Not a book review.

A couple of Saturdays ago with snow falling in the region, Tony and I decided to head to Bratislava Castle. The snowy views from the castle overlooking the city would make for pretty snaps, I thought; “The Golden Age of Peterhof” exhibit at said castle would dovetail nicely with our recent visit to St. Petersburg; and of course, we could partake of the city’s lively culinary scene.

What we experienced instead, was perhaps a throwback to life behind the Iron Curtain. 🤣 Though the castle walkways had been plowed, the castle was closed. A makeshift sign was placed outside the gates informing the number of us hoping to see the exhibition that we were out of luck. Later, while walking across a pedestrian boulevard that had not been cleared (Communist style maintenance–just let the snow melt…) Tony slipped but thankfully was not injured.

After a disappointing visit to the Slovak National Gallery (most of which is closed for renovation, but there was no notice until you have arrived) we decided to cut our losses and enjoy lunch at a Georgian restaurant we like.

We happen to be quite fond of Georgian wines, too. Of course, our waitstaff informed us that all of the Georgian wines were unavailable until the new shipment the following week. The Borscht and Khinkali, however, which we enjoyed to Bee Gees and Hall and Oates tunes from the 1970s playing in the restaurant, were delicious.

Leaving the city we stopped for grocery items at the Tesco; our clerk, Stanislava (the name on her tag!), could not have been more disinterested in her job, slow-rolling our 7 items into a 10-minute experience. And one final cap of our Retro Day in Pressburg: authorities were checking vehicles at the border with Austria. Thankfully the queue was short and we were waved through.

This past weekend, however, a modern Pressburg welcomed us! Blue skies and sunshine for much of the day! The castle was open, too! Bratislavský Hrad is a rebuild; a fire sometime in the 1800s reduced the fortress to near ruins. The Grand Staircase and the representative rooms are understandably spartan; and the renovated chapel is a time travel, but the castle still warrants a visit at least for the views.

Looking east from the castle.

“The Golden Age of Peterhof” exhibit was designed to showcase Russia’s cultural renaissance between the reigns of Romanovs Peter I (Peter the Great) and Catherine II (Catherine the Great).

The Throne of Peter I.

A large print nearby showed the Throne Room of Peterhof for perspective.

A sled fashioned expressly for gliding down the sloping lawn of Peterhof. Tsars have to have fun every once in a while, no?

Stunning Imperial Russian porcelain; paintings on copper; and eye-catching, if not ethical, boxes made in part of walrus tusk.

Tapestries and Chinese sculptures, too.

No Corgis for Kate!  Catherine the Great was rather fond of her Italian Greyhound, Zemira; of her husband, whom she may have arranged to be assassinated, perhaps not so much.

Far and away, my personal favorite pieces were the Beaded Panels. A total of 12 panels hung in Catherine the Great’s Glass Room. More than 2 million hollow glass tubes were filled with chenille, to give the impression of embroidery.  Simply exquisite.

The day blustery and cold, we ducked into the elegant restaurant at the base of the castle for lunch. Bryndzové Halušky (Slovak potato dumplings with Bryndza cheese); and Mangalitza tenderloins for Tony. Both dishes were exceptional.

To end this tale, soft piano music was playing in the background: Waltz No. 5; the theme from the 1974 film, The Way We Were; and…the National Anthem of the United States!  Visiting the neighbors is always a good time.