TRAVEL STORIES: Homecoming from Slovakia
Posted on by Veronika Prielozna
For part 1 = Read HERE.
After 6 weeks traveling in Slovakia – my mother land – I returned home full of new memories, experiences and self-inquire answers. For many it might looks like I was playing ‘foreigner tourist’ in my motherland admiring drinks, food, castles and beautiful scenery. But there was more happening under my skin.
Internally I was pondering on questions like “who are you? And “who are you becoming?” I was reflecting on my country roots, my ‘over the ocean’ life built up from scratch new home. In this process, I used power of undeniable spirit and belief I that I was destined for this work— “to build a bridge across the ocean so others can follow”.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
On this journey back home, I followed Socrates timeless quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Since I retired from cooperation work for good, self – inequity started taking many shapes in my consciousness that let me to face many memories from family, childhood and mother country. This is a snapshot of my inner or outer travel story where country exploration, family and friends reuniting and self-inquire came to me.
Bratislava – the beginning and ending of our visit.
If you love traveling back in time following historian streets and wondering what will show on next turn, Bratislava – old town is your place to enjoy. We met with family, walk and explore and felt so proud to be a part of such s beauty county with a rich ancient history to explore.
The castle building includes four towers (one on each corner) and a courtyard with a 80 m (260 ft) deep water well. The largest and tallest tower is the Crown Tower on the southwest corner. The 47 m (154 ft) tower dates from the 13th century and for approximately 200 years beginning in the mid-1500s housed the crown jewels of Hungary. The exterior walls and inside corridors contain fragments of old Gothic and Renaissance construction elements. The walled-up entrance gate from the 16th century is still visible to the east of the main hall/entrance.
Tip for Bratislava travel:
Holders of the Bratislava CARD City & Region tourist card can visit the gallery free of charge
The castle stands just inside Slovak territory on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria. The border runs from west to east along the Morava River and subsequently the Danube. Prior to 1989, the Iron Curtain between the Eastern Bloc and the West ran just in front of the castle. Although the castle was open to the public, the area surrounding it constituted a restricted military zone and was heavily fortified with watchtowers and barbed wire. After the Velvet Revolution the area was demilitarized.
“Travel doesn’t become adventure until you leave yourself behind”
The most photographed part of the castle is the tiny watchtower, known as the Maiden Tower. Separated from the main castle, it balances perilously on a lone rock and has spawned countless legends concerning imprisoned lovelorn daughters leaping to their deaths.
Inside the castle is a sprawling landscape of walls, staircases, open courtyards, and gardens in various states of disrepair. A restoration project is ongoing since the end of World War II.
Time to travel to North Slovakia
RAJECKE TEPLICE – a spa and wellness town, my husband’s spa home town.
APHRODITE – The Wellness Spa that can be enjoyed in any season of your life.
Zuzka and I with Aphrodite backdrop of healing waters on us.
Hotel Encian – it became our Slovak “HomeAway from home!”
From the very beginning, the Hotel Encian has being a meeting place for the inhabitants and visitors. Locals still keep mentioning about the pianist in the corner of the room, about the dance parties and the atmosphere of the evening sittings with music on the terrace, about the weddings and social events that took place here. The hotel still carries its vibrant past until today. I have been not only a restaurant, but often a cultural and social center.
LIETAVA CASTLE, our first castle to visit.
It is an extensive castle ruin in the Súľov Mountains of northern Slovakia, between the villages of Lietava and Lietavská Svinná-Babkov in the Žilina District. The castle was built after 1241, most likely as an administrative and military centre. It occupies a strategic position alongside the Amber Road, a trade route between Europe and Asia along which amber and other goods were transported.
Rebuilding interior of Lietava Castle into original beauty.
A Personal Note:
To find a way to castle, kind assistance was offered to me by a castle castellan. I was one moment from panicking. He picked me up from the wood like lost soul and gave me his jeep ride. Timing was perfect, once I said: “Oh, God I am lost and alone in the wood, soon dark!”
He was my ‘Godsent’!
He delivered me directly into my husbands’ hands – who was already on the way to save me. Both, we were so grateful for this assistance and hospitality that we received on “his castle”. I leaned about their organization which is rebuilding this castle a “stone by stone” into original beauty. If you traveling around, do not miss this amazing place in rebuilding beauty project and you will learn so much from these remarkable down-to-earth peoples and their plans for Lietava Caste future that is full of good promises!
CICMANY – Slovak village – Scanzen
Timbered houses with ridge roofs, galleries and pointed or linear wall decorations have been preserved in Čičmany. Of particular interest are the very specific white patterns which are painted on the exterior walls of the houses to decorate them. The local folk music, special folk costumes and folk dances of the village have been preserved as well.
It is a castle situated on a high rock above Orava river in the village of Oravský Podzámok, Slovakia. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. The castle was built in the Kingdom of Hungary in the thirteenth century. Many scenes of the 1922 film Nosferatu were filmed here, the castle representing Count Orlok‘s Transylvanian castle.
Orava Castle stands on the site of an old wooden fortification, built after the Mongol invasion of Hungary of 1241. Its history follows a familiar pattern of construction, destruction, reconstruction, fire, various ownerships and territorial squabbles. The original design was in Romanesque and Gothic style; it was later reconstructed as a Renaissance and Neo-Gothic structure, hugging the shape of the 520-metre spur on which it perches.
BOJNICE – CINDERELLA CASTLE
It is a medieval castle in Bojnice, Slovakia. It is a Romanesque castle with some original Gothic and Renaissance elements built in the 12th century. Bojnice Castle is one of the most visited castles in Slovakia, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and also being a popular filming stage for fantasy and fairy-tale movies.
Our 41st. wedding anniversary found us here at Bojnice Castle.
HIGH / LOW TATRAS
THE HIGH TATRAS, a mountain range, like our Himalayas, It is having 29 peaks over 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) AMSL are, with the Southern Carpathians, the only mountain ranges with an alpine character and habitats in the entire 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) length of the Carpathian Mountains system. The first European cross-border national park with Poland.
LOW TATRA is a mountain range of the Inner Western Carpathians in central Slovakia. Tourism is very popular in the Tatras. Not only are these hubs of hiking and cross-country skiing trails, but Jasna is the largest ski resort in Central Europe and is served by the tourist town of Liptovsky Mikulas. Liptovsky Mikulas also offers a range of summer activities such as rafting, kayaking, boating on the lake, fishing, a hot springs aqua park and hiking. There are many places to stay, restaurants and bars in the town.
TRENCIANSKE TEPLICE – my home spa from my childhood.
The town of Trenčianske Teplice is known not only for its thermal springs and the health resorts, but also for an international film festival Art film and the Bridge of Fame. A legend says that the healing springs discovered a gammy shepherd while he was looking for a lost sheep. He found a small hot water pool with a sulphuric smell and after several days, he recovered.
The town is nested amid lovely nature in the Teplicka Valley, and thanks to the exceptional location and the healing springs it was given a Romanic attribute – ‘Carpatian Jewel’. When lords of Trenčin Castle learned about this natural jewel in the past, they discovered that it’s worth not only being protected, but also aggrandised. Palatine Štefan Zápoľský in the 16th century laid the foundation stone of what later became the spa resort area. The spa is open year round, and is visited by people looking for a cure for diseases of locomotive organs and nervous system.
TRENCIN CASTLE – the closed castle to my home town, I used to worked under the castle having a perfect view from my working desk on the castle. Lucky girl!
History of the castle goes back to the age of the Roman Empire, testified by the inscription telling about the victory of the II. Roman legion at Laugaricio (the Latin name of Trenčín) in 179 AD. The oldest building is a stone rotunda, plausibly founded in the Great Moravian period. In the midst of the 13th century the castle was the seat of the Baron Jakab Cseszneky, who was King Béla IV‘s swordbearer. Later in the 13-14th century, the castle became the residence of Matthew III Csák, the legendary “Lord of the river Váh and the Tatra Mountains“. He gave name to the Máté Tower, a keep dominating both the castle silhouette as well as that of the town. Within the precincts of the lower castle can be found the water well , also known as the “well of love.” Which according to legend was dug by a Turkish prince called Omar, who had great love for the beautiful Fatima, whom he had to redeem by digging a well in the rock. In fact the well was dug by a garrison in the 16th century, it took them 40 years and is approximately 80 m deep.
Returning home over the ocean, brought many emotional families and friend’s gatherings, where we rechecked our life progress. The way ‘we were’ and new ‘way of becoming’. I learned so many new details about my grandparents and many mysteries were whispered into my ears.
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My inner travel story
was activated a way before I hit road walking to get here. Many people came to see me just because of their curiosity how old/ young/ happy or fat I became, many of them want to use my connection to the west and only a few of them they truly care about me.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” ~ Mark Twain~
“What have I learned from my travel Slovakia visit?“
Journey home helped me to define myself.
It felt like Slovaks wanted me to prize the country under the High Tatras, that I love and was born into it. On the other side of the ocean, Canadians expected me to cherish my new adopted country for their natural beauty and higher country status and privileges presented to the world.
Love them both for amazing experience (east and west). I learnt by living my life in each country and paid my dues to each of them: a half-time of my active working life I lived in Slovakia and second half was spent in Canada. Yes, I created opportunities to experience and enjoy my life in different ‘hemispheres’ of the globe – so unalike and unique.
“I feel like a Queen in richness of life experience!”~Veronika~
SLOVAKIA is fully and completely engraved in my DNA and has been working as a strong foundation for my life. It anchors me during my stormy days and aligns me with my core values, no matter where I am.
CANADA offered me new hope for better future and improved life outlook. I took this opportunity to change life for better with all hidden challenges/ surprises that appeared on my way. I restarted my life in my mid age, not easy time for such a ‘heroic’ journey. I slowly grew my wings under my raincoat so one day I could’ leap forward’ and fly freely to my dream destination – my mission already accomplished!
“But who am I beyond passport status?“
I learned “I am who I am” – an integrative body and soul. Honesty, I keep enjoying my “inner dance” with both polarities. One moment being European with taste for style and classic beauty and next moment embodying newly gained wisdom as a Canadian, or even “American Grandma”, who harvested her courage and self – mastery. All is settled well in my multi-dimensional existence, now.
My soul story unfolds daily.
I belong to self only.
My “home country” is mobile.
My home can travel with me like a flower pot.
My home is defined only by my sensation and vibration in borderless space of the globe.
Despite of amazing travel moments, once our time came to return — after 6 weeks of travel life under strict Covid restriction and limitations — we felt ready, even ‘kind of home sick’ for our beautiful comfortable home on Pacifica Ocean shore. We followed our prescheduled routine:
Bratislava – Vienna – Amsterdam – Calgary to Victoria, BC.
” The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust~
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Written by Veronika Prielozna
“See you all around the globe traveling for wellness, good cuisine and fun in between!”
For more inner travel inquire that Veronika can assist you using yoga and healing arts click here.