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The Great expedition through all of Europe in search of the beauties of the island queen: excursion to ENGLAND, May 2005

Day 1 (monday, may 23)

The hour H, the minute M: 15 o’clock. We’re all standing in the parking lot near a former mental hospital. The only thing we are missing is the bus. 15:30…and we’re still waiting. A suspicious green vehicle in a catastrophic condition, pretending to be a bus, has made a few circles round theparking lot. Everybody hopes that the awkward thing is not ours- just meant to send a message to the mother ship. 30 minutes later our brand new beautiful green bus arrives. We are about to say a definite good-bye to our beloved and get usedto a living space app. 0.5 square meters per person. Last hours in Slovakia, last phone calls, last Slovak crowns, last steaks.

In Zilina we’re joined by our affable guide, Martina, from the travel agency. We’re passing through our poetic country into no-less-poetic Czech borders. We play a movie on our VHS recorder just to make sure it works and everybody nods off just as he is: on the floor, on the seats, on his neighbor’s shoulder….good night.

Day 2 (tuesday, may 24)

Last Czech gas station (obligatory „piss pause“ each 3rd-4th hour) and then German borderguards whom we passed after a rather bored question: „Alle Slovakisch?“ They almost begged us not to show them our passports. To immigrate illegally would be too easy. Germany is much more prosaic- even the trees grow in right angles. Belgium and Luxembourg are a bit unnatural, too. At last we’ve been welcomed by the picturesque streets of France.  Empty, for we came at dinnertime. From time to time it could be heard: “I’ve seen the French!“ or something like that, but we didn’t really care. We were looking forward to our hotel with a hot shower, TV—and an unpleasant surprise. The rooms were key-coded, so the next day the local newspaper reported a large group of Slovaks with suitcases as big as the world itself blocking the aisle of the motel near Calais.

Day 3 (wendesday, may 25)

A rich French breakfast, the tunnel under La Manche (English Channel- we had to beg for a stamp once again) and…after 30 hours on a bus, 9:00 local time (GMT)=10:00 of ours CET, we reached England with its vast lawns (England itself is one huge lawn). A few hours later, we entered London. We saw the prime meridian and a collection of time-measuring devices (from the ancient up to the ultramodern ones) in the Greenwich Observatory. We got to know all the squirrels in the nearby park and then our Mercedes drove us to Cambridge University, which some of us decided to study at. It was getting dark, so our mother ship gave us a ride to the London suburb where we were picked up by our host families.

Day 4 (thursday, may 26)

7:30 these boring/too exciting/normal (just more English) people drove us back to the parking lot in the suburb and we (thankful & fresh) got back into our beloved Mercedes which drove us to Windsor where we could admire massive noble exteriors, stylish luxurious interiors and a lovely dolly house for royal dollies. We absorbed the impressions on the way back to London. We made the professors busy in the city on the dirty Thames: we went out of control by seeing such concentrated beauty: the London Eye (The Millenium Wheel), Big Ben, Trafalgar Square…the National Gallery with van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Gaugin’s Tahitian beauties, with Sisley, Monet & Manet and many other masterpiece oils on canvas. Picadilly Circus with two-storeyed red buses, Chinatown and Leicester Square with its famous cinemas. And then: back to the suburbs.  One last authentic English dinner and packing our bags. Heading for our last day in London.

Day 5 (friday, may 27)

Farewell to our English families, the change of the guards around Buckingham Palace and a 5-hour-long break for shopping along the infinite Oxford Street. The souvenirs, clothes and tea (what a heresy- to be in England and not to bring home tea). In Hyde Park we touched the English lawn for the last time, got back on the bus with our heavy H&M bags and waved goodbye to the city where we will return someday.

Day 6 (saturday, may 28)

A sunny German morning, a hot Czech day and a pleasant Slovak evening. Slovakia has welcomed us with fireworks not addressed to us directly, but they delighted us as much as if they were.

Day 7 (sunday, may 29)

1 A.M.:Kosice, at last! With our feelings all mixed up we parted with our friends, with Ms. Professor Olga Papcunova (whom we can thank for this wonderful excursion) and Mr. Jan Drengubiak (who was the responsible one) and Dusan Havrila (who did his best to keep us smiling)….and we went to our Slovak beds to sleep all day long.