journal #7: bratislava and vienna.

06.10.08 cont.

This might be shaping up to be the worst fucking day of my trip.  I woke up at 8, so that the cleaning lady could give me the laundry.  She came in at 9:30.  I rushed for a quick breakfast, which had to be ordered.  I got it, ate it, then requested the bill.  Had a communication problem with the waitress and received another mushroom omelet at 10:30.

I didn’t remember if I was to call Peter.  But he didn’t call me. It was 11, so I asked to call and we luckily made it to the station in time for the train to Bratislava.

The ride was mostly uneventful minus a part near the beginning that involved some loud schoolkids, a few having to share the carriage with me.  Thankfully they were not on without their teachers, so they were kept in check for the entirety of the trip.  One good thing involved writing the draft of the eulogy for Grandpa.  I almost lost it while reading it once over; thankfully only a 60-year-old woman was in the compartment at the time and she was too engrossed in a crossword to notice anything.

*     *     *     *

Bratislava sucks.  I got lost on my way to the hostel for a second fucking time!  I thought I could follow better directions this time around, but for some reason even they didn’t help.  I even asked two people while in my sweaty freak-out stage; they did not make things better for me.

I finally found it though.  And to my immense pleasure, they decided to charge me 50SK extra because – God forbid – I’m not a student and I’m under 26.  Fuck them.  I will make sure no one else goes to this hostel ever – even if they ask for a recommendation.

So, I stomped to my room irate and headed down to check my mail, having to wait a good half hour before people stopped tooling around on Facebook.

Now dinner.  Can’t get messed up, right?

Wrong. The halusky shop that I ate at with Gareth in December didn’t have halusky there.  I went to the information booth (which I found on a map) to check and see if there are any places specializing in halusky or had Internet cafes because I had forgotten to change arrival times for future hostels.  The info booth closed at 6pm; it was 6:30.

Things were definitely looking up.  I stormed down street by street, seeing if some place would have something I could enjoy.  I finally caught a place that had halusky for a somewhat decent price.  Intriguing moment: there was a couple sitting next to me who barely spoke a word to each other.  They were the “dining dead” as is explained in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It was almost creepy. The girl was just sitting there most of the time gazing vacantly into space while the man grumpily stuffed food into his mouth.

I ran back to the hostel after that OK dinner, and I tried to get online to fix the arrival time for my hostel.  Again, it took over a half fucking hour to get onto the computer.  It was infuriating.  If someone hadn’t left after 5 minutes, I would have asked to use the computer – as my task would have taken 5 minutes max.

Back outside.  I wandered out – fuming – wondering where I could have a relaxing evening and have a beer or three.  No places had decent live music, so I had to put up with a quasi-smokey Belgian bar I had been to before in December.  And they were putting triple the head on my beers!  Ridiculous.  I demand more beer than that, and I’m the only lone one here now, and I hate it, and I really would right now hop on the first flight back to Ohio.

07.10.08

Things started looking up after my return back to the hostel.  Met two cool travelers, both studying in Dublin.  One was Korean and the other Brazilian.  We hung out for a little bit and then went to find food/drink.  In the end we opted for some place that had already closed its kitchen; this led the Brazilian to go to McDonalds.  For some reason he “wasn’t allowed” to eat the food in the cafe whose kitchen was shut down.  Oh, cruel fates!

Waking up the next day after tons of the liquor was actually not as bad as I’d feared.  This was bad though: not being able to find my locker key, so I had to pay a fee for it.  Thankfully they had spares or I would have been fucked.  My laptop and some of my other bags were there.

Getting to the railway station was – again – unbearable.  I really should have just taken the cheap tram from one of the streets near the hostel, but I assumed I would be able to find the way out easily enough.

The ride, comfortable.  No complaints there.

I was completely gone through when I arrived in Vienna, so after checking in and seeing any new e-mails I might have had, I crashed on the bed, but not before meeting one of the roommates, an American from Washington whose name I forget (as you can see, this is a common occurrence).

I tried to pull the catacombs in St. Stephens later that day, but irritatingly they only allow a minimum of five people in a group.  I think I should have stayed (come to think of it), because that statement might have been five people overall, no matter if you knew the person or not.

Doing the happy-hour thing now since it’s 6-8pm, and this is after having adana kebab in sandwich form.  I couldn’t stay away from Turkey for that long, it seems.

I again headed to Stephensplatz to meet up with the travelers I had gone out with in Bratislava, but these planned rendezvous always wind up being just things that would be a swell idea at the time.  No one showed up.  So I wound up having some Guinness and chips at the Irish pub I had been in the night before going back to Istanbul in December, and also being unsociable.  The people weren’t as convivial this time around, at least to me.  A far cry from nine months ago.  I am not really content with how things are going in regards to meeting people while on the road: maybe I was just lucky in October and December last year?  This time around, no one turned up to hang out or people just were too engrossed with others to care.

08.10.08

What I found annoying was the chorus of “Good morning!” that met my ears at 8am.  Thanks!  One of the roommates was a middle-aged Japanese guy, and he decided to make a fair bit of noise this morning (and now, as I’m writing this, because that’s always polite).  I woke up – grumbling of course, for it was way too early – and showered and went downstairs to have the usual Wombats brekkie, again slopping into the forefront as someone who is traveling alone.   Honestly, it’s as if a year’s passage has made the solo travelers disappear.  Or perhaps I was just to strange and frightening to sit by.

I headed to the Hapsburg Palace and got some real good photos outside it.  I also went to the Albertina, which was a museum devoted to art and paintings (among other things).  There were quite a few decent exhibitions there, especially by Picasso, Monet, and then an entire wing devoted to the life and early work of Van Gogh, paintings you don’t normally see by him.

I then did a search for a new book as I had finished Baudolino.  I found one of Haruki Murakami’s works and bought it, even though it was pricey.  I should enjoy it; Gareth said it was amazing.  It better be, or he owes me money!  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is the title.

One of the roommates back at the hostel was Korean, and he asked me if I would be a part of this very large message by different fellow travelers to a friend of his back in Korea.  Each person said a word in Korean on the camera and it would eventually string out into a larger message.  I had to say hello in Korean, which I honestly already knew (but I didn’t say that).  It was “annyong haseo!”  If you aren’t knowledgeable with Arrested Development, one of the characters on the show was called Annyong (an adopted Korean child intro-ed into the Bluth family), which turned into a running joke for the majority of the show’s life.

I had a frustrating time on the computer with the Internet going slowly and then a failed nap because of the excessively loud Japanese man walking and in and out of the room screaming “Hello, etc.” not really realizing that someone was asleep.

Now, we have the present, and me wanting to be sociable once again at a hostel that should be such: and this tool isn’t helping!

*     *     *     *

Shit!  And he ate in the God-forsaken room!  He peeled a grapefruit the size of Afghanistan and ripped it apart like fabric.  And he had to be the loudest fucking eater.  You don’t slurp it into your mouth and chomp it like a ravenous cow.  I wanted to stab my ears out with forks.

I headed out and had Mongolian BBQ to ease up my aggravation, and it definitely soothed my soul.  I made sure not to chew loudly or be indecent in eating my food there.  I also had sure I didn’t wake anybody up when I got into the room.  Thankfully, my Korean roommate was also out and on the computer, so we went up together and got into our respective beds without waking up the others.  I had a faint yearning to nudge the Japanese twat awake, but I thought he’d begin screaming “Hello!!!” and chomping on more grapefruit, so I did not act out my fantasy.

journal #6: banská bystrica part two.

04.10.08

I had some strange dreams once again, one involving me being at my grandparents’ house and in a large room with the walls full of portraits.  One stuck out to me; it was a photo of my dad, grandfather, me, and my cousin Donna.  I don’t know why this picture stuck out so much.  The only other odd thing was that we were wearing Hawaiian T-shirts and sunglasses around our necks.

The second dream was a tiny bit more frightening than the first.  I was in this old, abandoned building, like a church, but with an elevator in the center of it.  The hall was tall, a long dark, dank corridor.  What I saw careening down this empty hallway was some greenish-hued spirit that was shouting but with no noise coming out of it.  It flew down the hallway and disappeared at the end.  Then – after a few minutes – I told someone else about the spirit and shouted “Look, there it goes down the wall again!”  This time it was invisible; but at the end of the hallway, a candle became lit.  That was the end of the dream.  And almost the end of my feeling of being carefree:  carefree vagabond days in Europe.  I felt something was not right as I woke up for this upcoming day.

But I showered and ate breakfast and came back to the room.  I opened my laptop.  The battery was down to near 0% and I, in vain, tried to charge it back up.  It was a losing battle.  I grew impatient waiting for Peter, who said he’d be at the hotel at 10.  He arrived at 12.30pm.  That time inbetween was wrought with me in a fetal position on the bed, unsure of what really to think or do or say or believe.  No contact with mom or anyone this morning.  I know that something was going to go down, and there was no direct form of communication at the present time.

I was finally swept away from the suffocating hotel and driven around mountains to a small village 40km or so away from Banská Bystrica called Mošovce.  We pulled into a driveway adjacent to a small brick house on the outskirts of the city, where we had encountered stick-thin roads, dirt indentations and some asphalt creeping in from time to time.  Here is where we met Peter and Olga’s friends.  Inside, sweets were baking and I partook of two shots of this homemade kind of liquor made of apples.  It was a touch sweet but still a bit strong.  One of the friends, another Peter, insisted I had to try it.  It was good.  The people – all of them – were genial, and I was feeling quite at home.

We spent a good portion of the early afternoon at a type of village street market in Mošovce, where tons of candies, clothes, foods, and handicrafts were being sold.  We all had some filling goulash here, and I had a small beer also for lunch.  After that was over, we trekked to the more fair-like area with rides, games, and other steeple-like tents.  The guys decided to fire a rifle at a target: it goes to show how poor I am at aiming as I missed my spot completely.

Bumper cars were next.  I didn’t know the method of putting the token in the car, so for the first half-minute, my accelerator was not on.  I felt rather idiotic at this point, but soon – after gaining some common sense – I was gliding and bumping with the best of them.  It was good fun, and a good means to forget about everything else for a short while.

We soon headed out of the town and to Martin.  We stopped into a café for a bit to escape the chillinessof the afternoon.  Then we bowled for a few hours at the only alley in Martin (and it shows).  I had to use 8-pound balls and 13-pounders with awkwardly-placed fingerholes.  I played subpar, below 100 during the first two rounds, but finally a decent 113 stared back at me after the 3rd game.  When we had completed our games, the four of us headed back.  For some reason, worrisome thoughts plagued me on the way back, mostly about eternity and the lack of human consciousness in the afterlife, frightening thoughts that made me silent and sweating in the darkness of the car.

Peter’s friends left our company in Mošovce, and the three of us headed to the apartment in BB to use Peter’s computer.  As I ate my dinner of eggs, ham, cucumbers, and peppers, I found out my grandfather’s condition, that he had died on Friday in the afternoon hours, peacefully, in Ohio.

Not much mattered at that point, I tried hard not to break down at the apartment, I e-mailed people, chatted with Mary, and I booked a hostel in Bratislava for Monday.  Most of the night was a blur for me, with a restless attempt to sleep that eventually proved successful at some moment in time I couldn’t remember.

05.10.08

This day wasn’t too exciting.  I woke up late, so I didn’t eat the breakfast offered by the hotel.  I did snatch some coffee with Peter, who came earlier to the hotel than I anticipated.  We set off for the centrum of BB again, and we saw old WWII relics: warplanes, tanks, military railcars made by Germans, Soviets, and Czechoslovaks.  The day weatherwise  was incredible, in contrast to the overcast and depressing atmosphere over the past few days.  The trees were changing rapidly into vividly colored patterns.

Peter and I went up this hill called Calvary, which replicated the path Jesus took to Golgotha, where he was crucified.  At the top was a refurbished church.  After the hike up had finished, we took a wooded trail back down and Peter drove us to Zvolen… to Hotel Tenis (aptly named).  Another decent lunch followed.

Then, I whiled the afternoon away (while Peter did some work) at the hotel.  Nap, read, swim, snooker.  Peter came back around 8 o’clock, and then we went to his apartment where we videochatted with my family at home, which eased my loneliness incredibly.  It made me feel good to hear and see everyone there.  I will be writing the eulogy and they will hopefully enjoy it… although it will be made solely in my grandfather’s honor.  For him.  The most important thing right now.

06.10.08

Two strange dreams last night.  I start with them as this day might not be so interesting.

The first of the dreams happened at Lutheran West in the present day.  For some reason, I had to be there I think in order to get something in my locker – which wasn’t mine any longer.  Many of my friends were there and for some reason hadn’t graduated yet.  That week was to have presentations every day before the lunch hour (6th period), but I don’t recall why these were to take place.  After lunch came movie time, which apparently showed horribly lame movies that none of the students really wanted to see.  A couple of these students – Beth, Kate, and a couple others – voiced their immense displeasure and wanted to head out of the school during this time but needed to find a way to do it without detection.  I wandered past the gym where the presentations were to take place.  And there were banners on the floor (the floor leading to the Yochum and music rooms).  One of these banners was against the events held in the gym.  I claimed credit for this orange banner, and the students around me were impressed with my talent.

As I was nearing the band room, I heard shouting and turned back.  As I was heading away, Mr. Petersen walked quickly past me, curtly nodding his head as he went by.  So I went to the main floors and headed past the office.  Here the janitor was obstructing the passageways upstairs and telling us continually which rooms these obstructions were nearby.  Turning around, I saw Shawn and Debbie sitting near the entrance.  Shawn wanted to play truant so we decided to leave before the presentation began; and here I commented how old the freshmen would be now in the 2008-2009 year.  Born in 1993-1994!  Before we could go though, Mrs. Matthews called out “SHAWN, don’t leave just yet!” And I saw her face pressed against the glass door, doing a fishbowl face against the glass.

Dream Two focused upon a baseball game against the Indians and Royals.  My sister, dad, mom and cousin Donna were there.  During the game some twerpy kids in front of us kept being loud and obnoxious.  I said something wiseass-y to him, and he pulled a gun out on me and told me to shut up.  I told him to calm down, that I meant no harm.  They did.  He and his pal decided to poke fun at my clothes etc.  “Where did you buys THESE?” I took off my cap and it turned out to be a Kansas City one.  At this time, I felt appalled.

We all left halfway through the game and my mom told the gun kid’s father.  “Just to let you know, next election, I’m voting for the Democrat, who will fight to get all the guns off the street out of your boy’s hands!”

The gun family also left, and the kid got lost in the crowd.  He showed his gun around again, pointing it at me occasionally.  People noticed and became alarmed.  I, somehow (don’t remember) weaseled the gun off him and whistled down the police, giving them the guns.  I then went to the parking lot and couldn’t find my parents’ car.  So, I walked home in a blizzard alone.  I finally reached a bus stop on a side street that resembled Lakewood.  I missed the bus by seconds and wandered about, thankfully without the kids nor the family following me.

Then I realized I’m in Istanbul.