Krakow left its imprint and off I went towards Prague. Between Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and back to Bratislava I used buses, as they were cheap as chips and saved being stranded in between the cities. Slovakia is notorious for being the worst country in Europe for hitch hiking, and people who picked us up there told us that when they hitched it was impossible. Still, maybe it’s my charm…
To get to Prague, I had to get a bus to Ostrava from Krakow, then a train from Ostrava to Prague. I was the only person apart from the driver on the bus to Ostrava and naturally the cops pulled us in and ran my passport. I laughed.
Prague is a sweet city. It’s got that lovely bridge across the water where people busk and a big hill you can climb to the TV tower. In saying that, the people I met there were a lot more interesting than the scenery. You know me, I don’t really care for cities.
I sorted out a hostel in Prague and instantly fell in with the crew in my room. There were two hilarious ladies from Derry, another from England somewhere, Clare, and a dude, Jay, from Seoul in South Korea. We were a little family in that hostel for a few days, it was beautiful. To stroll around the city with someone is great, as you get to share memories with another. Any time I think of each of these wonderful people, the memories come flooding back.
The first thing the Derry ladies explained to us was ‘throwing a spider’, which involves fingers spread out and arm rigid in front of you, anyone from Ireland knows what I mean. It became the greeting among the gang. I sat next to Jay and laughed as he did it to anyone who came into the hostel, all completely bewildered as they had no idea what was going on. Funny days.
Spent a day in Prague with Jay, we climbed the TV tower hill (my legs shook afterwards), saw the John Lennon graffiti wall and that kind of thing. Jay was a good lad, he found me on Facebook somehow coz I couldn’t find him with his Korean name. His English wasn’t exactly 100, and so much was lost in translation that it usually just descended into us laughing. He kept throwing spiders at people, pigeons, everything, and I explained things to him like ‘sure look’, ‘aw right kid’ and the likes. Good times, man. As far as I know, he went back to finish his Uni degree. I miss that kid. He tried feed the thing you pop on a menthol cigarette to a pigeon.
From Prague I scooted across to Bratislava. I woke Jay up that morning, he opened his eyes and threw a spider, it was a fitting way to say goodbye. I booked a hostel in Bratislava, turned out I was there the previous February. I ended up in Downtown Backpackers Hostel four times that year. The last time, at the very end of the trip, the dude behind the bar saw me walk in and just sighed. They’re real Gs in that place, such friendly people. Also have the best beer in Europe, Pilsner Urquell. Many were had. Good times.
Bratislava is a funny city. It hasn’t got as much of a tourist industry as the other cities surrounding it like Prague, Bratislava or Vienna. In saying that, that’s why I love it so much as a city. It’s like they don’t front anything to you; what you see is what you get. It’s a quiet place with awesome food and beer and everything that goes with it, and the people are so genuine. I picked up some Slovakian, though not too much. It’s well hard to learn.
I departed my bus from Prague into the pissing rain of Bratislava. I usually don’t have a problem with rain, but my Converse were completely fucked from over-use and had a hole in the bottom. I got totally soaked, and life was wonderful. Let’s just say they’d seen fresher days.
In the hostel, I teamed up with two Argentinian ladies that had worked in Dublin for a year, and another fellow from New York that was an amazing human. Good people. There’s a fabulous place downtown in Bratislava called Urban Space, if you make your way down there they do incredible shots of espresso, fix you right up. Wonderful bookstore with a café joined to it. Very nice atmosphere, real chill and laid back. Many diary entries were written in that charming spot.
It was funny being back in Bratislava. Since I’d already been there, I knew the various points in the city. It felt a little like home after all the cities I had visited beforehand. What made it that bit more delicate was the range of people I met.
One individual who stood out in particular was a lady from Bristol that was staying in the same hostel as myself. No matter how much time you spend with someone, wandering and strolling, sometimes you just don’t click. In contrast, sometimes it takes 20 seconds to ultimately understand someone else. I was in the hostel about to write but she was there so we started chatting and ended up talking for ages. It’s always nice to fall into conversation like that. She had a good soul.
Ally was her name if I remember correctly, she was nice to chat to. It’s cool to chat to people who aren’t afraid to open up, it makes conversing that bit easier. We started chatting about travelling, as one does on the road, and she told me stories about volunteering in South America and getting parasites from the water in a village with no electricity, and how she volunteered again in Africa and was put in with a tribe that had never met outsiders, so much so that the kids screamed because they thought she was a ghost. She said her trip was now carrying her East, towards Asia. I could digg it.
Meeting people like this on the road makes the lonelier times much easier to bear. They can creep up sometimes, but once you understand that everything will get better, that you’ll run into that one person that makes you appreciate life, you can enjoy the lonely times too. They let you appreciate who you are as a person and how strong you can be. Also, these people are just awesome anyway. I miss them. They wander into my thoughts at the most random of times, and I just smile.
When I travel, or in life in general, all I want is for people to smile. I know that when I travel people smile, and that’s enough to keep me going. Peace and love.
Quote of the week from my diary: ‘Mong for life’. Here’s some photos:
According to my diary, I was listening to this track: