Here I am, safely arrived, despite some very deep puddles in the streets of Michalovce, where I truly found out just how waterproof my luggage can be. I think it’s passed with flying colours! Don’t ask me how I found my way without a taxi but after lurking through some deep, dark alleyways I somehow found the main shopping street at the end of which is located the Hotel Družba. (…and what a shopping street it is for a town the size of Ilkeston! It’s more like St. Peter’s Street!)
The scenery on the way is nothing short of breathtaking (snowy peaks peeking through the mists shrouding them) and it was only as one approached Košice that the heavens began to open. Indeed, on neither one of these past two days has the weather been anywhere near as bad as forecast, so something has gone right. I think Michael Portillo would be very envious, since I don’t think he’s ever done this trip. It must rank as one of the most eyecatching in the World. Maybe I’ll bang off another E-Mail to him, since I recall doing so in response to his trip through Belper. The excellent photograph of the train with the Tatra Mountains in the background for the front of the ‘Vlakový sprievodca’ was taken by Michal Plíhal, whose gallery can be viewed at his Flickr site.
Also, I think my choice of the Hotel Dominika was a stroke of (accidental) genius inasmuch as there was a shop selling groceries at very affordable prices. Indeed, I have taken all manner of videos including one of that shop. (Part of the chain known as ‘Moja Samoška’ (company strapline, ‘…denne čerstvá’, which I think can be translated as ‘…fresh every day’). I got, for the journey from Bratislava to Košice, for a total of 8.28 Euros (circa £6.50) a litre of fresh milk, a punnet of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of grapes, a packet of ‘Pressburg’ salami (German for Bratislava), a couple of cheesy cobs, a celebrity magazine with none other than Helena Vondráčková on the cover and some free lipstick that I’m bringing back as a pressie for one of the crowd at the Mind Shop, a newspaper with a free, large-scale motoring map of the Cezch Republic and a mini TV listings mag (with a story about ‘Top Gear’ in it!) that I can see the checkout girl didn’t put on my receipt, unless I’m missing something, so I got, unintentionally, an even better bargain!
(Interesting to note a Pop Music artist from the Communist Era endorsing Estée Lauder nowadays. How matters change!)
BTW, I have a ninth-floor room looking out over the whole of the town, so tomorrow morning I can get a mini-video of the whole of Valérie Čižmárová’s hometown, which I think will more than make up, along with the stunning journey here, for (if Eva Kostolányiová would forgive me for describing a concert in her memory as such!) some stupid concert, which I missed through my own stupid fault.
Oh, and since getting on-line is free on board (unlike on money-grabbing UK railways!) I could play a couple of Helena Blehárová videos on my laptop as I approached and shortly passed her hometown of Žilina (and I also took a mini-video of MŠK Žilina’s stadium, resplendent in yellow and green!) So that’s another thing that’s made up for any disappointments. What an amazing place that was!
I also sent a bit of an apology to Eva for last night’s incompetence as I passed through Trnava, promising that I’ll be back sometime, at which juncture I will try actually to visit the grave in that town.
Today has been the start of what looks like a love affair with a country that (like I’ve had to do today) has bounced back from all manner of setbacks and oppression in its history, unlike gilded, insular Britain.