My student looked at me with a quizzical look which he often reserves for a complete lack of comprehension. “You’re going to Myjava?” He seemed genuinely puzzled. “OK, if you want…”
Later that day I was telling Ralph about this reaction while we were standing at Brno’s main station, waiting for the first of three trains to take us to the small town in western Slovakia. He seemed both surprised and concerned. “Honestly mate, I remember this town being beautiful… honestly”.
Three trains, and an incredible journey through the Czech and Slovak countrysides, later we alighted to one of the saddest-looking train stations this side of Ryde Esplanade. The highlight of the station “Bufet” would have to be saved for later though because we’d been long travelling and needed to drop our bags at the local guesthouse. We left the decaying station behind and found our abode lying at the bottom of the hill and well in the shadow of a tower block lifted straight from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. “Are you sure about his place, mate?” I asked. “Honestly mate, I remember this town being beautiful…” To be fair, the guesthouse was superb and the staff very friendly, which is certainly not always the case.
We were eager to immerse ourselves in this gem of a town and so we headed out on to the main strip to take in the sights. It was at about this point that Ralph had to concede that he may have somewhat misremembered the town. Now, I wouldn’t say there was much wrong with it. There just didn’t seem to be much at all.
Of course, we were unfazed by this because, to steal a Crowded House lyric, everywhere we go we always take the weather (Blansko) with us. We headed on with high hopes, and had a quick look at the centre’s, admittedly notable, Evangelic Church, built in 1711. After a quick pint by the trickling river we entered one of the town’s real highlights, the Spoločenský dom, and sat among the football memorabilia decorating the Reštaurácia Fontana. It’s worth taking a moment to talk about the football team here. Spartak Myjava have a stadium capacity of 2,709 in a town of just 12,000 people, and 2016 sees them enter the UEFA Europa League for the first time in their history, following promotion to the top league in 2012. It’s fair to say that they are well supported in the town, and you can see the club’s colours in abundance. We would find out more later, but having polished of a pizza covered in Slovakian bryndza cheese, it was time to tour the town’s finest watering holes.
For a Slovakian town is was surprisingly difficult to get a Slovakian beer, and our luck didn’t improve upon entering the “Blue Bar” situated in the Kulturny dom, where we sat and mulled over a Czech Bernard. We love Czech beer above all else of course, but when in Rome…
We drank up and headed to the football. The stadium has been recently reconstructed in preparation for the European debut and on a night like tonight it looks perfect under the floodlights.
The home side ended the season with a win, finishing a fine third in the league and with Europe League qualification already in the bag. The fans were ecstatic and much to their delight the victorious team did a lap of honour to cap off a great evening. Next season will be a big one for the club and it was great to see them finish off the year in style tonight.
Myjava is a developing town, and many of the bars are centred around a singular modern complex. Always on the looking out for a more interesting experience we avoided these and wandered in to the town’s hottest hangout – the Bowling Klub, where we promptly made friends with a Slovak man of an advanced age in a Man Utd baseball cap and only a few teeth, who upon closer questioning expressed support for both the Manchesters, plus Liverpool FC. Covering all bases there then. Ralph felt the need to widen his options and handed him a Wales badge, but having never seen a pin badge before needed a little help from yours truly to pin it on to him. An intimate moment for sure. What would we do without these people? To be fair he seemed to more interested in supporting the derrière of one of the waitresses, which he kept demonstrating to us enthusiastically with cupped hands.
We finished the night in the Movies Bar where they were showing some ice hockey, but no one seemed to be interested and the house was hardly rocking, most people appearing to have vacated the town for the weekend.
The next morning we woke up early and arrived at the station for find the train delayed. We gathered the last of our Euros together to afford two half pints in the station “Bufet”. Thank god we could only afford halves because it smelt like death in there. Although everyone was too busy watching a Hollywood film about the marriage of two talking dogs to notice. The train eventually rolled in and we rolled out, leaving a Myjava behind us that upon reflection offered more in the end than we had expected. Now we were on our way back to the Czech Republic to prepare for Blansko’s penultimate game against Žďár nad Sázavou.