Monday, June 8, 2009

Červený Kameň

The road to Červený Kameň is well marked. You'll see the castle itself a few minutes before the sign. The road takes you up a mountain and through thickly wooded forest before opening up into a free parking lot next to free (and clean) water closets.

The entire estate is very well maintained: well manicured lawns and gardens with roaming peacocks, clean outbuildings, non-crumbling walls and gates, and a very large castle. There are several places to purchase a snack and a former watch tower houses a small souvenir shop.

Our first stop was the Astur falconry which offers a live show for 4 euro. The falconry has a large variety of owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, and a raven in its collection. The live show was fun with the handlers guiding (and sometimes trying to guide) a great horned owl, raven, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and a hawk over the heads of audience members. The most impressive flyby was the Steppe eagle which flew down from the castle tower. Its wing span was easily 5 feet.

We then made our way up to the castle. The view from the tower gave an impressive paranoma of the Little Carpathians and some flatlands to the northeast. We could have paid a few euro for a 75 minute tour of the castle museum but had other sights we wanted to see that day. The museum is supposed to be quite nice, though.

There was one wedding party at the castle, one of three weddings we saw that day. Another was at Devin castle, and the most entertaining was in one of the villages we passed through--this one had a band which was leading the wedding party througout the main street of the village.

After leaving the castle, we stopped at the pizzeria in the nearby village of Casta. The garlic soup was good--nice creamy soup with lots of garlic and a bargain at 1.50 euro. When ordering pizza in Slovakia, don't let the price fool you. 2-3 people can easily eat from one 3 euro pizza as they are easily the size of a North American large pizza. Mind you, someone expecting a thick chewy crust will be disappointed as the pizza brings new meaning to the word thin crust. If you like freshly made, crispy thin crust that tastes of garlic topped with a thin amount of ingredients, you'll like Slovakian pizza.

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