I’ve been to my first Slovakian wedding this week, in a medieval castle that retains a Roman inscription in its cliff-face. It was beautiful. The castle provided a perfect setting for the ‘ceremony of love’ – no religion, no officiality, no formality, just romantic poetry and friends giving readings about the couple’s life together.
I didn’t know them; I was a plus-one. I know them now, obviously, and met some other cool people, including a Bolivian musician and a guy who completed a triathlon in a banana hammock. We were treated to photos and a full description…
Trencin Castle is a couple of hours’ drive from anywhere, so we flew into Vienna and spent two days exploring the Romanesque city before heading to Slovakia. I loved Vienna – as you can imagine, not least for its abundance of tea houses with their chocolate delicacies, squelching apple strudel, chocolate mousses, squidgy plum strudel, chocolate tortes and squishy other things that I generally ignore in favour of chocolate.
As with any major city, we were accosted within ten minutes by a street vendor, offering tickets to a classical concert by the Mozart Orchestra in the Konzerthaus. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love most kinds of live music, and I like dressing up – although we went in summer clothes and did not wear the regency dress and traditional wigs of that period, unlike the performers who looked authentic and sounded wonderful.
It’s such a stylish, decadent city, it was a pleasure just walking the streets or relaxing in the cafés watching the world go by. In the cultural quarter, we collapsed onto street beds – large lime-green coloured weatherproof loungers where we knocked back frozen yoghurt with fruits and chocolate sauce in between lunch and afternoon tea. These beds provided an eclectic contrast to the baroque architecture surrounding us, which didn’t matter as we closed our eyes in the sweltering sunshine.
The palaces we visited were elegance personified. In the Schönbrunn Palace we muddled through the confusing family tree. I understand it better now that I’m back in London and googling… The men all blurred into one, so I focused on two of the women: Elizabeth, who became the wife of her first cousin, Emperor Franz Joseph I – an arranged marriage that took place when she was 16 and, while he adored her, she hated him. She spent her unhappy life in the spotlight, a beautiful woman travelling, socialising and dieting until being murdered on a trip to Geneva. A sad story with many parallels to our own Diana. Maria Theresa was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dynasty – a woman with 11 daughters, only one of whom was allowed to marry for love – just like the couple in Slovakia!
One of their 21st century wedding guests, who was also visiting Vienna, checked out the wedding party’s hotel address on Google, determinedly thumping the coordinates into his satnav despite his girlfriend commenting that it seemed to be a different address to the email confirmation. After two hours of driving in an apparently wrong direction, both believing this to be TomTom’s clever means of rerouting to bypass traffic jams, he ended up in a Slovakian field, 150 miles south west of his hoped-for destination!
The lessons here are: a.) if you run a business that relies on people finding you, it is imperative that your online address is as clear as the crystals suspended from the chandeliers at the Schönbrunn Palace. Head offices at a different location, warehouses, showrooms etc should be clearly defined so there can be no confusion. Check your markers on Google’s mapping systems. And b.) sometimes it’s worth listening to your girlfriend.
It seems too obvious to quote Midge Ure’s lyrics, and anyway, that’s a depressing song, far removed from the bright, happy trip I’ve just had. But it’s late and my brain is still in holiday mode… “The music is weaving. Haunting notes, pizzicato strings – the rhythm is calling.” Rhythm was certainly calling all week, so that’s appropriate anyway. From the classical concert to the two amazing bands who played in that stunning location on a craggy cliff, halfway below the historic castle walls and above the ancient town.
We danced, we laughed, we drank various local nail-polish-removing-type brews. Now we’re back at work and I’m helping my clients to make sure their businesses are visible online in all the right places. If you’d like to be more easily found, give me a call, drop me an email or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.