So if Prague was the great opening album, today’s agenda may be the sophomore slump of slumps. I already spoke candidly about my 2 hour stopover in Bratislava and it’s inherent beauty. Slovakian girls are stunners and they are really friendly — but Bratislava is the ugliest fucking place I’ve ever been to. And this includes Detroit.
But prior to the day stop, I have been nursing a sore throat because of all the people around that openly smoke in Europe. It is the one thing in the United States that I have completely for granted. I have a brutal time with cigarette smoke. That and pet dander. If you want to reduce me to a sickly little nothing: blow smoke in my face or put me on a couch where a dog/cat has been — and wait about 10-15 minutes. And as good as weed smells — I can’t partake because it just would kill me. Any kind of smoke in my nostrils is like somebody stuffed poison ivy down my throat. I’m done for. KO’ed for days with mucus and snottles.
So yeah, I have that going for me — then I had to visit the Apotheke — which is pharmacy — at 7:30 am since it closes at 5 pm each day — and you can’t get any medications at a grocery store. So that is another Ugly American thing that I completely take for granted. At least England has medicine and food at Tesco’s — so I figured that their Czech namesake would also do the same. No dice. Otherwise I would have been combating the throat AIDS last night when I went to dinner. I haven’t seen the earlier side of 7:30 since high school. And with my internal clock being all fucking askew from the travel, I just felt like an overwhelmed bag of ass. That had to trek across Prague to the train station (which, in fact, was uphill) toting bags of additional weight. It sucked a fat cock. Then I get to the station with mere minutes to spare… and what do I walk into? Basically a speakeasy. Pipe smoke — the worst kind. I walk through trying not to breathe. I die halfway across the terminal. Have to go outside for a breath of air… and then literally run through the smoke wall en route to the platforms). Up stairs, wrong platform. Down stairs. Up stairs, still wrong platform. Train approaches on platform 4 (two down from me)… I book it back down, run across… and make it under the whistle.
I knew the rest of the day would be shit. So naturally, that function of life came to pass.
And certainly the fact that I used the grossest facilities of my existence scarred the experience but even the “nice” parts of Bratislava are like walking in West/North Philadelphia. It’s desolation and crime. It’s a place that time kinda forgot. The only difference between the two (three?) is that there aren’t any black people in Bratislava (at least I didn’t see any) and only one out of about 10 men wear shirts.
The place is riddled with unkempt properties and graffiti like you wouldn’t believe. Anybody that has been on a train knows that graffiti comes with the territory… but there is graffiti on every building in Bratislava. It’s a shit storm for the dregs of society.
But yet there are these gorgeous women that somehow make it seem cheery. Not cheery enough for me to spend more than a shit break there — but Slovakian girls are stunners. No wonder about 100% of them grow up to be models. But I’ve also learned a thing or two about these girls around here. They look amazing in their youth but all of the older women look like hobbits… same with the Czechs. I think kids + smoking + horrible living conditions = a rough aging process.
It is just a theory — but man to they hit a wall at some point.
And Bratislava is just a weird arrangement to me. It legit is shit. But yet the people all seem so happy and friendly there. If I could take the people out of Bratislava but not the Bratislava out of the people — I would. Why is it the ones that don’t have a pot to piss in are usually always the ones with the best outlooks on life? I met a guy on the train that travels 1:30 each way on the train to and from Bratislava to go to work. He is a systems engineer and gets paid a salary that I made as a graduate assistant. And he was the happiest fucking guy I’ve ever met. And he saw that I was reading an English book and he asked if he could practice with me. Then we chatted for the entire hour remaining on his trip home. Again, it was like a rainbow emerging from a pile of shit. He hardly made any money — spent most of it actually getting to/from work — but was drinking somebody’s Kool-Aid. He even prepped me for Budapest by saying that I need to avoid every guy and only talk with the girls.
… for my own safety.
Oh, there’s some fucking great news. Just want I want to hear.
Now as you hit new countries, you obviously have to show your ticket for each new regime. I’m very happy that when I hit Vaz in Hungary — none other than Argentina’s Diego Maradona requested my ticket. I have no idea what the hell he said or how to answer him — but the showing of your ticket becomes a common practice. And here I get Maradona’s ringer.
It needs to be said that the six hours + of train showed the very best and very worst of the countrysides and cityscapes. I was going to do something clever and shoot a picture every kilometer mark… but stopped after 40 pictures after realizing that the pictures were all going to look the same — since there is nothing to look at other than trees, graffiti, roads, corn, other crops, ugly stations.
Soundtrack of the Moment: Paper Planes (M.I.A.)
This scares me a bit — because Brno, Krakow and Kiev are all in line with Bratislava — and smack dab in the middle of the “this kinda sucks” part of Europe.
And believe me, the early exit polls on Budapest isn’t stellar either. Truth be told I was just trying not to be shanked by the thousands of gypsies that are trying to con you into something from the second you step off of the train. Georghe was right, every guy here is in a gang and is panhandling. “YOU NEED TAXI, COME WITH ME, NOW, GO, NOW!”
No dude, you go fuck yourself. “YOU NEED MONEY EXCHANGED, COME WITH ME! NOW! BETTER RATES! RATES AT COUNTER SHIT, GIVE ME YOUR BAG!”
Seriously, fuck off and go find somebody else that will fall for your parlor tricks. I’ve read about all of you guys.
No lie, four guys offer up taxi service coming off of the train. As in where the door opens. Yeah, because that is standard protocol. Then guys are standing around with “better rates for money,” only handing out bills for currency that doesn’t actually exist anymore. Anybody armed with Google should know what the currency looks like that you are going sight unseen to.
So when I said “Yeah, when I need a currency that went out 24 years ago, I’ll be sure to give you my money — until then, you should get the fuck away from me. I know a Korint when I see one. I’m Hungarian after all,” that surely pissed him off. Then he offered me a taxi ride. I eventually just walked outside so that I could get a glimpse of the address I needed to get to. I started walking and made myself lost on purpose. Well not ON purpose — just trying to get away from the gang groups. There was a girl standing waiting for a bus so I asked if she spoke English. She did (as most do here) — and so I followed up with “Continental Zara Hotel, do you know where Dohany Utac is?” And she showed me on a map. No problem, however she didn’t know the exact address… so I went on another goose chase somewhat. Every guy passing by offering up forced help. I finally ran into Dohany — but still wasn’t close. I saw a woman with a child and asked her — 42-44 block, this way or that way? Boom — straight to the hotel.
I’m not amped about spending 5 days here in Budapest… its just a bunch of hucksters it appears thus far. However, I did only see it at night and will reserve the right to a fair trial tomorrow during the day. It isn’t looking too promising though — I must admit.
And, dare I say this — if this is how my next few cities (Budapest, Brno, Krakow, Kiev) are: I will have no qualms about just packing it in and coming home early — I’ve paid for all the other hotels and my flights were all paid with points after all. And I’ve already done the best city and thing of the trip anyway. In the long-term it’d be cheaper. But I’m going to try and gut it out. And dare I say it… it’s kinda lonely.
Fucking gypsies. Ruin everything.