Greetings from me from Martin
- How do you say "split-second timing" in Slovak? Today I experienced it 2x with the trains, but first...
Before I'd left home, I'd looked up some restaurants in various cities and found that there was one in Presov called "U richtara". It sounded plenty Slovak, so I thought I'd try it. Unfortunately, the sign on the door said that it was closed "for technical reasons". Your guess is as good as mine. Before I went to dinner though, I was near the church in the middle of the Hlavna ulica, St. Nicholas, so I thought I'd pop in since I haven't been in many churches so far. Mass was going on, with communion just finishing up. I stood in the back entry, with about 4 other persons. The whole church was full (this must have been a 6 or 6:30 mass) and easily half were young people. They even had benediction, with the monstrance and all (I don't think I've seen this since I was a kid). But the most surprising thing was something all together different. Remember the birch trees at the gate marking Rusadl'a (Pentecost) in my village? They were in the church too! There were 3 on either side of the center aisle, equally spaced, and they'd put cut-off plastic pop (soda, for those of you not from the Midwest) with water at the bases of the trees. They even had some trees on the altar, behind the flowers! It was amazing.
I decided to go back to the Senator for dinner, where I asked for the duck breast with red cabbage and potatoes, but they'd finished with the ducks for the day. Too bad. I'd asked for a placka as an appetizer, not sure how big it would be. The waiter suggested a "sote" with it as my dinner. The sote was basically a chicken stir-fry in a tomato-y sweet-sour sauce without any sweet or sour taste to it (sorry, it's as close as I can come). The placka, about the size of a salad plate, was used as a crepe and was folded over the sote. It was quite tasty. I just wish that the Slovaks would learn to make salads of lettuce. Sigh.
I strolled around the rest of the square, down one side and up the other, when heading back to the hotel. Have I mentioned making out? Young folks do it all over. There was a couple going at it in the restaurant as I left. The park is full of them. Sometimes even on the street. Kids. ;-) I stopped for some zmrzlina for my dessert. I was less than fully impressed with the "modre nebo" flavor (citrus-y, sort of) and "stracciatela" didn't do much for me either. In other cities I've had hazelnut, "punch," lemon, caramel, and other flavors that were quite good. The quest for the perfect combination goes on. BTW, it's 6Sk a small scoop (roughly 30 Sk to the dollar). Quite the bargain, and honestly, 2 scoops are enough for dessert.
Do you like lilacs? Come to Slovakia in May. They're in bloom EVERYwhere right now: lavender, white, dark purple, and the scent is wonderful. The walk to the cemetary in our village was perfumed along one stretch. And the cemetary was full of flowers on the graves. True, most of them were plastic, but it's still so colorful. Other things are blooming too, late fruit trees and wildflowers along the village roads and the railroad tracks.
This morning I headed to the train station sure that the train left at 10:24. I got this info from the ZSR site. Too bad it was wrong. The train was supposed to leave at 12:00, but was 20 mins late. I was at the station at 10:00, so I had a bit of a wait. I took the local as far as Kysak, where I was to catch the "rychlik" to Vrutky. We were 20 mins late and my layover was supposed to be 16 mins, so I figured I had a hefty wait. I don't know if we made up a few minutes and/or the other train was held a few minutes, but I made it just barely, as was the case getting off in Vrutky and catching the local to Martin.
Let me just stop here and talk about luggage. If you're travelling by public transport, PACK LIGHT, like Helene (I think it was) said. When you get on the train, you have to hoist your bag up to the rack. Of course, first you have to get on the train. The stairs are not deep, but they are VERY steep. There's no assistance, except for another kind-hearted passenger (thank you guys, whoever you were), to help you haul your suitcase up to the car. And the platforms in some of the smaller stations are more a figure of speech. Paving????? And the walkway from the station to the tracks (no smooth underground passages here) goes between, but not over the tracks. Do I even need to mention the stairs from the station up to the platform? I didn't think so.
Not much to report from Martin yet as I just got here a couple of hours ago and have wandered down to this end of the "pedestrian zone" in the centrum. There's a restaurant called "fish" that looks good if it's not smokey. We'll see. I think I might walk down to the Prior first though (there's a Tesco somewhere, but I suspect it's near the edge, out in Martin Heights). I haven't seen a papiernictvo where I could buy a map. I was surprised to find Prior still in existance. The cabbie said that it was still around. I thought that K-Mart had bought them all (and in turn was bought out by Tesco). In Presov I even saw a Tuzex! Yes, the cabbie said, it's still around too, but it's just a regular store. None of the Tuzex "bony" business. Oh yes, the Hotel Turiec is fine once you look past the commie-era lobby and elevator and decoration. It's a little lower on the scale than the Hotel Dukla in Presov, but Martin is a smaller city.
I forgot my list again (hole in my head? I wouldn't doubt it), so I don't remember what other things caught my fancy that I thought you might like to hear about. The shop windows here have plenty of "tablo" in them too and kids stop to look at the other schools' tablo.
Tomorrow I go to the Slovak National Library. This is the mothership, so I expect to spend plenty of time there (although I hope it won't be like it was in Presov (I have to say though, that I believe I'm the first visitor they've ever had from LC)).
> Kysak, where I was to catch the "rychlik" to Vrutky. We wereThanks for your pictures of Slovakia, Helen, I look forward to more.
> 20 mins late and my layover was supposed to be 16 mins, so I
> figured I had a hefty wait. I don't know if we made up a few
> minutes and/or the other train was held a few minutes, but I
> made it just barely, as was the case getting off in Vrutky and
> catching the local to Martin.
As a rule, trains wait for connecting trains in Slovakia. Locals
(osobny vlak/osobak) are likely to wait longer, unless another local
departs reasonably soon, and express trains wait for a shorter time
for a connecting local. The last connecting train of the day usually
waits for a longer time than during the day.
The waiting schedule is the Slovak Railways' unpublished internal
matter (I had instances of an osobak waiting for a rychlik for more
than 20 minutes), but if a particular train, typically a rychlik,
doesn't wait, the Slovak train timetable actually says so: "vlak
necaka na ziadne pripoje". Nevertheless, even a designated
"non-waiting" train will normally be delayed for a few minutes by the
stationmaster when the connecting train is just entering the station,
or is really close.
votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu