Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Bratislava Curse

Known to the scientists studying this phenomenon as the Bratislava syndrome or the Bratislava effect, The Curse is a radiating, Bermuda Triangle like occurrence in Central Europe that follows Murphy's Law and where anything that can go wrong, will most certainly, go completely wrong.

The epicenter of this Phenomenon seems to be the city of Bratislava, on the Danube River, most famously known as the capital of Slovakia. Its proximity to Vienna gave it the nicknames Little Big city or Twin City. So far it is believed that the influence of the curse spreads as far as Vienna, thus inflicting its influence on a radius of 1hour's drive from the epicenter.


The curse manifests itself on travelers to Bratislava. No direct occurrences on locals have been noted so far, although there is a supposed influence. To this day, all locals questioned about the city have expressed a negative opinion about living there. However, no proof has been brought as to definitely link this to the Curse. The locals are very helpful and nice.

More precisely, the curse acts on travelers, attracting them to the city, causing them misery, trying to make them turn on each other (so far it hasn’t worked). The curse induces a state of frustration and fatigue by making the travelers lose their way around town, making them turn around many times to search for an address, etc, leading to a terrible time for the unwary traveler.

Despite help from the natives, travelers often loose their way and have trouble finding their friend’s flat. The curse sometimes attracts unknowing travelers to the labyrinth of the panelaks, the old communist apartment building complexes, making them turn in circle for hours.

Other manifestations are related to the city’s transport system, outgoing and ingoing trains and buses are affected, as well as tramways and buses inside the city (there is no metro, or none has been spotted by our researchers, despite their best efforts). Thus, trains and buses are often late. Should the train or bus be on time, Murphy’s Law is applied once more and the traveler will, most certainly either: be late himself or he will be mislead (the curse acting again) and will try to embark on the wrong train or bus.

Zone of influence

So far, the curse seems to be stronger in the area that spreads from the main railway station to the main bus station. Looking at a map, one will see that these are in opposite parts of town, meaning that the curse cover the whole of Bratislava.

Some accounts state that a focal point is this communist fresco in the departure hall of the railway station.

Scientists studying this phenomenon have been lead to believe that the curse, probably due to some strange paranormal activity in the area, might be stretching as far as Vienna, possibly even influencing flights and buses in the region. What is known for sure is that the curse tries to keep travelers in Bratislava for as long as possible, or as long as it takes for them to miss connecting buses and trains.

Examples and occurrences

The first time a strange event was spotted by our researchers (without it being called a Curse), was in November 2008, when, during a road trip in the area, two of our fellow scientists, I.D and V.A, passed through Bratislava on the way to Zvolen. While trying to find the bus station, the two saw almost all that was to see of the town, under steady rain. The pair got on the last bus, taking the last seats, and thinking nothing more about it. Two days later, while going from Zvolen to Brno, the two ha to change trains in Bratislava, at around 22.00. Because of misleading information, the two board a train to Minsk, only to realize this a few minutes before departure. Thankfully for them, they managed to break free of the curse and arrive at their destination.

One of the most famous occurrences happened in June 2009 when our leading researchers, I.D and Jiminy Cricket, a.k.a. A.R decided to take a trip to Bratislava, to visit some friends. They became aware of the Curse by mere accident, as the plan they had was simply to take one of the buses or trains from Prague to Bratislava and have a weekend with friends. The Curse started to act before they even left Prague, as I.D was stuck at work, making them loose all connections and forcing her already tired and preoccupied with work, boyfriend to come pick her up.

After a long trip, under the rain, the pair arrived late at night in Bratislava and tried, against all hope to find their friend’s flat. By the time they are rescued by the friend’s girlfriend, the couple had already been in the Panelak for an hour, searching for the street name on the buildings. During the whole weekend, they were too tired and some friends were too sick to go out and have fun.

When they decided to leave Bratislava, on Sunday, the Curse decided they had to stay and they found the car locked by the police for wrong parking. One hour later, after paying the fine an releasing the car, they finally leave, only to arrive to late for the last bus to I.D.’s home. Deciding to go to A.R’s house, the two loose one more hour in a traffic jam, thus ending a weekend haunted by the Curse.

Finally, the last event related to the Curse happed in August 2009, when the same couple was returning from a long weekend in Romania, via Vienna. The effects of the Curse on transportation were very obvious, as the two had a one hour delay coming from Bucharest and so missed the bus to Prague.

The Curse was now obvious, as they were forced to board a bus to Bratislava, from where there are more connections to Prague.

Once trapped by the Curse and brought to Bratislava, they had to face the city transport system in order to get to the railway station and lost precious time because of it. Murphy’s Law came into effect once more, and the worst happed: the train had a one hour delay. Once in Prague, the Curse seemed to follow them once more, as I.D. missed her connection and was forced to wait for hours for the next one.

Two before and after pictures of Jiminy Cricket, of JCOBW – Jiminy Cricket Observatory for a Better World(c), waiting for the train in Bratislava. (1) Hopeful that the train will be on time, and (2), after he learns that the train will be delayed, demonstrating the power of the Curse.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Perfumed Garden

Vítáme vás, welcome, to my little corner of Paradise. I really love living in this place and as I might be leaving quite soon, I took some souvenir pictures that I will share with you.

The last picture of a door, is my flat. A quaint 30sqm, kitchen corner, shower and toilet, I pay 300 euros a month for it.And of course the ducks, they live in the pond in front of the house and in front of my flat there is another small pond with waterlilies and gold fish. And I just saw a hedgehog.
I'll miss this place.

Zelezny Brod or how to make tourism out of nothing at all

Yet another weekend by myself in Bakov, and yet again I decided not to spend it in Bakov nad Jizerou. I've been planning to visit this glass factory in Zelezny Brod and the town seemed quit interesting from the internet pages and local accounts, so off I go.

Zelezny Brod has a privileged position close to the Cesky Raj and the Giant's mountains and so it's a stop over for many tourists going to the hiking trails of the mountains. The town is associated with glass making, many business have been developed around town, making glass jewellery and other items. You can visit the factories and expositions related to glass making, plus old timber houses kept the same as they were a few hundred years ago.

On my way over I had a glimpse at the Czech Paradise, high mountains with bizarre rock formations, a bit like these in the picture.
It certainly gave me a reason to go back to the region for a hiking trip. There are lots of things to do around here, rafting, mountain biking, and all winter sports you can imagine. There are several towns in the region offering all these facilities in the renowned Czech hospitability and politeness. :-)

Getting back to my day trip, there were lots of signs pointing you to the sights of the town: the 1900's Town Hall/Teather, the town museum, including an old timber house, the glass school with an exhibit of glass work.

But I didn't find what I was looking for, the picturesque town with lots of streets you can wander on, like I was lead to believe. I did find the Small Place, Mala Namesti, which reminded me of pictures I saw of turn of the Century "mahala" in Bucharest. Different style of course, timber houses (again!) and Empire style houses, a typical church (next to a pub).

I also wanted to see the house they had restorated as it had been a few centuries ago, another timber house with objects related to the day to day lives of the first people to have come here, but no success. There was no electricity in that part of town, so all businesses, including my glass factory and the museums, were closed.

But one thing I have to say: these people knew how to sell themselves. They had signs everywhere (rare around these parts), they pointed to the main attractions, had panels telling you the stories behind these so called attractions.

All you actually had to see were timber house after timber house (the flowers on the windows changed) and old, falling down and badly renovated houses. But they advertised all of these and they were proud of the cultural heritage. All without having a very touristy town, selling crappy souvenirs or advertising beds in guest houses.
Maybe a lesson for our own tourism. Don’t get me wrong, I felt cheated of the 4 euro trip I made (4 euros, 2 way ticket), but I still went there, spent a little more than an hour, and had it not been for the electricity, I would have bought some hand crafted, glass jewellery. Ad I'm going back, maybe not to the same town, but in the same area, for my little hiking trip, whenever I decide to take it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Enjoy the silence

My new garden chair, or křeslo (just try to say the R with hacek, I dare you).So now we're enjoying the last summer days. I can't believe it's gone so fast, like only yesterday I got on the bus to come here. It was an eventful summer and I'm waiting for a just as eventful autumn.

So hush now and enjoy the last rays of the fading sun. And because you've been good, I'll share with you one of my all time favourites (yeah, I know you didn't expect that):

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mnichovo Hradiště or how to follow the impulse

Remember I told you about me and plans and how they don't aways work out? This Saturday, right after my 25th bday, I decided to finally take the trip to Zelezny Brod, to see the glass factory. Ok, the first bus was my fault: I was still half asleep. But the train, more than one hour later, just didn't show up. So I took the next bus to wherever it was going. Mnichovo Hradiste. A town about 15 minutes from here. Not very adventurous, but after Bratislava and recent events, I don't care much about adventures.

This is the post office. Interesting building and I'm wondering i the people living there work for the post? It was just across the street from the Town Hall, pictured below. There was actually a wedding there an the party followed me around town (I had seen one of the cars in the wedding party, parked right behind my house).

Looking at the signs I found out these people had a castle. Well of course, like the French, they have a castle in every town. So I followed the sigs like brad crumps and saw other pretty things on my way.

Such as this Church. I was wondering if I'll like this style. Before going to Chartres I wasn't found of Gothic, and then all the other Churches and Cathedrals I saw in France, changed my point of view. But I'm having a hard time with Baroque. The inside is pretty, although a bit to elaborated for my taste.

Picture through the links of a fence.

The town seemed nice also, very provincial, but bigger than my Bakov. When I came here, it was suggested I live in Mnichovo Hradiste (of course none of the Czech speakers offered to help me find a place). I prefer Bakov nad Jizerou, at least I'm in the countryside and that's it.

Comming up to the castle on the hill. It had a big garden and a chapel dedicated to St Anne and a lapidarium. I didn't visit the inside of the buildings bcause of lack of time but from the pictures I saw, they were well kept.

I sat on a bench under a tree and eventually fell asleep reading my book. There was a gentle breeze through the leaves and the sounds of the city so far away... I just doazed off. The wedding party followed me, with all the noises; the castle is a favourit for wedding pictures. It has quite a romantic feeling.

Speeking of romantism, this is one of my famous do-it-yourself pictures, in the castle toilet...

Went back to the big square and had a banana milk shake on a terrace, waiting for the bus. The buses work well around here so even a foreigner with very basic Czech, not able to form a bigger phrase, can get around. And the prices are reasonable, so I can take my little weekend trips and take pictures for you guys.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ioana ma narozeniny

Adica am aniversare. A fost ziua mea ieri. Am facut un sfert de secol... un sfert de viata daca am noroc (?). Cadouri am primit de mult, Josephine de pilda. Asa ca nu ma mai asteptam la nimic azi. In nici un caz la tot ce am primit :)

Colegii, luati prin surprindere, mi-au luat un buchet de flori si ciocolata.

Si eu, pentru ca aveam ceva bani, mi-am facut de cap intr-un mall. Adica o pereche de pantaloni si alte prostioare. Si mancare chinezeasca. pentru ca e traditia mea, de vreo cativa ani, de ziua mea, mancare chinezeasca.

Iar pe drumul de intoarcere, un asfintit superb, demn de micul print :)

Va multumesc tuturor de urari. Si parintilor mei pentru tot.

And...we're back

We're back after a short trip to Romania. Very tired and with lots of stuff to tell. Our suitcase had: 8 bottles of wine, 2 liters of Palinca (the really strong one, we actually had to give up a liter), condoms (unharmmed, types we didn't find here, cause yeah, we're like that, depraved), cigarettes (cheaper than in France), and of course lots of memories. It was a great trip back home, and I miss it already.

We've danced, we've introduced the French Rock and Roll to Bucharest (and Bucharest enjoyed it). We've been back in time, through poor villages and castles from another time. We've met with family and friends and laughed a lot.

We went dinosaur haunting in dark and creepy caves.
We wanted to visit Vlad the Impaler but he wasn't at home.

We went for tea at the Peles Castle.

We saw a unique Palace.

And walked the streets of Bucharest on a very hot day, seeing old and new places. And having a beer on the terace of La Motoare.

Ah well, back to our regularly schedueled program...
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