A Journey to the Center of Europe - Day 2

Ellen and I went to Austria and Slovakia for a week-long trip. This account details the second day of our trip. Day 1 can be found here.

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Day 2

As luck would have it, when we asked the front desk lady at our hostel about the best way to get to Bratislava, she had an unused train ticket, so we grabbed that and an hour later were officially glorying in the crumble and dirt of Eastern Europe. I gave the friendly lady at the train station some money and she literally tossed some train tickets, change and receipt our way, and we headed off to city center to our “hotel.”

The “hotel” was actually an apartment that a guy in an athletic suit was renting out to us. I got the sense it was a hideout for Slovakian mobsters, but it was clean, had two beds, sheets, bathroom and a door that locked, and all for a decent price, so we risked it.

The first thing I noticed when we went out to look for lunch was the old lady walking her dog across the street. There wasn’t anything abnormal about it, except that the dog was wearing a hoodie. Perhaps she got it from the H&M in Konstanze. I tried to snap a picture but they were quick—that dog must’ve been training for something.

My ideal ham cone.
We found a nice, cheap lunch place off the beaten path, and I want to explain something about Slovakian food: although a “ham cone” might sound like just about the coolest food ever, in reality it’s only slightly above liver as far as taste is concerned. Here I had pictured an ice cream sugar cone filled with ham, but what I got was three slices of ham, rolled, and stuffed with some sort of custard/cheese concoction. Luckily, I also had the best chicken soup I’ve ever had, and it all cost about three bucks.

Walking off the indigestion from my poorly-named ham cone, we stumbled upon the opera house, the Danube (which was much more gray and green than blue), and some rather odd statues. One had a man with his head and shoulders out of a manhole, another was a guy peering over a park bench as if reading the newspaper over your shoulder. Kind of disturbing, but hey, it’s Slovakia.

Finally, we hit upon the castle. Apparently, the castle has been under construction and renovation since the middle of last century, which is only slightly longer than most road construction projects in Los Angeles. So, it was still scaffolded and was not allowing any visitors inside. But luckily, we got to see the huge ad they had draped across the wall of it. There was a rather nice view of the city from the pathways surrounding the castle, so we had a German woman snap a pic for us, and then strolled back down, stopping to snap a few more pictures at a lovely gothic cathedral on the way.

We did some more meandering until we stumbled upon what I like to refer to as “the jackpot.” It seemed to be some sort of art installation in the middle of a promenade, but to me it looked like just a bunch of donkeys.

Okay, so maybe they were life-sized pictures of donkeys, but it was both bizarre and wonderful all the same.

Dinner was Cuban food and Casa de Havana, dessert was chocolates with strawberry and cream filling, and bedtime was welcome and well-deserved. In the morning, we stumbled across a poodle with a white afro on the way to the bus station, and it was like Slovakia’s unique little way of saying goodbye to us.
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    I want a ham cone!

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