Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
Trip End Jun 13, 2004

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Flag of Slovakia  ,
Monday, April 26, 2004

Thanks to the map that Erasmus, the German cyclist gave me, I found the Downtown Backpackers Hostel no problem. The receptionist was very friendly and sympathetic to a half drowned cyclist.

I was in an 8 bed dorm and shortly after I checked in a group of girls on a weekend break from Bath and Edindburgh arrived. I went out on the town with them that night. The historic centre of Bratislava is beautiful, but it was actually relatively quiet. There are no hordes of tourists. Back in the hostel we sat up in the garden with a few other guests and talked away till past dawn.

I was still up at 10 am on Sunday morning, a bit groggy from the previous night. To clear my head i explored the town on foot . From the castle grounds you can see a long stretch of the river. The numerous chimney stacks of the industrial zone off to the left, the densely packed rows of communist apartments directly across the river and t the forest a little way of to the right.

In the evening I was passing a church and crowds were going in so I decided to take a look, I prefer to see churches actually being used than as cold buildings. I was in for a little treat. A choir had just started a performance by the altar. The women in scarlet red jackets, the men in dinner jackets. The singing was beautiful, they were well rehearsed. People just wandered in and out, I sat for 30 m ins, I'd never heard a choir that good before, although I've no idea what they were singing. The conductor was very dynamic. The way he waved and gestured with his hands it was as if he was playing an instrument made up of human beings. Uplifting stuff!!

On Monday it was the ritual find a bike shop again to get a another spoke fixed. On the roads I couldn't always swerve to avoid puddles as there was traffic and there is no way to tell how deep or sharp they are. I hit a few quite hard. The second shop I tried did it on the spot, but I decided to stay the night and see Bratislava in the sunshine.

That evening a Finnishh group arrived and the communal areas were very lively until all hours. I chatted away with Eugene, an Amereican returning home after two years with the peace Corps in Romania. We compared photographs, tales of travelling and maybe solved some of the world's problems over a bottle of beer.

If you want to see Bratislava before everyone discovers how fine it is, go now!!
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