The latter half of erstwhile Czechoslovakia was my first stop on the impromptu Eastern Europe escapade. As I had only few hours in Bratislava I decided to prioritise my to do list.
The taxi ride from the airport to main city is 15 minutes.Public transport can take upto 25 minutes to commute. Bus 61 plies between city and airport at a ticket price of 1EUR. Uber ride to the Old Town is around 8EUR. There is a huge and impressive Decathlon store near the airport for the brand lovers.
Now, to be honest, the most attractive part of the city for me was not the Bratislava castle (surprise!!!). I was more enamoured by the little Blue Church and that is where I headed to straightaway. It is a short walk away from the bustling centre of Old Town.
The interiors of the church are as beautiful and attractive as its outer walls of powder blue.
It surely makes for a uniquely colourful picture.
The Old Town of Bratislava
The quaint Old Town of Bratislava tell the story of its rich past.
What caught my eye was its obvious attempt to somehow please the throngs of tourists coming in. What with Irish and Scottish pubs peppering the town and Chicken wings making its way to the menu of a traditional Slovak restaurant!
The endeavour to attract tourists emanated a somewhat mixed reaction from me. While it is a welcome sign of opening up new destinations for wandering souls like me, the influx of tourist always threatens to bring with it the impending loss of rusty traditions.
The Old Town is dotted with souvenir shops , restaurants, coffee shops and pubs.
Their are occasional quirky bronze statues which are a major must do for every picture monger (guilty!). The somewhat funny statue of a man trying to come out of a manhole in the street has almost become a signature for Bratislava. The statue is named Cumin and is one of the most photographed sculptures in Old Town. Fridge magnets bearing his face can be found across all souvenir shops. Their are other statues of a Napolean soldier leaning on a bench at the Main Square and the only silver statue of Schone Naci. The latter is the only statue of a real person from 19th century. All the statues have interesting legends attached to them.
The architectural trademark of bell tower is present here too and magnificent view of the city, castle and Danube can be soaked in from the top.
The oldest museum in Bratislava is the Museum of City History .
The beautiful green roofed building dates back to 1868 and unfolds the history of the city. Their are two entrances to the museum from Hlavne namestie (the main square) or Primacialne namestie ( Primates square).
The entry price is 5 Eur per person. From the main square entry there is a beautiful pink building on the left side of the museum which combines itself perfectly with the green roof of the museum.
The Bratislavian Parliament building is also at a stone throw away and could be checked out for its significance , architecture and majesty.
All tour guides and information centers can be seen coaxing tourists to head to the Devine castle or alternatively the face of Bratislava. While the castle in itself paints a pretty picture it did not do much to entice and compel me to squeeze it in my day’s itinerary. Dare I say, neighbouring Hungary has more splendid and impressive structures. Needless to say , I gave it a miss!
Slovakian food is highly influenced by its neighbours and is a boon for meat lovers. The original is garlic soup or Cesnakova Polievka served in a bowl made of bread . Totally recommended for rainy days. The hungarian Goulash also features on most of the Slovak restaurants’ menus. However , gnochi styled potatoes were my favourite.
The traditional Slovak restaurants in Old Town would cost around 25-30 EUR for a meal for two with beer or Borovicka or the customary Slovakian rum .. (hiccup!) Gelato is abundant and easily alluring (Holiday weight alert !)
There are Turkish and Oriental restaurants for food lovers.
Quick and obvious budget tip is to get out of Old Town and explore the eateries outside of it.
Owing to its proximity to Vienna , (approximately one hour by road) , Bratislava makes for a quick one day trip. The city is quaint and a concoction of past and modern era. It is dotted with picturesque establishments which tell the tale of its rich history.
People speak sufficient English and rooms in the Old Town can be hired at 30 EUR per night.
Tips for solo women travellers would include exercising common sense , check the weather before packing and avoid pencil heels as most of the streets in old Town are cobbled.
Slovaks largely came across as helpful and approachable people. From candy offering Uber driver to random stranger helping me with the right bus platform just because of my confused expression, Bratislava has certainly no blues attached to it 🙂