Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pedro's Piccolo's and Azil

Today was a little better than yesterday. I'm hoping that that trend will continue at least over the next three months.

I actually slept for a good part of the day. My flatmate Sarp brought me a big plate of strawberries for breakfast. He has been an amazing host and I hope I am able to find a way to show him my gratitude.

Around 7 I was picked up by my coworker Sherisse who hails form Scotland and her friend Santiago from Columbia. We took the same bus I will be taking to work to their friend Pedro's house. It was a sweet flat in a building that was probably at least 200 years old. It was here that I was privy to my first real meal in Bratislava. Pedro cooked up a feast of Portuguese proportions, the highlight of course was the Blood Pudding. Sherisse smirked at me when I took the first bite and while I had the faintest notion of what it might have been I asked her not to tell me what it was until I was finished. It wasn't that brutal at all.

The coolest thing about Pedro's though, was the multitude of nationalities that made up his living room. It's an extremely disarming experience to all of a sudden be interacting with people from places you didn't know existed, when you are used to the blonde-lululemon wearing, toronto private-school graduating, face-eater sunglass donning, near-aryan complexion homogeny that surrounds the five block radius that is the heart of Queen's campus. It's worth noting that the latter is not nearly as bad as I just made it sound. There were two native Slovak's there as well, one from Bratislava and the other from much nearer Ukraine. They offered some really interesting insight and perspective and I enjoyed talking to them.

We spent a long time at Pedro's digesting our food before finally making a move to the bar. There really isn't a lot of pressure to deal with lineups or get to the bar on time. If the bar you want to go to has a line you can go drink somewhere else for a few hours and then come back. If there's still a line: chug a red bull and repeat. On the way to our final destination, a hole in the wall colloquially referred to as Azil, we saw a temptation that we couldn't resist.

If Azil was a hole in the wall then Piccolo's was a cave or a fissure, that God had only allowed to happen by accident. None the less, we couldn't resist the sign on the door that announced a mere 70 cent price tag on vodka shots. The lighting was dim green and an assortment of skinheads hid behind a near opaque wall of Marlboro smoke. The vodka was obviously the filthiest thing I have ever drank and we promptly climbed back up the steep stone staircase and continued on to Azil.

Azil actually turned out to be the bar that I managed to miraculously find my way home from on night one. As I reflect on that more and more it really was lucky, haha. To enter the bar you need to go down a steep set of stairs that opens to a small room with a bar. There isn't really much distinction as to where the front or back of the bar is, as everyone is mingling everywhere. The bar is composed of a labyrinth of stone tunnels with ceilings no higher than 6 feet high connecting a variety of themed rooms (although most of them have dark red upholstery, presumably to hide stains of all sorts) culminating in a dance pit/time machine. The music selection at all the establishments I have been to thus far is subject of another blog post entirely.

I wasn't feeling particularly rowdy so I only had a drink or two. We actually spent most of our time outside sitting on the curb as friends talked and smoked (not me mother, don't worry). It was a really nice night and the scenery is something else. St. Nicholas' Cathedral is located directly across the street in a courtyard below and is lit up beautifully at night. It's a glimpse of the old town. I also learned that their used to be a synagogue directly facing it. Unfortunately when the Nazi's needed to build a bridge across the Danube River they decided it would be a great opportunity to pave over it.

At one point outside, a Slovak man e in his early 30s wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt and giant black skate shoes with white laces overheard I was Canadian. After putting a hand on my wallet I ended up talking to him for about half an hour about California, Michael Moore and of course hockey.

Tomorrow afternoon Sherisse is picking me up to play touch rugby with people from work so hopefully I will get a better idea what the deal is with that.

Happy Mother's day from Slovakia!

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