August 21, 2015
Vienna is now just a memory and I am in Bratislava, Slovakia. Like with Prague, I thought it would be a scary place where nobody would speak English and I would get weird looks from people or get hopelessly lost. But it’s surprisingly “normal”. Almost everything is written in English and the people speak English well, and the streets are surprisingly easy to navigate.
I left Vienna at 8:30am – had a mini panic attack because my bus ticket looked different than everyone else’s – and arrived in Bratislava by 9:30. Oh yes, just to inform you, I am currently waiting for my $3.50 bowl of garlic st (apparently a traditional Slovakian dish) at a restaurant called Narnia Pub. And yes, I chose this place solely because of the name. Somewhere in this square, they are playing ‘Blurred Lines’. ‘Get Lucky’ just finished. The weather is a bit cloudy now but it was sunny and hot for most of the day – except for a bit of rain while I was at the castle at which point I hid under the shelter of a tree. My food has just arrived! Creamy garlic soup in a bowl of bread – quite delicious!
Anyway, on the bus ride here, this guy named Shane sat beside me and we became friends. He is from London and we decided to spend the day together. I was glad about that – as I said, I was a bit scared of the city in the beginning. When we arrived, we got ourselves a map from a friendly girl at the information desk and then I had to lug my suitcase to the station where I could drop it off. It was so sunny that I decided to change out of my leggings and into a skirt instead. Finally we made our way into the city! The nice weather, the charming atmosphere, the friendly people – it all made me fall in love with Bratislava at once!
Basically Bratislava is small enough to walk to all the major sites. Rows of restaurants, and churches and markets and artists – oh dear, it is starting to rain. Let me move under an umbrella.
Okay, under an umbrella now. Starting to feel very very full. By the way, the music is now ‘Happy’ by Pharrell. Back to Bratislava – Shane and I walked through the beautiful old district. We saw the National Theater in Hviezdoslav’s Square (the second oldest professional theatre in Slovakia) and the neo-classical Primate’s Palace. I liked it because it was a nice shade of pink.
One of the things I had read while researching Bratislava, was that there are statues scattered around the city. Naturally, I wanted to go on a hunt to find them! These are the ones I found:
CUMIL: Translates to “The Watcher.“ Rumor has it, he is either cleaning the sewers or looking up women’s skirts. The poor man has apparently lost his head twice due to drivers, so they had to place a sign next to him.
SCHONE NACI: This old man is the only statue which is silver (the rest is bronze). He is also the only one made of a real existing person. In love with a woman who sadly did not love him back. This made him so disappointed that he went mad and was often seen giving flowers to random women he met in the streets. He always wore a hat.
NAPOLEON SOLDIER: Napoleon and his army were in Bratislava in 1805. This soldier is supposed to have been going through Bratislava when he fell in love with a local girl, stayed in the city and became a producer of sparkling wine.
We walked through Baštova street which is apparently considered the thinnest and most romantic street in Bratislava and arrived at St. Martin’s Cathedral. This is also supposedly where Beethoven‘s Missa solemnis was played for the first time!
In one of the markets, I bought a painting for $12. I was torn between a bigger one for $25 but decided to go with the smaller one mostly because of the yellow frame. The picture is just very whimsical and colorful and fanciful – I love it! Eventually Shane and I got ice cream for $1 (ever since I discovered that I can get ice cream for $1, I refuse to pay more than this) after walking across the UFO bridge. People call it the UFO bridge because of its design – which looks decidedly too modern compared to the rest of Bratislava – but I think the official name is “The New Bridge” or “Nový Most.” (UFO Bridge sounds better) To rest our legs, we sat on a bench and watched business men, and families, and groups of friends stroll by. An old man was sleeping on a bench across from us and a couple was a few benches down. I felt very happy to be alive.
Then we walked up this really steep hill to Bratislava Castle (which made me feel very out of shape) where I saw the cutest French family – mom, dad, and teenage son – all reading books on a bench! When the sun came back out after the brief rainfall, we found our way to the Blue Church, also known as Elizabeth Church. (Finally! We were looking for it forever and all the locals we asked had no idea what we were talking about.) The church was so beautiful – the blue blended in with the backdrop of the sky. I’ve never seen another church like it before. We walked back the main square and Shane left to catch his bus back to Vienna.
Later – 7:19pm
I left the restaurant and am now sitting on a bench in a square somewhere. They are tearing down a stage – I guess I missed the performance. I can hear live music coming from a restaurant. Bruno Mars ‘Just the Way You Are’. Why do they keep playing North American music? I did not come all the way to Europe to keep hearing the same songs they play at home. Geez. The sun – which came out – is starting to go away again. I just saw an old lady put her head on her husband’s shoulder. That was sweet. I also see a lot of travelers with big backpacks walking by. I hope they are not lost. It is only 7:30 – still another 90 minutes until I get picked up. Oh! Someone is playing ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ on the violin. It sounds lovely. Woah – I also see a guy eating from a whole tub of ice cream. Weird! There is also a lady wearing ALL PINK!
Bratislava is a really cute city – easily accessible from Vienna! I would suggest that if you’re staying in Vienna, you make a day trip out of it!