Travelling through the countryside of Slovakia
I post this to let you know that not every travel day is full of sunshine and flowers.
It was just one of those days. A lot of little things went wrong. When you put it in perspective it wasn’t all that bad. Just not what you hope from an expensive vacation.
The day before, when we came back to the River Boat after our farewell stroll and wine lunch in Budapest, we learned that there had been an accident farther up stream. A ship had run into the sides of a lock and traffic up and down the whole river was shut down for repairs.
That night, Jim did not sleep very well. Just one of those things. Unfortunately, unlike those of us women who have to deal with sleepless nights, he isn’t good at compensating for lack of REM and wears his grumpiness on his sleeve. (When Jim read this, he immediately grumped, “I do not!” Point taken.)
With river traffic moored all up and down the Danube, sites were at a premium. We docked… um… here.
We woke up in the morning to discover the lock was still not fixed. So, with river traffic moored all up and down the Danube at virtually any available site, we ended up docked in the middle of nowhere. Our view? The wall of another ship and beyond that an old Hungarian bunker. We later learned that the nearest village was named (when translated) Mosquito. I kid you not! However, the staff had scrambled and arranged buses to our next location: Bratislava in Slovakia. A two hour drive when you add in the necessary 10 minute washroom stop.
We grabbed an early breakfast and rushed out to the bus. We did have the option of staying put, and some people did that, but, as I said, we were in the middle of nowhere. Besides, Slovakia was destined to be number 27 on the list of countries we have visited since I retired. We had to go!
When I was a child, I was prone to carsickness. I’m not too bad on bus rides any more… if we are on the highway. However, as I said, we were in the middle of nowhere.
Downtown Bratislava. Everyone, except the tourists, is at home for the national holiday.
Even the bus drivers didn’t know how to find us! (Witness the fact that on the way back, our bus did the old trick of going around a round-about twice! Actually, he did it so he could jockey positions with the bus behind us because that driver did know the way.) That meant most of the trip was over urpy, curvy and bumpy roads.
The only buses the staff had been able to book at such short notice were rather old and tight. Jim got chapped knees because his skin rubbed against the rough fabric of the seat in front. The air conditioning, what there was of it, was in a single stream, aimed directly at my neck. Thus, even though it was sweltering, I had to wear a sweater around my neck.
On the way to Bratislava, our guide informed us today was a national holiday in Slovakia, so all the shops would be closed. No souvenir shopping for us. (Can you hear Jim sighing with relief?) Also, tomorrow is to be a Summit Meeting for senior European Union officials so security is at max.
Remember that washroom break? Since nothing was open, we ended up at a gas station. This meant one (count it, one!) unisex toilet for all 43 on-the-elderly-side people. As you can imagine, our ten minute break took a lot longer than 10 minutes!
Security is tight because of the upcoming Summit Meeting for delegates of the European Union.
Since we got into Bratislava a bit late our guided tour (with the largest group our guide has ever had) had to be shortened. Then we were given ½ hour free time. Thank goodness for Rick Steves! We knew exactly where we wanted to go. Then it was back on to the bus. Another urpy ride to our lunch stop.
Lunch was a perfect comedy of errors. First, Jim and I would rather have stayed in the town for an interesting lunch but had to stick with the bus. Second, after the bus ride, my stomach was less than enthusiastic. Third, the restaurant had not expected as many people to show up, so they were understaffed and couldn’t get anymore because of the national holiday. They had the food pre-cooked but previously frozen. And by the time the food finally came to the table, it was still cold… You should have seen the look on our friend’s face when he “stole” one of his wife’s potatoes and popped it in his mouth… the potato was raw! The staff, who would rather have been at home enjoying a holiday with their families, was even more annoyed at having to serve a bus load of ungrateful tourists!
“Man at Work.” One of the most famous quirky statues in Bratislava.
The included visit with a Slovak family was actually very informative, especially for me because the hostess turned out to be a teacher of grade 1 to 4 kids. I learned a lot! The front of the house was deceptive. It was a plain facade almost touching the street… But! Then you walk about to the garden! What a beautiful yard! OMG what a view! We had tea and coffee and cake under an awning, looking out over the vast expanse of farm fields and hillside across the valley. So nice! Unfortunately, the talk was not the least bit interesting to Jim. (Told you he was grumpy). When we got back to the bus, it turned out our good friends had been randomly selected to be part of the group that went to a winery. Talk about a jealous Jim!
So it was back to the boat via urpy bus. We got back just five minutes before dinner at 7. Oh! I forgot to mention, in the list of silly little things that bother you… When we got back to the room, we
Gotta love the decorative roof tiles!
discovered that Jim had accidentally hit the “Do not Disturb” button (right underneath the two to turn out the lights when you leave buttons) so the maid had not come in to clean our room and our laundry had not been done. Sigh.
Dinner was good… Once my stomach recovered!
But then we received more bad news. The lock was fixed BUT… Now, because of the aforementioned Summit Talk, no traffic was going to be allowed through Bratislava tomorrow (of any kind) AND because the canal had been compromised, they were facing the dreaded LOW WATER. No river traffic tomorrow (Friday) and probably Saturday too. So, to go to Vienna it was back on the buses tomorrow.
Thus the end of “one of those days.”
At least I got to add another country to my list!
The rather unassuming front of our hostess’ house in Slovakia.
And yet from the back, the story is quite different: beautiful garden, excellent view, and the tomatoes were amazing.