The Beautiful Blue Danube…isn’t. At least not the part we’ve seen. It’s brown, just like the muddy Mississippi. Still, it’s an impressive sight, especially seen from the mountain where Devin Castle stands.

We stopped off at Devin Castle in Slovakia on our way from Vienna to Budapest. Somehow, it still seems odd just to drive right through a border once closed by the Iron Curtain. You can still see signs of the Communist era in the blocky buildings of Bratislava…but we also saw a sign for the ubiquitous McDonald’s.

aug2010_066We skipped Bratislava in favor of seeing Devin Castle, which is outside the city, figuring it would be easier than trying to figure out parking in the city. Which it was–once we found the place. Note–krobny is not castle in whatever they speak in Slovakia–castle is hrad. The first destination the GPS took us to was way up a mountain all right, but dropped us in the middle of a tiny little winding road in the middle of the woods.

Once we got there, we spent a nice couple of hours. It’s a bit of a walk up the hill, but the view is worth it. The site has supposedly been settled since the Stone Age. It has ruins dating back to the Romans; in fact, it supposedly held the first Christian church north of the Danube. Most of the fortifications you can see today are from the 13th or 15th century, however. Another sobering point…the Iron Curtain from the 20th century ran just in front of the castle, and it was a restricted military zone until the 1990s.

Today it’s a nice little place for an outing. There was a place to rent bicycles, some little outdoor eating areas at the bottom aug2010_075of the hill, even a hotel. Rebecca liked the exhibition about ancient board games; she and Roy played a game of something (she won). She also liked dumping water down the really deep well. It takes several seconds to hit the water at the bottom and echoes loudly once it hits!

Our visit to Devin Castle was an enjoyable interlude on our drive…just a couple hours from Budapest.

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