After another eventful night of comings, goings and squeaky bunks, we breakfasted on bread and chocolate spread in the garden then walked towards the Danube to get a bus to Devín, one of "The 55 Loveliest Places in Slovakia", according to a book of the same name. On the way we passed the park with the cool musical instrument - basically there were nine metal squares and when you jumped on them they made different sounds, quite like a xylophone. We played on it happily for a while then continued on our journey. We very nearly didn't even realise it was there, I read nothing about it anywhere and there's no plaque or anything near it, except on one of the squares it said that it was designed by Alfons Van Leggelo. The only reason we knew it was there was because of the woman we saw the other day playing on it. I love her for enlightening us. We stopped by the Post Office, got a little lost inside, but came out with stamps, hurrah! Pity I forgot to write Anglia on some of the postcards before I sent them, so sorry if you've not got a postcard, that would be my silly fault...
We got to the bus terminal below the UFO bridge and noticed on the side of one of the buses a sticker which looked like a wizard with a cloud with a cross through it and determined it must mean one of these things: a) the bus is not a weather-controlling bus, b) there is no climate control or c) the driver is not a wizard.
There were no signs to the castle and the bus stop was not marked as Hrad Devín so we and a Mexican guy had to guess when we should get off. It turned out we were right, but it took us until we had left the castle to realise that. We got off the bus and went in the "logical" direction, walked around in a big circle in the scorching heat (33 degrees) for 20 minutes until we eventually found the entrance. The castle was a ruin (no scaffolding, hurrah!) but a really good one, and there was loads of information (in English!) as we walked past various chapel areas, towers and past settlements. There were also a number of museums, some underground, within the castle grounds showing a detailed history of the area and ownership of the castle, as well as lots of artefacts that have been found on various digs at the castle. While we were there we saw some archaeologists excavating an area of the castle grounds, and it was really exciting to think that stuff is still being discovered there.
According to the museum there has been a settlement on the grounds since the Stone Age and it was still a "proper" castle until 1809 when Napoleon's men burned it down. This was our third castle in Slovakia, and all three of them were burned down by Napoleon, the naughty beggar! All documentation, records, plans and maps of Devín castle were also destroyed so there was no way of re-building it accurately and it has been a ruin since. The actual grounds of the castle are huge and there are lots of separate parts, all of which we explored with interest. The views over the Danube and the miles of forest were beautiful and we were only about a mile away from the Austrian border. We sat on the only bench we could find in the shade for a long while and didn't see any other people for at least half an hour. It was like our own little Jixie Tower!
There were a couple of souvenir shops shops in the grounds, but no luck on the snowstorm front. After our bus journey back to town, where we met the first ticket inspector of the entire trip, we went to buy some soup for dinner, spotting two nuns dressed in black on the way. The first black-wearing nuns we've seen in Slovakia! In Tesco we noticed that all the white-haired old ladies in Bratislava dye their hair with a dark purple rinse rather than the usual blue one, and I helped one of these purple ladies (who had very fluffy hair like a duck) at the checkout. Soup was purchased and then so was ice cream, cookies flavour today.
On our last night in the city we went for a final wander. It was 9pm and the temperature was still 29 degrees! The central square in front of the Old Town Hall was full of people, there were performers inside a huge ring of spectators, who were skipping and dancing and all sorts. The music floated through the city, but disappointingly none of the pretty buildings we had hoped would be lit up were. We settled down to an early night while people outside bustled until the early hours.