Saturday, 1 September 2007

When In Bardejov Visit The Spa

31 August - Maybe it's being back in Slovakia for the first time in several years or maybe it was just a result of my body trying to process the gargantuan amount of calories over the night but fitful sleep was not to be had - kept on dreaming of being lost in various parts of Europe before waking up to the relative security of Bardejov then drifting off and starting all over again. Bardejov hasn't changed much in two years ... In fact, it hasn't changed much in 10 years. The square is still the same, the buildings haven't changed (much) and the Slavic and Romani population seems pretty much the same as well. It's quite painful to see the state of the local gypsies - very reminescent of the native situation in Australia and Canada and not one that seems to be on the improve but this is something I can't really judge as it's only the surface that I see. Still being fed far too much than is comfortable - i'm just not burning enough to be able to enjoy Slovak food with impunity - the saga of the RGP solution continues unsolved but some technological problems have been surpassed. As one seems to be obliged to do when in Bardejov, I had to visit the local spa - got the bus out there and it had a decidedly old person smell about it (that mix of mothballs, hospitals and ... I don't know how to describe it as anything other than an ingredient in old person smell) - thought that drinking a local pivo would have better benefits than drinkingthe spring water and, you know what, I did feel better after that. After this also headed down to the remarkably well preserved local cemetery near the Polish border to pay some respects - it seems that there ar more Chief Towers buried there than are left in the world right now (i don't reallythink that's a good thing - but more recent google searches seem to be unearthing some of us).
A rather confusing start to an evening out with mixed messages as to what the plans were but after watching a few indeterminable hours of the Slovakian version of Idol (is reality TV a valid cultural experience when it's in a foreign language? I'd like to think so) I found myself being escorted by Shani and Sascha and a few other contemporaries (including Michael (i'm sure there's a slovak spelling) the nicest little local chap you'd ever meet) out to the town centre for a few pivos. This is obviously a confidential post as one of my young cousins and his cohorts happened to be underage. However, it was the last Friday before they were heading back to school so I wasn't going to be the wowser who stopped them from havinga good time (that's the parents job apparently) and I was relatively responsible from keeping them from getting into too much trouble. Bardejov's nightlife was remarkably energetic when compard to the sleepy little town that i've generally experienced during the daytime with the older generation - did find myself gettingrather stretched when the other cousins turned up - there were spirits to be drunk and some rather intense locals to deal with - something approaching a street brawl seemed to be on the verge of spilling out of the pub, a wild hatted IR student was intent on ...something and I had the one of the strangest conversations about whiskey in my life with one local girl who I seemed to set off when she mentioned she'd just come from Islay and I happened to retort, 'Oh, that's where Ardberg comes from' ... 30 minutes of lecturing on the fact that malts are nicer than blends and 17yo whiskey is prettier than 19yo and malts are nicer than blends and nobody in Slovakia knows anything about whiskey and malts are nicer than blends and there ar only 100 bottles of 17yo something or other and malts are ... But hey, the teenagers need to let off some steam before heading back to that most wretched of institutions and i'm not going to stop them. It also gave me an inkling of what my forebears got up to when they went for a night on the town in their youth - a new insight? Probably not.

No comments: