Nov 14, 2007
Bratislava is now voted Kyla and Nick's favorite small old town...not overrun by tourists.
We spent, three relaxed days in Bratislava. Our hostel, the City Hostel, was great , there was a fab coffee shop two doors down and across the street served tasty falafels out of a street window. The city knows it is on the verge of something great. Lots of young and attractive people filled the streets, lots of cranes filled the skyscape. There is a great future for this country from what we could see.
Lucky for us it snowed for the entire time we were in town so we had long walks until we needed to warm up over hot beverages or soup. It was also Photography month so there were lots of exhibits for us to check out for next to nothing.
We also met up with Juraj... the brother of our neighbour Martin. Over a few beers we talked about life in Slovakia, and hockey. From Slovakia Juraj cheers on our team the Sens. Very strange to be able to talk about our team miles away from home.
From Bratislava we took the hour and a half train to Vienna, which passed without incident (and without any stamps in our passports).
Bratislava - another town, another late night drunk - Nick writing
Bratislava is beginning to get a bit of a reputation as a cheaper and smaller Prague, both for good reasons (its very cool old town, its cafes and bars) and for bad reasons (the cheap airfare from London that helps groups of loud drunk men descend each weekend). We got a first-hand experience with the later at our hostel.
Our hostel was well-located, with free internet and a nice shower. It also came with a group travelling from London, who were there to drink. They arrived on our second night there, and we overheard the six of them in the reception. Their first question to the overwhelmed staff member was "Where is the bar?" Not "Where are there good bars?", just "the bar", as if there was only one in the city (the hostel clearly did not have a bar).
They left the hostel, and we were thankful to find out that our room was a ways away from them, down a long hallway and a flight of stairs. We settled in with some of the books we purchased in Hungary, and hoped that they wouldn't be too loud.
We both woke up at 5 am, to the sound of a drunken Irishman hammering away at a door. "Open the door!!!", he was screaming, "Open the (very bad word door!!!". We both sat in bed, not very amazed that the little paper sign posted in the hallway that talked of "Quiet Hours between 22:00 and 08:00" hadn't worked.
"Open the $%^$ing door, $%^$!!!" This went on for about 10 minutes, until we could hear some muffled, drunken reply from the room. The roommate must have returned a few hours earlier, and passed out, and the Loud Irish Drunk stayed out drinking. The Passed Out Roommate was now awake, but a new problem presented itself.
"Unlock the *%&$ing door!!! Turn the $%^$ing key in the $%^$ing door, $%^$!"
Kyla and I were now wide awake, and very interested in following this drama. What was going to happen next?
"The key!! Turn the $%^$ing key! It must be in the $%^$ing lock!! What do you mean you don't know where the $%^$ing key is?!!??"
And remember, during this tirade, the angry pounding of the door continued.
"How did you get into the room if you don't have the $%^$ing key! Find the $%^$ing key!" We wondered the same thing.
Maybe another 10 minutes passed, with this one-sided conversation on a permanent loop, until the eureka moment arrived!
"Turn the key to the $%^$ing right! To the right!!! Not the $%^$ing left, the right!!!"
How did the Passed Out Roommate actually manage to get himself into the room in the first place, we wondered.
But finally, after about ten minutes of X-rated instructions on how to turn a key in a lock (for a grand total of about half-an-hour of yelling swearing, and door-pounding), the Loud Irish Drunk got into the room. We thought that would be the end of it, until we heard more screaming, and what sounded like a scuffle. It was too muffled to hear clearly, but it certainly sounded like Loud Irish Drunk was not happy at being left in the hallway, and wanted to really let his roommate know about it.
All in all, it really didn't ruin our sleep. We looked upon it as another form of late-night entertainment, like watching BBC World, or going to an English film in a foreign country. You can't avoid occasionally running into drunken young men yelling in hostels; at least these two were really funny.
Other Bratislava notes - Nick writing
Just a few other quick shots about Bratislava. The whole area south of the city was a huge mass of "panel apartments" - cheap and dirty apartment blocks but up during the communist times. When I say "a mass", I mean it. While we were up on the castle hill, looking south, we could see thousands of these apartment buildings, stretching from one horizon to the other.
We found out why they were called panel apartments. My original guess was that they looked like panels, balanced on their edge. Nope. They were called panels because they were built from huge pre-formed panels of a concrete-like material that were manufactured somewhere else, and assembled on site. Essentially they were huge houses made of cards or dominoes. And we also learned that most of them included a lot of asbestos. Not particularily good for the occupants.
Another neat quirk from Bratislava - international trademark law seemed to be loosely enforced. We were really happy to grab a quick falafel from McKebap, a window on the street serving pita sandwiches, located a few doors down from a real McDonalds (with a sign that not only borrowed the colours, but certainly infringed on the logo and script).