Can you say Ban-ska Bee-schtreek-uh
Banska Bystrica Travel Blog› entry 10 of 13 › view all entries
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â€śMr. Arnemanâ€ť a voice on the phone in my hotel room asked. â€śThere is a young man here to see youâ€ť I was surprised. Earlier but after I got checked into my hotel room, I e-mailed the two couch surfers that were in Banska Bystrica, and told them I was there, and although it was such late notice, if they were interested, I was staying the the Penzion Bellevue, in room 101, and they should call.
I didn't really expect to get a reply, but here was 19-year-old couch surfer Peter, back home for the weekend from school, and he just happened to check his e-mail and was free.
I arrived in Banska in the early afternoon in the light drizzle. The weather has not entirely cooperated with me this whole trip. The taxi took me to the first choice hotel on my list, and I figured if they had no rooms, I could repeat the fun game of find-me-hotel-room-via-taxi if I had to. Luckily they had a room. The price was a little steep for me, about $80, but it was really a nice place. This time I DID take photos. They even had terry cloth robes folded neatly on the bed. These robe came in handy later.
My priority mission today, was laundry. I realized that I had run out of clean shirts, and the one I was wearing, was now two days old and getting ripe. I asked the girl at the front desk, but she couldn't help. It would take 24 hours. â€śCheck at the big shopping center called Europa, they have a dry cleaners, maybe they can do something.
I walked through the very nice pedestrian center of town, to the end of the street and there was a huge new very modern looking shopping mall. Weird right next to all of this beautiful centuries-old restored buildings and tunnels and such.
I found the aforementioned dry cleaners, but the lady spoke no English, but we managed to communicate to each other that I was out of luck. NO LAUNDRY FOR YOU AMERIKANSKI!
There was a supermarket at the other end of the mall, again a big modern affair, like a Super Target or Wal-Mart. I went in, bought a pre-made deli sandwich, a yogurt, some chocolate, and a bar of laundry soap, the old fashioned kind I used to see used in Mexico and Guatemala.
I headed back to the room with my lunch and my soap, and proceeded to wash out my shirts in the sink. I later found that I was getting water all over the place, so I moved the operation to the floor of the tiny corner shower. The hand-held nozzle really worked good. But I was working up a sweat, and there was water getting everywhere, so I just decided to strip down, and get in the shower and we would all just get clean together. I had quite an operation going when I started wondering how I was going to get all of these shirts dry. Luckily, the heated towel rack was an amenity the Penzion Bellevue had invested in. Add to that a couple of modern radiators, and I was in business!
After laundry duty, I got down to serious business about what to do with myself, where to go next and how should I get home.
I checked my E-mail, and found that Peter Vonbank had canceled his trip to Austria. I started looking at options; Go back to Bratislava, go to Venice, go to Munich. What about the flights? I better check those, and make a plan from there.
Bad news. The flights were full. Full Friday. Full Saturday. Full Sunday. Full Monday. Full from Munich. Full from Venice. Full from Frankfurt, even full from ZĂĽrich. Crap. What was I going to do? The best options were Tuesday from Munich or Wednesday from Venice.
It was then the phone rang, and I was introduced to my new Slovakian friend Peter. I put my plan-making on hold and we went out for a beer and a pizza. Did you know the drinking age in Slovakia is 18. Same for driving and voting. Everything happens when you are 18.
After pizza, he showed me the monument dedicated to the Russian soldiers who liberated the town from the Nazis in WWII. We walked around and saw several other monuments, towers and statues. Then he took me to his house. I met his little brother, who had a big room all to himself most of the week, when Peter was away at school, and the other older brother (who I never met) was away at college. And I met his father, who made us all some tea. I don't know where the mother was.
Peter showed me the way back home and we said good bye.
By the time I went to bed, I still had not made up my mind what to do the next day. Go, or stay another day in this charming city?
I woke up early Saturday morning, and got on the internet again. When were the trains leaving? If I wanted to get anywhere past Vienna, I had better take the 8:30 train. But if I waited until Sunday or Monday, could I get anywhere close to Munich to try the flight?
I made a quick decision. Get packed up and out of the hotel in the next 30 minutes and catch the train. I would go to Peter Vonbank's in Erfurt, Germany. A 13 hour train journey. 4 different trains and not more than a 10 minute stop for any of the transfers.
Shower. Pack. Pay the bill. Get to the train station. Quick, quick, quick.
The train adventure on the next blog.