[Bardejov and Kosice photos = here.]
Today is about a lot of traveling. And I was fortunate to meet some locals who speak English and are eager to help.
The Eurobus from Podlesok to Spišský Štvrtok has yet another fine-looking driver. This is supposed to be a short route, but it took longer than I thought – somehow at several stops there were so very many people got on: they all seem have the kind of dark complexion, and I suspect them to be Romas. A whole bunch of them were “dressed up,” the boys variously with some shirts of shiny materials, and the girls with certain small dresses. One of the tall young man has an oversized suit, and a young woman wears all white – very fitting low-cut shirt featuring a huge belly and pants, together with some big white flower in her hair. I am almost certain she’s not pregnant – some teenagers and youths here simply… eat a lot, I guess.
I could take an earlier bus and changed only once to reach Bardejov, but the waiting time involved takes too long, so I opted for the Podlesok – Spišský Štvrtok – Prešov – Bardejov route, and I can arrive earlier in Bardejov actually. Even so, the wait at Spišský Štvrtok is one hour. Luckily there’s a self-service gas station with a shop and some outdoor chairs.
The two different bus drivers from Spišský Štvrtok to Prešov and from Prešov to Bardejov have something in common: not friendly. Maybe that means I’m “accepted” and not regarded as a foreigner. Horray.
I also had to pay extra on the bus for my luggage. It would probably have been a different case if I opted for one of those big mountaineering backpack. Well, at least my back won’t suffer.
The bus to Prešov arrived 20 minutes later than schedule, and since I had only 3 minutes to change, I missed that bus and had to wait for 40 more minutes. There are lots of people at this station, and no-one seems to speak English. Luckily I found the right platform. At least I get to stand in the front of the queue, since as it turned out, there were so many people, and the seats were filled very quickly – all the people who got on the bus later in the queue had to stand in the very crowded bus, and later there were even more people to get on board.
Two fine-looking young people were yapping beside me the whole time. I thought these two – one boy and on girl – may be college students, and I’ll have a better shot to speak English to them. Wrong. When I asked whether it’s “Bardejov? Bardejov Central? Centrum?” They said “Ano (“yes” in Slovak)… yes” and got off, so I followed them, but it wasn’t Bardejov Bus Main Station at all.
Luckily, a father with a young daughter came to my rescue – in English. He checked with me about what I wanted, and told me that the main station is the next stop. And no harm done – this stop is actually closer to the town center. “But they should be able to speak English – they are twenty-year-old young people and they SHOULD SPEKA ENGLISH,” this father said. I had to smile.
As he was walking to the center too, he offered to walk with me and asked me whether I am traveling through Europe. (Well, kind of.) He reminded me that Slovakian drivers “often don’t” yield to pedestrians and told me to be careful. Also, “some bus drivers in the south” would give the wrong amount of change because I am a foreigner and probably “can’t count that well. No matter how true the above is, he is really thoughtful. As it turned out, he had been working in the UK for eight years and is returning for a two-month vacation. He also recommended a pizza-pasta place when I asked him to recommend a restaurant; when I asked him about the place recommended by LP, he told me it went bankrupt (Funny thing: the LP I have is the latest 2012 edition, and yet so many listings no longer existed.)
The young lady at tourist info is super nice, and when I complimented how beautiful the town is, she exclaimed “Thank you!” with a kind of surprised joy. She also let me leave the luggage there.
On the square I spotted two fit young Asians: Taiwanese? Hong Kong-ese? Koreans? I advanced to the one with shapely figure and fashionable sunglasses, asking him to take a photo of me. No, his accent doesn’t sound like Hong Kong-ese. Korean? Maybe. Not quite right. If not then he has to be Singaporean.
I went to the pizza-pasta place. Nice outdoor area. The menu has English, and the three young waitresses were super busy. When one of them finally came, she spoke to me in German. Well, the soup is really good, and the Slovak-style assorted meats in mushroom sauce are nicer than I expected except maybe a tad salty.
The exhibition inside the town hall is a total bore. I decided to skip the icon museum LP raved about and the “gloomy” interior of the basilica and, instead, went to check out other parts of the town. Well, there are hardly any “other parts” to speak of. The square is super nice and impressive to me, but that’s all. I went to the tourist info again to ask for a café with free wi-fi. Eventually I came to a place that one has to pass a corridor to enter, and there was a hunky cutie sitting by the sidewalk asking what I was looking for. (Well, of course the café.) So I had my fine coffee (and a glass of ice, which in Slovak Is called “lat,” as I learnt it from the young waiter in Ranc Podlesok) served by a hunky waiter whose single arm can provide two servings of steaks. (Raw, please.)
Maybe I am too wifi-obsessed. But somehow I need it to feel safe there days, even when I am really too tired to “work.”
After barely an hour I had to leave to pick up my luggage and to check out the supermarket near the bus station. (Funny that their big supermarket is always right beside their bus station.) The station actually caters the need of some other vehicles, I suppose, and it wasn’t that easy to spot where to go for the buses. But I found it anyway.
I must have looked a bit lost when arriving at Košice’s Bus Station, which is right beside its railway: an ultra-nice woman came up and asked me in English whether I needed help, and she really made sure that I went on the right direction. Oh, I am so lucky to encounter these people 🙂
Upon arriving the bar (“Madrid”, hence the name “Hostel above Club Madrid”) I was greeted by a frequent customer. He asked where I have been traveling to. “Eastern Europe.” Where in Eastern Europe? Upon hearing my answer, he said “No, Slovakia is in Central Europe.” It’s ridiculous that no-one is in Eastern Europe: the Baltic countries say they are kind of Northern Europe, (while this guy says they are Eastern,) and Poles and Slovaks hasten to insist that they’re “Central Europe” instead of Eastern. “Eastern Europe is… Ukraine and Russia,” he explained. Yeah, right. I don’t have time for all this Eastern-Europe-phobia. Political/cultural stuff is a different thing from (arbitrary) geographical definition.
When the waitress finally materialized (the owner, on the other hand, went to play volleyball and wouldn’t return until half an hour later), I asked to see the room. I saw the lock-less room – together with the two Asians I saw in Bardejov! And they speak Mandarin among themselves, although they are definitely no Chinese. Also not likely Taiwanese. Hong-Kongese don’t speak Chinese, so…
When one of them saw I was looking for the power plug and told me in English where that is, I switched to Mandarin. Yes, they are from Singapore, and both of them speak fine Mandarin; the shorter and slimmer one spent quite some time in Taiwan, had quite some very good impressions, and speaks Mandarin more fluently. They are two students who went to Turkey for an exchange program and is now on the second week of their seven-week Europe trip.
After some relaxed chatting we went to dinner together. I didn’t feel like dinner, but it’s nice to have company. Since it’s Friday night and the weather is superb, there’re people EVERYWHERE. Every restaurant has whole bunches of full tables on the pavement.
We eventually reached the LP-recommended place, and the only available tables are down in the basement – the outdoor ones need to be booked in advance, we were told. The items on the menu are distinctly more expensive than elsewhere I have seen – is this some place for silly tourists? After all, the door has a sign that says they offer “traditional Slovak cuisine,” and the waitress also brought bread that turn out not to be free. I actually didn’t plan to have any dinner had I not met these two guys, but it’s nice to have company.
We chatted all the way to 11pm even though these two young lads had to catch a train at 6am. (Funny thing that the one keen on weight training told me how hard he tried to learn to speak proper English, which means to get rid of Singlish, before he came to Turkey and Europe, lest others don’t understand him.) I was tired. I decided to take the combination at 10am and not the one at 7am. After all I don’t think there’ll be that much happening in Banska Stivanica or the place where my hosts live, so there’s no point to batter myself by hurrying for an early bus.
Podlesok – Spišský Štvrtok – Prešov – Bardejov – Košice
= 0.75 + 3.8 + 2.17 +4.4 = 11.12
總計：49.23 EUR <= 危險…