At approximately 2am half of us woke up from the noise of a wonderful surprise from the sky… you can leave the UK but you can’t leave its weather behind… it was rain and thunder! I remember thinking ‘Yay, maybe the sky will run out of water during the night and we will have another sunny day.’ And I truly apologise because I think that I cursed it… because it rained and it rained… and it rained!
We had planned to take part in some fun spirited volunteering at a local nature reserve, Horesky Park (challenge number 14). In true guiding style the rain would not dampen our spirits and after preparing for the weather we left our hostel chanting the songs we had learnt from the Austrian Scouts. Team morale was high. However walking in what seems like a monsoon is hard work, especially when combined with a very steep hill… and when we arrived we were all wishing for a hand dryer to take the rain water out of our socks and shoes. We had arrived early in what seemed like a very derelict visitors area… but this was not a surprise because I found it hard to think of someone who would enjoy being out in the middle of a forest in the rain at 9am.
We stood looking through the gates hopefully, when Gemma received a wonderful text… basically we had been told that it would be impossible for us to plant the trees we were meant to, in this weather. When they realised we were standing outside they let us in for coffee and tea as a thanks for our determination. The ethos of the park is very unique in Bratislava. The park aims to ignite a relationship between the local people and the environment; it is an area with a strong community vibe, where people either meet for yoga classes or group volunteering sessions. In some ways it is the equivalent to our local Nature Reserves, however they do not work at getting the local community involved in their upkeep and so people lack the respect towards the area that Horsky Park has.
Bratislava is not a big city, and seeing as the majority was ‘Under Construction’ we were in no rush to see more buildings and landmarks. So instead we opted for a relaxed afternoon and headed back to the hostel to play Uno. This was the first time I have played this game and quite enjoyed it… partly because I won. We cooked a delicious risotto with lots of vegetables in it, and then feeling refreshed from our new intake of vitamins we headed to Tesco. The sound of Tesco may not seem that exciting to you… but this shop was something quite unique. It was a Tesco department store… containing six whole floors.
After our shopping adventures we had to head to the coach station. The journey went very quickly as ‘My life in ruins’ was being played. We all thoroughly enjoyed the film, regardless of our constant squinting to read the subtitles, and the fact we could only get half the jokes due to them being lost in translation. We arrived in Budapest, and the rain had still not given us a break! Despite using the metro we had a long walk to the hostel, and we all arrived so exhausted that we fell asleep with hardly more than a word said between us.
Bratislava is a wonderfully atmospheric city to visit, and I definitely want to go back… just hopefully at a time when some monuments our not ‘Under Construction’.