The following week, the weather became very nice. Work slogged along OK. Wednesday evening we went into town, into a pub with a basement that turned into a disco at 10 pm. Before it had been quite comfy and I had just stopped it with the beer and started with the whisky when the noise began and put an end to all talk, because it is hard enough to carry on a conversation when you do not really know each other and have to talk in English (which half of the party is not very fluent in), even without having to lip-read.
I left around half past eleven and walked home because it seemed completely silly to take a taxi, and it was mild and windy outside. I like windy. I hadn't felt completely safe inside that place, not being able to understand the language always makes me feel very insecure, and it spreads to my whole mood. Outside I felt fine.
The story is now missing only its final chapter, which will tie up the lose ends and set up everyone for the next instalment. I also started picking up some stories from another cycle and tried to decide how finished they were and what else they needed.
I read "Through the Language Glass" by Guy Deutscher, which R___ had given me for my birthday, and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", which I liked, and started on "For the Win" by Cory Doctorow, ate pastries with plum jam, and was, all in all, extremely happy with the week.
Friday afternoon, the co-worker had to go catch his plane again, while my train would not leave until 10 in the evening. We went for dinner in a kind of posh place, where I had duck breast (very good) and potato-chestnut-puree (heavenly), and some Czech beer, and then we went to the train station. My bag weighed a ton and I was quite content to let the men carry it.
I got a sleeper compartment to myself again, wasn't tired yet, and spent two hours listening to music and looking out of the window. The sky was full of stars, and close to midnight we were driving through snow-covered mountains. Finally I nodded off. This time, I had switches off my cell phones, and the only thing that disturbed me sleep was that it was a little too well-heated in the compartment, and I could not turn it off.
In the morning, the conductor brought coffee and then we were in Prague.
Prague is so close. One forgets, or one has never learned. In my mind, there is still the shadow of the Iron Curtain, blocking the way. But we passed the old border checkpoints without even slowing down, and at half past 12 I was home.
I am very glad I had that weekend. It would have been very unsatisfactory being abroad and not seeing anything but the hotel, work, and the bus to take me there. My boss said that I had been very frugal, and next time we should see if I couldn't travel first class. I don't mind being frugal, but I don't mind first class, either. And I wouldn't mind at all to go to Kosice again, but if I don't have to go there for business it's maybe a little far. Though R___ might be interested. Prague, Bratislava, some hiking in the mountains, Kosice, and the night train back? Sounds like a plan.
At home, everything was fine. There was a heap of junk mail but no bills. I did a lot of laundry, overslept on Sunday and so spend the day at home instead of hiking in the hills -- fooled by the weather forecast, the rain didn't start until late afternoon.
And now I have a lot of reports to write, not least of them my expense report. Oh, joy. :-S
Now that I am home again, I am going to un-lock the previous posts, here and here.
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