Another River, Another Castle, Another Picnic in Bratislava, Slovakia!

Bratislava Travel Blog

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Well hello… Fancy seeing you here!!!

Well, arriving in Bratislava, Slovakia, with nothing booked was really no hassle at all. We found our way to what we had heard was a good hostel and checked into a room, no problems, they had loads of space… I love being back in Eastern Europe, not only can I afford to eat every now and then as well as afford a hostel, but you don’t have the annoyance of all the good cheap hostels being booked out a month in advance which leaves you with the choice of a hostel you can’t afford or a hostel that you don’t want to stay in. What’s with all these people planning ahead and booking things so far in advance anyway!!! Lol!

The first night was pretty chill, got there late and walked around for a while, by the time we decided food and beer would be a good idea we had the same dilemma of most places being closed. It’s something that has surprised me endlessly in a lot of cities in Europe… I had this image in my head of all of the big capital cities being places that never slept. But so many places that you go, by 10 or 11pm everything is eerily quiet… I don’t get it. Oh well.

We eventually found an Italian restaurant that was open, so we sat and had a nice meal and some wine, and then a few drinks at the hostel. They have a decent bar downstairs which is always a good thing.

Next morning before leaving the hostel we already had 3 things on the agenda… Sushi (we’d seen a place the night before that looked good… I miss sushi!), River, and Castle. In that order!!!

So, sushi for lunch, simple enough, unless you could the fact that the menu descriptions were not in English… Try ordering Japanese food from a Slovakian menu when you’re a vegetarian… It’s a gamble in any language. But we managed ok, had some nice miso soup and vego sushi’s… It was great. So, at this point we’d been in Slovakia maybe 14 hours and we’d had Italian and Japanese food. Random.

After that, we went straight for the Danube River and walked down it until we reached the castle. There were come spectacular views, looking across at all of the trees and mountains on the other side. It was a great view from down there, so we figured from the castle it would be even better.

So, wandered up there and sat at the top for ages and ages. It would have been an absolutely perfect view if not for the big buildings in between blocking out most of the mountains and half of the sunset. But we figured despite the buildings, it was still a perfect spot for another cheese and wine picnic for sunset and resolved to come back again the next day. Another evening, another dinner mission!!! We really wanted to find some local food, neither of us really had any idea what Slovakian food was all about but were game to find out. I’d read about a fabulous restaurant just at the foot of the castle so we went down there only to find that they are in fact so fantastic that they were booked out for the entire night… Ugh. Oh well, we’re in Slovakia, there’s plenty of Slovak restaurants around, true? So we went to have a cup of coffee in a café around the corner which turned into coffee with baileys in it, and then another one… Lol, so much caffeine and liquor before dinner, oh well!!!

Went and found another local restaurant… I love it when you walk into a place and it’s full of locals, it’s somewhat reassuring that it’s going to be a good place. Had a bottle of local wine with dinner which was actually really nice. We just chose the most random thing off the list, a word that we’d never heard of, figured it would be interesting if nothing else. But yeah, it turned out to be a really nice wine and went great with our local meals.

Afterwards we stopped off to get some alcohol, beers and a random local spirit that we’d never heard of, and spent the night meeting a load of randoms in the hostel and drinking the night away laughing and socialising and all that standard stuff.

Next day… Ugh… So tired after a ridiculously late night, completely slept in which was nice… It’s not often you get to sleep in but there was not many people there so the rooms were really quiet. By the time we emerged into daylight we went for a walk around town looking around and stocking up for the picnic we had planned for sunset. I am so in love with sunsets, the sky is such a fascinating thing… The colours that it can keep on coming up with… So amazing and inspiring. I can so watch a sunset and get completely lost in it for the longest time. They’re just magical for me I guess. Anyway… We were making our way up to the castle and by this point were really pushing for time to make it there before the sun went down when JF got completely distracted by a Slovak National Hockey jersey in one of the squares. So, trip to the ATM, back to the square, try it on, pay for it, and then had to walk the rest of the way like we’d been shot in the butt to make sure we made it.

But, it was all worth it. We got up there and climbed up onto the big brick castle walls for the best view, and sat and watched all of the spectacular colours that the sky was feeling like throwing out that day. We were having a really nice time, eating bread, cheese and olives, and drinking another random red wine… I mean, what better place in the world to be right at that time than watching a sunset from up on a castle in Bratislava, Slovakia, having a picnic… Does life get any better??? Nope!

And then we had a visitor. A very strange guy came along and decided that he wanted to make some friends. Now, for the first 15 minutes we were polite and friendly, and at any other time I would have been happy to sit and chat about all of the completely random and irrelevant things that he was talking about, but at that moment we were trying to peacefully enjoy a beautiful sunset. I didn’t expect that I had any kind of ownership over the place that we were sitting, and he would have been welcome to sit anywhere he wanted, but he was determined to just keep talking to us. Ugh. Eventually when he wouldn’t get the subtle and not so subtle hints I was trying to get across, I gave up and packed everything up, figured we’d have to find somewhere else to go. So, after I had packed everything and stood up to leave I guess that he figured that he would leave too since there would be nobody to annoy. So he left. Thank goodness. So, unpacked everything again and settled to watch the end of the sunset. It was so nice, I’m glad we didn’t have to try to find somewhere else to catch it.

Afterwards, we went back for more Baileyscafe… It was so good last time that we had another 2 each before going back to the hostel to meet up with one of the guys in our room… Both the boys are from Quebec, so both are constantly craving hockey and poutine. So, they had planned to stream another hockey match from home on the net and make their own poutine. They are so funny!!! Everyone else from the hostel was going out partying, but not us, we were too busy watching sports, drinking beer and eating fat! Lol. Random people, random nights.

I spent ages packing everything up for the next day while the boys prepared the food… I wasn’t game to watch, I figured if I actually saw how they made it I might get put off… So unhealthy! After trying it I really don’t understand how everyone in Quebec is not grossly overweight… Must be all the hockey they play!!! Anyway, poutine is pretty much French Fries with big chunks of “shitty cheese” and gravy… It was actually pretty good but ridiculously unhealthy… Bring on the heart attack!

Then we watched the game, but I missed half of it cos I was on the phone talking to family at home (much more important than sports!!!). Afterwards some of the randoms came back from clubbing and we all hung out some more before going to bed. JF was leaving in the morning so I was going to go and see him off at the airport before heading to Budapest alone in the afternoon.

Got up in the morning and got a cab to the airport cos it was so early, said our goodbyes (again) and I headed back to the hostel intending on checking out and finding a train out of there.

I hate goodbyes… When you’re travelling for such a long time, one of the best experiences you have is meeting so many people along the way. Every city, every hostel, every night is new people with interesting experiences and stories, different outlooks and different opinions, different interests and different lives. It’s like you get to have a fresh set of friends every night/hostel/city! There’s always someone coming and going. Problem is, you get to know people and sometimes see them in more than one city, or sometimes travel on with them for days, weeks, or months… But in the end it always leads to just as many goodbyes as you’ve had hello’s. It sucks, it’s one of those things that doesn’t get easier with time. I guess that the other upside to that (aside from everything else I’ve already raved about…) is that you get to have all these random friends all around the world. It’s all a balance I guess. But I still hate saying goodbye!

Anyway, made my way back to the hostel and decided that I couldn’t deal with finding a train to Belgrade that day so checked in for another night. I was hanging out with some of the other guys from the hostel and arranged to meet up with them for drinks that night since they were gong out to see some sights that I’ve already done. Went out for a walk and saw a bit more of the town, ended up back at the hostel in the evening, got an email to say that JF had missed his connection from London to Montreal… I thought that he was joking for a minute until I realised that when the email was sent he should have been in the air. I really don’t know how 2 people can be so completely disastrous in each others company… And this was much worse than the others, I mean, a train, a weekend flight are all manageable, but a flight home??? Eeeek! So we spent the next few hours online trying to figure out other options but the most feasible was him waiting until Tuesday (it was Friday that day…) so he was stuck in London for 4 nights unnecessarily. Poor thing, what a disaster! Once that was all sorted I went out with all the guys from the hostel… I swear, I must have been one of the only females in the whole place… Do women not go to Slovakia??? Oh well, the guys were fun. After a couple of beers at the hostel bar we went to a bar for a few more drinks and a then a few shots. Then we went out to find a club. Found a cool place but the butthead at the door knew that we were foreigners so tried to charge us per head to get in when the locals weren’t paying anything. Hmmmm… I’m starting to notice a theme here with the “tourist tax”… By this point we had met up with a whole rugby team or something, and a group of Finnish girls, there was a massive group of us and everyone was drinking. So, heaps of people had got through first, and I spent the next 10 minutes arguing with him (“what do you think I am, a dumb tourist??? If you don’t want our money at the bar we will gladly take it somewhere else, and then you make nothing… your choice… but we are not paying a cent to walk through this door”…) ahhh, the courage you get after a few drinks. But it worked, he relented and let us all in for free. Nice! Danced the night away until some random time in the morning when we went back to the hostel for a few shots of some random local spirit, strong, strong stuff…

I really, really had to leave the next day, so finally got my stuff together and headed for the train station. Got a little lost on the way (ok, not lost so much as couldn’t figure out how to get across the road to the side that I needed to be on… shut up… they have overpasses and underpasses and loop-da-loops and it’s confusing to know which one will take you where!) so anyway after figuring it out got to the train station just in time to see the train leaving the platform. Dammit!!! I missed another train. This is getting absolutely insane. Ugh. So, I bought a ticket for the next train and went to sit in a café to check out accommodation in Hungary since I would now be getting there ridiculously late. Of course, after paying for a coffee just so I could use their wireless I find out that the wireless is not working, so I get my coffee, and quickly put my laptop away when I realise exactly how many people are eyeing off me and my luggage. The more I looked around, the more I realised that the train station in Bratislava is maybe the sketchiest place I’ve been to so far.

Next thing there’s a guy at my table trying to sell me a stolen necklace, and when I refuse that he offers me every kind of drug under the sun and moon. Of course I politely declined and got out of the café, figuring I’d be safer outside in the open. So I walk out into the main station to dozens of sketchy people looking at me and looking at each other. At this point I was absolutely convinced that I was not going to make it out of the station without getting mugged. As I tried to get used to that awful feeling I walked outside thinking that maybe that would be safer. Ummm… No. More sketchy people staring, now combined with people asking for money on every side of me, people hovering around like scavengers, like what are those birds??? Vultures I think. Anyway, the next train was 4 hours later and I thought maybe I could go for a walk except I had no money to put my luggage in storage and wouldn’t have trusted the storage there anyway!!! And I was feeling a little vulnerable and unsafe so didn’t really want to go walking around alone in an area that I didn’t know for fear that a vulture would follow me still ending in the seemingly imminent mugging which I was going to do everything I could to avoid.

So, I resolved to stay at the station. I figured that at least every now and then I had seen police wandering around almost paying attention to what was going on around the place. Sometimes. So I went to check out the waiting room, figured that since there were lots of people waiting it might be safer. Nope. Sat in there for a little while before a few of the guys who had been so eyeing off me and my bags came in and sat down staring at me the whole way in. Then, sitting on both sides of the room they moved a seat closer. And then a few minutes later they moved closer again. Eventually one was right beside me and trying to talk to me, I had no idea what he was saying but I figured that was time for me to move on from the waiting room. So, picked up my bags and high-tailed it out of there and back downstairs… Found 2 police officers and kind of stalked them for the next hour or so… Well, not stalked so much as made sure that I was always in their sight. By that point I figured that was my best chance of safety! Pretty soon there must have been more dodgy action going on because then for the rest of the evening there were 6 or 8 police officers around at all time, so I felt a little better but still made sure I could see one of them at all times.

It seemed like forever until it was finally time for the train to arrive, and when it did I was so relieved I spent the next few hours on the train pacing up and down and finally winding down after being so on guard for 4 hours straight. Fun times, fun times!!!

Well, I think that I may have drained your lives enough with my Slovakian adventures in Bratislava, so until next time, ciao.

Love you all… Keep missing me, the countdown is on!!!



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photo by: EmyG