Breakfast in Bratislava

There were many individuals that unwittingly inspired me with their words of wisdom prior to this trip. I can be quite sure that these people don’t even realise what they said, nor that I was paying particular attention, but I guess some things hit home and have a lasting impact. Yesterday, I felt motivated by some words of wisdom by a personal trainer I had met in London.  I won’t reveal his full identity for privacy reasons, I shall just refer to him as Duncan.  So one day, myself and Mr Edwards were chatting about rowing the 2k challenge on the indoors machine (something I talked about at length –despite never getting any faster). I had set myself a target time and was trying to develop a race strategy to get there. This meant not putting in too much effort early on, avoiding the risk of fatigue, but not to start too slow, having too much time to make up when tired. A conundrum, you would agree, to which Duncan responded by simply constructing this beautiful sentence: “Always give yourself a chance”. I couldn’t agree more. What he had meant was to go for it. Don’t hold back and sit around worrying about what might or might not be. If you commit yourself to something, why not throw everything at it, and see what happens. Unless of course he didn’t mean this, in which case I have no idea what he meant. But words of wisdom nonetheless.

Yesterday morning we departed Vienna rather leisurely, heading to the post office in the rain before locating the river and attempting the 60km to Bratislava along the Danube. What could be simpler? Well finding the Danube could have been. We had only left it 2 days before, and I could have sworn I left it 10km north of the rugby club. Why then, did it take 21km of cycling to find it again, despite heading north on the compass? I have no answer, and now I have no interest. I’ll never get that 11km back. Realising that we were now running a couple of hours behind schedule, we started the 60km cycle with real determination. We had sent numerous e-mails to contacts regarding Bratislava rugby. The story sounded intriguing. The country appeared to have just the one domestic side. This made for a relatively simple league structure, and the decisions also made simple for the selector of the national side. I couldn’t wait to meet with this team. I would be guaranteed a signature on the scroll and a new country would be conquered. However, despite numerous e-mails, I had still no response. I sent further e-mails, stating that we would be arriving at the rugby club at 6pm that night, and it would be great for anyone to meet us there.

60km of flat pedalling usually takes us no more than 3 hours, even allowing for wind and “some” hills. Now experienced cyclists however, we have soon learnt that 60km means nothing. It’s just a number, plucked from the air by some comfortable people sitting listening to Phil Collins in their Toyota Discoveries. I care not for these people, and I care even less for the people who print signs upon their instructions. These accomplices are equally responsible in my books and should have to cycle to every town with an incorrect signpost.

We soon realised that the journey was going to be a little further than 60km and we put our heads down and made a dash for it. Jodie took up the lead, and we were soon hurtling down the direct road, making good ground and giving ourselves around 30 minutes to find the ground once in Bratislava. We arrived and tried to get our bearings. I didn’t expect there to be any signs for rugby, after all, with just the 1 club, surely they would already know where their ground was. There weren’t any. Despite this, we located the region, and soon the road itself, and sure enough there were sports grounds a plenty. Mainly football, but also tennis, basketball, American football and hockey. We even found old football stadiums that were no longer in use. If there was sport to be played in Bratislava, it would be played on this street! No rugby yet though. We asked around. Rugby? (Blank expressions followed). I presented them with my rugby ball to further illustrate my question. This seemed to generate acknowledgement, but sadly no directions. Nobody in Bratislava had any idea that there was rugby on the doorstep. When we eventually found internet connection and established which exact blades of grass the team use to train, we had been inches away all along. Yet still no acknowledgement from the locals. I even asked one man who was standing on the grass itself but still no clue.

So did we find our contact? Of course we didn’t (you probably guessed by the length of this rant). We searched around the sport grounds for 2 hours, inspecting each field not once but 3 times apiece before eventually concluding that we had failed. We had found the field where training supposedly takes place, but yet not even a poster in the pavilion, nor a photo in sight. I could go on with bitter disappointment but this trip is writing it’s own story and I am not one to interfere. All I know is that we spent so long searching for this club, we had no choice but to plead insanity at a nearby hotel and let Jodie haggle a discount with the smitten man behind the desk. Despite Bratislava accommodation being hugely overpriced, we got a good deal, and were pleased not to be peddling towards Budapest in the dark with no place to sleep.

Our first failure, but I’m sure there will be many disappointments on this trip. It only went to re-enforce the belief that we have been truly spoiled by everyone we have met so far. We had a room for the night, a couple of beers in a local bar to put things into perspective, and were getting a breakfast in Bratislava thrown in for free. A story in itself, but not the one we had hoped for.

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2 Responses

  1. Oh, what a bummer, at least you got a warm bed for the night! Hope the rain doesn’t dampen your spirits! Sounds like an amazing trip so far, very jealous! Loving the blog 🙂

  2. UPDATE REQUIRED!!
    Come on you two — what’s going on???
    Home on study leave and bored senseless (obviously besides the 23hrs a day i’m studying 😉 )
    Can’t wait to hear about where ever the road has taken you since and hope the weather has improved — has been good here of late — typical when books are required.

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