The door opened and a lady of around fifty-five appeared, patting down her graying hair, as though I had arrived ten seconds too early. She gave a slight curtsy and beckoned me in very trustingly.

“Yullian?” she said.

“That is me,” I said, “Julian.”

“Me Yulchka,” she said, “Your room there,” and pointed down the hallway. My room was rather rustic, but oh so charming. There was a large wooden bed with a huge mattress (were those pieces of straw sticking out of it?) and individual pillows that I could almost curl up on they were so massive. The floor was wooden too and the walls had been painted yellow a long time ago. There was an enormous bowl on the sideboard with a big pitcher of water next to it. I looked forward to a nice cooling wash before dinner.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the window. A short impish man wearing a blue  cap waved at me. The man showed me a bottle with no label on it, then pointed at the bottle and then pointed at me. He then held the bottle up to his face, grinned widely, and gave me a thumbs up. I had a feeling he wasn’t offering me water – more likely slivovitz the plum brandy of the region. I realized I should have something to eat and drink before I joined him.

The man beckoned me outside. I reasoned that I should be sociable with the locals, after all I was staying in his house. I gave him my best “How do I get to where you are” sign. He indicated I should open the window. I gulped down some water from my bottle and grabbed a bread roll from my bag. I opened the window and landed in a flower-bed with my legs splayed, as I didn’t want to crush any of the petunias.