17 Jul On Board In Bratislava, Slovakia
Captain Coco and I arrived in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, ready to check into our Botel (Yes – that’s a boat hotel – ohh the novelty!) but first we had to get from the bus station to the city centre. I knew that Bratislava would likely be very different from its more touristy neighbour, Budapest, so I wasn’t shocked when we arrived at a bus station with zero English, on your typical Eastern European graffiti-ed street. Unfortunately, we hadn’t anticipated being ripped of by the locals and after a 30 euro taxi ride that lasted about 5 minutes, we hadn’t got the best first impression of Slovakia.
We checked into the Botel Marina, settled into our little cabin and moaned about the evil taxi man for around 20 minutes before deciding we should let it go and start enjoying ourselves. After a little tour around the boat, we headed up into the old town to explore.
So far we had only seen the less than appealing urban streets of Bratislava but entering the old town was like stepping into a whole different place. There was narrow streets, beautiful architecture and an abundance of traditional Slovakian restaurants with seats out in the sun – it was roasting by the way!
We got something to eat in one of the restaurants selling traditional food and I had a Schnitzel (okay so it’s not exactly true Slovakian but it’s more cultured than a McDonalds). We wondered around and went to a bar for a drink before heading back to the boat.
On our second day in Bratislava we joined one of the free walking tours. The girl who led the tour was great and her English was amazing as she was studying translation at the university. For 2 and a half hours we walked through the winding streets learning about Bratislava’s history. The guide told us that when the country had been part of Czechoslovakia and under communist rule, they had decided to make Prague the beautiful capital city and Bratislava was to be the industrial capital. This resulted in the communists ripping down huge amounts of the old town and replacing it with bulky, industrial looking buildings – in fact the motorway runs right through the old town. The contrast between the two is no more evident than at the Blue church. The beautiful building is considered a hidden gem and directly across from it is an ugly run down communist hospital.
After the tour we decided to try the tour guides recommendation and found a nice restaurant to try some local dishes. My mum had the Bryndzové Halušky (which was potato dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon) which was like a much more flavoursome version of macaroni cheese! I had some potato pancakes which were cooked with garlic and I was surprised by just how nice they were. We also stopped at Bratislava’s oldest shop where we bought some raspberry wine.
On our last full day, we had hoped to take a day trip to Vienna down the Danube river but we left it too late and it was fully booked when we arrived. Instead we went for the shorter and cheaper option of going, by boat, to Deven Castle. It took an hour and a half to get there and we had roughly 2 hours to explored the castle before heading back.
We spend the rest of the day chilling on the desk of the Botel and grabbed some food before going back to our favourite bar to watch the football. The next day we reluctantly packed our bags and departed for the airport, marking the end of my European adventures (for now!). I have to say after 6 weeks of travelling it was good to return home to see my lovely boyfriend and family – but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already planning my next trip!