Adventure: a word that tops my mum’s vocabulary list, sitting just above her favorite phrase, “Good grief!” Mum is a pioneer, an endless explosion of energy hidden beneath classy floral blouses and Floris perfume. When you hang out with her, you’re guaranteed two things: utter exhaustion and a roaring good time. So naturally, when my Mum ventured out to Slovakia a few weeks ago, I was ecstatic. And I did my best to get a full eight hours of sleep before she arrived
First Stop: Vienna
I met her at the Vienna Airport where she had just asked the information desk for a pair of bolt cutters to crack open the lock to her suitcase because the key was lost somewhere in Boston. Only my Mum could make asking for a pair of industrial bolt cutters seem like a routine procedure. She was so impressed with the accommodating airport staff that she wrote a thank you letter. Mum is a gracious lady in every time zone.
We spent the night in Vienna, a city I often overlook just because it’s so close to Bratislava. But with Mum, Vienna suddenly spun its magic. We explored a large market place teaming with amazing spices and delicious schnitzel and fragrant, fresh flowers. Our lunch was scrumptious and the fresh lemonade mixed with large mint leaves was truly refreshing.
Dessert was spent at the indulgent Hotel Sacher, maker of the über famous Sacher Torte (the original chocolate cake). It was all very classy and elegant, descriptors I rarely assign to myself.
But don’t be fooled. My mum may be a class-act but I recognize her best by her adventurous spirit so when she suggested we rent city bikes, I was both thrilled and terrified. Mum on a borrowed bike in a bustling city during the start of tourist season…good grief!
We survived the bike ride to St. Stephen’s cathedral though I learned when faced with chock-a-block traffic on a narrow street, my mum adopts a bike-around-tight-imaginary-circles-until-you-can-find-a-way-out policy.
Back to Bratislava
After biking in Vienna and closing out the evening with a delightful classical concert, we took a bus to Bratislava, a city my mum called home for three years. I realize now it must have been so strange for my mum to be led around the city by her daughter who barely remembers Bratislava the first time round. I call Bratislava home now and had some cool, local wisdom to impart on my mum (not really).
I took her around Stare Mesto (old town) and to Ikea, a place I used to dream about living in when I was younger. The showrooms are simply extraordinary! Mum helped me make my apartment a lot less bare and bought a bunch of plants that added an explosion of color on my porch. However, everyday I wake up and confirm that the plants are still alive I dance in celebration and slight disbelief. Mum may have a green thumb but mine is charcoal black.
Our time in Bratislava was also one of sad reflection. A dear family friend who we have known for twenty-three years passed away just a week before Mum came to visit. He was our neighbor when we lived in Bratislava all those years ago and when I returned to Slovakia in November, I joined him and his family for dinner almost every Sunday.
The funeral and memorial service was beautiful but perhaps not a moment of closure. We still can’t believe Jozef is gone but I can tell you with full confidence that his wife and two sons, an undeniable part of our family, are unbelievably strong and inspire me endlessly.
Miles in Budapest
We felt it was time to get out of Bratislava, even if it was just for a night so we ventured to Budapest where he stayed in a great hotel with great food and great slippers (quite a departure from hostel dwelling). However, the most memorable part of the trip involved a very unique version of “car rental”.
After enjoying a (crowded) soak in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths, we crossed over a bridge where some people were going for a peaceful paddle in the small river below. We were in need of some serenity so we went down to the paddle boat rental, chose the “police car” and drifted effortlessly away from shore.
By “drifted effortlessly” I mean we bumped into every other boat, stone wall, railing and duck in our path. It took ages to get out to the middle of the river where people watched us with amusement and perhaps slight concern. It was a small miracle that we made it back to shore as evidenced by the video below 🙂
Sadly, my ultimate adventure buddy had to go back to NH a few days later and left me to tend to the porch plants that I will most likely kill.
However, Mum also left a trail of her magic coupled with a simple and important reminder: every minute of every day should be an adventure, one that is both exhausting and outrageously fun!
Adventure On Mums and Daughters,
PS: Just after Mum left, a new round of special visitors came to my stomping ground. Tune in to hear about my unique set of adventures with the Marlow, NH crew!