Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chelsea in Bratislava

Sunday - Wednesday, October 28th - 31st

I am writing this a week after the fact, and I think I will group all of the happenings in Bratislava together, despite that they were spread out over 4 days. That's how exciting it was. *sarcastic voice here*

Well, we got up and got packed on Sunday and headed to the train station. We stopped at the station where we had bought our train tickets at to try to see if we could get any cheaper tickets. I had suspected we had overpaid for ours after looking online; I thought maybe we had round trip tickets instead of one-way. The lady at the counter told me that we had the cheapest tickets, so I just nodded okay and we were on our way. I think she was employing the Korean-way of "I don't actually know, so instead of finding out, I'll just say no". Who knows, but we didn't have time to worry about it.

We then headed to the *other* train station where our train was leaving from. We had barely $.50 worth of change, but we were hungry. I spied a change counter with a big "No commission!" poster, so I changed my 7leftover from Brussels and we got gyros and a coke to share before getting on our train. It was so delicious! We then jumped on our train and spent about 3 hours and something on the train. It was mostly uneventful, but quite enjoyable. I loved going through the countryside and getting to see vast green spaces and endless sky. I spent a while just staring out the window. One interesting thing that happened was when the ticket guy came around to check tickets, the chick across the aisle from us had issues. I couldn't completely figure it out, but she had a print out and I guess she was supposed to have gotten a different ticket at a counter before leaving. She had to pay something like 50in fines. She was pretty pissed (understandably, I think), and as the ticket-checker walked off, she kind of mouthed off to him. It was awkward yet entertaining. (Hey, at least it wasn't us this time!)

We finally pulled into Bratislava and got off the train in the late afternoon. We consulted a map and decided to walk the mile or so to our next place. We had again reserved a flat through AirBnB. The sun had set by the time we got there, and the process of finding the apartment, key, and entering the flat was a bit confusing. The key had been left for us under the mat, but when we entered, we thought maybe someone was actually in the apartment. I had been sure that we rented the entire flat, so this was particularly concerning. We poked around for a bit and decided no one was there after all...

We found a note with the WiFi password, so I logged on and sent a message to our host. He responded that he was at work (therefore he wasn't at the apartment, thankfully). However, he had left food in a skillet on the stove and the washing machine was running. I felt like that was awkward and weird for expecting to have guests. He messaged me saying he was going on vacation the next day so he had to wash some things and would come by later that night to pick up some last minute things.

Overall the apartment was quite different from our last place. It was our host's actual home, so it had a lived-in feeling. It was comfortable and clean for the most part. I guess I just felt awkward with all the photos of his son and his personal items scattered around. However, I was happy to discover his external hard drive hooked up to his 50" flatscreen in the living room.

We settled in and after a bit of research, found a nearby restaurant we could walk to. It was Italian and a bit of a walk, but it was also cheap and delicious. I had one of my favorite pasta dishes that I haven't had in over a year: gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce with pears and walnuts. So yummy!! After stuffing ourselves, we headed back to the apartment and watched a movie.

The next day (Monday) we had a lazy day. The weather was totally overcast so we spent the day in front of the TV watching some much-needed English TV/movies. We did make it out of the apartment around 4 in order to head to the bus station and make our reservation to go to Prague. We also needed to get some groceries so we could cook.

We walked about 2 miles to the bus station (in chilly wind with some light rain at times... aka terrible weather to walk in!!), but we were able to get the reservation we wanted with no problems.

We then walked about another 3/4 of a mile to the big Tesco in town. After an hour of shopping, we spent about 45on essentials (groceries and wine and beer, of course). Loaded down like a couple of pack mules (okay, Romeo was more of the pack mule and I just had one heavy bag), we began our way home. We luckily were able to get a tram from right outside the store to right in front of our flat. I was glad I had looked at the tram station near our apartment that morning and seen which tram numbers went through it! We unloaded our bags and made some dinner. Then, we watched more movies... (sensing the theme here...?)

The following day (Tuesday) had even worse weather than the previous one; actual rain storms and exactly zero sun. Romeo braved the elements and went for a run. I think he found the single hour that morning in which it wasn't completely miserable outside. When he got back we had breakfast and again watched movies for a while. Actually, that's the only thing we did...

I was starting to feel guilty about how little we had done (well, how few "cultural" things we had done) in Bratislava, so I tried to look for a few things we could do the following day, which had a much better weather forecast. I decided that I am just tired. Yeah, we rested and slept a lot those couple days, but travel in general is just exhausting. And we had now been on the road for about a month. That can wear you out! I just didn't have the enthusiasm and energy to be a good tourist...

However, on Wednesday, we did finally make it out to do some sightseeing. I wanted to see Bratislava Castle, and Romeo wanted to show me Old Town, which he had seen the previous day on his run. We walked to Old Town in the early afternoon and just enjoyed being together and being outside in decent weather. We walked a while and then decided to get a bite to eat. Neither of us wanted to spend too much money, since we had just dropped a bit at the grocery store. We ate at a little cafe and each had a little slice of cake, and Romeo had a coffee. We realized as we left that the cashier had given us back our balance (7) rather than our change (3, out of a 10 we gave her). We decided to accept our good luck and pay it forward rather than go back. With renewed energy (and sugar coursing through our veins), we walked further through the town and took some photos.

As twilight set in, we finally got to Bratislava Castle. We walked around the outside wall for a while then climbed to the outlook point. There were loads of high-school kids there, so we got a view and a photo, then decided to head back. I was exhausted by that point. We passed a pretty cathedral (St. Martin's, I think) and enjoyed the area. Finally we found ourselves back at the Tesco and grabbed the same tram home. I was just glad that we made it into town whilst in Bratislava. But, overall, I wasn't too impressed. It was dirtier and not as cute as Budapest, and just had very little personality. But, I can now say I've been to Slovakia! So, that's something...

List of Movies We Saw in Bratislava:
Django Unchained
The Hobbit
The Internship
Shawshank Redemption
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
Black Swan (I fell asleep before the ending)
The Departed (Romeo, not me)
The Great Dictator
What Happens in Vegas
and How I Met Your Mother: Season 7 (all of it)

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