[Holiday from school!]
Today I had two morning mishaps!
Firstly, for breakfast Ruth and I usually have sausages (think hot dogs minus buns) with rozki (bread rolls) and, for me, yogurt. We have a system worked out: While I'm showering, she puts the water on the stove, and while she's washing her hair I put in the sausages and get everything ready. Today, I noticed there were two sets of sausages in the fridge; that was strange, but I just decided to take the last two sausages from one of the sets, and put them in the boiling water. Ruth was still washing her hair when they were ready, so I put hers on her plate and ate mine. I was finishing off the last bite when she took the first bite of hers. "Wow," I said, "These taste especially good. Like, for some reason they taste special today." She chewed, and then said slowly, "Actually, I regret to tell you this, but... Um, I think they're bad." What?! "Yeah, they taste off to me," she continued. A little too late for that! Something must be wrong with my genetic makeup if I take old meat to be delicious, but no food poisoning yet, so I guess it was okay...
Minutes later I took the bus to school, and started getting a gnawing feeling that something was wrong as I wasn't seeing any of my classmates that I usually do. I went upstairs to the classroom, and yep, suspicions confirmed-- it was totally empty, all the chairs still upside-down on the desks. I went back out in the hallway, and luck was on my side: I saw my History/Ethics teacher at the end of it. She doesn't speak a word of English, and I've always found her Slovak hard to understand, so I was a little nervous, but again luckily today I magically understood her perfectly and I was able to articulate perfectly. It turns out, everyone was at the park (you know, the one that's at the base of the hrad). That was what I'd suspected. On Tuesday, everyone had been talking about how we were going to the park on Wednesday for a mandatory by law periodic "fitness day" (I don't remember the Slovak word for it). They had canceled it, though, because Tuesday the weather was so miserable: icy gusts of wind, showers, and even a few snowflakes. You may be wondering how I didn't hear the news on Wednesday as to what was going down on Thursday; I wasn't at school because I was traveling with Tibor. So, this teacher told me everyone was at the hockey stadium in the park, and she said it was fine if I took the bus there right then. So I did.
I love that buses come max every fifteen minutes, minimum every five. They start at four-thirty in the morning and go till after midnight. And they go everywhere in the city! Ah, I've forgotten to mention the drama that occurred on the bus this morning. The doors closed, and then a very average man who had just gotten on shouted "Receipts!" Ah. These people again. Even though I had my receipt on hand I could feel the adrenaline. The crackdown people are just plain frightening! (They definitely try to be, too.) This guy was, unlike the woman before, actually effective; he zoomed through two dozen people and then reached two teenage boys in the middle of the bus, on their way to school, who didn't have receipts. Uh-oh. I don't know if he actually gave them tickets, though I think he did; he certainly spent as long as he could chewing them out. It was really unpleasant to see, even if I didn't know what he was saying.
So, there are at least thirty-five different bus routes within the city, and obviously I haven't gotten them all figured out. Only two, actually. So, I decided to take to the park bus no. 2, which is the one I take to and from school, and therefore one of the two routes within my limited scope of knowledge. I knew Larissa took it home every day, and she lives on Zobor, so I assumed the bus would go right past the hrad.
Wrong! It turned at Mlyny. And I knew that, actually, but I'd forgotten. I had been hoping it would continue straight. So, I got off at Mlyny and had to get there on foot. It's a fifteen-minute walk if you super-powerwalk it, and that's what I did. School starts at 8 and it was already 8:15. I blew through the stare mesto, finally reaching the park. I knew where the hockey stadium there was because Larissa and I went there on Tuesday-- we went home to her house after school, and then at 5 walked to the stadium to meet up with these girls from school who wanted to take our picture for the school newspaper. But the hockey stadium's a big place, so I didn't know where my classmates might be. I saw one girl who looked high school age, dressed in athletic clothing, walking towards the stadium. I decided to follow her. Wrong person-- she went inside and then started talking to the hockey coach; she was another hockey coach. Still someone, though, so I asked her if she knew where the school was, and she told me the "bufet," which I knew.
Yay! My classmates. And while it was 8:30, I was exactly on time-- the P.E. teacher who was there was writing down names. I'm still not sure why, but there were only thirty of us there between three different classes. I was one of only five girls from my class there, when there are twenty-three total. A mystery to be solved another time. Aside from the students, there were three teachers: my Biology and English teachers, and then the male P.E. teacher (our usual P.E. teacher is a woman). I was glad to see most everyone was dressed in regular clothes, like me; it meant both I wasn't missing out on how we were supposed to dress, and also that we weren't doing anything terribly strenuous. We were hiking up Zobor!
It was a wonderful, bright day. The sun was shining, but it wasn't hot, and the skies were blue and clear. We walked at the perfect pace--not fast enough to get me breathing hard, not maddeningly slow--up the hill. I was so excited to finally go up Zobor, which is something I've always wanted to do, since it's such a huge part of the character of the city, and yet still unknown to me. I found out later that we weren't actually going up to the very top, though. So, I still haven't done that. Later. Any Saturday I'm free. (That's going to be a very long time from now.)
Anyway, the walk was as nice as possible. Perfect weather, perfect pace, perfect scenery. Zobor really is the nicest residential part of Nitra. It's basically the only place in the city where you can own a house and land. All the houses are beautiful and well-kept with luscious gardens. As we went higher up the hill we started to get a bigger view of the city below. With the red-tile roofs reminding me of Italian villas, I kept expecting to see the sparkling Mediterranean beyond the hill's lip. Sadly, no. Just patchwork fields. Ah how I miss the ocean....
The higher up we went, the bigger the houses got, until they were mansions with beautiful wrought-iron gates and walled gardens of paradise. Finally, the houses ended and we were in forest. It was a long walk up, maybe an hour. I loved every minute of it! But every hill's climb needs a summit. Ours was a sudden clearing in the forest, in the midst of which was a large, rambling building. I wasn't sure what it was. A hotel, maybe? With a church attached? No; actually, a hospital. I'm pretty sure it marked the end of human habitation on Zobor; everything above is wild forest and rock, up to the top, which has a modern viewing-structure on it.
We were allowed to do what we wanted up there for a half-hour; there wasn't much to do but sit on the benches and talk. We all wanted to take the bus from there back home (I wanted a walk, but also, the bus goes right to my apartment. That's so tempting), but the answer was no. So back down the hill! I knew it would be so much quicker than the way there, but it still surprised me how much faster the way back always is. Not to mention downhill. We went back to the park, and then the teacher said we could do what we wanted for fifteen minutes. I'm really not sure why this was, since all anyone did was sit for those fifteen minutes, and then after a quick head-count they said we were free to go home... Home by noon? How lovely! Twenty minutes from the park to the apartment, and then the whole afternoon before me to spend however I pleased.
I walked the four Yorkies all together at the same time (surprisingly, not the catastrophe I was sure it would be), made myself some cheesy pasta for lunch, and finished with some chocolate Tibor got for me from Hungary. Then I wrote this blog post. I think I'm going to go take a walk now... At 5:30 I'm going over to Erika's house, because she's taking me (just me-- she only had one other ticket) to a concert at the synagogue. This was a bit of a surprise to me, when I sat down to breakfast this morning and saw that Tibor had left a note with this information, but hey, that's awesome. And I can't even tell you what's happening on Saturday! We'll see...