My Slovakian Experience
Bratislava Travel Blog› entry 9 of 13 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
the “Turist” it was to be. Not the greatest hotel in the world,
but I've stayed in worse.
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.
view from the Castle on the hill, above the town was good, especially
the view of the Danube.
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.
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.
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.
of the train ride it was pouring down rain, and the view from the
train window wasn't' that great.
I arrived in Banska Bystrica in the early afternoon, in the drizzle. But I'll save that for another blog.