Lunch in Ali Baba.
The planning this week is to leave Slovakia on Tuesday. This means that I will have to prepare for it. On Sunday I first go to the usual Roman Catholic Church. Again it is surprising to see, like previous times, that this community manages to fill the church completely during three consecutive services in the morning, with people even standing and participating in gangways and even outside the church.
After the service I am invited to join the family for lunch, always with soup, this time with rice and stew with mushrooms finishing with a dessert from redcurrant cake. After the lunch I stay in the nearby apartment which I am allowed to occupy and where I can watch the formula 1 race in Monza without being distracted by others.
On Monday I quietly start cleaning the apartment and taking most of my luggage to my car. Halfway the morning I go to the veterinary practice. It was, for Lenka, her aunt Maria and Lenka’s daughter a stressful morning. Hanna, Lenka’s daughter went to childcare for the first time. This morning it was actually only for half an hour and meant to introduce Hanna to the staff and the surroundings. It was not easy because Hanna is extremely cautious in her approach to unknown people and situations. After this first step I was asked to bring Hanna and Maria back to Medzilaborce because Lenka had some appointments with clients. The idea failed completely because Hanna did not accept it, so after a while Lenka decided to take them there herself. On return of Lenka, we went to hotel Ali Baba for lunch. I tried something unknown, with king prawns. When I got my plate, I lost my appetite immediately: pitch black rice with 5 prawns on top. The rice was not even sufficiently cooked: it did look like the residue from the bottom of a gearbox. It did even taste like that, so I ate the shrimps, tried some of the black rice and stopped eating rather soon. Lenka had to laugh and offered me some of her plate with pig meat and spinach.
On Tuesday, after finishing the cleaning and packing, I went to see Ivan, Lenka’s father, to say goodbye. We shared a cigarette and he produced some good wishes in German, written down. This reflects actually the main problem when I am here: communication is hardly possible.
After the emotional departure, I start my TomTom and follow the given directions.
Scenery in East Slovakia.
At first I drive through the very quiet rural parts of North East Slovakia and South East Poland. The roads there are narrow, with often rather bad asphalt surface but with an interesting view of the country. After approximately four hours I hit the A4, which is the motorway taking me through the rest of Poland unto the German border. On the way I am met with some very heavy rainfall during short showers. Close to the German border I take the decision to go to Bautzen in Eastern Germany and find me a hotel room there. I know Bautzen reasonably well from the year I stayed close to Bautzen during my trip through Europe in 2007. Nothing in Bautzen appeared to have changed; I recognized the hotel, the bistro and the centre of town. I arrived in Bautzen around 8 o’clock in the evening and hired a room in a Best Western hotel. The only luggage I took up to my room was a toothbrush and a bottle of whisky. In town I found a bistro where I ate dinner, with a small beer. Around 11 o’clock I was back into my hotel room and went to bed after a short period of watching German television.
Crossroads in Bautzen.
I did not sleep well and was wide awake around 3 o’clock, watched some TV again and managed to fall asleep again for 4 hours.
After breakfast I walked around a bit to take some pictures, before leaving Bautzen and starting the second leg of my trip.
Clocktower in Bautzen.
During this second part I had again to deal with heavy rain but otherwise it all went well and I arrived back at home around 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Wednesday.
On Thursday I was my friend Hanke and her dog Toots. Toots had been very ill, but she greeted me with a lot of enthusiasm. After that I went to see my family in Eemnes, where we ate cheese fondue.
Friday and Saturday I was at home, washing luggage, talking to my fellow tenants and just getting into the usual practical daily grind.