She will be the one who doesn’t understand a word of Slovakian. She will take close to 3 days to remember how to say thank you, by rhyming it with `requiem’ which is what it sounds like and replacing the R with a D.
My friend, the lovely Kristina (fondly known as Kika) knows it’s a hard language to learn, it’s her native tongue and she speaks it so fast that even her family can’t understand her sometimes.
She also speaks English and Spanish fluently and some Portugese. It never ceases to amaze me that Europeans in particular can speak so many languages.
I often feel we’re spoilt if English is our first language because every other country has to learn our language too in order to have a successful tourist industry, to establish close economic ties with the super powers and to really understand the major influencers in the world both in terms of news and politics.
I felt quite international hanging out with Kika for close to a week and her friend Maria and son Gui (both Portugese) and we spoke a mixture of English and Spanish (let it be known that I mainly understood the Spanish and attempted a few words from time to time).
My head was still practicing German after a lovely week in Austria, predominantly spent in Graz with Phi Je and Martina and baby Tim. In the space of a few days they managed to turn me into a mush who finally wants to have kids. I mean it’s only taken 33 years and little Tim, just 9 weeks old was such a cool chilled out baby (with fab parents to boot) that I immediately thought `I want one of those too’.
I got to play in a super fun hat tournament called Pig Me Up just outside of Graz and only a week after Worlds finished. It’s hard to transition from competitive mode to having fun and I’m not sure I did it really well, however my pink team put up with me and I had a load of fun playing a variety of positions on the field.
They even awarded me MVP Female of the tournament! I was blown away and received a silver bracelet that I’ve worn to this very day, it’s perfect.
Off the field we ate this giant pig and it was delicious. A few of us won the party by playing flippy cup all night interspersed with shots of Jaegermeister which was my undoing and saw me heading home around 3am - walking off into the dark night in the torrential rain while everyone else sheltered under the party venue and wondered what the crazy Kiwi girl was up to.
I really felt at home with Phi Je and Martina and they showed me around their beautiful city and then I showed myself around, heading up to the main lookout and clock tower, jumping on the bike along the river and letting my self loose in bookshops to practice my German.
I also spent one day working 12 hours straight, at which point they yanked my laptop away from me and we walked down to the old town for ice-cream. I managed to be pretty productive when there and actually wrote a blog post that went viral on my blog and Forbes.
Since then things have been on a roll and I’m pretty sure this travel and work on my business thing is coming together. It actually makes me focus harder when I do get the time to work because I’m either sitting on a train or in a car or with no internet so I’m productive.
I go out and sightsee during the day and work late at night, or in the mornings or the other way around, either way it is pretty awesome. Now I just need to earn revenue…
During the week in Austria I got to go on an afternoon trip to Slovenia (because you know this is Europe and you cross borders easily and find yourself in a country with an entirely different language just 1 hours drive away) and hang out at Phi Je’s country cottage (no electricity or running water) for a beautiful evening BBQ dinner under the trees and drying sun.
I also got to drive quite a lot – Phi Je entrusted his kick-ass Mercedes wagon to me aside from stalling it in a major intersection I didn’t kill anyone or dent it so I’d say it was a success. Plus they allow you to drive at a decent speed here – i.e fast, always fun in my mind.
Last weekend we then headed back to Hungary to Lake Balaton for a beach Ultimate tournament. I LOVE beach Ultimate, it is, for want of better words `Da Bomb’. It’s exhausting but awesome. I got to play with the mixed team Phi Je had put together Augartner and the Austrian Women’s team Eyecatchers, so on Saturday I played 8 games!
They were only 20 minutes luckily and we had some great wins and frustrating losses and in between time we shot off for some tasty food, coffee or beer at the nearby restaurants that are part of this holiday destination. At night the party was right outside our room as we all stayed in the town hall (yeah odd I know).
What did I learn? That the Slovenians are crazy partiers, so are the Slovakians and that visual communication can transcend language barriers. I also learned that my German is not as good as I thought, and that Austrians are definitely harder to understand than Germans but everyone is very inviting and good natured.
I love the ultimate community as 3 strangers from Vienna gave me a lift to their city and one lovely lady put me up in her apartment that night (very lucky really as I had not planned a thing). The next morning I took the ferry thanks to a suggestion, down the Danube to Vienna.
Once again luck played a hand when a lovely older English lady happened to walk by when hearing the boat was sold out (which I hadn’t expected given there were plenty of seats available when I checked on line the night before) and offered up one ticket she had spare. I was the first to jump at it (closely followed by 5 others who hoped she had more).
Turns out it was the front row seat so I had a pretty great view and listened to a webinar with my fave thought leader in marketing and beyond, Seth Godin (check him out if you haven’t) whilst leaning back and cruising along the river on a hydrofoil – very smooth ride.
Kika was there to pick me up and take me to her parents house who were staying out at their farm house. The four musketeers took a tour around Bratislava with Kika translating everything which was awesome and very useful.
Here’s what I learned about Slovakia:
- All tours are in Slovakian including the cave tour guide who sounded like a monotone priest
- Dobre den = Hello
- Dakujem – thank you
- Litov is the region of K1 and C1 Olympic champions and one father who designed a man-made river so that his son could become a champ and got the city to pay for it!
- Gypsies are common here, and burn down public housing made especially for them.
Obviously there’s a lot more but I’ll save that for another post.