Hi guys! Welcome to the second part of the Slavic trip that I took. This is the part where I started off traveling by myself around different parts of the countries of Slavia, and running in to friends along the way. It all started immediately after the Polyglot Gathering.
After hanging around at the Medical Garden in Bratislava, either eating, napping, or chatting, and staying until the last few remaining people almost left, I decided to march on to the Main Bus Station. I was going to take the first bus out to my next destination on my now solo trip, Brno, Czech Republic. I got to the Flixbus, almost couldn’t pay for the ticket only because I didn’t have exact change, and boarded, joining a friend that was taking the same bus to the end destination, Prague. I enjoyed the ride, and the chat, and told her I was meeting Gathering attendees in Brno. I arrived there after 6 PM. Brno struck a really nice first impression on me, and as soon as I checked into my hostel and dropped off my stuff, I immediately went back out. I really liked walking around the charming streets. I didn’t do much chatting until an hour later, when I met friends in Brno, found a cool bar with a big outdoor space, and chatted for a while, but it included Czech practice.
The next day involved more Czech practice, exploring a big castle, a nice church, and hanging out at a nice park. One great opportunity I had for practice was when I decided to buy some cherries from a local outdoor market my friend told me about the day before, and I tried to explain to the merchant the exact amount of cherries I wanted. I wasn’t good with numbers, but somehow got it done. I spent a few hours in a park eating the cherries while watching the locals walk by, while waiting for a friend to come by from Bratislava. I ended up taking him to the same place my friends took me in Brno, and had drinks until he had to go back to Bratislava. I arrived Monday evening, and I had to leave on Wednesday morning. I was not in a rush to get to the next destination, so at my own pace, I checked out of my hostel, went to the bus station, and bought a ticket for the next destination, Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Ostrava is a smaller city near the border with Poland that might not be as famous as the other cities, but because I knew about it for various reasons, I had to go there. I didn’t do as much research as with the other cities, so I didn’t know I ended up at a bus station in the western part of Ostrava, instead of near the Central Station, which was where I was staying. My hostel in Ostrava was actually a converted hostel from a hotel, which the proof of that I found in a photo in the Ostrava Museum the next day. The neighborhood was a quiet and peaceful area, but some locals didn’t seem to like me much, and some didn’t give me friendly looks. I also noticed that there was less English present there, so I discovered my Czech would get tested here. In some of the restaurants, especially the smaller places, the staff did not speak English, so I fully depended on my Czech to ask for food, and later, ask for a menu, and order food. Once I got to the center of Ostrava, more people spoke English, and at one place, me and a restaurant staff member constantly had a battle of wits speaking English and Czech, but it wasn’t the usual battle where the native and visitor spoke their own native languages.
On my full day in Ostrava, I walked over to the Town Hall with a recently renovated tall tower where visitors can get a great view of the city, as well as nearby points, and play the game of “In what direction is Poland?”. I walked around the center and its nice streets, had lunch in a restaurant, went to a small mall, then I went into the Ostrava Museum. It was a good visit to learn about the history of the city. The first floor of the museum was about the general history of the city from its creation to the present, and many aspects of its history, and the second floor was about the ecological and environmental history of Ostrava, and the different species of flora and fauna that exists in the area. After the museum, I decided to just relax in the main plaza for a few hours until it was time for dinner. And afterwards, I went back to the hostel. An interesting experience at my hostel was that, although I saw that there were apparently other people staying at the hostel with me, I was the only person on my floor. There was 1 other floor apart from mine, but each time I went to the kitchen or to the bathroom, I was alone and I never saw anyone else other than the hostel staff. It was a bit scary, but I managed. Hehe. On Friday morning, I checked out and left to my last stop in the Czech Republic, Prague. I took the train to go there, but I did not notice the departure station until the night before when I looked at my ticket and saw the same location that I had arrived to: Ostrava Svinov. So I woke up a bit earlier than planned, and took the tram over to take the train.
It was the second time going to Prague, but now it was going to be very different being that it’s warm in the city, so I expected many, many tourists running around. Also, I felt more confident in my Czech, and I was ready to use it in the city, despite the fact that more English is spoken there in spite of the high volume of foreign tourists. I used it at lunch at a local restaurant, and after that, waited until the evening to attend a fun event that I waited for a good while. Back in May, tickets for a soccer game that was for the Euro 2020 qualifiers. between the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, went on sale, and I wasted no time in buying them, which were really cheap compared to buying tickets for sports events here in NYC. Once I got to my seat, I met the little inconvenience of almost having a metal structure in front of me block my view, but I was tall enough to see past it, and it went well, this being at the Generali Arena, in Letna, in northern Prague. It was a nice game, but my highlight was meeting locals sitting behind me, speaking to them in Czech, teaching them bad words in Bulgarian (Hehe), and even taking photos with them after the game. I also ended up learning some new Czech vocabulary of my own to use. The next day, I already had to check out because it was a travel night, but before that, I hung out with a friend from the Gathering who was in town, and participated in a music festival that Prague had for the weekend. This happened in many parks and venues in the city, and lasted all day, but eventually, we all got tired and I went back to my hostel to get my belongings, walked around the center, even did some shopping, until it was time to travel. It was a daring itinerary to even think about, and hoping that there were no delays, I really believed that it could work.
I left Prague Florenc Bus Station at 11 PM and took a bus all the way to Budapest, Hungary. It was a 7 hour bus ride, making stops in Brno and Bratislava. Although it seemed that I was going backwards going back to cities that I had already been to on the trip (and it felt weird being there so late at night) but it was the right direction to where I was going. The bus successfully dropped me off at the airport (because I speak no Hungarian and I had no Hungarian currency and had no knowledge of the city to be there in such short time) and after 4 hours of sleep, and watching a baseball game thanks to the bus’ WI-FI connection, I was ready to fly. I had a 2 hour delay after some issues with Wizz Air and their plane, but after 12 PM, I was out of Central Europe and arrived in the Balkans, landing in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. And even before landing, I got tested to try to change my mind processes to change the language from Czech to Bosnian….but that story is in the next part. Haha