People came in and out literally all night/morning and the squeaking drove us both mad so we got up early to explore the city, just to make sure we hadn't missed anything. We have a small guide book about Bratislava and the translations are wonderful! I know it must be really hard to translate things with accuracy and they have done a really good job, but there are some gems:
"From Bratislava you can buy many souvenirs... figures from ear leaves"
"During Christmas fair... products from wood, leather, wicker and ceramics attract each eye" ...separately?
I am in love with the translator.
We walked into town passing the Presidential Palace, where there were 5 guards when we usually only saw 2. We watched for a while and realised they were taking part in the changing of the guard ceremony. They looked very dapper in their grey trousers, beautifully laced blue jackets and dark grey hats with huge white feathers. The gates were wide open so we could see the whole thing close-up. The fountain outside the palace was on today (it hadn't been before) and was sparkling in the morning sunlight, so we took more fountain photos and set off for the castle. We passed some good graffiti on the way up, and the banks beside the outer castle walls were speckled with small blue flowers. The castle is very modern; it was first mentioned in records from before the 10th Century but it has been re-built and added to a lot since then. Passing a long crenelated area as we walked towards the main part of the castle, John started singing "Celebrate" but replaced the title word with "crennelate". The main part of the castle had lots of barriers because bits were still being re-built. Cue scaffolding.
Walking down the hill from the castle to town we noticed (after seeing it on a postcard and wondering where it was) a bridge with what looked like a stereotypical UFO on top of it. It has a revolving restaurant at the top, I read somewhere. When we were back in town we saw graffiti on the pavement making it look as though the paving slabs had been stitched together, a sperm-inspired fountain and a huge (12 foot high) silver sculpture of a woman bending over wearing a cowboy hat, which reminded me of Nico Robin.
There are a huge number of tramps in Bratislava and nearly all of them have yellow shopping bags from a supermarket called 'Billa'. When we had our lunch, John couldn't help but buy one and sit on a bench looking "trampish". Unfortunately, now he has shaved off his beard he doesn't quite pull it off, though he has not had a haircut in nearly 5 months so he's not too far off! While sitting there eating our lunch, not being trampish, we saw our first nun of the day, wearing brown, and 4 priests. We talked about Catholicism and Christian philosophy for nearly an hour then moved to a nicer spot outside the Old Town Hall (which has a beautiful yellow and green tiled roof), I ate a caramel flavoured ice cream and we saw another 3 blue-clad nuns, one of whom had a trolley.
The sky overhead was a beautiful blue, lightly dusted with fluffy white clouds, yet somehow it started raining while we were nun-watching. We took shelter and looked again for snowstorms (just in case) but I don't think they exist in Slovakia, despite the capital being only an hour away from Snowstorm HQ in Vienna. Walking away from the town centre we saw 3 more nuns and the nun with the trolley again! We also saw a man wearing a t-shirt saying "Smog Excellent Options" and somehow found ourselves in the seedy area of town. We quickly turned around, saw another nun, and noticed the second shop in town with a big London Underground sign.
After all the wonderful t-shirt slogans we have seen in Europe, I couldn't help but wander into a tacky-looking clothes market and we were not disappointed! The first stall had boxer shorts which said "Be Man Which Wants to Woman" and other stalls further in had more awesome t-shirts, including ones emblazoned with the wonderfulness that is: "Don't Get Wormy" and "I'm You'r Hot Not". We couldn't help but sing along when one of the stallholders' phones went off and the market was filled with the sound of David Hasselhoff singing 'Looking for Freedom'. We thought that that would be it as far as t-shirts went until we saw the most wonderful item I have ever seen. You'll have to wait and see it, but I can assure you it is AMAZING! We left the market and passed a shop selling small glass animals, in the window they also had glass mermaids, an Adam and Eve, an Elvis and a priest, but no nuns :(
We stopped by Tesco and noticed a picture of an old man with a stick with a big cross through it - no old people allowed in Tesco! John remarked that it was because it was a "youth-ermarket" and it took a long time to forgive him such an awful pun. We walked through a different park on our way home and noticed that the gardeners wear, not only red trousers, but red dungarees! We had a picnic in the garden when we got back, which consisted of bread, cheese, crisps, apple and blackcurrant juice and chocolate yoghurt. It was very nearly ruined by the horrible bulldog who lives at the hostel who (possibly after being fed beer by the Aussies last night) was ill in the garden. Everyone who was here yesterday had checked out and headed to new places, treating Bratislava as a stopover only, and it's funny to think we still have 3 more nights here when most people we've spoken to have told us they "did" Bratislava in 2 hours. I think they're lying - they can't have seen many nuns in that short time!
Nun Count: 8