The day after I wrote you last, dear readers, I said so long to my mother, or mama, whom I had spent a lovely weekend with.
I continued to a hostel near the old town and for the next few days I explored more of Bratislava, meeting some new friends.
Since it turned out to be only about an hour away, I also did a day tour to Vienna. Before I knew it, the day when I had to take my flight to Burgas in Bulgaria rapidly approached!
I’ll tell you more about all this in the following. First I’ll continue where I left off last time.
Last Day With Mama
Before my mother had to go to the airport, we decided to pass the time by going to a big mall near our hotel and sit in cafés as well as browse through a few shops. On the roof of the mall they had made a nice garden-like area were we installed ourselves on top of a small café that was set in a container with seating on the top.
Here we played cards and chatted in the sunshine. Later when we were strolling through the shops, I stopped at a sneakers store. All since January I had been walking around every day in my white Doc Martens with black zigzags on. Although I love those boots they were beginning to show signs of wear and tear; the cute black and white zigzag pattern was beginning to peal of revealing a sandy soft suede texture underneath, which made them less waterproof due to this.
Also, they were quite warm to walk so much in, which might become more problematic especially considering the fact that it will only get warmer from now on. In short, even though it was painful to let go of them, as I would have to through them away since I haven’t got room in my red Eastpack for them, I felt it was time to say goodbye to my trusty, but by now smelly, travel companions.
With my mother’s help choosing the right size, I bought a pair of baby pink Puma sneakers. I put them on right away and it felt like floating compared to wearing the tight fitting leather of my old Doc Martens. We left the beautiful zigzag boots on top of a bin on the way back from the mall and I took about twenty pictures of them, feeling awkwardly emotional leaving them there. I hope mama was right, arguing that maybe a homeless or somebody would find them and find use for them. I like the idea that those boots will keep walking somehow.
Before long I had to check-in at my hostel and my mother called for a taxi to come pick her up to go to the airport. It was a really good and fancy hotel we had stayed in together. That was easy to tell just by the floor in the elevator – the same material was used as the backing of our beds up in our room.
A New Hostel – New Friends
Arriving in my new dormitory room, I first had it all to myself. Feeling exhausted I quickly got comfortable in front of my laptop with snacks left over from my work with the last blog post: chocolate and red wine. Before long my first roommate walked in with a smile on her face. S was a young American who studied art in Berlin. We quickly got talking about art, Berlin and travelling.
Next a new roommate joined us. L was a Brazilian civil engineer that wanted to follow her passion and change careers to work with sports somehow. She was travelling to give herself time to think over how and such. We naturally got talking about following our dreams and how changing careers, or chasing careers as in my case, is scary but very fulfilling. I might not yet know if I will be able to live off using my drawing skills somehow, but at least I will know that I’ve tried to fine tune them and gamble on it!
Soon we were joined but two new roommates also from Brazil. They were both studying in Spain and travelling around Eastern Europe for their Easter break. L spoke a mix of English and Portuguese with them and before we knew it we were all talking together and it felt almost instantaneously as if we were all part of a tiny community. Upon L’s suggestion we all decided to eat breakfast together the next morning and then take the bus to visit the Devin castle ruins close to Bratislava.
The Devin Castle Ruins
Just like the day before, it felt amazingly natural for all five of us to walk around together. At breakfast I sketched a few glasses seen in the cocktail menu:
As well as S’s analog camera with which she had to take photos for a photography class back in Berlin:
When we went to the bus stop, we had just missed a bus and had to wait a bit in the sun, but the time passed quite quickly. After a scenic bus ride along the river past lots of forest edges, we arrived near the ruins.
It was even more beautiful that I could have imagined. We were all in awe of the striking views and the medieval looking ruins. I imagined Robin Hood characters jumping around with bows and arrows.
We had a photo shoot at a good spot with a small platform next to a view over the river.
We also took a nice group picture:
Later a long ferry passed along the river and I took a bunch of photos that I later sketch after:
I also sketched after some of the photos L was kind enough to take of me during our collective photoshoot:
Lastly I also did a few sketches from photos I took while waiting for the bus to the castle; one was after a man waiting a bit further from us near a graffiti wall with a shadow from a tree stretching across the tiles.
The other sketch was after a photo of L looking towards the UFO looking building on top of the bridge near the bus stop. I later offered the sketch to her as a gift and she became very happy. As a thank you she gave me two Brazilian coins, since she noticed I collect souvenir coins as memorabilia. I was very happy and thankful that she thought to offer me some coins – they will forever guard the memory of those days for me.
In the evening I had bought a ticket for a Chaplin Ballet. One of the Brazilian girls studying in Spain, who herself danced ballet, came along too. It was one of the most moving ballets I’ve seen; a perfect combination for me of ballet, in which I’m fascinated and curious, and movies – my great passion and subject to five years of my studies.
Daytrip to Vienna
The next day I had decided to take a trip to Vienna by bus. L had been there before she arrived in Bratislava and she had a lot of recommendations – so I thought I would try it!
I had breakfast with L and S in the morning and just had time to say my goodbyes and ‘hope to see you again’-s before rushing to the bus station.
Once in Vienna I pulled out L’s kindly pre-send list of suggestions and I headed for the first stop: Café Centrum. However, there was a huge queue and I positively despise queuing. So I had a walk around and then returned only to find the queue longer.
I realized I was actually stressing about seeing as much as possible and it wasn’t enjoyable to me. After a few deep breaths and a coffee at a bakery, I decided to focus on relaxing and seeing a few things well, instead of several fast.
I walked past an Easter marked with thousands of eggs. Close to that I found a nice gallery called Kunsthalle Vienna and I decided to go in there. They had a very interesting Art Brut exhibition only featuring female artists. Art Brut is art made by mentally vulnerable people such as schizophrenic patients.
It was very inspirational and I spend hours there, making a few sketches after some of the art I saw.
Next I walked around and took in Vienna’s breathtaking beauty.
Then I ended up in a café were I drank homemade lemonade and sketched after some pictures seen in a free culture magazine I had found and grabbed in Kunsthalle Vienna.
The last thing I saw before I took the bus back was the Hundertwasser house with its crazy colorful architecture. It felt like when I was a kid walking into a new fascinating playground.
It was just magical to me and I bought a cool souvenir money note for 0 euros with Hundertwasser art on.
On the bus back I saw many windmills blinking red in the dusk. I tried to take photos, but I couldn’t quite capture the dramatic sight; it looked like metal giants swinging their arms while the sun faded and the moon rose. Mythical almost to the same extend as watching the Acropolis lit up at night in Athens, just in an Austrian Sci-Fi way.
Last Days in Bratislava
During my last days in Bratislava I decided to take it slow and attempt to charge up on some energy, after feeling quite exhausted – mostly from experiencing so many things so fast!
From Athens to Rome to Bratislava, I had spent such lovely times with great people and I don’t regret a second. Although at the same time I don’t feel as though I have really had the time I need to digest all the things that have happened – before I could do that I was already well into the next adventure making new friends adding to the amount of inspirational experiences that my mazy mind need time to process.
I’m sure once my then five month long art travel ends at the end of May, when I head back to Copenhagen, even then I will still dream and think back to these past weeks and months.
Still, I did see a few things though. I went to an interesting Natural History Museum were I took a lot of photos that I wanted to sketch after, but didn’t sketch after yet.
For example a display of bats got mirrored in the glass in front of a bear, making it look like that bear collected bats. I might want to write and sketch a story about that when I find the time.
At another point I went to the National Gallery were I saw a beautiful exhibition of nature paintings. While standing still in front of some of the paintings that struck a chord with me, I tried to do some fast sketches holding the paper limply against my hand.
It was difficult and the pencil strokes weren’t that distinct or dark, and for this reasons the sketches were difficult to get a good clear photo of with my phone camera. I’ve tried to edit the photos as best I can to make the sketches jump out, but the white paper has ended up looking weirdly dirty and ancient, but I guess it does add a certain something.
Departing to Burgas
Soon came the day when I had to catch my flight to Burgas. It went smoothly via tram and bus and before I knew it I was on the flight while it was taking off into the sky towards Bulgaria.
Arriving in Burgas Airport, I headed directly for the local bus stop. Although it was terribly crowded in there so I had to stand for most of the trip, it was a nice way to see the surrounding area. It seemed quite a bit poorer than Bratislava. Actually the outskirts of Burgas reminded me a lot of Lithuania, for example with the large Soviet cement social housing blocks towering over a lot of the horizons visible from the main roads to the center.
The hostel was easy to find and luckily I was the first in the room and got the best low bunk bed in the far end of the room and it was even slightly wider! I definitely won the hostel bed-lottery this time. After having settled in I went to eat and accidentally ordered and ate most of what turned out to be sea snails.
They were quite chewy but tasty, mainly of the rich butter and herb sauce they were resting in, but also of fish in a delicate mild way. I enjoyed them but I left the chewiest ones behind. Maybe having to chew them even longer sort of made me remember even clearer that I was actually eating sea snails.
I haven’t experienced much else of Burgas yet, but fortunately I have eight days here!
So this time I will give myself good time to explore at a slower pace and process my experiences more.
Next week I will write you all about my adventures here!