When you take the train from Prague at 00.30 at night and arrive in Bratislava at 5.57 in the morning, while also sleeping sitting upright, a good nights sleep seems a bit farfetched. But besides maybe sleeping an hour or two in total that night, the ride was actually quite enjoyable. Except for the girls we shared the compartment with deciding to eat chips at 3 o’clock, the only sound to break m the silence was the relaxing bumpeling of the train against the rails, while the plains and forests that passed by outside the window were beautiful in the dusk.
When we arrived in Bratislava in the early morning we made our way to Patio Hostel where we stored our bags before heading out to explore. While, in hindsight, we probably should have bought breakfast the night prior, as nothing was open this early on a Sunday, having been forced up so early had its perks.
First of all, we were almost the only people in the old town as we walked around, and among other things were able to marvel at the Blue Church, Michael’s Gate, St. Martin’s Cathedral, the Old Town Hall, Primate’s Palace, and different quirky statues undisturbed.
Second of all we were making our way down from the Bratislava Castle at the same time that the first 10 guided tours were making their way up to it.
The Castle was by the way an amazing experience, both a beautiful sight in itself and with a beautiful view over Bratislava and we spend quite a while enjoying the morning by the castle. Even though the walk from the Old Town to the castle hadn’t been the most enjoyable for handicapped me, I had made it without overburdening my knee and the peacefulness of overlooking the city while everyone was slowly starting their day was worth it.
Back in the old town we found a cafe that had opened at 9 and sat down for tea and coffee before by complete accident taking an apparently historic, and therefore also free, cable bus to the Slavin monument. The monument left me with both a feeling of sorrow, for all the men who died, but also one of hope and amazement, as it was also a tribute to their ultimate victory over the Nazi regime.
And finally, at around 12 o’clock we ate an early lunch back in the old town, having lived of off müslibars and nuts since the night prior. We ate at Foodstock, a hip vegan asian bistro in the city centre, and ramen and gyozas had never tasted better.
Now with revived energy, we bought tickets to the Pálffy Palace were we walked around the mitch-matched installations of historic finds, very modern art, provocative art urging people to realize the damage they do to nature and the environment, and weirder installations like this optical illusion - the Matej Krén passage:
And this red room filled with photos of naked women while loud French music and sexual moans played over the speakers:
It was definitely an interesting experience.
Afterward we walked around the new and old parts of Bratislava just strolling around, taking in the atmosphere of the city. We then walked to the UFO, to look out over the city from the top windows, but it turned out to be closed due to technical problems.
But as we were about to walk back defeated, we noticed that people were gathering down by the bank of the the Danube river, and we decided to follow them to see what everyone was so excited about. It turned out that we had accidentally stumbled upon the yearly Trans Danube Swin, where those who wanted to, had a chance to swim in the Danube river. And although we kept on land, the hundreds of people swimming about was an amusing sight, and we walked back to the old town feeling like our walk to the other side hadn’t been in vain after all.
By now both of us were feeling the consequences of the night on the train, and even though I believe that Bratislava has been judged too harshly by a lot of people - it is a beautiful and cosy city -, the city is small and we had in a day seen most of it, so we decided to just sit down on a bench at the old town square for a while, listening to a street musician play and people-watching.
Around an hour later we went for pancakes and then checked in at our hostel, before going for dinner at Balans Bistro - once again having found an incredibly tasty and cosy vegan restaurant!
Back at the hostel we both fell asleep quickly, exhausted from the night and day of adventures. And although our dorm mostly consisted of guys, we had luckily gotten a pretty respectful bunch, as they didn’t take long to settle in and quiet down when they came home in the middle of the night. And we could quickly fall asleep once again, everyone having found their respective beds.
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