Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm BACK, Baby!

Spent the past two weeks or so with the girls in Bratislava.

Yeah. I know.

Who goes to Bratislava for a holiday? I do, I guess.

It was lovely, actually, and very nostalgic. After all, we lived there for almost seven years.

Somehow, I bullied a nice man I don't really know all THAT well into letting us stay in his apartment while he went to Dubai to celebrate his 30th birthday (Do I really know men that young? Guess I do.). Turns out the apartment was in one of my favorite corners of the city (off Palisady, right next door to Traja Musketieri). It is a part of town that I rarely got to walk through, although I always regretted that. So for about a week, I got to look at the buildings closely, peek into gardens, consider the renovations. It was a treat.

Then, we moved over to an apartment behind the Tesco in the center of town. This business belongs to the fellow who is partly responsible for Cat-O (his girlfriend at the time was the one who called and said they had a kitten if I wanted it . . .).

The cool thing about this location is that it is right where the novel, The Chess Machine, takes place. I bought the book on my mom's recommendation, since she said it takes place in 1770s Bratislava (or Pressburg, as it would have been called then). And immediately I realized that if you take the names of the streets, and change them from German to Slovak, I know exactly where all the action took place. Donaustrasse becomes Dunajska. Herrenstrasse becomes Panska. I've walked those streets for years, and it made for a very fun read. I can't say if the book would be so enjoyable if I didn't know intimately every block.

How does Bratislava compare to Moscow, you may ask?

It sure is cheaper. I saw heads of broccoli for about a euro (Slovakia went to the euro on January 1). Here they cost about 150 rubles (just under $5). I bought strawberries for a song (they are still well over $10 for a box here). Skittles got her bangs trimmed for 3 euro.

No stray dogs. All the dogs we saw were with someone.

More graffiti. There isn't much in our part of Moscow. Maybe farther out in the suburbs there is.

People seem so young there. And less jaded. But perhaps more naive? (The elevator in the Au Park mall still never ceases to amaze.)

It's so small. Even without a car there, getting around via public transportation or just on foot was easy and sometimes downright pleasant.

And quiet. I often woke to the sounds of birds in the mornings. Walking here, especially with a hat on, makes it impossible to hear anything. The traffic is very loud.

And sleepy. I was noticing how many cafes and restaurants in the Old Town close at 10:00. I think there is a noise ordinance.

But my favorite part? I must confess. My favorite part of Slovakia was always Austria. Last Saturday I got to go to what I consider The Happiest Place on Earth. Peter Szigeti poured glass after glass of champagne for me to try until I happily rolled back to the car (I was not driving), and my dear friends took me to Nagelreiter for lunch. Grilled chicken salad. Sigh.

That was bliss.

Speaking of which, here I am with one of my favorite people in the whole world. We're sort of a mess in this photo, not just because we had drunk a lot of wine before bullying her darling husband into taking photos of us.

It is hard to tell in the photo, but she's probably on her way to a Harry Potter-type scar on her forehead. She wasn't zapped by an evil wizard, but turned around suddenly during play rehearsal and cracked her head into another actor.

I, on the other hand, am a victim of my own inability to learn. To learn that when you go to have your eyebrows plucked in Slovakia, and they say, "Farbit'?" ("Color?") and you say "JEMNE!" ("lightly" or "gently") that you cannot trust them not to turn you into Baby Jane.

I will never learn. But you can benefit from my stupidity. Just say, "No."

It has faded significantly since this photo. But still The Spouse paused this morning during breakfast, and said I looked like this:


valentina said...

Ok so this is the 2nd time I've tried to do this. I am really googley challenged as they seldom work which is why I always get carried away and send such long ones; it's as if it's my last ever opportunity...Anyhow we all missed you so welcome back and we're glad you had a great time! It is 73 here and March has come roaring in and the wind is blowing like crazy.

Monday is my last week of classes and then I get a week's holiday to prepare for Spring term.

I hope the girls are glad to be home and I am sure that Crooky and Cat-O and the spouse are all delighted to have you back with or without eyebrows! You still look great! xov

Jen said...

How lovely to have a good old explore!
I really missed your observations of the small things - you remind me to look.
Welcome back :)

kate said...

Welcome back! I wondered where you'd gone. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Are you refreshed and ready to tackle Moscow living?

hka said...

i know they do that with the eyebrows in Hungary as well - but it does make you look younger. Glad you're back.

Tina in CT said...

Glad to have you back.

I think you look great.

It must have been nice to go visit friends and where you'd lived.

I hope that cat in the first picture was OK.

Anonymous said...

Louis Vuitton,LV Luggage,LV Wallets,LV Agendas,LV Belts,LV Shoes,LV Accessories,Gucci,Gucci Wallets,Gucci Shoes,Marc Jacobs handbags,Marni handbags,Miu Miu handbags,Mulberry handbags,Prada handbags,Thomaswylde handbags,TOD handbags,Bottega Veneta handbags,D&G handbags,Dior handbags,YSL handbags,Coach handbags