Aug. 13, 2011
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Hello! I'm senior Samantha Woods and I'm going to tell you about our time in Europe on Thursday and Friday. This trip has help remind me how blessed we are to have each other and to have an opportunity to be in such a beautiful part of the world.
On Thursday, we woke up after a restful final night in the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague and began to pack our things for our scheduled departure for Bratislava at 11 a.m. If you learn nothing else about our team, you must know that we love to shop which makes packing very stressful because it's hard to find room for all our purchases!
We loaded the buses and after a quick check that everyone had remembered their passports (two members of our travel party who shall remain nameless had to run back to their room because they had left theirs in their room safe), we departed Prague for a new country, Slovakia. It was a five hour bus ride to our next destination with a two and half hour break at a shopping mall in Brno, Czech Republic.
My teammates and I occupied ourselves the first half of journey by playing Mafia (a card game that's been mentioned in previous blogs). It gets a little crazy in the back of the bus when we play, but it's so much fun we can't help but play it nonstop. We even got Coach Morgan and our SID, Sara White to try the game with us. We only ran into one issue and that was the bumpy road that we had to take to Bratislava. It may go down as one of the bumpiest roads I have been on since the wheel was invented (just kidding).
Upon arriving in Brno, we unloaded, stretched and then happily stuffed our faces at the food court in the mall. After eating, we were able to walk around the mall and make packing even more adventurous by adding to our purchases. We are definitely doing our part to help the local economy.
Then it was time to leave and we recoiled our long legs back into our seats and proceeded to pass out from food coma and an exhausting game of Mafia. The rest of the ride was a breeze and we quickly arrived in Bratislava. As we approached the city, we were struck by the beautiful town and an extravagantly erected bridge. We noticed more pretty people, beautiful buildings and awesome architecture. The Radisson Carlton Hotel was located in the Old Square which again was a beautiful place. Our beds were very different compared as they were about two and a half feet wide and separated by about a half of a foot. Lastly, the room's lights were operated by placing our room key into a slot on the inner side of the room in order to operate the lights and the air conditioning. It's an eco-friendly way to operate because everything shuts off when you take your room key upon departing the space.
Once we got settled into our rooms, we walked to dinner as a team and were able to eat an authentic Slovakian meal of that started with a vegetable salad made of sheep's cheese, tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers and a yogurt dressing. The main course was sautéed chicken breasts and roasted potatoes followed by dessert which was pancakes with a fruit filling and chocolate sauce on top. Yes, I know the pancakes make it sound like breakfast but it was crepes according to our food in America.
The meal was great, but again we were stuffed and needed to walk. As a team we were able to explore the city which we came to realize it is very different than Prague. Since we were in Prague for five days, we were able to acquaint ourselves with the surroundings, so going to a new place was another adjustment. Bratislava had a lot more individual routes with tourist shops and eateries than what we saw in Prague, but it was also less crowded and less touristy.
Friday was the touring day and we were able to learn about the buildings and statues that we had taken pictures of yesterday when we didn't know what they were. It has been interesting because although we're in large cities where tourists visit, most of the signs don't include English translations, so we can't read the information, but we take pictures of anything that looks important, beautiful or seems to be the sites that other tourist seem to flock toward.
We began the day's sightseeing with a bus ride around the city on the way to the Bratislava Castle. The castle was under renovation in certain areas, which is understandable considering that it is over 500-years-old. The castle was built upon a large hill so we were able to look out and see the entire city with an overcast sky in the background. The buildings were amazing and it is surprising to see how well they were built hundreds of years ago.
Next, we took a quick break from touring to play in the children's playground. Many of us were able to climb to the top of a four-level rope climb that we may not have been strong enough to do as children. A big shout out to our sports performance staff for improving our upper body strength! Our walking tour continued down the hill to see more of the city and admire St. Martin's Cathedral, which was also being renovated. Each hour, the bell in the clock tower rang which was a peaceful sound to hear while touring the city.
Again, our legs were officially worn out from walking so much and it was time to head back to the hotel to rest. After getting off our feet for a bit, we went to grab lunch and have free time to see the city. Of course, we found the mall and it went downhill from there!
Friday was happily completed with a great meal at an Italian restaurant a very short walk from our hotel. We ordered four different entrees - spaghetti with a spicy tomato sauce which they called spaghetti Bolognese even though it didn't have any meat, shrimp scampi that was really more like shrimp Alfredo, a baked chicken dish and an Argentinean steak. We shared everything until there was no food left. We again had the chocolate and fruit crepe dessert and since it was Dee Dee Williams's birthday, they brought out tiramisu with candles. Dee Dee was quite surprised when she couldn't blow out the candles because they were the kind that relit.
Our two days in Bratislava were amazing. We toured a beautiful city, learned history that included hands on experience and enjoyed our time together as a team. Stay tuned as Courtney Moses takes you through our final two days in Europe in the next blog.