It has been a while since my last post but as you all know, life can get busy! I am back in Canada now but here goes trying to update what has been happening since my EuroTrip last month….
Bratislava, Slovakia; Wow!!
The castle, the people, the mountains, the parks, the sunshine, the panaks! One panak, one euro (panak explanation to follow). Basically, we loved Bratislava. We didn’t get to see much more of Slovakia but we were completely satisfied with this quaint capital. The land impressed us just as much as our 90-minute ferry ride over from Vienna. Upon arrival Max sipped a beer while I went on a food hunt. I was more than satisfied; not only did I find a giraffe-themed restaurant with the best meal deal to date since the beginning of our trip, but I had no cutlery for my take-out dish and so the waiter handed me a spoon and fork to take with me, to keep! “Your welcome-present to Slovakia,” he smiled. Nice! Sunshine, cheap, delicious food, and friendly people; a beautiful welcoming to a beautiful country.
After chowing down we decided it would be time to find a place to stay so we started our trek into the city. No more than five minutes into our new adventure we saw a beautiful flash of red and white swaying into the bright blue sky behind the sun; the Canadian flag. Out of the 14 countries I have visited not once have I stumbled upon a Canadian Embassy, and neither has Max, so we ducked in, backpacks and all. The lady at the desk shone with enthusiasm as she handed us maps, pamphlets and information booklets about Bratislava. We were ready to get going!
The city did not cease to amaze us. Whether it was our previous chilled out days in Vienna or Max’s excitement to see the city after seeing it featured on The Amazing Race, we were blown away by the beauty and simplicity. “Downtown” was quite touristy, as per usual, but since it is such a small city it was easy to walk just outside of the city center to find ourselves in a hidden park or jazz and blues café.
We did not succeed in finding a CS host so we grabbed a room in the hostel for the first few nights. The first hostel was nice but it definitely lacked the ‘hostel’ feeling. Our roomies were young and there was no real gathering area so Max and I missed out on the meeting people part. Little did I know I was about to sit next to our future Australian friend, Jordy, who not only came out with us but hung out for our last few days there. Our first night out we headed to a restaurant that caught our eye earlier in the day, with a sign which read “1 Panak, 1 euro”. Panak, we soon found out, meant shot. Yes, friends, 1 shot for 1 euro, or about $1.30. Unreal deal! No better way to start a night than a few glasses of cheap beer and wine (or Captain Morgan’s….).
The next morning Jordy’s friend, Matt, a fellow Australian, joined us. The four of us aimlessly wandered, taking in the river, the castle on top of the hill and the war memorial overlooking the city. Being that Max would be gone one night before me, I moved into the same Hostel as our Aussie mates, much to my delight, as it was much more social and welcoming than hostel no. 1… the staff make you feel like you’re coming back home. Bratislava Hostel Blues….go!
Here’s the giraffe restaurant I was talking about…a full meal, soup included, for 5 euros. We went back every day.
Check out that big boat sushi resto!
The original plan for Max and I was to stick together until we made it back to France where I’d get on my plane for Spain and his to Canada. It turned out, however, that Max got a one-week teaching job in Poland. I was tired and running out of funds so we split ways in Slovakia, him to Poland, me to France.
The departure was bitter-sweet. What an unforgettable experience. Max and I have been buddies for about four years now but the laughs, stories, couchsurfing, hostel and hitchhiking experiences we shared over three weeks brought us much, much closer, and for that, I am truly grateful. It’s always nice to discover that there is someone else out there who can understand you without having to speak. Seeing him go in a different direction was a foreign concept but I knew time would fly faster than ever and before long we’d be sipping a beer and telling stories about the rest of our travels.
I hung out with Jordy and Matt before they left towards Budapest and I left for France. It was also more difficult than usual parting ways with these two crazy Australians but I know we will meet again! The world is just too small.
My bus ride back to France took 20 hours, including a six-hour stop in Prague. I was quite happy to see my favourite city again but equally as happy to be back in France, a familiar territory and a country where I could speak the language. Two days were ahead of me before my trip to Spain, which I could enjoy on the couch catching up on sleep, dreaming of our three-week European joy ride.
Max: I will be ever grateful for your message to tell me you just bought your ticket to Europe, to invite me as your travel partner when you could have gone solo. What a pleasure, compliment and joy to have had this experience with you. I would not change one minute of it for the world!