Home > Travel > Tom’s European Vacation (Part 4): Bratislava

Tom’s European Vacation (Part 4): Bratislava

Well I was bored with Vienna so decided one morning to explain to my hostelry that I felt it was time to move on – ‘there’s so little to do’, I commented and was given a stern look.

The bus station somewhere in the ‘East End’ of Vienna advertised journeys to Bratislava, Slovakia – well, why not, I thought. It seemed pointless not to give it a go and I had overdosed on culture already so was looking for something a little less refined. Not that Bratislava is a little less refined, it was the deserted state of the bus depot with it’s deserted DSC01950and seemingly pointless underground caverns, shady characters and tumbleweed newspapers that started me thinking I was in for something ‘different’. Vienna to Bratislava by bus a route so rarely taken that the buses themselves had deserted the station and setup shop in a nearby car park with a port-a-cabin for an office.

So, blending in with others who were taking the route, I did my best to look dishevelled and pissed off with my situation – I knew those Theatre Studies days would come in handy. I looked surprised at how costly the journey was (others had already complained) – I think it was around three euros or so. I dug out some chewing gum and sat staring at the floor of theDSC01937 port-a-cabin for an hour or so whilst the bus driver went to get himself some lunch before the return journey.

Eventually we were on our way – it felt like a school trip, zipping past scenery I had never seen before and so many wind farms you just wouldn’t believe. Eventually we arrived in Bratislava. The place was packed as can be seen by the picture opposite. Man handling the crowds in front of me I battled my way to the main square.

It was truly deserted. Even the pigeons were unsure about landing. I started imagining that I was being DSC01938loured into a cunning trap, or that the child catcher would appear at any moment and remind me that I was already in my thirties and there was really nothing to worry about on his score.

The cafes were delightful, the buildings were gorgeous (in the old town) and the strange bronze sculpted men that appeared out of various man holes were an amusing curiosity for the few tourists that happened upon them.

There’s a stronghold of some sort over looking the city with some wonderful views of the mostly low rise buildings sprawling out below. It was one of those places in which you could imagine retiring, opening a small cafe in which you would sit and read the newspaper all day long and sneer at DSC01945the odd customer if they got in the way of you doing nothing. Beautiful.

Strangely it put me in mind of the south of the Netherlands (Limburg) near Maastricht. Can’t quite put my finger on exactly why – perhaps I was simply relaxed enough there without the extreme hustle and bustle of Vienna that I had just experienced. Staying in a fine hotel (Hotel Marrol – please take a look) may have had something to do with it – tea and biscuits each morning with a paper and then a proper breakfast always makes one more amenable to new places, especially when contrasted with staying in a sweaty hostel room with six other people…

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The restaurant was so good I have to confess to looking forward to going back there each evening to try something else. This place is definitely worth a visit, it was as if I was on holiday from touring for a couple of days.

Most frugal moment: negotiating for the sake of negotiation with a pleasant young man who was roasting Chestnuts. He probably thought I was insane as I tried to get my head round his pricing structure for a bag of nuts. Given that the most I was going to pay was around 60p, I’m not sure what all the fuss was about – it was nice to talk to someone though… <sniff> …how lonely I was.

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