This week I am writing my blog from sunny Bratislava in Slovakia, where I am on holiday with with my family. From the reaction of friends, Slovakia is not a common holiday destination for the masses. Well the reason for us being in Slovakia is not entirely straight forward. We have friends who live in a small village about 30 minutes outside Bratislava and we had made plans to visit them about 6 months ago, we booked flights and didn’t learn any Slovakian, as they all speak fluent English.
Bit of Panic and Deliberation
Unfortunately, two weeks before we were due to go, our friends sheepishly told us they had got the dates confused and had booked to go for Croatia, when we were in Slovakia. They had already tried to change the dates but the travel agent couldn't, as it was a booking for 12. So, we had flights to a country we didn’t know a lot about, we had no accommodation and spoke no Slovakian. After a bit of panic and deliberation we decided instead of wasting the flights we would book an Air b n b apartment in Bratislava, learn as many words as we could and hope for the best.
Amazing Cinnamon Rolls to the Beautiful Castle
So, on the 1st July with a little apprehension and not a lot of excitement, myself, my partner John, our son Joe (21) and daughter Frances (18) set off for the airport. All went smoothly and four hours later we arrived at Bratislava-Ivanka airport. We were a little underwhelmed to say the least as we traveled through the city from the airport, there were a lot of buildings under constructions and graffiti on nearly every wall. As we approached the apartment we thought we were in for a long week, hopefully we wouldn't get mugged and at least we had WIFI to keep everyone entertained. But how wrong we were the, apartment was lovely and the more we looked around and discovered about the city, the more we have all grown to love it. From the tiny huts selling bread and amazing cinnamon rolls to the beautiful castle with its stunning white walls and garden. We walked 21,000 steps on day three, I think I feel a little shorter, which is not great. I am only 5ft 3 if I stretch.
Smiling Retrains Your Brain to be More Positive
Now as some of you may not know me, I have a fondness for smiling, even though it's causing me crow’s feet, I still smile as much as I can! I think we all have the power in our smiles to make others smile, (unfortunately not everyone, a few who choose to wear their smile upside down), it may be someone you know or a stranger. Smiling makes you more approachable, which can only be good for you whether at work or at home, it retrains your brain to be more positive and even boosts productivity. But by smiling this week and speaking a bit of hurriedly learnt Slovakia, so many people have helped us. From people in shops and restaurants to a guy who heard us mention the station and pointed us to the right bus. The lady from the bread shop and the couple from the market, do not speak many words of English and we do not speak a lot of Slovakia but our common language is a smile. We could have visited the main squares were everyone speaks English, but we wanted to find out about the real Slovakia. Slovakia may not be as polished as its neighbour Vienna, but it has a sole and a wonderful beating heart, that has made us feel very welcome.
Making Yourself More Approachable
It is with a heavy heart that after many adventures, lots of great food, ice cream and beer it is time to head home. Next time we visit we will learn more of the language, but still bring our smiles. So, remember try to keep smiling, you may brighten someone's day and your own at the same time :)
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