My Photographs: Top 5 Komárno, Slovakia.

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Klapka Square, February 2003. When I jumped on the bus to Komárno I didn’t know a single thing about the little Slovak town I was heading to. I was with Sladjana, a Canadian-Serb girl I was kind of seeing in Bratislava. She was a mysterious, elusive sort and in retrospect I knew as much about her as I did of Komárno. On arrival we were greeted by a wintry ghost town set at the confluence of the mostly frozen Danube and Váh rivers. The streets were caked in snow, with perilous spots of black ice. This pretty square is dominated by Komárno’s town hall, while the statue is of Hungarian revolutionary György Klapka, who bravely led his men as the last line of defence against the Austrian Imperial Army.

Church of St. Andrew, February 2003. As bitterly cold as it was that day, Sladj and I pretty much walked the town inside out, stopping only to warm the cockles with a cup of piping hot coffee. We also sought shelter, for a brief spell, in this baroque church dating back to the 1720s. There was no one inside save for a doddery old priest arranging a vase of flowers on the altar. He gave us a sagely nod before disappearing off into the back rooms.

Europe Square, February 2003. If Komárno is famous for anything, it’s probably this quirky, picturesque square of multicoloured buildings from the Architects of Atelier. The square boasts a varied range of typical European architectural styles, many of which are home to cafes, restaurants and craft shops. When I look back on this shot, I rue the fact that I didn’t have a better camera, or indeed any idea of how to take decent photos.

Komárno Railway Station, February 2003. It had been a low key but fun day, which we capped off with a hearty dinner at a traditional Slovak Restaurant. We were the only customers. Both Sladjana and I had English lessons to give back in Bratislava the following morning, so we were more than a little alarmed when our train back to the capital failed to show up. It was early evening and we waited and waited as it started to snow. We eventually learned that the train had been cancelled (!) and shortly after we met these two drunken Slovak guys. Appearing out of the mist from god knows where, the four of us chatted a bit as best we could in broken English. And then they disappeared back off into the fog never to be seen again.

Komárno Railway Station, February 2003. I’ll never forget that strange evening in Komárno. Stranded on that platform with no idea what would happen next, it felt like Sladjana and I were the only two people left in the world. After an age of waiting we were finally able to jump on another train then change to another, not getting back to Bratislava until 3am. For more on my trip to Komárno and my life teaching English in Bratislava, check out my short story Me Fish Be Dead here.

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