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.