Europe 2009 – Off to Bratislava


I’m just going to give up on the alarm clock. I always wake up around 6am. Not much to do this morning but get ready to take the train to Bratislava. I could catch the 10:30am train, but that would put me there 2 hours before I could check into my apartment and I would have to lug around my backpack. So instead I will leave it with the hotel for the morning while I do a little more exploring and get something to eat.

Sunday is even worse than Saturday when it comes to places being open. Even the little shop in the passage is closed. But I am determined to find some food. I hadn’t thought about it until I woke up that I didn’t actually eat anything for dinner and only had the one sausage at the castle and a small sandwich for lunch. That would explain why I am so hungry.

After a bit of walking I notice a cafe with people drinking coffee. So I asked the waitress if they are serving food. She kind of understands and says “breakfast?” and I confirm that is what I’m looking for. She then tells me they have ham and eggs. That actually sounds great. I haven’t had a really big breakfast most of the trip and, as I said, I am starving.

It works out to be very good indeed. Three eggs sunny side up on top of a big, but thin, slice of ham along with bread and some sliced vegetables. I tried not to eat too fast. One: I wanted to enjoy it and two: I had plenty of time to waste before heading to the train station.

At one point I started hearing a voice on a loud speaker. I couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from, but soon I saw parents and children heading to the other side of this small structure across the street. After a while I figured it must be a puppet show of some kind. But since I was eating I couldn’t get up and investigate just yet. Once I was finished and paid for my meal (much cheaper than I expected), I headed around to see what was going on. I was correct, it is a puppet show. I could follow it a little. I hung around for a while watching and then decided to move on.

I wandered around checking out the things in the windows of the shops. I saw a book about Trencin that was in Slovak, English, Russian and some other language (I think Polish). I wish I had noticed it the other day when the shop was open. Oh well, one more thing to come back for some day.

It wasn’t really time to head to the train station, but I had wandered enough. So I stopped by the hotel and grabbed my backpack and headed to the station. After I purchased my ticket I found a seat and started to wait. I had 1.5 hours until my train departed and there is not much else to do but wait. It gave me a little bit of time to catch up on my journal and maybe watch part of a movie.

Trencin is in the middle of the run to Bratislava. The problem with that is there are already a lot of people on the train and there are not any places to sit. For some reason they use the cars with separate cabins for the trains to and from Bratislava. So there aren’t as many seats per car as you would find on the regular transit trains. After a couple of stops I saw a group of people leave one cabin and was able to grab one of the seats.

The ride back to Bratislava always feels faster than going to other cities from it. I guess that is because it is pretty obvious when you get to Bratislava and you don’t have to concentrate as hard on where you are in the trip.

After arriving it was a simple walk down to the tram station. I bought my ticket and waited for the tram to arrive. I know the people at the apartments are trying to make it as simple as possible, but they make you go a long way on one tram just to head back in almost the same direction. They could have said get off at “This” stop and walk across the street to the “Next” stop. “This” and “Next” being whatever the names of the stops are. Instead they find one stop further down the line that both lines use. I understand it, but it would have saved some time the other way.

I got to the apartment just as the lady was leaving. I guess she didn’t believe me when I told her I had to wait a few minutes for the tram to arrive when I called. I’m glad I got there when I did or I would have been standing around for a while probably. After she let me in and showed me around she took off because she was late for another appointment. I looked around and saw the wireless internet box. So I wanted to check and make sure it worked. It didn’t. So I’m back on the phone to ask what is up. I’m informed that there is a problem with the internet at that apartment. I comment that the reason I chose this one over the other they offered was because of it had an internet connection. She said she would come by and see what she could do. Unless she is a networking expert I can’t imagine what she could do. But I will give her a chance.

She told me I didn’t have to wait for her and that is good, because I have a lot of things I need to take care of. I must get some detergent so I can do laundry tonight and I’m not sure how late the Tesco stays open on Sundays. Also, I wanted to make my reservation on the hydrofoil to Budapest today. I’m not sure how crowded it gets, but they recommend making it at least 48 hours in advance.

So I head out to the Tesco. I pretty much know the direction I need to go, but I will need to work out the short cut. It was easy to find what I needed (a small box of detergent) and I continue on to my next challenge.

When I get to the Danube I am a little shocked and disappointed. They are rebuilding the flood walls. It looks like they are adding a couple of meters to the height. The last time I was here the water came close to cresting and it did crest a couple of years earlier. So it was probably needed. But it just screws up the views of the river with the big construction fence in the way.

I found the transportation dock pretty easily and the reservation desk was open and there was no line. When I started to ask about making a reservation the girl looked a little worried. I think she thought I was asking for today. Once I explained it was for Tuesday she started typing on her computer and within a few minutes I was booked and walking away with my ticket. All I have to do now is show up and get on the boat.

I decided I had a little time before I would to try and get something to eat. It’s only 4:30pm and most of the restaurants don’t start serving until five at the earliest. So I head to the square in front of the concert hall to see if it still has internet. It does, but it’s about as fast as I remember, which is not very. I can at least check if my last reservation request in Bucharest went through.

After a bit of walking around I pretty much came back to where I started in the square and picked a restaurant that had some pasta on the menu. I also saw snails on the appetizers list and ordered those also. They weren’t bad. Not much to them. I’m still curious how they would be in a place like Paris where they really know how to prepare them. The spaghetti was ok. It wasn’t great but filling. At least the beer is good and cold.

Earlier I saw a huge line waiting at an ice cream shop. I used to stop there on my last trip so I figured it must still be as good as last time. I went and got a couple of scoops on a cone. Now I can begin to see the money difference since my last visit. You pay by the scoop and the last time I calculated it was about 20 cents a scoop in US dollars. This time it was 50 cent Euro per scoop. This would make it close to 75 cents US. I was shocked that a couple of scoops would be that much. I strolled past a couple of other stands and they are all the same price.

I needed to get back and start doing laundry so I won’t have to worry about it the next day. On the way I stopped at the Tesco store again to grab a couple of cold beers to take back to the apartment. I bought some Gorgon beers. They are 10% alcohol, so they pack a bit of a punch.

I got back and the wireless router was now sitting on the table in the room. There was a note on it to try using the cable. I did and no difference. I guess I’ll have to rely on the Wifi hot spots in the square.

I started my first load. I wish they would include some instructions for the washer. I pushed a few buttons until it started running. I’m just not sure if it is doing exactly what it needs to. I started playing with the TV and finally found CNN and DW-TV. It’s nice seeing a few more English broadcasts.

I found the drying rack in a closet. This apartment doesn’t have a balcony, so I set it up in the entry hall. Once the washer finished I started loading up the rack and then put another load in the washer. It’s pretty small so I can’t do a lot in one pass.

I started flipping through the TV channels again to see if there was anything I missed. I was lucky enough to catch the very beginning of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. It was on a channel that I saw earlier in another language. It’s probably not easy to translate a movie that is mostly singing and keep the story straight. They did have captions. I watched them for a while and realized they were not Slovak, probably Hungarian. Bratislava is very close to the Hungarian border.
It was time to pop open one of the beers. I found a glass and poured myself a drink. It’s very smooth for a high alcohol beer. But after I finished the first one I could definitely feel it. The movie was coming to a close and so were my eyes. I fought it for a while, but gave in and went to 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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