6.15.09 Brilliant Bratislava, Slovakia
We are smitten with Slovakia and had a terrific day. We saw Roman ruins in Austria, drove just 60 km from Vienna to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, where we explored. You can pay with either Euros or with the 30-to-1 euro Slovakian money.
They speak Slovakian, which is not easy to learn on the fly.
We have learned “Hi!” which is “ahoy!” and which generates a good laugh since it is informal (not our intention). So we learned “Hello” which is like… okay, so nobody can remember and “thank you” which is “jock we am.” We need work on our Slovakian.
Sugar in Campground (behind van)
The people have all been very nice and some know a bit of English and are delighted to meet people from the United States, which they don’t meet very often apparently. All have been helpful and have made what might be “just another city” into a nice place to visit.
The old town is exquisite with old buildings, a big castle on a hill, lovely churches, and many outdoor cafes along the cobblestone streets. This was like the capital of the Hungarian Empire where all the coronations took place for hundreds of years.
And the Peace Agreement between Napoleon and the Emperor of Austria was signed here. It’s a very historic, ancient city!
Ancient Roman ruins in Austria
Our campground, Zlate Piesky, is right by a wonderful, huge Tesco, which is, I believe, a British store that is about the size of a SuperWalmart. The facilities are not particularly fancy (and remind me more of U.S. bathhouses, really), but it is well-guarded by security and the office guy, Joseph, was very nice and helpful. It was just 17E for the night (33 per night in Vienna), which has to be our lowest cost campground in Europe, I would bet.
We took Tram #4- the end-of-line turn around is just cross the pedestrian bridge. We like end-of-lines because there’s no confusion about where to get off when we return! The ticket machine (only in Slovakian) took so long to print tickets that the train came and left between receipt of our 2nd and 3rd tickets of the 4-ticket order! It was only .
70E for me and .35E for each of the kids for one-way tickets. . So it was less than 2E total each way for our tram ride. There was a ticket checker on the tram, who just waved at our tickets since we’d been obviously staggering around validating them after we got on, but others they handed over their ticket and he validated it for them. I couldn’t quite figure out why they didn’t validate the tickets themselves before he checked for them and why they didn’t get in trouble for that.
Gas Prices in Slovakia
We took the tram 25 minutes into town, getting off where Joseph told us (at Jesensse?), but never did find the place he told us to get back on it to come back. We wandered around with Jazy getting increasingly agitated, but by following the overhead tram lines, we found and just missed the #4 tram, which gave us time to buy the pizza- so it all worked out!
It was hot today and so was the tram! Whew- we were glad to get off, find a bookstore with some English books for the kids and a Slovakia guide book.
Then we proceeded to play our way through the old square, up to the castle, through some touristy and clothes shop, into some pastry shops, and finished by wandering around trying to find our tram (which we just missed) and proceeded to buy a pizza big enough for the 4 of us for 1.50E total.
Info on the Austrian Roman Ruins (Carnuntum)
The prices here seem really low! We love it! We stopped at the huge Tesco in advance of our campground today and loaded up on badly needed food, very inexpensively. The kids bought 2-liters of cola for .02E. Yes, 2 cents! The rolls were like .07E, muesli cereal for 2E. A liter of milk was like .35E, yogurt drinks for .69E, massive loaf of bread for 1.26E, etc. Welcome relief!
This was cool! On the way here, we went through a castle wall gate of a village that was so ancient and small (3.
5 meters high) that you had to wait at a stoplight for your turn to go one at a time. It was surreal! We all ducked inside the rig to help Sugar wiggle under, though at 2.98 meters, she had plenty of room.
Gate we drove through- ancient city wall
Also on the way here, we traded the interstate for a nice 2-lane road through the Austrian countryside. We saw an ancient archway on a side road- there was a tour bus and RV there, so we went exploring, noting on the GPS that it was listed as an attraction.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart! It was an ancient Roman archway, one of 3 local attractions, for a city (Carnunthum) that was built after 40 AD and made Vienna look puny- I’ll include a picture of info on it. There was plenty of parking as it was in the middle of fields and was really interesting with some info boards written in English.
I wished we could have understood the teacher who was lecturing her class on it. Interesting!
Gate we drove through- ancient city wall
So far, we have really enjoyed Bratislava, which is not pronounced at all as it appears spelled. I will have to write down the locals’ pronunciation of this city and share it with you. Tricky!
Bratislava looks like a hard-working city of 240,000 people (all of Slovakia only has 5 million people). Its beauty and charm lie within its Old Town central section and its people, who are very nice. Dress here is the most casual we’ve seen in a city.
We saw designer stores (empty) and Porsche Bratsliva (where they make them?), but the only signs of wealth were around a government building in the old city (looked like a high level meeting with important dignitaries arriving in black cars and security everywhere). While things do not look pointedly poor, neither do they look pretty, except in the old city. It is an interesting and exotic place. We are thrilled to be here!
Our big exciting news of the day was an email from Ned letting us know that the Behans made it safely to Texas and how much he enjoyed them (which we knew he would). We’re hoping their luggage from their non-stop flight arrives eventually. In the meantime, dearest Ned was taking the day off work to help them get to know Ciao, find Walmart, and show them around our hometown. They are such nice people that I’m envious I’m not there, but we look forward to hearing about their Wild West adventures and seeing them in mid-August when they return to Texas.
We cannot believe how fast we must now fly through Europe - what was I thinking lollygagging so much initially? We spent a week in London and 10 days in Paris, but now we must to see 5 countries in the same timeframe as Paris? Good grief!
One would need 3 years to see the 2 million points of European interest though, so I’m glad we’ve gotten to cover all we have, We’re enjoying it immensely though and don’t forget for a second how lucky we are to be here!