Sunday, September 23, 2007

180 Degree Panorama of Little Brooklyn

You Can't Beat a Pair of $2.00 IKEA Slippers

High Tatras Panorama

Hybe and the High Tatras


One of the highest peaks in Slovakia at over 8100 ft.

Susan and Milos


Permon and Kate

Little Brooklyn

This is my view from the flat.

Chillin' in Hybe

A Shout Out to Henry at S.E.I.

Redskins Suck - Giants Rule
This is being said before the game tonight so if the Giants lose I might delete this post.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The First Real Update

Due to lack of internet connectivity I have been writing this in stages on my laptop and waiting to post:
So where do I begin. I arrived in Vienna on time and was meet by Kate, Martina and her boyfriend Joey for a ride to Bratislava. I was very tired as I only got a few hours of sleep on the flight over. The nice thing about the flight was I did get upgraded to World Traveller Plus on my British Airways flight. Having a few extra inches front to back and side to side can make all the difference on a long flight. We then drove about an hour to the border to cross over into Slovakia. The border patrol hardly looked at my passport and stamped it and we where on our way. We then drove to the flat I rented. It is in the part of the city that I call Little Brooklyn. When I post the photos of the view from the flat you will understand why it is called that. It is just row after row of apartment buildings all built under communist control so they are all the same, very plain and boring but functional. The elevators are a little scary, they may open up a few inches below or above the floor you select unless it wants to take you one floor higher then you pushed which I can't figure out because it is random when it happens. We are on the eight floor and have nice views of the city. The flat is about 850 sq. feet with 2 bedrooms a bathroom with a tub (bonus for me) a small kitchen a den and and entrance way that we will setup a table for computers on. There are 5 of us, yes 5, living in this flat. Kate and I have the small bedroom (7'x14') then Martina, Eva and Johnny have the larger bedroom (15'x15'). The den is large enough for everyone to sit comfortably. The flat came with some furniture, Beds and couches plus a TV and DVD player. There are 2 balconies, one off the main bedroom and one off the den. Rent for the month is 640.00 so to me it is very inexpensive for the location. If we where in the old part of the city where the flats are better the rent is twice as much. We are close to shopping areas and bus lines so for us it works well. I will need to study maps of the area as the layout of the streets is somewhat strange and the buildings are numbered in a somewhat random way. Oh yeah and everything is in Slovak which makes it harder for me. We went out for dinner to a small place the girls like. I was amazed at how inexpensive the food is here. I had grilled chicken breast, fries and a coke for less than 4 bucks and it was good. I rented a car and Kate, Johnny and I then drove 4 hours to Hybe, Kate's village. It is a small place in the north central part of Slovakia with great views of the "High Tatras" mountains to the north the form the border of Slovakia and Poland. Kate's mother and sister are very nice and welcomed me into there home, which was better than her coming at me with a large knife. (Think about it, would you want your daughter bringing me home as her boyfriend?) Kate's sister Susan is very nice and her boyfriend Milos is a great guy. As a matter of fact I have yet to meet anyone who is not very friendly and welcoming. I have had some trouble sleeping with the time change, new beds, etc. Milos is a pharmacist so he was able to get me some sleeping pills which made all the difference last night. (now Tuesday). Insomnia has been a problem for me for the last week and last night was the first night I was able to sleep a full night without waking up. Those of you who have never dealt with insomnia consider yourself lucky, I got maybe 10 hours of sleep the first 3 nights combined. Saturday we drove about 30k to Kate's fathers town (don't ask me the name) and we went to a farm house for fresh cheese for lunch. We also watch part of a soccer match in the new field the town just finished building. We went out on Sunday to take pictures, the weather was very clear and I got some great shots of the "High Tatras". I watched the Slovak version of American Idol Sunday night and it was the worst 10 singers of the show and it doesn't matter what language you speak, bad signing is bad signing in any language. Monday was a very productive day, I was able to find an Mac store and get the proper electrical plug for my Mac, we then drove Milos about an hour back to his town and went shopping at the mall. For those of you who have never left America and think the rest of the world is somehow 40 years behind let me tell you this, other than the language there is no difference between here and any place in America. Just sitting in the mall will show you teenagers are the same all over the world, they like to shop just like we do. The nice thing for me is everything here is very inexpensive except gas which is $5.70 a gallon so stop bitching about 3.00 gas at home. I would like to get a VW Golf TDi to drive but I will wait and see if I really need a car over here or not. Slovakia like must of Europe has very good public transportation. They may not be the nicest buses or trains but they get you there. The plan is to stay in Hybe until Saturday or Sunday before heading back to Bratislava. I look forward to taking pictures of the old city, we drove through it on our way to dinner the other night and there are some nice buildings and old architecture. The toughest thing right now is the language barrier, I need Kate with me most times except at the bar, vodka is vodka in any language. We went to the local pub in Hybe on Saturday and meet up with a few of Kate's friends. One of them, named Permon, is one of the nicest person I have meet he is at most 5' 2" but he has a presence of a bigger man. He was excited to find out I have never tried Absinth, it is 180 proof, basically moonshine with the taste of Sambuca, I had 2 shots and that more than enough to get anyone in a good mood. At the end of the night I had on shot of typical Slovak drink, it seemed to counter the effect of the absinth for me, all of the sudden I could function again. The next morning I figured out why I don't drink much anymore, live and learn. The pub is small but everyone in towns seems to stop by at some point. The weather here in Hybe is similar to Bristol VT. The nights are cold but if the sun is out in the day it is fairly warm. Last night (Tue.) we did have some rain but when I woke up in the morning to sunshine and the "High Tatras" had a nice blanket of snow on the higher elevations. Most of it was gone by midday as the high got to around 65 today but it was pretty while it lasted. Fast Forward ----> It is now Saturday and I am back in Bratislava. Pictures and more later today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Have Arrived

It is now Monday night and this is the first time I have access to the internet in a while. I will make this short and tell you it is great here. I dig my flat in Bratislava, I rented a car and Kate and I are visiting her sister and mother in the village of Hybe about 4 hours away from Bratislava. I have not gotten my Mac online yet so I will post photos later. I will write more in a few days when I have more time and get the Mac online to upload photos.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Post Card Requests

For those of you who are interested in getting post cards from Europe, you are in luck. Please send an email with the subject line: Post Card

with Name, Address and the email address you would like me to use. Also you can include your phone number so I can update my records. I do try and get one post card out every two weeks for each of you. They may not say much but it will be a nice picture.

This is Not Like My Photo of Big Foot

It's a real photo Kev, no photoshop here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Trip Is Almost Upon Me

It's Saturday night and I have started to get everything together for my trip. I am leaving camp on Monday morning and heading to NJ to stay with my brother Tim and his family for a few days before my flight out on Wednesday to Vienna. I can't wait, I have a 3 room flat in Bratislava rented. I am going to live with Kate, and her friends Martina and Eva. There might be one other guy moving in but we are not sure at this point. It's going to be tight but it should prove to be fun. I am sure I will rant about it in the future if it becomes a problem. So stay tuned. I am attempting to travel as light as I can. I only have a small amount of clothes to begin with, I plan on buying things when I get to Bratislava want to try and fit in and not stand out as an American tourist. Again I will post photos of any new Slovak fashion I come up with. For those old enough to remember Steve MArtin and Dan Akroyd outfits as the two wild and crazy guys, now that's the look I think would work on me. So like the rest of us, I have no real idea what the future has in store for me. So continue to check back with me as I take you along with me on my journey.