Monday, May 8

We arrived in the city of Košice (koh-shits-ka) in the afternoon and were picked up by my cousin MerriAnn and her husband Ken. They drove us to our hotel, Villa Angel, in Rožňava.

The hotel owner and her daughter, who spoke English, met us at the entrance and showed us to our room, which they had upgraded for no additional charge. They showed us the room, the wifi connection, how the door lock worked (it’s a key lock, but unique), and how to open the electronic gate with a key fob. We dropped our stuff off and then went with MerriAnn and Ken to their house.

What a wonderful home they have built here! Someday they will be able to live there full-time; it’s a process. In the meantime, they have a nice little backyard with a stream running through it. The yard has what they have dubbed “rooms”, of varying sorts; graveled sitting area; a herb bed; carrots and veggie beds; a bird feeding area; the “Great Wall of China”, which refers to the cement brick wall that edges one side of their yard, etc.

The inside of their small, comfy home is first-rate. The colors, the minimal decor, and especially the kitchen are modern but still have the feeling of Slovakia. MerriAnn had the kitchen built with nothing but drawers, except under the sink and in the corner – very smart!

After a comfy sit-down and chat our hosts could see that Alan and I were both very groggy; we’d only slept for a couple of hours since Sunday. They took us back to our hotel and gave us a snack basket full of goodies and some mineral water, soda and water.

Meals here in Slovakia are usually a somewhat large breakfast, a very large lunch, and then small snacks for dinner. Breakfast is before work, usually around 6:00 or so, lunch is around 2:00, and then dinner around 6:00.

When we returned to our room, we crashed hard at 6:00pm and slept until midnight. We shared a banana, read for a while, then went back to sleep around 2:00am. I woke back up at 2:30am and read until 6:00am then went back to sleep until 9:00. I was not feeling well at all, but was determined not to ruin anyone’s day, so I pushed through thinking it was just severe jet lag.

Tuesday, May 9

At 11:30 MerriAnn and Ken picked us up and took us to the Betliar Manor, a mansion that belonged to the nobility of Hungary, built by Count Emanuel I. Andrássy in the 1800’s. The mansion sits in an English-style park with long paths, and section that at one time were used for lawn tennis and other entertainments. We walked around the grounds for a while, and Alan took pictures of birds, while we waited for our tour of the manor to begin.

The tour was given in Slavok, but we were provided with pamphlets in English. The rooms of the manor are opulent, and crowded with portraits. There are several full suits of armor just inside the entrance, which include the horse’s armor, and there is even a small suit of armor for a child. A couple of game room walls are filled with the horns of trophies from dozens of deer, and even one large full head of an American elk. The walls are either laid with wood, or wallpaper, which is made of cloth. All of the ceilings are highly decorated too. Some of the leather chairs are painted/stained with crests or pastoral scenes. Every room has a very large ceramic heater in the corner. The heaters are beautiful and each one is unique. Small fires would be lit in the heater and that heat would distribute through the ceramic and thereby heat the room very nicely. At one point during our tour, a gentleman who spoke some rough English, pointed out a piece of art that he told us was of Saint Robert. It must have meant a lot to him, he seemed so happy about it. As we headed out we saw a Japanese Samurai Warrior yoroi – a coat of armor. There was just so much to see – MerriAnn said they’ve been here several times because they always see something new.

About halfway through the tour I started to feel much worse than earlier. Ken asked me a few questions and suggested that I might be dehydrated. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. We finished the tour without seeing the basement area so that I could sit and try and recover. Ken got me a mineral water and I drank that slowly. By the time we were having lunch I was feeling some bit better.

Lunch was at Pizza Micio at Area’l Zamma. Alan, Ken and I ordered small pizzas and MerriAnn ordered sweet potato fries with pulled pork on top. She said everything at this restaurant was good.

After lunch we had a nice slow walk around the village square. It was quaint and very clean. It looked like the town was fixing up the sidewalks as a few places were cordoned off, but it was easy to get around. We finished up our day walking back to our hotel and planning for tomorrow.