Europe / Slovakia

Bah. It’s Bratislava!

Polish bus Bratislava – Warsaw is bursting at the seams. Perfect environment for all kind of complainants, especially in Poland! Small talk about weather? Leave it to the Brits. We, Slavic people need some drama! So we are on a bus, complaining about everything and everyone even though technically we are still on vacation. Holiday mode off. Bratislava gets a spanking. What for?

It’s boring, ugly, grey and dull in comparison to other capitals. Prague is beautiful like an exotic bird, Vienna is proud and rich, not to mention majestic Budapest. Great – now it’s raining outside. But is it rain? It rather looks like teardrops leaving marks on dirty windows. It’s Bratislava crying quietly, because it isn’t her fault she is not very charming, don’t enrapture with beauty, don’t seduce with lights but simply is… just the way it is.

I am one of those complaining people. I feel ashamed but… I can’t deal with the cold when I don’t have anything warm in my backpack – with my rheumatism and hemorrhoids?! 😉 So if I started working on my post about Bratislava straight after coming back home it would certainly look like this:

BRATISLAVA…

cold… dark…

But I didn’t have time to write. Among all my chores and other posts queuing to finally see the light of day, Bratislava was waiting for the inspiration to come. Lucky her! Time flies and I fast forget about bad things such as frosty wind or pain in legs remembering only good moments – I was travelling… So let’s skip unpleasant part of this post and speak about something nice.

Something nice – let me think. TFB. Transport for Bratislava. It’s free! If you’re lucky 🙂 And we are! It’s Sunday and it’s Bratislava – the conductor can’t be bothered so – enjoy. Obviously we have no map and no smart apps as this is always just too much for our little brains. So we do indeed ramble a bit. Not to mention the fact that contacting our host from CS looks like another poor sequel of Mission Impossible. (The only missing element is Tom Cruise but maybe it’s good coz I dont fancy him anyway!) So where is our host? Where does she live? After texting each other for around 30 min she finally decides to pick us up. So we are waiting. I start imagining myself in a warm and comfy car… because she will come by car no? There is no point in coming by bus. Nah.. We’re waiting at the bus stop where she finally arrives! By bus. Carrying a little barking monster. Bow-wow!

Henza. Till today I have no idea where does she come from. She wrote to me on couch surfing replying on my open request (when you travel you can post an open request and see if someone is eager to host you). I can’t say I wasn’t a bit worried when she started adding pictures of guns on facebook but as I always judge by heart somehow I knew she would be nice. And she was. A bit weird having a skeleton and a vial with blood on the table but who of us is 100% normal nowadays? And then there was her sister. She hated couch surfers! Oh my God!  Keep calm and do sightseeing!

Tourist info. Armed with a map and a pen we slowly start our self-guided tour. Checked. Checked. Checked. I know. I am being such a hypocrite! One post ago I was criticizing our Asian-Canadian friend Minh from Budapest, now I do the same. Well, ain’t no excuse but we have no time and a target that has to be done in 100%! Perfectionism is bad. We admire the Blue Church – the official name of the Catholic church built at the beginning of the 20th century and sanctified in 1913 is the Church of St. Elisabeth of Hungary. It was designed by architect Edmund Lechner from Budapest and is considered a great example of Hungarian secession. The blue colour looks amazing against the grey post-soviet block of flats. We visit the Old Town but because the weather really sucks there is hardly anyone there. As Bratislava is changing its image from poor and dull Communist era, many buildings were repainted. In an attempt to enliven the city centre, a few quirky statues were installed – looking for them it’s a good fun not only for families with kids. The most famous one is the Cumil looking up women’s skirts 🙂 Wandering around and up the hill we reach the Castle Hill where we are almost blown by the wind what you can see later on in the pictures taken by a guy with the most perfect eyebrows I have ever seen. The castle hill was populated as early as the late Stone Age! Its first known inhabitants were the Celts. Later on Slavs who built there the first palace. Rebuilt many times, what you’ll see today it’s a reconstruction as the castle was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1811. Since 1986 the castle has served as a representative venue for the Slovak Parliament and houses collections of the Slovak National Museum. To be honest I’m not a huge fun of this type of architecture and as someone said the castle looks like a reversed table (I can not disagree on that!) but the view from the main courtyard over the green and a bit wild forests is very nice indeed. Close to the castle you can visit the gothic Cathedral of Saint Martin with a golden tower resembling Hungarian crown – 19 coronation ceremonies took place here! Such history surrounded by some shabby ruins some of you will think. It’s true my dear readers, but as I told you before – if someone wants it sleek and trimmed let them go to Vienna and never come back.

Old Town Bratislava
an interesting portal, one of many in Bratislava, encourages to visit a cozy cafe inside
Old Town is packed with nice old tenement houses
town hall
so we’ve seen some nice fountains…
and felt kind of inspired :p
The Blue Church
aghrr take this picture and let’s go inside! it’s cold!!
good plan is what we need – Anna is pretending she can read a map
but hey! we found the castle
the monument of one of the Slovakian kings – I hate being ignorant but I realised I know nothing about Slovakian history even though they are our closest neighbours
windy?
nice view (or two:) from the courtyard
st Martin’s cathedral
shabby ruins are in fact more interesting than the cathedral itself due to colourful window paintings

Recently I’ve seen a movie about Slovakian Jews. Did you know that before the II World War in Bratislava there were 19 Synagogues? Now there’s only one of them built in late 20. The whole Jewish borough was destroyed in 1986 – what you can find there now is a… road. The city lost a huge part of its cultural identity. Today you can still find it in the prewar postcards which I always love to see. In the afternoon our map also looks like a little cemetery – everything is crossed out. We’re done. But if you are planning to visit Bratislava, one thing not to be missed will definitely be Slavin – yet another great viewing point! We even heard you could see Vienna from the top of it! But let’s focus on more prosaic things like… food 🙂 Good food, cheap food- coz it’s Slovakia.

Looking for the perfect place to eat is one of my travel nightmares. I’m unable to make a decision (blame my zodiac sign) and I feel annoyed when I am force to decide on what we gonna eat. It can be frustrating for fellow travelers, my apologies. Saving money can be sometimes tricky and you end up with just a single chicken leg on your plate just like my mate 🙂  So please don’t ask her about Slovakian cuisine. One is sure – the beer choice was just excellent!

Bratislava by night is way more charming. Retro lanterns illuminating tiny streets making them look unrealistic and beautiful. Sitting on a bus I am wondering what do I know about the capital of Slovakia. We spent there just couple of hours. It’s just a glimpse. Enough for a glass of young Slovakian wine and short “hello&goodbye”.

How was Bratislava? People ask. She was quiet – I reply. And shy. She wasn’t reassuring us that she was going to wait or miss us. She let us know that we were there for her, she wasn’t there for us.

Will I ever come back? I don’t think so. No hard feelings Bratislava, it isn’t about you. I am more and more convinced that all European cities are the same – Old Town, pubs and bars, tourists. And I am now dying to go, at least once, into the wild…

one of interesting portals in the Old Town
Bratislava streets
nook and crannies of the Old Town
st Martin cathedral – view from Castle Hill
Slovakian dragon
yay! trolleybus – I haven’t seen them for ages!
Michelin style luxurious lunch at staircase – the only warm place for a picnic!
Michalska Gate – the last authentic gate in Bratislava
pure neoclassicism – Primates’ Palace
a rather empty town hall
a moment of bliss in a local cafeteria
one of many beautiful houses
where is everyone?
Anna enjoying Slovakian cuisine 🙂