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Tails From the Vienna Woods

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Slovakia

Hipster Trnava

Trnava had piqued our interest for its designation as “Slovak Rome” because of its many churches; and having read that a food truck festival and flea market was happening there last weekend, this “special offer” made the Saturday plan to visit the neighbors come together.

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Dobré trhy

Buried within the seemingly endless streams of, “Christmas Markets You MUST Visit” and practical? advice such as, “Tips for Navigating Christmas Markets” running across my news feeds last week was a quiet little notice for something called, Bratislava Good Market.

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When a Weekend Just Comes Together

Two weekends ago our day outing fell short of expectations by a mile. The following weekend’s outings exceeded expectations by a mile, and then some.

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Saturday in Slovakia: Trenčín.

Last weekend our destination of choice for interesting sights (and great food, of course) was Trenčín, a moderate-sized town in the northwest of Slovakia and the northernmost Roman city in modern Slovakia.

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Modranské Vinobranie!

A weekend outing with the promise of pretty castles or pleasant scenery is to us what sleeping in or Sunday brunch is to others. Bonus points if there is a festival in a village we haven’t visited, for that brings with it the promise of good food and wine, as well. Last weekend the wine village of Modra, Slovakia offered all of it!

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Miro at Danubiana

After our Barcelona visit and an art group at the Albertina in the spring, we are self-declared Joan Miro fans. Understandably, then we were excited to note the opening a couple of weeks ago of a Miro exhibit at one of our favorite museums, the Danubiana Meulensteen, just across the border in Slovakia. On a steamy Central European summer day, a cool museum escape was just what we needed.

Miro’s Palma de Mallorca studio, recreated.

On loan from the family were several dozen pieces. We just like the art, and hope you do, as well.

A Quiet Weekend

My news feeds were bursting with ideas to fill our weekend, but since Clayton Theodore generously allowed us to sleep in until the late hour of 0600 on Saturday, “Do Nothing” seemed to be our preferred plan. That worked for about an hour, after which time I declared war on the boredom and suggested we go to Bratislava and eat French food for lunch.
In Bratislava we dropped in at the regular Saturday market and then wandered about streets in the city along which we have never been. There is something about these old streets and even older homes…

Nitra, "The Mother of All Slovak Cities"

Saturday found us as empty nesters for the day, with Anna Grace off running and jumping at a T&F invitational in Munich. Ordinarily we would attend to cheer on the Knights, but the forecast for Bavaria called for rain, rain, and more rain, so we pointed the wagon toward sunny and warm Slovakia whilst cheering on the team via SMS. Call us fair weather parents.
Nitra, Slovakia was our destination, hailed as the, “Mother of all Slovakian Cities,” as its castle sits atop ruins that date to the Bronze Age. Really. In Imperial times, the Palffy family served as the Charges d’affaires, and did so splendidly.  We explored the old, the really old, and the awesome socialist architecture. 

As it depressingly goes in our travels around Central and Eastern Europe, too, too, many synagogues serve only as museums for the lives that once were. Little known, but Slovakians were the first power to start the deportation of Jewish persons in pursuit of, “The Final Solution.”

It also being a university town, there is a vibe from the students that is noticeable, and we were rather taken by surprise with our lunch of handmade fettuccine with grilled octopus in red wine sauce at a trattoria on the square, instead of the expected Slovak fare. 
Who doesn’t love socialist architecture in the sunshine?

A French style cafe beckoned us, but we could not oblige before our uphill ascent to the castle.

A private tour had arrived at the castle at the same time, and the cathedral lights were turned on for them (and, serendipitously, for us!)

A most unusual rendering of The Last Supper.

Pope John Paul II visited Nitra in 1995, and his visit is well-commemorated.

On our descent from the castle hill, one of two wedding parties paused for photos. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Another lovely day trip.

Bratislava, The Miscellanae.

As mentioned, we visit Bratislava often. We also visit the Czech Republic rather often, as well, and have toyed with the crazy notion of purchasing a holiday home in Moravia–a little project for me, if you will.  But then on Saturday’s tour we stopped to visit a cemetery, adjacent to which was this house. I fell in love. A renovation nightmare, to be sure, but just think of the potential…

The cemetery was beautiful; and unusual in that Jews and Christians are buried together. The cemetery was thankfully spared damage during the 1930s.

Tony and our guide, probably discussing old cars or that Tony thinks I’m crazy for falling in love with that house.

I see photos like this on Pinterest all the time. Could be Paris. Could be Vienna. Could be Prague or Budapest. It’s Bratislava, of course. 
 
Trying a Thai restaurant in the Stare Mesto for lunch. We’ll definitely return. The Larb Gai (chili-lime ground chicken salad) was, to quote Tony, “As amazing as (mine).”
I went with Pad Thai. Not quite as flavorful as our preferred place in Vienna, but still quite remarkable.

A next-to-final stop. Tesco is almost always last, since we almost always need dinner provisions and Austria is either closed (if it’s Sunday) or closing (the grocery sidewalks roll up around 1800, if not earlier on Saturdays). Such a drag.  Anyhow…a much loved cafe and bookstore, where I picked up two new manuals for my laboratory kitchen. 

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