Just Getting There is Half the Fun



Date:  Sat, 03/23/2013 – 4:05am
A large part of traveling is waiting, waiting for the bus, waiting for the train, waiting for the snow to melt. It’s something all travelers must get used to and accept, because the only thing you can control when traveling is you.

How do you like to travel? In the comfort of your own car? Standing up on the train? Or walking along the road simply soaking in the scenery. In Slovakia all of these options are available, but with an added twist that makes it all the more exciting. Because of Slovakia’s unique history as a once communist state, it’s roads, trains,  buses, and infrastructure are all a little old fashioned. Many of the roads have huge pot-holes in them and are only wide enough for one car to pass by safely. The buses have old communist symbols on them, and a lot of the trains have Russian signs in them. Traveling around Slovakia is like walking through a museum because many things from the past are used in the day to day existence.

How do people get around?: 

A lot of people have cars, and there are actually a lot of factories that make cars in this country. However, most people travel around by or via public transportation. There are buses that can take you anywhere, and trains that run all over Europe. It’s absolutely amazing to think that I could hop on a train this morning and be in another country by the end of the afternoon! There are even trains that you can sleep on! These are over-night trains and they have small sleeping cabins in them with three bunks beds stacked one on top of the other. I used one when I traveled to Poland, a country that borders Slovakia but is 10 hours away by train. It was so much fun! We fell asleep and when we woke up, we were in Poland and they even gave us breakfast.

How did I feel when I tried this way of getting around?: 

I use the trains and buses in Slovakia a lot because I don’t have a car. Sometimes it can be frustrating because I just want to get to where I am going, but other times it’s relaxing to sit in a train car and watch the scenery go by. When we’re hungry, my friends and I go to the dining car of the train and order a meal while we travel. The trains are so old; therefore, the decorations in the dining car are old too! There are chandeliers and ‘velvet’ curtains hanging in front of the windows. I feel like I’m in an old movie!

Is this way of getting around connected to the culture and environment, How?:

Slovakia is a very rural country, so a lot of the roads are very small, narrow and very winding. Whenever I travel by bus, I always feel like I am on a roller coaster as it lumbers up and down hills with its wheels precariously hanging over the edge of the road. It’s terribly exciting but also very nerve-wracking! The weather in Slovakia also effects the public transportation system. In the winter time it snows a lot here and often causes delays with trains. Even when it is sunny where I am, if the city the train is coming from is hours away, there can still be delays. Once, I was waiting for a train for three hours. It was delayed because the train tracks had frozen in a city two hours away from me. Times like that are very annoying, especially if you need to make a connection or catch another bus or train somewhere along your journey. When things like that happen, you just have to remind yourself that there are some things that are just out of your control when you travel, and train times are one of them.

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