Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Terka returns and we dive back into the sea of red tape

Terezia is back in Slovakia after a whirlwind week in the US. I took the bus out to the Vienna airport to fetch her Monday afternoon. She arrived safe and sound, and in the totally wiped-out state in which you typically find people who just got in from a trans-Atlantic flight from California.

Really good news: while Terezia was in the US, her Slovak divorce papers arrived in the mail. As mentioned previously, we can't re-establish her residency and request for my residency until she is divorced (from her first marriage) here. We went to Bratislava's court (the Justicny Palac) Tuesday to request to have the divorce effective immediately so that we don't have to wait the normal 15 days. This involved meeting with the judge again and submitting a short letter making the request. The judge was extremely helpful and in 20 minutes the divorce was effective and official. This experience was amazingly free of red tape!

Next we went to the Register Trestov, where I submitted some forms and a 3-euro kolok to have a Slovak equivalent to an FBI background check done. Luckily, this background check will only take a couple of days, unlike the US FBI background check, which takes several months and which I'm still waiting for.

We also met with a real-estate agent to check out an apartment in Bratislava. Okay, so yesterday I learned an incredibly useful thing about apartment listings in Slovakia. In the US, a one-bedroom apartment is typically an apartment consisting of a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and, naturally, one bedroom. A two-bedroom apartment is the same, but with two bedrooms. Anything less than that (e.g., an apartment consisting solely of a kitchen, a bathroom, and only one other room) is a studio apartment. Seems obvious and straightforward, right?

Well, in Slovakia, they apparently don't have a word to distinguish bedroom and plain old room. Terezia, Tony, and I had been looking over online listings for "one-bedroom" apartments. All this time, I had been thinking that when Terezia and Tony said "one-bedroom apartment," they were talking about what I have always understood to be a one-bedroom apartment. So, we get to this apartment, and from an American perspective, it's clearly a fairly spacious studio apartment. Right away, I'm thinking "hey, this isn't a one-bedroom apartment, it's a studio!" Turns out, we needed to be looking at listings for a "two-bedroom" apartment (yes, I know a living room is not the same as a bedroom, but we're in Slovakia now, so you try explaining it to them!).

At any rate, while this apartment had a decent kitchen and bathroom, and while the one room was fairly spacious, I really think we need some semblance of a living room (however small), partly so that Terezia and I don't drive each other crazy. Besides, the furniture in this place was incredibly odd - like bulky, strangely-painted stuff you'd find in a kindergarden classroom of a public school - and the hardwood floor looked as if said furniture was dragged across it on a routine basis. The owner was very nice, but apart from the obvious one-room issue, the place just didn't feel right. We'll be looking at more apartments soon!

Tomorrow we leave for Terezia's parents' place in Podrecany for several days, and during this trip, we'll be going to Banska Bystrica where we will have to re-establish Terezia's Slovak residency.

On that note, I leave you with a random assortment of photos from Bratislava.

It appears that they've uncovered some very cool gothic detailing on St. Martin's cathedral that seems to have been plastered over at some point. Will they leave it like this or will they continue to uncover it? I'd love to know. 

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