Although I had been to Bratislava in 2007 during a river cruise of Eastern and Central Europe, this was Bruce’s first visit to this part of Europe, and I couldn’t wait to share it with him.
Slovakia, formerly part of Czechoslovakia, became a separate country when politicians decided to break the country in two without referendum, much to the chagrin of extended families and friends who were geographically instantly split into two nationalities. It is now a small country; just 19,000 square miles and 5-1/2 million people.
As soon as we arrived in Bratislava and settled into our hotel room at the Sheraton, we took off for a walk to the old town. Our beautiful, very modern hotel was located along the promenade of the Danube river, so the fifteen-minute walk each way was very pleasant and picturesque. (Although, “Blue Danube” is a misnomer, as you will notice in my photos.)
Much of the old town is reserved for pedestrians with just service and emergency vehicles allowed. The Cobblestone streets are narrow and lined with outdoor cafes and shops giving the old town a quaint and charming feel. In the late afternoon, the cafes become filled with locals gathering with their friends after work, as well as tourists from the river boats that line the banks of the Danube.
It was hot outside, so we opted to eat inside at one of the casual dining spots that brewed their own beer. A delicious dinner for two with side of veggies and a couple of beers cost only $27—reasonable for Europe in our opinion.
We found the prices in Czech Republic and Slovakia quite affordable. Travel experts are spot-on when they say that Eastern European countries are the best travel bargains on the continent.
The following day, our group took a wonderful walking tour back to the old town. Walking tours are an excellent way to learn about the history, culture, and customs of a place, and we always enjoy them wherever we go. It was nice to get filled in on what we had seen the day before, and for me, it was a refresher from 2007.
The highlight of the day, though, was hiking up the narrow spiral staircase of the main square’s bell tower to take in the view of the old town below as well as the castle located high up on the hill behind the town. (We could have walked up the hill to the castle, but the unseasonably hot weather– 15 degrees above normal—made it an easy decision to opt for the tower instead.)
The 360-degree view was breathtaking, and I had a great time using the panorama function on my little Panasonic Lumix!
By the late afternoon, we were tuckered out from the heat, so we headed back along the promenade to our hotel to cool off before dinner. Between our walk to town, the walk back, and then repeating the whole process again in the evening for dinner, we put a lot of cobblestone miles on our feet!
Our Thai dinner at the Green Buddha was worth it though. Our sampling of traditional Hungarian/Slovakian meat-based cuisine was enough for us, and we were ready for some Thai curry. Who knew we could get a delicious Asian meal in Bratislava? It was fabulous, and we enjoyed the ambiance while dining outdoors on the narrow, shady cobblestone street.
Strolling along the river promenade on our way back to the hotel was so enjoyable on the warm summer evening. Crowds were gathered in the cafes and river-front park, and the atmosphere was vibrant yet relaxed. What a wonderful way to end our stay in Bratislava!
SCENES AROUND BRATISLAVA
Coming up next: BRATISLAVA TO BUDAPEST