Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Slovakia  ,
Thursday, November 6, 2008

Although Kosice has only about 250,000 people it is the Slovak Republic's second largest city (behind Bratislava). It is not usually on many traveling itineraries, but we kind of like it that way. It has a beautiful old town yet doesn't have that let's-cater-solely-to-the-hordes-of-tourists-that-visit-here-so-they-will-spend-all-of-their-money façade put on that we saw in many of the places we have visited. It felt very real. One of the first things we noticed was the diversity of its inhabitants. Not racially, but more in the way of visible 'lifestyle' differences. We immediately saw people of all walks of life. From the overloaded shoppers filling the trunks of their Bentleys to the visibly intoxicated nappers on the park benches. It was fascinating to see the whole spectrum represented somewhat evenly within a few blocks.

We were lucky enough to stay in the centre of the old town so we quickly dumped our things and headed out to explore. We were told that Kosice is a very typical Slovak town so we strolled around taking in all that we could. We walked the strip and checked out some shops. They have a noticeably healthy supply of second hand stores that are dispersed pretty evenly over the old town between the usual higher end outlets. Almost religiously upon arriving in a new country, we have a routine of checking out a grocery store. We guess we like to see what the locals regularly consume to try and better understand that particular culture. Anyway, this is definitely the cheapest place we have ever visited! We could not believe how little things cost here. Sure it is all relative to that particular cost of living in that country, but it was remarkable considering how different it is only 20km to the south in Hungary. A 1-litre bottle of water was about 12 cents, and more importantly a pint of beer was a whopping 50 cents. We walked by a few restaurants and were surprised to see nothing over 3 euros on numerous menus. We decided to stop for dinner at a place next to our accommodation that was recommended in our guidebook. It is an organic restaurant. In a region known for its meat and potatoes, it seemed odd to see such a place, but it was fabulous. We both had Goulash with dumplings. For the dumplings we expected something more like perogies or gnocchi, but instead they were huge! They looked like slices of bread, but were actually slices of a massive dumpling... and damn tasty.

After sleeping off the feast, we headed out to explore a little more the next morning. We were walking through the open produce market when a café caught our eye so we headed in for a break. Apparently it was only their third day of business and they seemed so dedicated to making the place work. We purchased our usual Cappuccino (meg) and Double Espresso (kev) for a whopping 2 euros and then were given a free pastry each - a lovely opening week promotion. As we were finishing our coffee break, the proprietor brought over two complimentary 'hot chocolates' for us. These were not traditional hot chocolates but rather espresso cups with what seemed like melted pure white chocolate... they were heavenly. The owner told us that he lived in Chicago for about ten years and fell in love with the "Starbucks' thing. So when he recently moved back he decided to bring that with him - globalization at its best. After a cheery farewell we headed to Miklus's Prison. Miklus was the executioner in the town prison. The museum now in its place details life behind bars from the 17th to the 19th century. It has many dark and dingy rooms full of torture instruments and photos depicting some of the brutal deaths that took place there. They even have one room that is empty except for a scattering of human bones and sewage waste that was discovered there in the recent excavations. It was pretty creepy and arguably unsanitary as the bones and other debris is strewn about everywhere in the basement. We were more than happy to get out to the fresh air and head once again to our cozy little organic restaurant for dinner. We had a couple of drinks, some fabulous pizza and some tea for about 10 euros. We could definitely get used to this. But alas, tomorrow we must head to Poland for about a week, first stop, Krakow... darn ;)

Megan and Kevin
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