Never join a group of tourists without observing them properly first. Whether they are drinking, whether they are foreign, whether they are crazy, never follow a guide unless you like them and never, ever allow yourself to be put upon by a crazy drunk person.
Just to update you, when the drunken tourist man had finally stopped vomiting all over the table in the posh UFO restaurant he fell asleep, face down in his own mess, leaving me to explain to the waiters what happened and how it was nothing to do with me.
They dragged the man upright, threw cold water in his face and frog marched us both to the lift.
The man was dumped in the corner of the lift, no longer able to stand up by himself and before pressing the descend button they attempted to get money from me by demanding my credit card.
It wasn’t funny and I was pretty scared. I kept telling them that I wasn’t with the man and that I didn’t have a credit card anyway. They said they would call the police, so I said that was fine, I would stay to speak to a policeman, but they didn’t call my bluff. Instead, the head waiter punched the down button on the lift so hard that I thought it was going to get stuck and probably send the lift crashing into the ground at the bottom.
Once on the ground floor, I have to admit, I abandoned the tourist man. I just left him in a heap, with dribble coming out of his mouth.
So the final lesson I learned is this, never leave someone alone when they’re in a terrible state, because you’ll spend the rest of the week worrying whether they died or something.Read More
One of the things I really like about travelling is the packaged food. I know how stupid that sounds, most of the time packaged food just tastes rubbish, but when it’s done particularly well, it can be really lovely.
I’ve spent a bit of time analysing the fare available on the train here, it’s not at all like British train food. Even though they must have the same problems here as they do at home, in terms of getting fresh food to stay fresh and still looking as nice on the third day as it does on the first; I’ve worked in restaurants and know what the three day rule is, and persuading the lovely general public not to shake it around until it looks like something an orang-utan put together is a bit of a challenge.
I did wonder if it had anything to do with the type of food it is, but once I checked out the menu, I realised not. They are basically the same; sandwiches, salads, snacks and hot and cold drinks. I bought a sandwich, a salad, a portion of garlicky olives and a small platter of French cheeses from the kiosk on the train today and I’ve slowly worked my way through them, examining every morsel. They really are better.
I did notice, however, that the sandwiches are made on the train. Not to order, exactly, but put together as and when the staff have time. They have a lot of generic packaging, you know, like a plastic box that fits a salad or a pudding or a portion of olives. But then it’s sealed and a gorgeous sticker is placed over the edge of the opening, so if you accidentally left it on the counter and had to go back for it 20 minutes later, you’d know if someone had been in there and stolen the ham.
The printed labels really are lovely, too. They’ve got all the ingredients, the name of the product and the logo, but the image is unusual, it’s probably something to do with the train and the quality is really good.
I did a little shopping around, even though I’m not thinking about creating a product of any kind at the moment, but you never know when these things might come in handy. Okay, I admit it, I’m addicted to address labels and the best supplier I could find was at www.data-label.co.uk. Of course, I have no idea how much they would cost, as they operate a quote system, but the quality of their labelling is excellent and they have the latest digital imaging equipment, which sounds pretty cool to me.
Don’t worry; I’m not about to order 6,000 labels; not today, anyway.
The old ticket hall has some kind of brown marble flooring, in proper old style, like you’d see in a 1950s film, with elaborate wooden frames around the windows of each ticket office. I don’t think you would ever find a train station like this anywhere in the UK.
As you leave through the main entrance onto the street, there are more arches and religious-style murals painted in the ‘windows’ of the arches; angels and such like.
The ceiling was so high that they have had to hang drop lights down, possibly about 30ft, so that they would actually light the room. I just love grandeur like this.
The hotel I’ve picked is something very different, it’s extremely modern and it’s hardly penny pinching, but for £107a day, I hope I’m going to be up enjoying it all night.
It’s called the Bohem Art Hotel and I admit I picked it for the novelty of having a room with a massive painting above the bed, oh and for being able to have a drink in a bar with outlandish neon lighting. The rooms looked lovely online, it only remains to be seen if they are in real life too.
I’m beginning to learn that what you see on a computer monitor isn’t always what you get for real, even if it’s in a photograph.Read More
Oh my goodness. I wouldn’t normally advocate flirting with random guys on the train or in any public place for that matter. Obviously the potential to get yourself into trouble is massive. You’d never know if they were married, gay or dangerous. In fact, it’s pretty much like online dating; you remember the quote from ‘Forrest Gump’? “Lahf is lahk a bohx of chohcluts, you niver know what you’re goin’ get.”
That’s internet dating isn’t it and as it turns out, train flirting too.
So there’s this guy with floppy hair and a stripy sweater; he doesn’t look old at all, not too young either, I hope. I’m sure he keeps looking my way; no, he does, he’s doing it right now. Obviously it’s because here I am, typing away, looking interesting, not to mention cute.
I’m not encouraging him at all, but he keeps looking at me when I look down. I can feel his eyes burning the top of my head and as soon as I look up he looks away and I go goose-bumpy and my face flushes. Actually, that’s the biggest reason I think he is looking at me and not just past me at the countryside. Because your subconscious always knows what is going on, even if the rest of you doesn’t.
I thought that was going to be the end of it; this part of the post being written two hours on from the first, but it wasn’t. It looks as though Europeans are more forward than Brits; I think I was aware of that anyway, in every single way. I know they have a reputation for being more romantic than our guys, but I didn’t think I’d end up having a three hour conversation. Also, he isn’t that interesting really, even if his English is pretty good.
I finally managed to make eye contact with him and within about two minutes he had got up, looked completely innocent and sat down in front of me. He wanted to see what I was typing, so I lied and showed him my forex post. I told him I wrote in-house articles for a stocks and shares company and that post was one of my latest efforts.
I also told him my parents were really rich and that I didn’t actually need to work, which was why I was on a random train in Eastern Europe.
There’s was the potential here to tell lots of lies, especially over the next couple of hours, so I think I had better get off the train at Budapest and make a break for it, just in case he finds out I made it all up.Read More
Me and my good ideas; that’s what I keep thinking when I see a drunk person headed my way. Anyone carrying a ‘tinnie’ on the train will only see my rear end; like a duck, fishing in
a river, because I’m never going to let the vom thing happen again. It’s like the ultimate
I even caught myself thinking wistfully about ‘real’ holidays, the kind with loads of sunshine and beaches and holiday romances, not that I’ve ever had a holiday romance.
But, well, then I looked up that type of holiday on my tablet as my train headed for a distant corner of Hungary and I knew I’d made the right choice. I can do the Island of Menorca for £250 all-in, staying at a four star hotel of my choice; I would probably choose the Princesa Playa Cala’n Bosch, as I’ve stayed there before and it was pretty good, but seriously, just now I am happy to forego all those wonderful comforts and take the path of most resistance.
I think too many people forget that a little bit of effort brings its own rewards. I mean, we’re brought up to take the easiest options, at home, at school, at university, even at work. We falter at the first sign of something going wrong and seem to end up going home to sulk in front of ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Holiday Nightmares’, convincing ourselves that tomorrow will be an easier day.
Nothing comes easy, that’s what I’m learning. Look at me; there was me in a lovely hotel for the first night of my stay in Bratislava, then I found a lovely condo, then I couldn’t speak Slovak, then I couldn’t get myself fed without asking someone for help and finally someone was sick on me again.
But somehow, despite nothing coming easy, I’m definitely having the time of my life. So something’s going right, despite outward appearances.Read More
This morning I woke up and realised that tomorrow I will be in a different country. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, has been amazing and I have learned so much about travelling by myself, but now it is time to move on.
I almost felt sad, except that I have loads more to be getting on with; next stop: Budapest.
Being a more seasoned traveller now, I opted for taking the 11:50am train to Budapest, rather than the early one. This thinking means I get to have a few more hours in Bratislava, at least, a few more hours to get myself ship shape and ensure that the condo is left in perfect order and that I’m able to get the key back in time.
I ordered a taxi by speaking in very slow, clear, English to the operator, who then revealed he spoke possibly better English than me.
When the taxi arrived, the driver was mega enthusiastic and wanted to show me all the sights in the town before I left, even though I tried to tell him I’d seen loads of it anyway. I was so afraid we’d be late for my train, but now I’m waiting on the platform and there’s still half an hour to go. I have therefore reminded myself that I had only recently vowed not to panic before anything bad actually happens.
Mind you, if there’s one thing I am starting to panic about, it’s randomers walking up to me just to vom everywhere. I’m like the vomit police now; if I see someone coming that even looks like they might, I’m running the other way.
I haven’t booked my hotel yet, but I have decided what I’m going to do. While on the train I’ll book a decent hotel for the night and then, when I’ve made friends with the reception staff, I’ll find out where the best cheap place is to stay and go from there. Good plan, right?Read More
In Bratislava the little old town square and all the narrow streets that run off from it are simply lovely; it’s all so olde-worlde-Europeany, if you see what I mean. It’s just like the town square in the TV sitcom ‘’Allo, ‘Allo’, although I probably shouldn’t be saying that since it was supposed to be set in France. It definitely reminds me of Vienna, but there are not so many people.
I just did a lot of window shopping, mainly. I have to say that not knowing the language at all has not helped me during this holiday. Talk about leaving yourself at a disadvantage. When I was at school, they were always on about how English is an international language; yeah, right, not here in Eastern Europe it isn’t.
There were a lot of whimsical little statues sprinkled around the old town centre, including one in the form of a man at work with a ‘men at work’ sign behind him. His name was Cumil, I think.
Anyhow, what kept catching my eye as I strolled around was the massive castle, high on the hill overlooking the town. Its local name is Hrad, which reminds me of Dracula, but I’m not sure why. Wasn’t he supposed to be Vlad the Impaler? I think the languages must be related or something, but it matters not, I can’t pronounce the words anyway; this is really bugging me, I’m going to take lessons in Slovak when I go home or something equally useful, like German.
Hrad is a classic castle of immense proportions. It apparently dates back to at least 907 AD, which is when it was first written about somewhere, but the guide, who, thank goodness, did speak English, reckoned there had been a castle-like structure on the hill since the dawn of time. Well, he said the Stone Age, but I figured the dawn of time sounds more impressive.
Its four towers at each corner were off limits to the public, but the interior seemed to have recently been renovated and although everything was of massive size all the paintwork and décor was new. I could even smell paint in a couple of rooms.
There were chairs painted in gold that actually gleamed, which really impressed me. It tells you something about the culture of kings when a wooden chair has been coated with real gold. That kind of decadence is something we can only dream or read about now. Today, I bet even real monarchs don’t have crazy furniture like that. I mean, sure, you get iPhones embedded with Swartzkovski crystals, but that isn’t quite the same as real gold, is it?Read More