I had one extended Slovak lesson this morning, from 9 to 11.15. On the one hand, that’s a daunting length, but on the other, it was good to know I had the day free. Today involved learning how to express times, days, months and years in Slovak. Take the time 6.15 for instance. Would you believe that the phrase for that wouldn’t involve the words for 6 or 15?
My mate Allan had mentioned the Slavin monument and I realised that I hadn’t gone to see it before so I may as well take the opportunity.
It’s a memorial to Soviet soldiers who fell liberating what had briefly ceased to be Czechoslovakia. I say liberating…I don’t really have the space in this blog to get into a debate about how liberated or not Czechs and Slovaks were by Soviet involvement in WWII. Anyway.
After that, I reckoned it was time to go and find some lunch. I was now in the Old Town area which is the most touristy and expensive part, but I eventually found somewhere with a reasonably priced denne menu. Denne is ‘daily’ and most restaurants offer this deal. A simple lunch of soup and a main course, with a different menu for each day of the week. Some places may offer two or three choices for each course, but a fixed soup and either one or two main course options is more the norm. In Blava, these probably go from 3.50Euro to 5Euros.
The place I’d found was a Mexican restaurant…or as Mexican as any restaurant in Slovakia would be. The denne menu option was a veg soup followed by vyprážaný syr (literally ‘fried cheese’ but think more like the kind of breadcrumbed brie or camembert that you sometimes see served with cranberry sauce) served with hranolky (chips). It took me looking forlornly at a few denne menus without finding schnitzel until I realised that today’s Friday and this traditionally Catholic country wouldn’t have meat in the daily menu on a Friday.
The restaurant was nice enough, as was the food, but there was a problem with their music…
The owners had obviously decided that American Country & Western music was from close enough to the Mexican border to count. So far, so awful. The music they were playing wasn’t even full hellish C&W songs, it was some kind of medley that only played about 30 seconds of each song. Can you imagine what an assault on the senses a new god-awful Country & Western song blasting out every 30 seconds is?
Here’s my Facebook status update as the torture was in process:
“…I feel like I’m blindfolded in a crate in Guantanamo. I’m about to confess to the waitress that I planned 9/11.”
Thankfully, I was soon out and on my way. But to where?
Well, it transpired that the ice hockey play-off I’d intended going to was sold-out, so I fell back on my 2nd option. A football match in the 2nd tier of the Slovak football league. SFM Senec (Senec being 25mins by train from Bratislava) were playing MFK Michalovce at 5.30pm. I was aiming for the 16.07 train so, allowing myself about 30mins for the walk to the train station I had just over an hour to kill.
I’d already seen a sign for the Wine Museum in the Old Town so decided to head to that. Entry to it also included entry to a couple of restored floors of the Apponyi Palace building. The Wine Museum focused on the history of winemaking in the Bratislava area. I knew that Slovakia made wine – most notably the country makes up part of the Tokay wine region – but I didn’t know that the Bratislava area had been so prominent through the centuries. Anyway. Look it up yourselves, you don’t want this to become a history lesson.
I scuttled through the last few exhibits of the Palace rooms as I had to head off on my mission to experience some Slovak football. My only previous experience had been dragging the missus to her only professional football match – MSK Zilina beating Litex Lovech of Bulgaria in the 2nd qualifying round of the Champions League. They went on to beat Sparta Prague home and away to become the first Slovak side in the Champions League. Where they got pumped.
The atmosphere generated by a crowd I think I understood being announced as 335 wasn’t quite the same, but I’m going to write it up for ScottishComedyFC.com so you’ll be able to read more there soon.
I had 50 minutes to kill at the train station after the match and that was plenty of time to worry that, despite the ticket office at the station being closed, I wouldn’t be able to buy a ticket on the train and would be bollocked/jailed/bollocked-in-jail as a result. In fact, it was fine. It was also the first time I’ve seen a double-decker train in Slovakia. Berlin was my only previous experience of one.
Before that, one universal rule of dark foreign train stations had been upheld when somebody with dodgy facial hair, a film noir limp and several missing teeth had attempted to speak to me. I realise that I should be gratefully grabbing every opportunity to engage in the Slovak language, but “Nerozumiem!” (I don’t understand) seemed like the better option at that moment.
So, back in Bratislava. Friday night in a European capital…what am I doing?
I came back to my accommodation with a pizza and I’m writing this while having American ice hockey on the the TV as this evening’s background choice.
Not sure yet. There are more lower league football options…but there are also various museum options. We shall see. I also need to attempt some revision…and I even have a wee bit of homework!
Have a nice weekend.