More walking, but nothing to see in the suburbs
We left Roznava today. More rain. No surprised there then. We are going to Kosice. The Cultural Capital of Europe this year. Apparently this makes it an unmissable city. Our Mistake.
On arriving at the bus station there is nothing. Well, I suppose there is a bus station. It has buses. Passengers, and if push came to shove you could describe railings, the bitumen (in pretty bad repair) and even a couple of stalls selling stale sandwiches and awful coffee. It looked so bad that even from a distance I knew I didn’t want any.
Now the useful things, like a map of the city, tourist information, and even how to get out of the damn place were missing.
Luckily there was the railway station near by. That may help. Nope. The cultural Capital of Europe has NOTHING when you arrive. No information, no help and no listings of anything. To top it all off,the railway station is still under construction with about one third being completed.
We almost wanted to leave then and there, but again, there was no information on how to get out of the place! Giving up on all that, we decided to try and wander into town. Our only problem was that we did not know what direction it was in. That helps I suppose. After we started following one of the major roads (there were three to choose from), we did come across a map. This was slightly helpful, as it told us we were going in the right direction. There were no tourist info signs on the map though, and it was only a couple of cm/2 so no real detail.
Making it into the city, we noticed a distinct lack of hotels, hostels, town centres, tourist information, or even helpful people. Not a good start. There were nice large touch screen monitors set up occasionally on the walk into town. None of them were working though. Most were blank, and the ones that had power going to them only had the administrator log on showing. The touch screen had not been initialised (if it had, I may have been able to get into the system and learn something) on these, so as far as we could tell it was a whole lot of European money spent on nothing.
Criss crossing streets we eventually found an up market pension. They were a bit out of our price range, and had no idea what tourist information was (can we cook it?) or anything else. However they were helpful enough to eventually try and find it online for us. Apparently it is in the middle of some shopping centre. With very rough directions, we made it to the main town square. It is nice. Pretty even, but by now we are tired and frustrated. Finding the shopping centre, we were able to locate the tourist information that we had been supplied by the pension. It was the same map we had discovered a way away from the railway station. Only a bit bigger this time.
Useless. However we could see a couple of hotels now. Checking the prices they ranges from 100 euro up (we didn’t even bother with the Hilton. I couldn’t afford the scandal!). Eventually we found one that was only about 70 Euro. Ouch! Even then, it had a Baby & Beauty fair going on. Just great. Yet we had no other option, other than walk for hours in the faint hope of finding a place.
After checking in, we went for a walk around the city. It is pretty, but there is a lot of work that needs doing. Even the main part of town has buildings that still need extensive renovations.
Going past the cathedral we had our first piece of luck for the day. We found tourist Info. If you were not careful, you would miss it. Going in, we found the people in there quite helpful. They found us two options for tomorrow that we may be able to stay, and told us a bit about what was happening in town. Still, the whole thing was a bit bitter. On leaving we expressed how amazed we were that there is nothing at the main entry points of town to tell us where they were, and how to find them. Apparently it is coming. So is the apocalypse. Who knows what will happen first, as I don’t plan to be around to see either.
Walking around we had seen a number of plexiglass things around the main street. Looking into them, we saw sections of the old city that have been uncovered. Towards the park and a big statue, that seemed to be of more interest to the pigeons than humans, we found a staircase descending down into the depths of gloom. Going in, we discovered it was a small museum of the old city, and you could walk around underneath the new, imagining what it would have looked like from sewer level. We had to do that! Especially as the saying goes that cities are built upon the city. This is definitely true in this case.
There are the old town walls, then renovations and expansions, and through this an old sewer line, and finally the new town built on top. Then there is more on top of that, but it is street level and does not count here! One thing that has amazed us in this country is how stalactites form on anything here. The cement work that has been put in to keep the ceiling up only a few years ago is already starting to get formations. It seems that everywhere there is water in Slovakia there are stalactites!
More walking and a pub or two to drown our sorrows to top off the day.
The next morning we woke to more rain. A good start. Checking out and leaving our bags, we went in search of other options. The first place we have been given by tourist information is back near the bus station. On arriving in the street, there was nothing to indicate accommodation. Finding a door that could be it, we pressed the buzzer. Turns out that it was the place. From the outside there is really nothing to indicate that there is accommodation here. Yet they are fully booked. Not looking good. The other place is all the way back across town. The good thing about this is that you get to see a place by walking around it!
Getting there, we found that it was clearly marked, and it does have rooms available. They even seemed surprised to see tourists, well, English speaking ones at least! They asked us how we had found them, and replied that tourist info had told us about the hostel. They seemed surprised to say the least. With tonight sorted, we set out to explore the city. This is always fun in the rain. But we tried. We tried to appreciate the beauty of the place, as it does have a lot of charm about it. We appreciated the churches and the fresh produce market that we stumbled upon, and, of course, the small pubs that have their own breweries attached (ok, so they were interesting). In this way we passed the day. During the night there was much music and revelry. All the way down the long walking street that is the main part of town there are different artists set up. Everything from hard rock to Jazz and poetry. As we were walking back to where we were staying we appreciated each one for different lengths of time. Some were better than others. Then there was the replica cathedral that people had created out of cardboard and were erecting near the original thing.
It was quite lively, and very interesting. It was just a pity about the rain and miserable weather.
Woke up to another grey rainy day.
Today we are planning to travel on to Hungary. Upon checking at the train and bus stations, we found out that there is only one train at night to Miskolc and no buses at all. We bought our ticket, and were left with another full day in Kosice. Luckily the city festival has some indoor activities and we headed over to the big shopping centre for some dance. A big break dance and street dance event was organised and although to took for ever to get started, the dancers entertained us with their practice moves off the stage. Amazing what some people can make their body do. (It looked better in real life, on the photo’s it looks a bit silly)
In the afternoon we wandered a bit through the suburbs, but besides the standard repainted communists blocks, there really was not much to see.
With a break in the rain we made our way to the train station for our train to a new country.