04 January 2012

Christmas Break part 2: Slovakia

Getting from Barcelona to Prešov was about a 16-hour affair, including a significant wait in Bratislava Hlavná Stanica, which is a not very nice place.  However, there is free wifi and a cart selling rezeň sandwiches, so it's a bit better than I remember it and it's now tolerable.

You can't buy train tickets with seat reservations from abroad, and anyway, by the time I got to Wien Südbanhof Ost, the ÖBB office there was already closed.  I knew I'd have plenty of time to buy tickets in Bratislava anyway.  Buying a sleeping space on a train that left at 11:45PM was a good idea.

In my bed on the train
When I got to my spot, the conductor for the car took my ticket and asked if I wanted coffee or tea in the morning.  Knowing that coffee would either mean Slovak-style Turkish coffee or instant, I opted for tea, which was a good choice.  The train went straight to Prešov, meaning no switch in purgatorial Kysak.  Before the train left the station, there was some socializing happening on the train between the compartments -- the other lady in my compartment and the guy next door were chatting, and I was brought into the conversation.  She asked me where I was going (Prešov), was I studying there (no) and so then where was I from?  I asked her if she couldn't notice my accent, and she couldn't (East Slovak and an American accent are not always so far removed from each other) and it turns out, she actually couldn't tell, because she was a Hungarian Slovak!  So after I spread the Rusyn Gospel, we briefly discussed minorities in Slovakia and went to sleep.  Except sleeping on a train is a bit ridiculous, even on the smooth Slovak rails, with lovely crispy starched sheets and duvet covers. 

As much of the compartment as I could fit into one frame
I'm going to guess that the current cars are the former first class cars -- because really, I don't remember it being this nice on our (or rather my dad's) (literally) ill-fated trip from Humenné to Vienna in July 1992.  The compartment was Slovak standard eat-off-the-floor-clean, with water, towels, wafer crackers and the aforementioned tea.  So civilized, especially for something I generally try to avoid doing (taking overnight train rides).

The rest of the week I was in Slovakia, I think I took maybe 3 other pictures, which were not very interesting.  My visit was not purely social, but I had a blast at the molody.Rusyny zabava, and other than that got a lot of concrete things accomplished and am looking forward to getting back in the summer.  When I visit with people there now, there are no long prolonged goodbyes anymore, it's just expected by all parties involved I'll be back soon -- and I will.  The biggest compliment I can get there (because really, being mistaken for a local by a Hungarian is mostly funny in the context) is, "Maria, už sy naša (basically, Maria, you're one of us)" and it makes me feel so good, because it's how I feel there too.

After a too-quick stop to see my Ružomberok crew, I left for Vienna.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Christos Razdajetsja!
Slavite Jeho!
So glad you shared your trip! Wish I could have been with you!