I began the day extra early today to have as much time as possible on my day trip to Bratislava. The train ride was only an hour since Vienna and Bratislava are the two closest capitals in Europe as far as I know. I nearly snoozed past the Bratislava train station. For not being a napping kind of person, I could probably curl up on a park bench and be at peace with the world after all this sleep deprivation. I had somewhat of an idea of what I wanted to see with the limited research I did but I was still basically winging it. All I knew going in was that I wanted to see Bratislava castle, which overlooks the entire city within its fortification, and most importantly to get a hair cut. To tee off the day, I overshot the bus stop that I wanted but luckily a kind Slovakian woman, who noticed my confusion and did not speak a lick of English, got a young guy to explain to me where to go. Since I apparently enjoy the thrill of being lost, I wandered around town, going down random side streets in an attempt to climb up to the top of the castle. After doing the whole getting lost in a foreign city thing, I found the castle before me. Casting my eyes around at the city below I could not help noticing that it had been westernized and not at all like Old Prague. The castle was worth the climb but going in turned out to be a tourist money pit. The stairs to the top of the main tower was the ultimate stair master and the climax of the climb kept me behind glass without a clear view. The coolest part in my opinion had to be the setup of a BMX/mountain biking course starting from the castle courtyards and leading to the narrow and cobblestoned winding streets while jumping wooden ramps and riding the rails of old rocky walls. After feeling ripped off yet glad I saw this killer death trap of a road course, I went to get something to eat. The noteworthy part of the meal was my attempts to get advice from my waitress for where to get a haircut. Since the whole concept was ridiculous, I failed on my first attempt. While navigating the city (aka I had not a clue where I was going), I found a tourist information center. Most tourists walk in hoping to get a map or to get directions to a monument or church that were dying to see, but I am not your average tourist. I asked where the closest barbershop is and of course this was the first time they were asked such as question. My hair grows like bamboo so I had gotten extremely desperate at this point. He pointed out a street filled with places to get a haircut. On my way to the Times Square of barbershops, I found the church on my to do a list. St. Elizabeth is known as the blue church for a reason; the whole building is emblazoned with baby blue including the pews and the rest of the interior. As much as it was a relief to see some variety in a church, my ultimate goal had yet to be accomplished. Strutting up and down the street my shaggy hair wanted me to avoid, I could not find one bloody barbershop. How on earth could I possibly walk through a downtown city and not find one, just one? Obviously I must sound like a complete nut by now so I did the most logical and sane thing possible; I sat at a McDonalds to surf the web for a stinking barbershop! While doing so I found directions to Devin Castle, a 1st century castle not far from the city center. I had the rare opportunity to see an ancient castle or, or!, get a haircut. After striking out the last time, I swallowed my pride and took the bus to some castle. Turns out fate saved me; this castle was a spectacle. I was amazed such old engineering had stood the trials of time for 2000 or so years. Beyond this, I randomly talked with an elderly expat now in Sweden about all the travels he had been on and how I hope to do the same. Back in town I proudly ate and drank at a bar by myself while watching Italy lose (that I am not so proud about). Tomorrow I leave my dad and head for Slovenia. I look forward to getting a break from the city life; the mountains and some swimming sound kinda nice right now.
Day 25: Bratislava Barbershop