Friday, May 16, 2008


our bratislava trip has been surprisingly pleasant, despite the fact that my guide book appears to hate this city (descriptions of the sights around here include remarks about the "ill-proportioned steeple" and the castle as "an unwelcoming giant box burnt down by its own drunken soldiers in 1811"). we didn't know much about the city before we got here. you know those people who spin a globe and randomly place their fingers on a spot and decide to go there? well, we didn't do that, but we decided to come to bratislava on a whim, mainly because it is only 60 km from Vienna (the two closest capital cities in the world, actually).

the people here are down-to-earth and friendly, even if their mastery of the english language is, of course, very limited. of course, i may be saying that just because the bartender kept giving me free drinks last night, but i feel like the people here really are less cold even if i am clearly a foreigner.

if only i can say the same pleasant things about the allergens floating in the air. i have been sleeping with a fortress of kleenex at my bed.

random observation: it may just be the hostel that we're staying at, but this city appears to be populated entirely by men. annie and i have not seen a single female staying at our hostel. i would be curious to know how the slovaks manage to maintain their healthy population without female reproduction systems.

random observation: people round here really love ice cream.

another random observation: because of the aforementioned fact, people round here have a hard time understand lactose intolerant asians.

another random observation: annie and i have been dining on traditional slovak food, which generally consists of food that is fried and delicious and cheap and again delicious. however, we have made the shocking discovery that the traditional cabbage-and-sausage soup is strikingly similar to the Korean kimchi chigae, a coincidence that we cannot explain at all. but we have been eating a lot of the stuff and loving it. it reminds us of home, and how much we miss grandma's kimchi chigae.

i guess i do miss home somewhat. today we saw some schoolchildren singing some traditional slovak folk song in the streets and i began to wonder what we would sing back in Canada as a traditional Canadian song. so i immediately belted out a Stan Rogers tune ("now i'm a broken man on a halifax pier...") until annie begged me to shut up and switch to avril lavigne or something. oh home.

oh and did i mention that we met the president of bratislava today? if i had the capability to upload photos on to this public computer, you would be looking at a photo of me giving an asian FOB peace sign pose in front of the presidential entourage, as the president speaks to the media. but alas, you will have to imagine it instead and believe me that it was pretty exciting.