The train journey started with a couple of bad omens! First, the sword was longer than my 100L backpack`s height and I had to leave it attached to the side, VERY standing out. Then, the conductor came in and I could guess she is a zloba (an evil woman).
She read carefully the discount book (I guess it was, my czech is just starting) of the czech student, said something poisonously sarcastic about an inconsistency of his travel history (I guess). When he refused to feel threatened, she went somewhere with the book. Anyway she came back later and nothing happened.
When she read my ticket had a pause and gave me a long look ("A ticket to the state border, right? You think you are a smart bastard, eh? We will see about that!") and then stamped it without saying a word.
The third enervating moment was when the policemen (they walk the trains everywhere in eastern europe looking for suspicious people and criminals), suddenly stopped in front of our coupe and demanded our passports! After browsing mine forwards and backwards for a few minutes the guy took out what looked like a book of penalty forms and started filling it! He didnt reply to my "Ma neki problem?". Well, apparently he was just writing down my data to check it somewhere.

So we will see what happens after Breclav [at the border], after all this!

...Going conti(m)ental!
This is always good.
In Antwerpen we were too early for the Christmass market but here I caught it on time! I had hot wine and a Jazz trio at Stare Mesto, tried Tridelnik, etc.! The latter was a adventurous because I couldnt guess what it is before I buy it. The name Tri-delnik is saying only that it is made of three parts and for some reason i find three a frightening number when concerning food! Some of the guys selling traditional Czech christmass market stuff were communicating across in loud vulgar bulgarian, sprinkled with lots of heavy swearwords. I felt I better not reveal my nationality...

...I am becoming quite good at asking in czech "Excuse me, where is...?" (the house of the sword-master, for example). The reply quite often is too vigorous to be able to understand more than "... dole ..., zad benzin..., prava strana, ..." and lots of handwaving to indicate that I should pass by so many streets turn right and then keep to the right side, or well, maybe that there is a street to the right that I SHOULDNT take but rather go on the left one! Yet, with some guesswork I actually found All Thing I needed in Praha. And just in time to catch the train at 23:05 for "the state border" (in fact, Budapest, or maybe Bucuresti - we will see how it goes with the hungarian conductors, they always cause trouble). I even squeezed in into my evening a nice continental place to eat and relax for 50
minutes (rather than the planned 35 minutes, but it was close enough to the train station - I made it, a bit in a hurry!) If you are going there - I think it was called Ferdinand. Or at least the beer they were selling was called Ferdinand?...
But for that later! The evil woman is again walking the corridor, this time smiling to something. I hope my obvious literaturni zanimaniia (literary pursuits) will appease her that I am decent person.

...The only thing I couldnt find was an exchange office to get some hungarian forints (slovakian krunas
were not a problem as I got some left from last time). So to be able to buy my third ticket in the post-border village of Rajka I will have to bang on the door of the rajkan exchange office at 5 in the morning. I am not so worried because last time they actually opened!

...The house of the sword-master was great! All decorated with weapons and armoury! This is why I found it, in fact. The street had no lights to allow me to see any of the houses' numbers or any company signs. But through the lit window of one of the houses I saw a full knight`s armour standing and thought, this must be my place!
There I had tea with wine punsh, and after an hour of chatting he decided to give me the decorated sword for the price of the simpler model! As my pretty female friends say in such cases "Oh, that is so nice of youuu!! Thank you very much!" (they have to say it alot, you know).
He was talking so much even though initially he was afraid of his incapability in english! And mostly about swords. I was trying not to reveal I am totally unexcited about swords, even though right now I was spending some 200 euro on one. So in every suitable pause I was trying to steer the conversation to what I am really interested in - peoples and people. The history of his involvement in sword-craft, the history of his miraculous home, the christmass in city centre, where could I get nice alcohol (this time I had my wishlist of becherovka, borovicka, myslivec and medovina)...

After having my dinner with the place`s own beer, Ferdinand, 12 degrees, and in a moment of enthusiasm ordering grog for a finish (tea and rum), I was on my way to the train station feeling quite warm despite the zero temperatures, and a bit dizzy. The warmth effect I had during most of the day in Prague due to all those hot wines, grogs and punshes.
Damn, I didnt have time to try the warm Medovina! (honey alcohol? hopefully not mead!) In Bulgaria I knew it as the drink of the ancient Slavs all but lost in the vaults of time along with the Slavic gods and myths. Ok, I couldnt try it today, but I got two bottles from the supermarket (yeah, all that mythic romance lost!) to prepare at home.
So I am not surprised that all the guys making their way to the train station, some of them appearing like respectable business representatives, were all quietly making little zig-zag patterns in the alleys! Yes, it feels awkward. I am closer to home...

Its pitch-black outside. When I was crossing the Czech-Slovakian border last summer (with the same train schedule) there was already the grey light of the dawn. Now it will still be night even when I arrive in Budapest. Heh, I am happy to measure time of the day in this awkward way, by the passed towns. "Човекът е човек когато е на път!" ("Human is a human when on a way").

Hey, there is snow! I just realised there is snow outside! In Prague it was clear with bits of rain sprinkling occasionally but not cold enough for snow. Now, I was in the vagon corridor looking out and wondering whether the train carriage has some of those 1000-watt lights under it to yield such ghost-white glow from the nearby landscape whirling past (czech trains are kind of fast). Or maybe we are riding on a UFO!? Cool!
But no, its just snow, my first steady snow this year. The BBC website said as I get to Bulgaria the temperatures will dip down to -11C, yu-hoooo!...

Praha and further,

my Central-European Christmas story
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yours, Kolio