Our hotel in Sabinov was right on the main street of the small town. We enjoyed walking past the stores, windowshopping, trying to figure out from the sign on the store what it might sell. Eventually we learned that "potraviny" means foodstuffs, and "kvety" means flowers. Sabinov, a town of about 13,000 people, has five florists -- which makes perfect sense when you consider the huge mounds of flowers placed over family graves. We found Entrance gate to Archive a friendly Internet cafe staffed by a young man who enjoyed practicing his English. Before we left, the hotel installed an Internet terminal of its own.
Sabinov was only 17 km from its larger cousin, Presov. Still bubbling from our visit to Sarisske Sokolovce, we headed into Presov to explore the Archive there. The Archive is located in a former monastery in a nearby suburb. It is marked only by a small sign, but we had had good directions. After signing in with security (security, you will be relieved to learn, is the same the world over), we entered the building itself and found firm instructions: put on booties! On the floor was a box of thin cloth booties sized to fit over shoes.
With our booties on we shuffled silently along the marble floors. Reaching Stylish booties, Presov Archive the study room, we learned that we must make an appointment to use one of the two microfilm readers, and that we could possibly learn additional information on a return visit. There was one very nice gentleman, Milan Belej, who had a good command of English and was happy to help. We made an appointment and, a few days later, we returned to the Archive. Several students and adults were studying old documents, some of them written on quite ancient parchment. We reflected on the challenge it would be to us to decipher this unfamiliar handwriting and unfamiliar language, and our respect for the skills of these scholars was increased.
Mr. Belej had determined where more recent civil records were kept -- unfortunately not in public archives. The Presov Archive is happy to conduct record searches at a reasonable fee; Mr. Belej told us the total charges for genealogical research seldom exceeded $200. However, we think the primary genealogical materials (the church registers) held at the Archive have been microfilmed by the LDS church and are available in the U.S. at Family History Shepherd with his flock Centers, and at the FHL, Salt Lake City. At these American genealogy research facilities, a larger number of people can be accommodated.
Returning to Sabinov, we ate lunch and checked into the Hotel Torysa, and then decided to look for a laundry. We tried a shop quite close to the hotel and presented our bag of laundry. The clerk examined each item, placing it in one of two piles -- yes she would do it, or no she wouldn't. Then, pointing at the (smaller) "yes" pile, she announced that it would be ready in a little over a week. We thanked her for her interest and returned to the hotel. Meanwhile another traveler with a laundry bag was directed to a store near the church, where second-hand clothes could be sold. Once again we wished we had a better command of Slovak!
Leaving Bob to write up the diary and notes, Tom and Marilyn and Elsa drove into Presov, where the Dukla Hotel clerk had assured us there was a "Quickly Laundry" downtown. As we drove down Presov's main street, Nut trees with shakers searching on both sides for the Quickly Laundry, a police officer pointed her red paddle at our car and directed us to the curb. After producing our passports, we were told that only buses were allowed on this street during late afternoons. With the universal "don't do it again" frown, followed by a smile, she allowed us to drive on and we quickly got out of town. Later we learned that the Quickly Laundry had closed due to lack of business. We never did find a public laundry, and thus began the nightly practice of "rinsing out a few things."
To recover our spirits, we detoured back to Sabinov through a chain of tiny villages, where we enjoyed the hillside scenery, including several newly restored churches and a flock of sheep with their shepherd. Small farm carts were pulled by a horse or a tractor, with a farm hand riding in the wagon, and occasionally we spotted a man with an enormous load of hay on his back or an old woman with an apron full of nuts. In a grove of large old nut trees, we noted that each tree had a special branch tucked against a lower limb -- cut back to just the main branch, it was ready to be bumped against the tree, to make the nuts fall to the ground.