The night was destined to be good from the start.
Before heading to a Eurovision party I stopped by my favourite local gas station and spent 5 Euro on a few tall cans of 12% Beer and a bottle of wine. It was at this point that I realized two of these tall cans was equivalent to drinking a liter of wine. Those extra percent really sneak up on you. The cashier wished me well and I went to wait for the bus.
It was at this point that I was lucky enough to enjoy my best interaction thus far with a Slovak Stranger. A bus that was not the one I needed, pulled up and a man sitting at the window looked at me and smiled. He then pointed at the bottle of wine that I was brandishing in my right hand and started to gesture excitedly as if to say "Give me those bottles so I can chug them with impunity." I smiled laughed and gestured back before the bus pulled away. Recent studies suggest the alcoholism rate is somewhere around 8%
My bus arrived promptly thereafter and I was on my way to Pedro's house to watch Eurovision. It took me about an extra half hour to find my way as I had never ventured there on my own before. I had also never heard of the European song contest before but I think it might very well be responsible for the term "Euro Trash" and all the associated stigma. I have never seen so many people from all corners of the continent excited about such cheeseball performances. It was still a party though and the different snacks and liquors from all over the world hallmarked this get together particularly well. Norway won in a landslide, I think the Republic of Maldova performance deserves an honourable mention. By the time the voting was done and the winner declared so to were many bottles of alcohol. The night was just getting started.
We headed to a cuban themed bar called "Havana." I'm not exactly sure what I was drinking, but the cup was shaped like a skull and I was sure to thieve a couple on my way out Before going in, a select few of our group decided it necessary to chug a 2Euro liter of red wine that someone magically appeared. A conservative estimate puts my liquor consumption at something around 2 bottles of wine before this pass-the-vino charade. After a few hours of salsa music and latin heat we opted to make a move to "Channels." I can't be sure what time it was but somewhere around 2:00am feels reasonable. At this point, though enjoying myself, I was tired and felt like I needed to wrap up the night soon. I committed to my new Australian friend Erin that I would have one drink with her though, so we trekked down to the third basement of the club and she ordered us some double-vodka sprites. While drinks are cheap here, the way they make them is a little different than in Canada. There is no pop gun and the mix is poured out of a 2L bottle. Based on the proportions of each doled out by the bartender, I am starting to think that the vodka was cheaper than the Sprite.
After literally countless Sprite flavored glasses of vodka we headed upstairs, out of the veritable fire-trap that was the basement, to get some fresh air. The lack of public health standards in this country are glaringly obvious. The concept of a fire-escape is something that has seemingly escaped all of the drinking establishments I have been to. I don't foresee the implementation of any happening anytime soon, barring a disaster. Not long after heading upstairs I noticed that the bar was getting lighter. I realized that sunshine was beginning to filter in through the filth-stained windows. I was quite surprised when I realized it was 4:47am. I was more surprised that the bar still toted a diverse and vibrant crowd.
Erin and I headed outside, to begin our foray home. We had been drinking at a furious pace for quite some time and I think the bright light and bird song was a little too much stimulation for our foggy brains. Despite how badly I waned to get home, we made it a priority to play in a kid's park for a few minutes before Erin decided to splish-splash around in the fountain of the Presidential Palace. Unfortunately the party was broken up by the Policia and if it weren't for a polite, articulate Swedish friend Erin probably would have had to pull a stint in Slovak jail before making it to bed.
A few minutes shy of 6am I decided to stop back at my favourite local gas station to grab some nourishment. The same lady who had sold me the wine 8 hours earlier was still working and couldn't help but crack a smile when she saw me in my haggard state. I stumbled outside, at this point feeling particularly out of touch with the world around me, when I saw a construction worker who made me feel more at home than ever. Behind the gas station, at 6am on a Sunday morning, he was pouring a bottle of vodka into a half-filled 2L bottle of Coke.
I woke up around noon and had a huge Turkish breakfast of cheeses, olives, sausage and eggs with the Kayalar family. It was difficult although delicious and I think I felt better for it afterwords.
As I become more able and independent I find myself letting my guard down a little and as a result enjoying myself more. I am meeting really great people who just want to have fun and don't take life, or Slovakia, too seriously. As much as I had a great time last weekend this was by far the most fun night yet. It's a lot easier to relax and enjoy the company you find yourself in when you are not fretting about who you will have to rely on to survive. I think that as I get more nimble with the language and integrate myself into society I will find the experience more and more enjoyable.
Click on pictures for full-size.
Subtotal: 4 Euro, if I had shopped at the grocery store instead of the gas station I would have saved about 20%. Note the % of the beer.
No longer limited to Mexico?
Sunday mass anyone?
A royal mess: Bratislava Castle in the morning light.
The Preidential Palace/swimming pool.
Splish Splash I was takin' a bath
The water is a little cold.
Apparently you can't swim in the fountain?
Walk of Shame?
Why do you look so upset Samo?
Portion of the Bratislava skyline circa 5:30am