Walking down the main street.
Pretty buildings line the streets.
Area tucked away in the center of town.
June 17, 2006
Okay. So I know where I am. But now I’m just having a hard time figuring out where I am. Confused? Welcome to my world…
Early this morning I left Prague. That was when I was in the Czech Republic. I boarded a train that was heading to Bratislava
(Slovakia) and was delayed. Because I had a six minute connection at a train station in Breclav, I knew I would have to find
another train to get me to Vienna once I arrived in that town.
There were a few of us that were heading to Vienna. But for now, we were spending the next hour in Breclav. But where was
Breclav? Was it in the Czech Republic? Or were we now in Slovakia? It might not sound like that big of a deal but when you
have to pay to use the bathroom and you have no Slovakian currency, it becomes somewhat of an issue. As it turned out we
were still on Czech soil.
Now it was time to board our hour-long train ride to Vienna. The passport control officials came onto our train and stamped us
in and out of their respective countries and we were now in Austria. Upon getting off the train, we were being immersed in the
German language so I was now partly feeling like I could have been in Germany. Also keep in mind that I got virtually no sleep
on the train leaving me even more susceptible to being confused by these little trivial details.
Vienna was not my final stop though. I was coming into these neck-of-the-Central-European-woods to visit a town called
Sopron. This town is a quick 75 minute train ride from Vienna. When I got off the train, I went through passport control.
Passport control? Don’t get me wrong…I’m not that clueless. I knew before coming here that Sopron lies on the border
between Austria and Hungary. But I also know that Hungary is part of the E.U. so I was just a little bit confused as to why we
were going through passport control. Of course I wasn’t bothered by this – I just consider my entry stamp as my little
souvenir from this town.
Now there was a new problem. They speak two languages here. And I’ll give the (obvious) hint that neither of those languages
is English. I have the option of reading German or Hungarian over here. While I will say that neither is as difficult as reading
Arabic, I’m kind of limited to knowing what ‘strudel’ is on a menu.
So that was the long drawn-out way of saying that I’m a little confused. In the matter of five hours, I was in the Czech
Republic, I thought I was possibly in Slovakia, I was in Austria, I felt like I was in Germany because of everything being
written and spoken in German and I am now in Hungary. I guess this is just a testament as to how much ground one can cover
over here in a small period of time.
And now onto the main attraction: Sopron (pronounced ‘Sho-pron’).
Never heard of it? Up until one week ago, neither had I. I thank the editors of Sky Europe’s in-flight magazine for introducing
me to this town. All I knew at that point was that I was flying into Krakow and needed to be in Ljubljana, Slovenia one week
later. Everything in between I could just figure out as I went along. On this plane ride, I determined that Sopron was going to
be one of my destinations for a few reasons: a) it was on the way down to Ljubljana (as opposed to Gdansk in Poland that was,
sadly, in the completely opposite direction of where I would need to end up); b) the article sold me more than the article on
Bratislava; and c) it seemed small enough to be able to enjoy it in one day and still feel like I could relax a bit.
My assumptions were correct. This is a small and sleepy town – I’m here on a Saturday and even the main grocery stores
close at 5pm. There are very few places to stay in this town. I found a place near the train station that is wonderful. A beautiful
house/pension with a garden area and sitting room (where I am doing my journaling right now). Even though I’m leaving at
the crack of dawn tomorrow (around 5:30am), the owner is going to make me a take-away breakfast and put it in the
refrigerator so I can grab it on my way out. The streets are lined with three flags: those of Hungary, Austria and the European
Union. The interesting thing is that there are the small main streets with the cafes with outdoor seating but there is also a
somewhat hidden main area. Upon crossing through a small gateway, there is a whole network of small streets and alleyways
to be discovered. There were dance performances throughout the day on a stage that was set up in the center of the main
square. Surrounding this area were vendors selling various local specialties. And speaking of ‘local specialties’…tasting the
areas local wines is not hard to find along the streets here.
Sopron isn’t a town that someone would base a trip around but it is a delightful little daytrip from Vienna. I’m enjoying the fact
that I’m just going to take it easy for the rest of the night. Tomorrow I meet up with my sister and I’m predicting that will be
two weeks of being constantly on the move…