be able to walk around and touch something that has been around for longer than my home country has been alive. What I found really neat, although I don’t think I got a picture of it, was the paint on the walls. When they refurbished the castle, they left the original paint on the walls, so I could see what it looked like in the early 15th century.
Once we had finished with the castle, we decided to go and walk and tour the square in Zvolen. It was very cool, although it did have very similar churches to the square in Banska Bystrica. Something that really interested me was this monument to the Soviets, being very well upkept and seemed very prominent in the city. I was told that much of the older generation has/had quite a liking to the Russians, however much of the younger generation seems to think differently. I am going to have to look into this more myself.
While we were walking Dorota talked to me a lot, and I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the Slovak people. We talked for a good long while, and we kept on getting weird looks from other people on the street, probably because they are not used to hearing people talk in English.
Once we had finished touring downtown, we walked back to Tim’s apartment, where his sister Dorota server us this fantastic chocolate fudge brownie. It was interesting, because it contained chocolate, coconut, and beets! It tasted fantastic, and I almost wish I would have asked for seconds.
Tim and Peter are real pals. Once my train had come, they rode it all the way back with me, which I really appreciated. In order to try and say thank you, I bought them ice cream at a local shop in the Banska Bystrica town square. Next time I see them I am going to have to give them something, because I really appreciate what they did for me today.
Once they had dropped me off at my apartment, I sat down and relaxed. Only for a little bit of course, because right after dinner I went outside and taught some boys how to play baseball. It wasn’t “real” baseball, because we were using a tennis ball and that wooden stick that I bought the other day, but it was very fun, and they made me promise that I would come back and play with them again.
Today was very fun, but I am very tired. I hope that what I wrote was comprehendible, because I tried to cram a large day full of activities into a smaller post. Oh well. Tomorrow we are going to babickas cottage, and this time I will remember to bring my camera. I hope it will be fun, because we are going to be there all day. Anyway, I will stop rambling on and end this. Today’s word of the day is:
Dobrý – Good
Pronounced like dobry, I choose this because I said this sooooo many times while teaching the kids to play baseball!
All of these pictures were taken on a Sony A6000. If you are looking for a great lightweight camera that takes fantastic pictures, I would definitively recommend this setup here.