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.


Whitney said...

Glad you made it there in one piece and everyone is being nice to you. About Kate's mom, I wouldn't naturally think that bringing you home is a bad thing. You are decent looking and you are American. Most places (except for the Mid East) being American is a good thing.

Send post cards and post pictures.

Anonymous said...

I hope the accomodations are a little better than Bristol, which, by the way is almost renovated. Siding is finished, porch is being rebuilt and the drywall is ready for prime coat. We miss you're cheery mug around here but are glad you're somewhere having fun.

Eat cheese and smell toejamb.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you are enjoying your trip. Hope to see you at the wedding.