My Slovakian Experience

Bratislava Travel Blog

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The train Station in Bratislava

Remember, clicking the + sign to will zoom in on the map to the left and you can see where I am!


Bratislava, the Capital of Slovakia was cloudy when I arrived. Cloudy, but warm. The train station was a bit crumbly and run down but didn't seem dangerous. I re-read my guide book. It looked like town, and any place to stay would be a bit of a hike, so I decided to take one of the electric trolleys. Deciding WHICH one was the problem. The guide book said that the #1 would take me into town, however after waiting twenty minutes, and looking at the signs at the trolley stop, I realized that #1 didn't stop here. I finally got on a likely candidate......#8.


With my guidebook map open, and looking every bit like the lost tourist I was, I charted my path, and realized I was headed toward the Castle.

The electric trolleys
Good. The place I was looking for was supposed to be down the hill, on the other side.


A change of trolleys, and a hike around the street that ran parallel to the Danube river was proving fruitless. I finally capitulated, and remembering a sign pointing to some hotel a way back, I decided to just try and find a place to stay. Any place.


I cant even remember the name, and unfortunately, I am writing this a couple of days after the experience.


I asked the the pretty clerk at the hotel desk, what was the rate for 1 night, and she said, 1400 crowns. Holy crap, I couldn't afford that....it was like $250. The place didn't look THAT nice. I told the receptionist I couldn't afford it, and started to leave.

The Bratislava Castle. This used to be the one of the seats of Hungarian power, during the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
But wait. How could this place cost $250. I got out the calculator. The exchange rate is 23 or 24 crowns per dollar, so really, it was like $60. With little dignity, I returned to the desk and asked for a room.


After stowing my bags, I went back to the pretty town center. I walked around looking for a place to eat and took some pictures. Nothing special happened but I had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant and tasted the Slovakian Cabernet Savinon. I'm not saying it was terrible, but they don't have anything over Trader Joe's 2-buck-chuck.


The next morning I used the really weak wireless signal to try and make a plan. After lots of internet surfing, I decided I should stay another night in Bratislava, then head out in the morning to Banska Bystrica, described by a couch surfer (who couldn't host me, but offered some useful traveling tips) a pretty town in th low mountains that had a beautiful town center.

The trolleys cris cross the pedestrian streeds in the town center.


By this time it was 10:30 in the morning. Check out was 11:00. I went to the desk to ask for another night, but sorry Amerikanski—NO ROOM FOR YOU! The hotel was full this day, and they were kicking me out.


Scurrying, I gor packed up and out of the room. I camped in the lobby for a few minutes, where the internet signal was better, and tried to come up with a few hotel options. I wrote down the names and addresses of 4 hotels, and tried to find a taxi. No luck. Finally, I took another trolley to town where I quickly found a taxi, and gave him the first hotel on my list, actually the hotel I was trying to find the day before.


He took me back to the same neighborhood I had just come from, but I'm glad he was helping me, because I would have never found this place on my own, on foot.

It didn't really matter though, as they too were full. Sorry Amerikanski—NO ROOM FOR YOU!

The driver started to take me to the next place on the list but before we could get there, the dispatcher called on the radio, and said that they we full as well. This helpful driver had asked the dispatcher to call ahead. So the dispatcher then proceeded to call all of them on my dwindling list. Finally, the “Turist Hotel” said they had a room. On our way there, just a half block from the Turist, the driver stopped at the “Emerald” or some such hotel, “Turist not so good. Emerald a little bit better,” he said.


Whatever. I went in. Sorry Amerikanski—NO ROOM FOR YOU!


So, the “Turist” it was to be. Not the greatest hotel in the world, but I've stayed in worse.

City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
I don't' even have any pictures.


By this time it was mid afternoon. They had no internet, so I couldn't do anymore planning of my trip. None of my guide books made even a mention of Banska Bystrica.


For the rest of the afternoon I decided to take the trolley back to the lively Bratislave city center, and have a look at the castle. By now, it was even cloudier, but had turned cold. When I got to the city center I started to walk to the castle, making a mental note of where the trolley stop was, determined not to make another two hour hike to find my way back, like I did in Ljubljana.


The view from the Castle on the hill, above the town was good, especially the view of the Danube.

City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
By the way, I didn't find it blue at all. The view could have been a lot better if it were sunny, but it wasn't. In fact, was that a rain drop?


I didn't take the museum tour, instead went back by the trolley stop, where I found an internet cafe, and did some research where I might find a place to stay the next night. Earlier in the morning I had e-mailed two couch surfers in Banska Bystrica, a 19 year old boy, who was only home in Banska Bystrica (my next days destination) on the weekends, and a 30 year old woman. When I checked my e-mail, there was no response, but with such short notice, I didn't really expect any.


I found 5 hotel options in Banska. One looked really nice.


The four hour train ride the next morning went along quickly, mostly because I sat across from a Slovakian woman who had been the assistant to the Slovakian ambassador in the US for 3 years.

Leaving Bratilava for Banska Bystrica
She was very interesting, an told me all about her driving trip in the Western US, at the end of her tenure. She even made it to Utah to see Zion National Park.


She also answered a lot of my questions about how things changed when communism fell, and when The Czech republic “divorced” Slovakia, and they became independent. She was very proud about the advancements made by the Slovak people. I am impressed too. Did you know that my guide book, which may be a couple of years out of date, put the exchange rate at 40 crowns per dollar? Now its 23 or 24 crowns per dollar. My poor US dollar only buys me 2/3 of what it did 2 years ago, and less than half of what it did 4 years ago. It sucks to have dollars in Europe right now.


Most of the train ride it was pouring down rain, and the view from the train window wasn't' that great.

The train to Banska Bystrica
Mostly I saw vast agricultural areas, punctuated with a village here or there, and occasionally, the train would pass through a town..


I arrived in Banska Bystrica in the early afternoon, in the drizzle. But I'll save that for another blog.


Ciao!


schaingirl says:
Hi El Jefe Grande,
You journey sounds fantastic! I just returned from taking my father and his wife for their first time to the UK. It was a short trip, but exciting to hear my father say "Mind the Gap!" I sent them off to Edinburgh and went to Paris. Again, if was short but enjoyable. I can't believe it has been so long since I was there....you are right--it is sad that the dollar is so bad, for us poor americans! I tried not to calculate everything in US money, it was too depressing....

Have a great rest of your trip. See you in the mountains (with snow) soon enough!
Ciao,
Shauna
Posted on: Oct 07, 2007
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The train Station in Bratislava
The train Station in Bratislava
The electric trolleys
The electric trolleys
The Bratislava Castle.  This used …
The Bratislava Castle. This used…
The trolleys cris cross the pedest…
The trolleys cris cross the pedes…
City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
Leaving Bratilava for Banska Bystr…
Leaving Bratilava for Banska Byst…
The train to Banska Bystrica
The train to Banska Bystrica
City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
City Center, Bratislava, Slovakia
Walking human lighted billboards. …
Walking human lighted billboards.…
Historic district.
Historic district.
Touist train at Castle
Touist train at Castle
Statue of guy coming out of Manhole
Statue of guy coming out of Manhole
Me in front of a Mural, on the wal…
Me in front of a Mural, on the wa…
Me in front of a Mural, on the wal…
Me in front of a Mural, on the wa…
Goofing around in front of a Mural…
Goofing around in front of a Mura…
Bratislava
photo by: EmyG