I spent this weekend in Bratislava – it wasn’t never high on my list of places to travel, but I live pretty close to Slovakia, so I figured I might as well. It was interesting to see the contrast between Slovaks and Czechs – in terms of both language and people. While the city itself was nice enough, as I wandered around I felt if it was lacking something. There were certain streets, while baring no resemblance at all to my home town of Christchurch, that made me miss home – the home that was before the earthquake. Hearing the light and melodic Slovak spoken around me made me crave the sound of the distinct New Zealand accent. As sunset wrapped around Bratislava’s Hrad (castle), my stomach knotted and I realised that this isn’t my home. Europe is comfortable and charming, but so far I’ve not visited anywhere that rivals the beauty and splendor of NZ.
During my brief visit, I met some wonderful people and we had those conversations that etch their way into your deepest place. When asked where I plan to settle down, I couldn’t find a certain answer. In fact, I don’t have any eligible places in mind. That might be one of the subconscious driving forces of my travels; the desire to find somewhere that suits me. And maybe that’s the entire reason I travel: because I’m not drawn enough to one place to really commit to it and invest into it – yet.
We made a short trip to visit Devin’s castle and I stood at the top of the medieval ruins, looking out to the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers, a big part of me wished I was looking out to the Waimakariri. Snowflakes lingered in the breeze while I realised for the first time, on this trip, that I’m aching for New Zealand. This time next week I’ll be somewhere in London, on the edge of another amazing adventure. In twenty six days I’ll have my feet firmly planted back on New Zealand’s soil. While I’m really excited to be going home again, I’m looking forward to leaving, too: when something is fleeting you clutch onto it and treasure it more than you might otherwise have.
I haven’t been in an English speaking country since July last year. I wonder if I’m going to suffer reverse culture shock from being able to approach anyone and have a fluent, fluid conversation with them. I also wonder if I’m the only one who constantly gets asked for directions, but only in countries that aren’t my own? Today I was asked for directions in Bratislava twice by Slovaks – What?