Fog and Castles

by mutteringhousewife

We’re getting the hang of this now. What we want is castles, atmosphere and castles. Ruined if possible. We’ve had two in the last couple of days.

The first was care of our dear friends the Laciks. We first met Igor over twenty years ago when he joined the then boyfriend’s research group at Sydney University. They share a horrifyingly similar sense of humour, so we saw a lot of him and his then new wife Beata while they were in Sydney, then again when we went to Europe just before we were married. Contact since then has been very sporadic, but the memories were sweet so we were delighted to spend the day with them yesterday. They were very generous entertainers. And you’ll never guess, they have our dogs!

That isn’t Meriadoc. They also had the Slovak national instrument whose name escapes me, but it was like a cross between a didgeridoo and a bassoon, but had a surprisingly high sweet tone.

We tore ourselves away from the dogs and photos of the dogs when they were puppies (they actually have two children too and we got a couple of photos of them and very good looking they’ve turned out too, but the dogs, you know) to go to Castle Devín.

It was really really ruined, there were even Roman bits in it, and made me realise how very little I know about the history of this part of Europe. For the kids the highlight was the well into which you could drop a stone and count to about ten before it plunked into the water in the bottom. The castle is at the confluence between the Donau and the Moldau, so we walked along the banks for a bit until we saw this monument.

Lucky we were with locals, because there is no plaque or explanation. It is made from the barbed wire fence that separated Austria from Slovakia. People were shot trying to cross the border before the Velvet Revolution, there’s another monument nearby with all of their names. I know, really heart stopping.
We then went to have lunch at the highest point in Bratislava, the restaurant in the television tower. Here’s the Muffet and Beata, and you can see the view behind them. That detail behind them is actually a reflection from inside the restaurant, don’t get your hopes up.

Yes, thick thick fog. We may as well have been underwater, but the food was sensational. Igor did threaten to keep us there eating until the fog cleared, but we would have still been there now and who would be running the Bratislava Polymer Institute? It would have ground to a halt. What was happening outside was that the fog was combining with the subzero temperatures to do this to all of the foliage.

Driving back down through the iced forest, Igor remarked that you wouldn’t have been surprised to have a werewolf leap out of the undergrowth and drip blood all over the car, and he was right, it was dead atmospheric. It made everything look black and white and for the first time I realised what an impact Little Red Riding Hood would have made in such a landscape.

Today we headed for Salzburg, but we really had to stop at Castle Dürnstein where Richard the Lionheart was held captive until he was rescued by the minstrel Blondel. Supposedly. It was way up the cliff behind the village and again very ruined, but we got the general idea.

The village below seemed to have an apricot theme. The tiny cobblestone streets were lined with shops selling apricot jam, apricot liqueurs, apricot nectar, apricot hand cream, apricot chocolate (I was tempted), dried apricots (excellent), apricot chutney and I lost focus a bit after that. But don’t think they only sell apricot products.

Though you’ll note the apricot coloured cardboard.
And then on through the fog and many more kilometres of magical iced forest to Salzburg. Of which more presently, I’m sure.