Out of all of the places I have visited in my lifetime of travels, the place that fascinates me the most and earns a return visit is the haunted ruins of Hrad Cachtice in Western Slovakia. My first Cachtice journal for Igougo in 2002 was about my first trip to these awesome ruins in September 2001.
I returned to Slovakia for a longer stay with my friend Ivan in April 2002, and after being there two months, I was jonesing for a return visit to this mysterious and chilling place that was the sight of so much intrigue and violence during the 16th and early 17th centuries. So, I begged my friend Ivan to go back to Cachtice on his next day off.
It was a cloudy Friday morning when Ivan and I departed from his home in Borovce, Slovakia, for Cachtice. The first time around, Ivan's brother Bohus drove us to Cachtice in his old Skoda, but this time around, we took our bikes to Cachtice.
Cachtice is a village located about 20 miles north of Ivan's home in Borovce. It took about 90 minutes to get to Cachtice, and by then, it was starting to drizzle. Lovely, I thought. But we were so close to the castle and could see it from downtown Cachtice that I could almost smell it! I convinced Ivan even though the rain was coming down harder since we started our adventure to go up the steep hill to the castle.
So off we went to Hrad Cachtice. The rain kept falling and falling, and Ivan and I were getting soaked by the rain. But we kept peddling. Ivan thought I was nuts for wanting to continue the trip, but I wasn't about to give up, and about 30 minutes later, we were at the castle ruins. Countess Alzbeta Bathory's old stomping grounds were even more beautiful this time than they were the first time I was there, and I swear you could hear the screams of the young women who were allegedly killed for their blood for Alzbeta to bathe in or drink to retain her youth.
Ivan and I walked to the tower where Alzbeta Bathory spent her last years locked up as a prisoner of the Thurzo family for her deeds. One could hear Alzbeta's screams to be let out of her tower prison. It was very chilling from me, and that wasn't because of the rain that was now coming down in buckets.
After taking more pictures and looking around Hrad Cachtice, Ivan and I decided to head back down the hill to Cachtice's museum and something to eat. After touring the museum (see entry in first journal), we stopped at this little cafe in Cachtice that served hot soup and bread for a pittance. Ivan ordered a hearty and spicy stew with some bread and Topolcancy beer. There were several locals in the restaurant on their lunch breaks or having a drink, and there was one patron who looked like he was already three sheets to the wind with his red eyes and drunken look, and it was only noon.
The soup was thick and spicy and full of some kind of meat or mushroom. Usually I would ask what kind of meat was in the soup being a semi-vegetarian, but I was too hungry to give a flying rat's butt and ate heartily.
Bellies full, Ivan and I gathered our bikes and courage for the long rainy ride back to his parents' place in Borovce. After taking shelter under a bus stop shelter to let some of the hard rain pass, we were on our way. It took another 90 minute ride back to his parents' place, and by then, Ivan and I were soaked to the skin, and I could hear the squeaky, squishing noise of my sopped sneakers as I walked inside. Ivan and I changed into dry clothing and put our shoes somewhere to dry and took a long nap. It took four days for my sneakers to dry, but fighting the rain and bad weather, I look back on the trip as well worth the time and wet clothes and sneakers. All that to get a Hrad Cachtice fix!