Get up early and pack it up. Look out the window. Beauty day in Bratislava!
Down to the common area and finish up our leftovers from the Slovak Pub last night. Dumplings for breakfast, still good. Dominic and Emil are up making breakfast in the kitchen. The Greek dude from Thessaloniki is here too.
“I’ve got friends in low places is in my head”, MacKay nods, “Mine’s Rich Girl”, “Hall and Oates?”, “Yep”, “Should be a good day then.”
We give some goodbye handshakes and high fives to the gang, wish everyone well on their travels and gtfo. Emil yells down the stairs at us, “Message me in Budapest!”, “Will do, Brochacho!” Thanks Hostel Blues, that was perfect. So far Plan B is awesome. Bratislava is badass, Budapest should be too.
An Uber Dude named Adrian picks us up outside and takes us to the train station. A song comes on that Adrian likes and he cranks it up a snatch. I look at the radio and it says ‘Bad ideas make the best memories – Alle Farben’. It’s a feel good dance track, “This could be the name of our blog”, “Ha! They make the best posts that’s for sure.”
We walk in to the train station and it looks like we’ve got a bit of time before the Brat-Bud train. “Should water up, probably be about three hours.” MacKay busts out some change and we’re trying to piece together water dues from the small stuff. A rough looking dude walks over and wants some. “Venti?”, “Twenty? Ok.” MacKay gives him twenty cents. He goes to the neighboring coffee machine. We turn around and there’s a police officer right behind us watching the whole thing go down. He’s making his presence known to the bum who is well aware and visibly agitated. That’s interesting. Maybe there’s more problems here than I thought.
We get up to the platform and someone is getting written up by two more train cops. Heavy security here. Weird, everything was peachy-keen in the city center.
Two guys with some strange measuring instrument are running tests on the rails between trains coming in. Looks like the ghost trap from ghost busters. Oh shit, chubby Bill Murray caught me.
The train pulls in and we’re instinctively scanning for the dining car. Knife and Fork icon, knife and fork where you at? Bingo. We settle in and get some ginger teas when the server comes round. They’re excellent. They even let us just refill hot water to double down after the first one. Nice.
“Man, this feels like a whole new trip. Phase three”, “Totally. Helps that we’re both starting to feel better.”
Yeah it’s a good feeling to have some energy again and not be tethered to the closest bathroom. Spectacular trip so far really. Phase 1 from Prague through Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and up to Tallinn in Estonia. Phase 2 into Munich where we started not feeling so great, through Germany and Austria. Now Phase 3 (or Plan B) in Bratislava and starting to feel better on the way to Budapest, Hungary. We’ll see where the road takes us from there.
Please don’t throw your Beer and iPhones in the toilet
This ginger tea is damn good. MacKay pulls out a book. The Road to Oxiana. “Dude. How many times have you read that book?”, “Ahh I think this is 3 or 4”, “It’s a good book, for sure”, “Ya man. Best travel book ever”, “You brought it on one of the other trips and gave it to me. I still have your copy in Cali”, “You finish it?”, “Yep. And then a skim through of the best parts again. I found it in a little book store on Mayne Island in BC too and gave it to my dad for Xmas”, “Nice.”
It’s official. Traveling by train is my favorite. Comfy, room to stretch out, a good pace, catch the scenery going by, food and drinks, you can get up and walk around. It’s the best, no doubt.
We come to the border to Hungary in a town called Sturovo on the East side of Slovakia. No reception here and I’m a bit too tired to read. Browse through some albums that may wake me up. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love may do it. Or at least be good staring out the window tunes.
Coming out of Sturovo it’s a nice ride right by the Danube into Hungary. MacKay gets on the compy and starts to blog a bit. “Wow man. I just read for a while and I think I can, like, form complete sentences with color and context and everything”, “Haha. Amazing isn’t it. Well that’s good because we are super behind on there. Hopefully it will be better now.”
We arrive in Budapest and it’s just a 15 minute walk to the hostel we booked called Pals. They sent us some directions via email to the place with instructions on how to find them. We’re on the case. It reads like the ‘hostel’ is actually comprised of a number of apartments around one of the main squares downtown and then a central common area and ‘front desk’.
The walk from the train station takes us through a modern section of town smattered with old gothic, baroque, and renaissance architecture and cathedrals.
We come to an impressive cathedral in a large open square. This is Szent István Bazilika (St Stephen’s Basilica). It’s named after the first king of Hungary, whose right hand is on display in there somewhere. We’ll have to check it out.
We follow the directions to a gated door and buzz ourselves in. Up the stairs to an open common area and front desk. We get checked in by a Chilean girl who’s working here while travelling. There’s a good view of the square from here, small kitchen and a comfy area with couches, games and whatnot.
Chile Chica takes us downstairs again and leads us back out into the square. Just 50 yards down the walk and there is a large wooden door. She hands us multiple keys and tells us codes for this door and the one to the common area in the other building. She points up the stairs and tells us the apartment number. “Good?”, “Yep”, “Great! Have a nice stay. Let us know if there’s anything you need.”
“Keys and Codes. This should be fun drunk”, “Exactly what I was thinking.” We go through the main hall and come to an open courtyard in the building with a number of trees growing right in the middle. That’s cool. There’s an old spiral staircase that we follow up to the room.
When we get there a couple of people are just coming out of the place with buckets, mops and brooms. The cleaning crew is still here finishing up. It’s a metal looking guy/girl combo dressed all in black each with long, scraggly hair and tats. Dude’s in a Slayer, Reign in Blood shirt. “Thanks!”, they nod and leave.
Good spot. Good location. Overgrown courtyard. Colorful room with just a single King sized bed. Snuggle time. Should do nicely. We toss our bags down.
I go to get showered up. Damn, this place is super old school. How do I get the lights on? How do I flush the toilet? The water heater is basically in the shower. It’s a tub and hand hose dealy. When I turn the heat up a bit I can look straight into the pilot light of the mini furnace in the water heater. Blue flames flare up with a poof. Rad. I keep turning the water down cooler than up hotter again to see the mini pyrotechnics over and over. It’s like being at a tiny Rammstein concert.
All clean. “Alright, time to find food, get a drink, make a plan. Lot’s of day left”, “Let’s do it.” MacKay goes to hop off the bed but instead pushes his arms right through it with a crack. “The Fuck?!” He lifts up the mattress. The bed frame consists of rows of boards going across from one side to the other. One of them went sideways, split and fell through the cracks. Put the mattress back down. Yep. Hole spot. “Nothing we can do about that”, “Deal with it when we’re drunk”, “Oh yeah. Solid plan.”
Back down the spiral, let’s see what this town is all about.