My second Angloville program was coming to an end and I had no definite plans until pretty much the day of departure… I had ideas, but nothing concrete. One of the amazing local participants from the program was heading to Slovakia and he could drop me off somewhere along his way, so that I could catch a train to wherever I wanted. Considering I had no definite plans, I decided to just head to Slovakia and see what happens. And after less than two hours by car I was dropped off in Trnava, Slovakia.
I must say this was my first journey by car since in Europe. Not only did I need reminding I am not going in the right direction for the passenger’s seat but I also had a very weird experience the whole way, feeling like we are in the wrong lane, and when overtaking feeling we are right, until I see the coming traffic and stupid thoughts of ”Oh damn, these people are in the wrong lane!” cross my mind.
Anyhow, I was in Trnava and I checked the trains to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. Oh how I love cheap train travel. Less than 40mins train journey and I was in the capital city of Slovakia, still with no plans and no accommodation.
I sat on a bench outside the train station and decided to book a hostel for two nights. The hostel was 7mins away from the train station, and cost me 24 euros. I went to check in and leave my stuff. I was sharing a room with two Russian girls and a Mexican guy (who I actually met the next morning). After a short break at the hostel I walked across town to the Castle. Mind you I had no clue as to what to see in town. No prep whatsoever.
I walked by the presidency, but didn’t see anyone of great importance. It is one of those buildings in not so wealthy countries that reminds you of Orwell’s quote ”All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”. Nevermind.
Then I walked to Trinity church – a Catholic church with Baroque interior. I must say I like the interiors of European churches, they are more colourful and have a warmer, welcoming feeling. When I walked in the church there was a mass that was just finishing and the interesting thing for me was how one of the priests walked to the door, and stood there with a basket in hands, waiting for donations – it very much looked like begging (yes, the wealthy church begging)…Yet, behind him there was a man that seemed homeless and….fallen from grace, who was holding his dirty hat out just like the priest, hoping people would give him money too. I found it sad, because I wish churches in Europe did more for those who have ended up on the streets for one reason or another. If we are to expect altruism and investment in the human well-being from normal, everyday people – we should expect to see it even more from the churches. Anyways.
I continued wandering around and I saw the castle in the distance on a hill, so I decided to follow the signs so that I can go and see it. It took me about 15 minutes of a leisurely walk to the top of the hill. The castle is positioned at a hill and I really liked it, it was very nice, clean and peaceful. I did not get to go inside, as it was past opening hours, but I still spent about 2 hours walking around and enjoying the views.
After this I headed to town center and I switched my Couchsurfing Hangouts on to find people to meet and spend time with, and so I met a local – Martin and we walked around town and had some really good chats. I was fairly tired by 11pm so I headed back to my hostel. On the way back I made a mental note of the location of a pancake coffee shop on the way home, and decided I must eat there the next day.
A good lay in bed was overdue, so this morning I got up around 10am. I decided to do washing and laze around until the early afternoon so that I can stay out later in the evening, if I wanted to.
I went for a brunch at the pancake house and had an amazing pancake and a cafe latte. I cannot fail to mention that the pillow on the chair opposite mine had a deep message on it saying – ”Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of Life” – I found this to be my inspiration for the day. A good mantra. So I did not have any plan or destinations and places to see for that day, I just wanted to enjoy being outside and walking. I walked across town and there was yet again another festival with plenty of food stalls, a few stages for music and performances, and a dress up parade of some sorts. I ended up meeting a Turkish boy – Ozzy – via Couchsurfing Hangouts, and we went for a nice long stroll along the river and we sat down at a coffee shop for a while, before feeling even lazier and going to lay on the grass near the river. We ended up talking about our countries’ entwined and interwoven histories and the manipulation of information that is given to new generations….as well as the negative prejudices and hatred that are bread due to those biased lies we get taught at school.
Bulgarians are taught to hate Turks, because of the Ottoman’s empire rule over Bulgaria for over 5 centuries… But the history does not have to define the new generations’ relationship. I wish governments stopped playing petty games and started teaching people to actually have respect and love their neighbours – for the sake of the future and despite the past. Since we cannot change the past, we need to concentrate on the here and now, and the future. We should be evolving to be better, to learn from the past, to move on – wiser and kinder.
My second day in Bratislava was spent enjoying the good weather, the nice walk and intellectual chats.
I went to my hostel tired, so tired that I struggled to fall asleep until crazy o’clock.
Check out and leave day.
I had to leave my hostel and go somewhere else. I thought about going to Vienna, Austria for 2 days, but since my planning is so bad, I didn’t really post early enough on Couchsurfing to find a host for a night. A timely offer came my way from Dado, from Sered, Slovakia, who I have spoken with while I was still in Czech Republic, as he offered me to stay with him, go for a hike and a swim. I felt like I do need some downtime and also nature so I decided to head his way. But before that, I went for yet another pancake and coffee at the same place as the previous day.
I switched Hangouts yet again, not expecting anything, but a guy from Germany messaged me and I we agreed that he would join me for coffee. We spent about 2 hours together, discussing history and it’s implications and affect on society now. We discussed social research and so many more things, it was intriguing and nice. He kindly walked me to the train station and we exchanged contacts, maybe I will see him again one day.
I boarded a train to Sered and met yet another young person on the train who was from Serbia, but visiting family in Slovakia. He said he dreams of a simple life, that he hates money and he wants to make the most out of Life hassle free. I must say, I love meeting young people who know what they want and they are brave and bold to say it and work towards their dreams. I wish everyone they never let Life smack them so hard that they forget what they live for and what they value in Life.
I find that meeting people on the road who are full of energy and motivation is quite inspiring. I love it.
Read my blog post about my time in Sered here.