One of those things where, when the internet is working in the flat I just HAVE to take advantage of it. Even if no one checks my blog often enough to know...Laura tried to convince me today that even if no one ever comments on my blog, if I were to stop writing people would probably let me know I was a bit behind. So with that in mind, let's trek our way through Bratislava today.
Early on Christmas Eve morning Laura and I drug ourselves from our beds (oh and when I say early I mean before 5 AM) and threw our things together. Emeshea and Mary miraculously emerged from their rooms at the exact same time as we did, and we headed out together to catch a very early morning tram into the city. With fears of future issues due to train strikes heavy on our minds, we opted for the safer bus route. By the time we booked our tickets the only available slots were at 7 AM and 4 PM. Since we actually wanted a chance to see Bratislava, we opted for the excessively early option. Fortunately, the main attractions of Bratislava can be seen in a couple of hours, and after that we had plenty of time to chill with Jenni and Karin while they prepared for the Christmas party frenzy.
We arrived around 9 AM, and after a rest of an hour or so while we watched Karin get the Christmas Chili together, we headed out with Jenni for the city tour. The old city of Bratislava really is quite nice, and we enjoyed the extra historical input that Jenni was able to give to us.
We followed a lot of the coronation trail, marked by these lovely little crowns:
We saw the famous "UFO" bridge built by the communists. They wanted to give the city that new modern touch to go along with the insane Panalok city that they built on the other side of the river. This region is now the most densely populated region in Europe. Pretty insane, and not exactly aesthetically pleasing.
There were some nice building views to see as well:
Some statues to make check out. The job of the man in the hole is supposedly to look up the skirts of women...hmmm...The one I'm holding hands with is Hans Christian Anderson. We're not actually sure why he was there, but I liked him anyway, even if he had no point. And the smiling guy whose had Laura is trying to wear was this guy who used to be the official greeter of Bratislava. Apparently a very good natured chap.
We played a game of chess as well. I promise, we're all very serious pieces. I'm clearly a horse...not completely sure what the other girls were playing at. Okay, I'll confess, I know nothing about chess, except that I'm sure there's a horse in there somewhere!
After seeing the sights and having a tasty cup of hot chocolate - although it was unfortunately not at the place that purportedly has the best cup o' chocolate in all of Europe, because it was closed on Christmas Eve of all the most ridiculous things! - Laura and I headed up to the castle while Jenni went to pick up Stephanie and her brother and his friend who were coming in from Prauge. The castle really wasn't much to look at, but I really enjoyed the gate, and thought it only fair to share the view which heavily features Panalok central!
Unfortunately I didn't end up getting any pictures from the big group dinner we had. In the end I think there were 17 of us gathered for the evening. We had an amazing chili dinner, and played cards and Apples To Apples. It's definitely not what I'd call a traditional Christmas by any means, but it was a good time with friends and I'm glad we were able to do it.
We were only in Bratislava for one day. Early Christmas morning we headed off once again. This time we made our way to Prague to have Christmas with our leader, Kelly. It was a small gathering there. Most of the day only Laura and I were there with Kelly, but in the evening another one of our teachers came over with her parents and sister, so we had a nice group for Christmas dinner. They stuck around for the apple pie, and then we were down to three again. We watched Meet Me In St Louis which I had never seen, and which in the end, Laura still hasn't seen because she fell asleep somewhere in the middle and didn't even get to hear Judy Garland sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Ah well. It was fun anyway.
The next day we were off again. This time back to Cheb for a bit of a reprieve. After settling in a bit, Laura went to meet her friend Jared at the train station. He was able to come and stay for a little more than a week, so she was super excited about that for good reason. I had a couple of days to sort of relax and regroup before we were off again...