Europe 2009 – Revisiting My Past


I woke up today around 5:30. I fell asleep a lot sooner than usual with the help of the beers. I didn’t have anything to eat and wasn’t quite ready to head out, so I just had to suffer through it for a while.

After my shower I had one smaller batch of clothes to wash. Mainly my jeans and a few things I missed last night. While they were cleaning I checked the drying rack and was able to pull most of the small items off of it and reposition the others for better drying.

I still had some time before the washer was finished, so I thought I would take a look at the internet problem again. There is a DSL modem and a Cable modem. The cable modem doesn’t even seem to have power. It looks like the wall wart power supply is dead. But, it is the same voltage as the DSL so I give it a shot. It shows signs of life and the lights are showing green. So, I plug the computer into it and get a little somewhere. After a while of fighting I get online. So, now I can check my email and maybe even chat with a few people without having to find a cafe with Wifi.

It works well for a while, but then it starts resetting over and over again. Maybe that is what burned up the power supply to begin with. So, I unplug it to let it rest. I will check it again later.
The washer finally finishes and I hang the new damp cloths on the rack. Now it is time to head out and revisit Bratislava.

My first goal is a little lunch. I remember a Greek place on the walkway toward the Presidential Palace. I remembered correctly and stop and get a gyro. It’s pretty good and they have a chili sauce that they put on it that gives it a bite.

I get to the Palace and catch the guards doing their on the hourly routine. My next stop is the little outdoor church I found on my last trip. I know the basic direction; I’m just not exactly sure which streets to take. But with not much effort I recognize the road that leads to it. After a while it stops being a road and becomes a path. Then you just take the first fork to the right and follow that trail up to the church.

Once I arrived I found a woman and a small boy already there. The last time I was here there was a woman sitting in the church. I don’t feel right taking a lot of pictures while someone is praying. So I sit and wait. Not only does the woman not leave, but a man shows up also. He starts going around cleaning up old candles and putting out new ones in their place. So, I don’t think I’m going to have a chance to do this. Maybe it’s fate.

While I was sitting I can see some of the bricks that line the walls. They all have prayers or just words of thanks. Most in Slovak, but I can also see Italian, Latin, German, Ukrainian, Russian and even some English ones.

I do manage to get the GPS on my phone to work so I can mark the spot and I leave it on to trace the route back to the Palace so I can find it easier next time.

I guess I’ll head up to the castle now and see what is going on up there. It is being renovated and will be that way until 2012 according to the website. They started last year (2008) so that will be a long renovation.

When I get to the top, it already looks pretty different. Apart from the scaffolding around parts, the exterior is very white and smooth. I guess it’s a good thing. But it starts to look more like a Disney creation than a real castle. There is working going on all around the castle also. So you have to watch out for the small bulldozer hauling dirt back and forth around the grounds.

Since there is not much else to see up here I start heading down the stairs that lead to the old town. I’m not really sure what I want to do now. I’m really just in the mood to relax. But I should do something.

I see the bus depot under the Novy Most (New Bridge) and remember the bus to Devin Castle is down there. I don’t want to tour the castle again. But there are some good views of the Danube and some quiet cafes’ to hang out at for a while.

The bus ride is about 20 minutes, but your choices of tickets are 15 minutes and the 60 minutes. You would think they could come up with a 30 minute ticket in there somewhere. I go ahead and purchase 2 60 minute tickets so I don’t have to worry about getting one on the other end. The last time I took this trip, it was in the morning and there were a lot of people traveling for work. This time the bus is pretty much empty except for maybe 6 to 8 other people.

Once we arrived I took a few shots of the castle exterior and then head to the park along the river. They are building a new flood wall here and you have to use a temporary wooden bridge to get over the construction.

Once I’m down at the river I can see how much lower the river is compared to the last time I was here. It’s probably a good 3 meters lower. The Danube still looks like it is flowing fast, but I see a few boats on it and they aren’t fighting as much as the ones I saw last time. There are a few more boats this time also. I think they shut down a lot of the river traffic last time because of the conditions.

I’m glad it’s not as bad, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to take the trip to Budapest on the river. I could do the train, but the boat will be interesting.

After a bit of roaming I head back to the castle to grab a beer and rest a little. The first time I visited there was only one place. Now there are two to choose from. One serves Heineken and the other Starobrno. So it’s a pretty easy choice. I don’t think I would choose Heineken even if I was in Germany.

I sit down and wait for a while but then learn that there is no waitress and you have to go in and purchase your beer at the bar. So in I go and am pleased to learn that a beer is only 1 euro here (and it’s not a tiny little glass). I may stay here a while. The bus only comes once an hour and as I’m half way through my first beer I’ve still got 45 minutes. I finish the first and go back in for another.

There are three German people trying to get a drink at the bar. The woman in the group keeps asking for a coffee. When the girl says all she can make is espresso, the woman repeats that all she wants is a coffee. I’m kind of relieved to see that it’s not just American tourists that can be a royal pain in the butt.

It doesn’t look like I will have enough time for a third cheap beer. The bus will be here in about 15 minutes and it only comes once an hour. So I pack up and head over to the bus stop.

This trip is a little later in the afternoon and I guess some people are off work early. The bus is a little more packed and there is someone at each stop and it just gets fuller as we go. Still not that bad and it is a short ride.

I guess I should look at souvenirs. Not so much for me, but I would like to get some things for people at home. I just don’t know where I will put them in my backpack. I contemplated going by the post office and look into shipping my jacket back. I certainly won’t need it (if I ever really did) for the rest of my trip. Especially since my last two destinations are further south than I am now. I was looking at the weather for Bucharest and it is in the high 80s.

I end up not buying anything. I just don’t see anything that I think is worth the effort. I can’t think of anything else I want to get done today, so I head over to the Tesco to get a couple of brews and then off to the pizza place I used to pass on my last trip.

I got a pizza with pepperoni and sliced peppers on it. Pretty spice and good. The cheese has a smoky flavor to it.

I hook the cable modem back up and am able to get online just long enough to check my email. Then it starts cycling off and on again. Very frustrating.

No interesting movies on tonight (at least not in English). So I watched one on my laptop. I finish the beers that I purchased earlier and just like last night they help me drift off into sleep.

Author: Alan (Travelin' Al) Stiebing

Alan Stiebing has been traveling for over 20 years. He blogs and photographs his experiences and passions for and other digital and print outlets.

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