A grey sky greeted us as we walked to the train station to catch a train to Trenčín, a town to the north east of Bratislava. The sky became increasingly bluer and the clouds less frequent as we neared our destination. The journey was like a big game of musical chairs, first we moved because we were accidentally sat in reserved seats, and then we moved again to let two old ladies sit down. Our third carriage compartment was nicer, so we didn't mind too much. The scenery on the journey was lovely again and we passed some fantastic photo opps (like three huge chimneys with a face painted across all three of them) but were unable to photograph them from the train. We passed lots more sunflower fields, some mountains, a castle in Beckov (a village nearby which had no train line going to it, sadly) and lots and lots of greenery. The guy in our compartment, who had been asleep when we first got there, opened one eye and started watching us, laughing to himself whenever we got excited about something outside the window. He seemed really interested in us, like he'd never seen Brits before, and asked where we were from, we told him and he asked John if I was from there as well. He tried his hardest to speak in English to us, and though his English was poor, it was lovely that he made the effort.
Our first stop was the castle, naturally, and as we were walking up towards it we saw another couple. The guy kept stopping to take photos, as did John, and the girl who was with him gave me a silent knowing glance and a quick roll of her eyes. It was subtle, but very amusing. The poor girl; going out with a castle addict is never easy. The castle was a really good one, one of my favourites. There was a lot of work being done to it (scaffolding-o-rama) but there was also lots that was open and awesome. The castle that was still there was from the 14th Century, but parts of it were Moravian, from the 9th and 10th Centuries. Just inside the entrance was a well called "The Well of Love" which was built between 1528 and 1570 after the legend of Omar and Fatima. As we were walking around the castle there was music playing from a tourist information booth, which we immediately recognised as River Dance! Nice traditional Slovak music...
Up towards the first main tower of the castle were some falcons and other birds, sitting around looking pretty (and one was being incredibly loud), and I got to hold one of them! The lady who was looking after the birds looked (and was dressed like) a blood elf from World of Warcraft. At the back of the castle was a part called Barbara Palace, which was built in 1430 for Queen Barbara of Celje, who was the wife of Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg. That part of the castle was now an exhibition space, showing armour, weapons and lots of paintings of coats of arms. We walked up some very steep and very narrow windy steps to Matúš Tower, which was a little scary but totally worth it for the views over the town. Back down on the ground we saw a tree covered in red shield beetles, and then saw that the ground was carpeted in them too.
We left the castle, content that we'd got our £3 worth and walked through the town where we passed the coolest fountain we've seen so far - it was a statue of a man wearing a top hat coming out of a well and the water was coming from his mouth in an arc and then "bouncing" off the ground and making another arc, then another. The fountains here in Slovakia, and the ones in Hungary, have been far and away the most interesting and original fountains we've ever come across. On our way back to the train station we saw a Museum of Wheels and a boy wearing a t-shirt saying "Perhaps it's time you left" and below it had an arrow pointing to the right.
Bratislava train station is the busiest station I have ever been to, of its capacity. It's not a big station and getting in or out of it is like trying to swim against a current, where the sea is full of huge barriers, in this case, people-shaped ones. The souvenir shop in the station was the last place on my list to check for snowstorms, and I did find one. Unfortunately, it was of a crappy bear, not a good bear, and it didn't even say Bratislava on it! So they do know what snowstorms are here, they just don't want anything to do with them, despite having such pretty castles and buildings which would look perfect in them! Never mind, maybe next time we're here they will have broadened their horizons.
It was still light so we strolled into town, and saw a woman wearing a t-shirt saying "I love greens. Respond. Fashion", a priest, and noticed for the first time a big interactive musical instrument in a park on the edge of town. There was a woman playing on it when we walked past, but tomorrow that will be me! We had forgotten to have lunch, and suddenly noticed how late it was so treated ourselves to falafel and sat in a park while we ate. There was a big LED screen telling us that it was 27 degrees, even though it was nearly 7pm by then! Near the falafel shop was another clothes market so we went exploring - Bratislava is like the clothes equivalent of Aladdin's Cave. Weeks ago I wrote about a t-shirt I'd seen on a girl which said "For You Splendid Smile" - just imagine my delight when I found that t-shirt in one of the sales! It is both hideous and curiously wonderful! We saw a girl wearing another great t-shirt saying "Cute and Happpy" - she must have been REALLY happy if she gave herself an extra P!
Walking home after our long day of exploring we passed the Slovakian radio station building which looks like a giant upside-down pyramid. We had read about it in on of the tour guides, and it's funny to think that we did/learned more in/about Bratislava than all of those tour group people.
∴ we win.