This was a monumental morning. I managed to sleep through the snoring that occurred in the bed to the left of me: a Canadian dude who was also reading Umberto Eco, but a different book than mine. But this could be the only positive thing for most of the day. I headed to the train station after checking out at the hostel, the smokers gravitating towards me as usual… and I impatiently waited for the train to Berlin.
It arrived and left on time. However, this didn’t last for long as this might have been the slowest train I’d been on in my life! It stopped at odd non-station locations, and I was growing uneasy as we puttered through the plains of Slovakia. I had the compartment to myself for most of the trip, except for the final inches to Bratislava.
The train pulled into the station at 12.25, only a few minutes after the train to Banská Bystrica left! I was livid. I ran to the info booth to ask the lady when the next train to B.B. would be; she said at 3.21. Three hours at my least favorite train station in the world! Just after Christmas, Gareth and I missed our train to Budapest from here (which was my fault then, not a slow-as-molasses train).
Cursing everything around me, I ran to the currency exchange booth and got some koruna before going to the cafe which boasted Internet (since the pay phones here freaked me out a tiny bit). I finally managed to get on G-mail after the incredibly frustrating Slovakian keyboard almost threw me into hysterics. I emailed Don, Jana, and Peter to tell them my dilemma, hoping amongst all hopes one of them would catch it and sort of get in contact with Peter. [Addendum: My dad’s cousin is Donald John and he married a Slovak woman, Jana. Her brother, Peter, lives in B.B. and said he’d show me around the city.]
After a ton of waiting done by me at the accursed station, I got onto the train on a different platform, claustrophobic-ally waiting to board. I finally caught a shut-off compartment that two teenage girls were reserving for themselves. Naturally, I barged in and so did some other Slovak youths who needed a place to sit. It was a packed train car, people having to hang out in the corridor for the entire trip.
This train of course was late to leave Bratislava as well, but after another long ride, I reached B.B. around 7. I totally forgot to inquire about Peter’s appearance, but he was there with my name on a little sign like you see at airport arrival areas; it was pretty cool to see that, but also frightening. From behind my name stood Daniel Craig, no joke. After a few minutes, the resemblance waned, but the first impression threw me for a double-take.
I expected to do some couch-surfing this time around at his apartment, but instead Peter set me up at this pretty neat 4-star hotel! Talk about raising standards from a creaky-floored hostel in the centrum of a big city! I’m in a two-bed room on the fifth floor of Hotel Dixon, with my TV which hopefully will show the presidential debates, a swanky bathroom, a nice bar, free food, a swimming pool, a sauna, tennis and squash courts, and the Crown Jewels. And I didn’t pay a cent! I felt slightly guilty but Peter has told me that I am not allowed to pay even for the strong one-Euro beer. He knows the manager; and he owes Peter money, so this is the payment. I’ll take it.
So, after a frustrating majority of the day, I get this pristine treatment, along with a steak dinner and two strong Pilsners. I’ll be a happy fellow in a few hours.
I set my alarm for 1:00 am because that’s when I thought the debates would begin, but I was wrong. Now that I look back, I think the time was around 3-3:30 when my eyes opened up to see Palin’s face on the TV. That slapped reality back into me as I lay in bed. I watched the debates from the Iraq war to the end. Biden seemed more confident here; Palin’s voice was strung with nerves at times during her many convoluted answers. And I couldn’t believe my ears at some of her replies. One I caught stood out. Her Achilles’ Heel question: she didn’t even answer that one; she flat-out didn’t give a retort to this inquiry and went on blabbing about her strengths.
This made me not like her any more; her insinuating remarks about being a single mom were unacceptable. Biden made a great and touching reply abuot his capabilities of being a father, a single father because of his wife’s death. Maybe it’s because my grandfather is near his end that has flushed the emotion a bit for me here. I will 100%, with no qualms, be voting for Obama. With such a capable VP by his side, he is perfect.
I awoke again at 9 and put some clothes on to nab some breakfast downstairs before it “shut down” at 10. I had a nice bit of cheese and turkey with tomatoes, along with some tea for good measure. Then, I caught a tray that had been keeping eggs and kielbasa warm. I naturally needed some of that. After I had my fill, I read part of a chapter in Baudolino. I also checked the Internet and found out my grandfather is inching even closer to death’s portal. Along with that came another stern insistence that I stay in Europe for the rest of this month. I need to interact with some people soon, because if I stay alone with too much happening this weekend, I will flip out! I will plan to head back on the 6th to Vienna or Bratislava… a day early. There will be no quick journey to Rokytov; I have not heard a peep from the people there, so I’m guessing I’ll continue going westward instead.
This is a bit awkward; I’m not sure how to handle this at all. I might need to contact someone who talks fluent English, not that Peter’s incapable. Anyway, to pull my mind from that stuff, I went swimming in the hotel’s pool and also relaxed in the jacuzzi there. It was nice to be aquatic for a short while and not have anyone around – at least at that moment.
I headed back to the room and hung out there till 1, finishing the chapter I began that morning in Eco’s book. I called Peter, and he told me he would be busy till 5 or 6. So I departed to the city to check out the center, which was pretty and not too busy. Reminded me a bit of the pedestrian area of Scarborough. Now comes the present: I am in a cafe writing this and watching old music videos from the ’70s. I wonder what the night might hold; I’m just excited that I’m up-to-date here in the journal!
I’d been waiting for a long time at the hotel. Peter finally arrived around 7. The reason was because of his work; he had come around 4 to see how I was doing but I was in the centrum of B.B. at the time. Before setting off, we had some dinner in the hotel restaurant; well, I did. Peter ate fried ice cream. Strange guy. He showed me his apartment and his “vicious” dog, Freddy. It would be a dog I’d have, not too big, quite excitable, but not too much, and not loud! He took the spaniel for a walk, and then we headed off to a fitness center where his girlfriend works. We waited until her shift was over and she was finished cleaning up. I checked my email there and chatted with Jess for a tiny bit before he headed off.
We hung out at a pool lounge for the night; it was interesting because I hadn’t played darts in years and that’s what we did. However so many rounds we had, I never won once. It’s always a bit upsetting for me (if only a tiny amount). I never seem to be the victor in these type of games; only rarely does it happen. I think I’m cursed.