13th July – Puchov cottage

by Tom Kerswill on July 13th, 2005
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Far too early the next day I had to get up and catch the train from Brno into Slovakia to a small town called Puchov.

It was a lovely journey – most of the time you’re winding through Czech countryside, before finally ducking in towards Puchov. I didn’t actually have a ticket for the very last bit of the journey, and so had to blag it without speaking much Slovak when the final ticket inspector came round. I then had to sneak of the train at Puchov and pretend to start with that I didn’t know the three girls that had come to meet me – until the train left and it was all okay again!

It was great to see Iwiss, Katke and Ivana. First of all we went for a beer in the station – in a converted railway carriage which was a little strange because I’d been sitting in a real one for the last two-and-a-half hours. We drank lovely dark beer… a bit like Guiness but lighter and…. well, I think nicer.

Then we got picked up by Iwiss’s and Katke’s mum and went to their appartment. Puchov is an old communist-era town in every way. All the buildings are huge, monolithic high-rise blocks of flats. Concrete everywhere, connected by pot-holed roads. The apartment was nice, and I was able to have a shower and drink coffee. Then we went to the shop to buy beer, wine, and food for the barbecue. Finally, Iwiss and Katke’s dad drove us to the cottage where we were to stay the night.

Puchov is small – and soon we were out into the countryside. A very small road led us up a hill, through a small village, and out into the wilds. At the end of a dirt track stood the cottage. It was really nice – just a single storey. Surrounded by fields of apple trees, pears and plums. And there were raspberries and strawberries everywhere.

There was also slivovich everywhere. This is homemade slovakian spirit. We went for an exploration and found the room where it is made – a huge still. Strong slivovich is 80% alcohol. Eek.

So there was lots of food, and lots of slivovich. And they kept giving me much bigger shots than they poured for themselves. Because I’m a man apparently. Which meant eventual drunkenness and much amusement.

We had a good barbecue too. Though at the end of the evening (after eating all the meat) I did unfortunately manage to destroy it by (ahem) slightly loosing my balance and falling backwards on the barbecue and the whole thing collapsed. Luckilly I did jump up pretty quickly and didn’t get too badly burnt…

Amazingly, no hangover in the morning (good stuff that slivovich). I was woken up really early by the sun at about 7am. Katke’s beautiful dog, named Stoovey (sp.) woke me up too, wanting to go outside. I now the Slovakian for “fox” – it’s lishka – because I think Stoovey looks just like a small fox.

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