This was our last full day in Slovakia. We toured the ruins of The medieval Devin Castle and then wandered the streets of Bratislava’s old city.
The story of Devin Castle significantly predated the ruins of this thousand year old bastion. Excavations have revealed Roman fortifications dating to the second century and the foundation of a Christian church from the third century.
Devin Castle sits at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. The steep slopes and mountainous terrain made this an ideal point for the protection of these important trade routes. Unfortunately, it was also a point of significant conflict. The castle stands in ruins today because it was captured and then destroyed by Napoleon in 1809.
Today, the Danube remains important for the transport of commerce and tourists through Central and Eastern Europe. Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital and largest city, is located along the banks of the Danube and is a mixture of the ultra-modern and the old world.
We will depart the morning of June 7th for Vienna Austria and spend the day wandering the central city as we await our night train departure for Hannover and then onward to Berlin.
Our time with Svetlana, Milan, and their children has been special beyond words. “Svetla”, as we called her, became as one of our own children in 1996. Nothing in the intervening 22 years has lessened our love for her. It is gratifying to see that life has smiled upon her and her family.
Waiting for us in Berlin is our first exchange student son, Andre Lieber and his family. The sadness of our departure from Svetla is tempered by our excitement for that reunion.
Peace Everyone. Pete
PS. We developed a strong friendship with Canadians Tom Shillington and his wife Nanci Burns while walking the Camino on this journey. We laughingly referee to ourselves as the “doppelgänger couples”. There is some truth in that lighthearted reference. They have just returned to their home in Ottawa from their lengthy journey in Europe. Tom sent me a message and a bit of a caution. Returning home after such a journey is like rising to the surface too fast from a deep exploration of the sea. One risks suffering from “the bends” if one does not take the time to “decompress”. The metaphor is Tom’s, and I imagine very well applied. Perhaps I will borrow upon it in penning some final reflections nearer the end. There are 15 nights to go.