Slovakian Hospitality

Trip Start Apr 24, 2007
Trip End Jul 09, 2007

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Amazing day! Started off waking up in my big room, in my big double bed with the sun shining and the birds singing. Went down stairs and I'm not sure why breakfast always tastes better when someone else puts it on the plate, but damn it was good. Big selection of bread, sliced meat, cheese, yogurt, boiled eggs, cucumber, peppers and some yummy little homemade cheese pastry things. A continental breakfast that beats almost all fry ups I've had.
Went to catch the bus to Bardejovske Kupele and the one at 10 never came. I don't care, even the little hassles today could not bring me down. Once came shortly after 11 and I was on my way. The guy made me buy a return ticket which turned out later to only be one way, but that still couldn't kill my mood.
Bardejovske Kupele is a spa town which people having being going to since the 15th century for the healing powers of the mineral springs. Once I arrived in town, my first mission was to find the spa. During breakfast the lady who runs the guesthouse was awesome. She got out some maps, told me all about the spa, where to go, where to catch the bus, etc. It is a very small town, but I still managed to get myself a wee bit lost. But when you're in a beautiful Slovakian valley, who cares?  
I started at a building that had a long counter with about a dozen sinks along it. I got my little cup filled up with fresh spring mineral water that comes from the area and is meant to have therapeutic powers. It smelt a bit like well water but I gave it a go. Did feel a bit different/better after, but I think it was just in my head or because of my incredibly good mood.
Next stop was the spa where I booked 3 treatments; a "banking", a mineral bath and a classic massage. Less than 20 bucks for all three, smiling even more now! The place was what I would picture if communism did spas. It reminded me of a larger version of a small town hospital, complete with all the girls in white uniforms.  First up was the banking treatment. A woman comes in and asks "what's your pain" and then put suction cups over that part of your back. Not sure if it worked but I now have a few perfect red circles on my back as a souvenir. Next was the mineral bath. It was a long room that had a bunch of sliding curtains (again like a hospital) on three sides of each tub. A bit weird stripping down in front of the girl pouring the bath, but I figured if the old dude I could hear through the curtain could do it and it didn't seem to faze the girl on that side (they seemed to just be having a regular conversation)  than surely I could too. The bath was amazing; I would have been completely relaxed except for the effort it took to stop from floating due to the bubbles and salt in the mineral water! The lady came back when the buzzer rang and wrapped me in a big sheet and pushed me back in my "change area". Went for the massage next and was relieved when they gave me a sheet when they led me to the change rooms, which were like dressing rooms at a department store.  Well, I was relived until I got in the massage room and the large Slovakian girl pulled the sheet off me to lay it on the table. Good thing I only went for a back massage and didn't opt for a full body massage! Greatest massage though, my back feels great now!
With my Slovakian spa experience complete, I went out smiling and started towards the open air museum. It was great. They had everything from the churches built without nails to the old water wheel, even a pig barn! Everything was from some of the surrounding villages and were from 100-200 years ago.
After the cramped bus back to Bardejov, I figured it was time for a beer. Found a spot in the square and had a quick pint and enjoyed the scenery before wandering around the town for a bit. I found a small basement pub/restaurant just off the square for dinner.  I was only there long enough to order my food and a pint before the guy at the booth next to mine came over . Would have been great, but I know about 6 words in Slovakian. The guy was really making an effort to get his message across, waving his hands and speaking very slow and very loud... in Slovakian. The waitress and the young couple behind me (we were the only 5 people in there) kept giggling. After they had all had a laugh for a while, the guy behind me turned around and started playing translator. Turns out he and his girlfriend used to live in Ireland so they knew English.  What my new buddy had been trying to ask me was if I had a boyfriend. When he got the translation that I didn't, he grabbed my hand, started kissing it and talking very quickly and loudly. The other three couldn't stop laughing and I was told by the couple that I do now. The waitress came back with my beer (still laughing) and sent him back to his table.
I had my (very very yummy) chicken cordon blue, fried potato slices and salad and then he was back and the waitress brought over another beer. The couple stuck around for a bit and I chatted with them and once they left the cook and the waitress joined me and my new buddy sitting across the table. They spoke a little English, but it wasn't long until my phrasebook was out and they were trying to learn new sayings. My new buddy had "Miss Canada" and "I love you" down pretty quick, while the other two quickly learned how to call him a big baby and a little man. He just laughed. After a couple hours, everyone got ready to leave. I had to laugh at the response when I asked the waitress if it was safe to walk home.  She burst out laughing, and the chef said "This is Bardejov. You're in Slovakia, not America, of course it is safe". A round of hugs (and a chocolate bar shoved into my purse by the waitress) and I was off. They were trying to tell me to come back tomorrow, I wish I could. I hadn't laughed as hard as I did tonight in a long time!
I arrived back at the guesthouse at the same time as the guy who ran it. Stayed up a bit longer and chatted to him. He was telling me all about his trip to Ontario and Montreal last year. Finally it was time for bed, after he listed off about 10 extra options for breakfast in the morning (I thought today was great but tomorrows might even be better!) I headed upstairs for sleep. Today was such a brilliant day that tomorrow's going to have some big shoes to fill.
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