We didn’t film yesterday because it was Constitution Day in Slovakia — a commemoration of the establishment of the Slovakian constitution when Czechoslovakia dissolved in 1993. It was a warm autumn day with brilliant sunshine and a gentle breeze — a day that slowly stretched and lingered like the thread from a silkworm cocoon. Nowhere to rush to, no schedule to follow. After a lazy morning of breakfast and reading, I went down the hotel lobby and ran into some friends. We decided impromptu to ride the train to explore the region. We got off in a neighboring village called Stary Smokovec — the kind of village that Disney must have modeled the sets of his fairytales after.
By the railway station, there was a quaint little cheese shop where they also sold goat milk ice-cream and goat milk yogurt. My friends and I shared an ice-cream as we walked across the street to a wooden Roman Catholic church that was so small that it only had 12 short pews. It was empty except for one old lady sitting at the last row. I much preferred the peace and simplicity of this tiny church to the pompous, opulent ones that exude money instead of spirituality. The beautifully worn bibles looked like they had been there since the day the church opened in 1880 — passing through generations of hands before I touched it.
Next to the church is the 100-year-old Grand Hotel, where we decided to have our lunch. The place did not look like it had seen much update or renovation since the early 1900s, but it was maintained with care and taste. There were very few people in the lobby other than the impeccably trained and outfitted staff members. We walked through long silent hallways to a restaurant that was a cross between The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shining. The immaculate and courteous waiter who took us to our table looked as if he was trained by M. Gustave himself. As the meal went on, we all agreed that he was one of the best waiters that we had ever had. He was attentive without being intrusive. As a matter of fact, he would disappear until you began to sense a need, which he would anticipate. I ordered spareribs and couldn’t resist to eat them with my fingers, which I’m sure was bad manners in a place like this. But soon after I picked up my first piece of rib, the waiter came with a bowl of lemony water for me to clean my hands.
The three of us talked about life — mostly love life — as we enjoyed a perfect lunch. The dishes were exquisitely prepared. It is by far the best food I have had in this region.
After lunch we lay languidly on the tranquil lawn of the Grand Hotel. Time seemed to become thick, sticky and sweet like honey.
In our world of constant speed and urgency, an excursion like this is certainly tonic to the spirit.