It would be so easy, wouldn’t it, to stay in one spot? That’s the trouble when you fall for somewhere new – the ever present tug of war between places yet unexplored versus the comfort of the familiar. But forward it is, crossing out of Bratislava into Western Slovakia.
Our aim is Trnava, one of Slovakia’s oldest towns. Granted town privileges in the 1200s, it was also the headquarters of the Church of Hungary in the 16th and 17th centuries, earning Trnava the nickname of “Slovak Rome”. It’s complex – keeping on top of the chain of rulers across time, in this part of the world. That period goes a long way to explain why there are so many churches in town. I count at least six within a relatively short walk.
The old town is enclosed by moat, forming an almost perfect square and being Sunday, it’s very, very quiet. Having finished with services, even some of the churches are shut! Luckily the locals have icecream and coffee to fall back on, otherwise the streets might well be bare.
We start our tour in the Holy Trinity Square, from which pedestrianised main streets radiate. A 15th century tower houses the tourist information office.
We pop into the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, constructed in 1629 – 1637. Originally intended as the church for the Jesuit university, it became the church for war veterans from 1777, when the university moved. In modern times, it’s Trvana’s parish church.
There’s also the Cathedral of St Nicholas ,(1380 – 1421) with its every so slightly mismatched towers, the result of a rebuild following a fire in 1676.
Indeed, the whole of Trnava is very much a step back through time.
But the absolute highlight of the day comes at the end, as we drive to our final stop for the day. Animal related, of course…have we met? Hares. See that little brown dot? The source of much joy.
Not one, not two, or even three….but wait for it….ten!!!! Ten clear hare sightings in under an hour. Four of those in one field! All in freshly harvested golden wheat fields, their brown speckled fur and ever on alert ears standing out in stark contrast to the golden tones surrounding them.
Hares are solitary creatures, unlike bunnies, they live alone. To see 10 in a day is extraordinary, never mind four in one field. That record is going to stand for a while. Meanwhile, by day’s end, only dogs can hear me – each time there was a new sighting, my squeals of excitement became a little higher. Such graceful, elegant creatures, hares. We’re so lucky to have seen so many. Even Himself was most excited.
We end our day on the banks of the Vah river, a peaceful spot in amongst the wildflowers.