Day 3: Anyone up for an adventure?

Bratislava Travel Blog

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Field of windmills

We woke up in Salzburg and decided to make our way to Bratislava.  We had thought we'd go to Prague first, but going to Bratislava was an easier trip, and we wouldn't spend the whole day on a train.  We planned to spend the night in Bratislava and travel to Prague on Saturday.

We were on the train with a lot of students (they seemed to be 13-17 years old).  It was really entertaining to observe them interacting with each other!  We decided that boys will be boys no matter where they live, and girls will be girls!  Teenagers are the same around the world!  Boys were rough-housing with each other and picking on the girls.  The girls were whispering and giggling about the boys.

Me in Bratislava
  It was classic!

We saw huge fields of windmills for generating electricity.  It was an amazing sight that I had never seen before.  I was actually surprised to see them there.

We got off the train in Bratislava, and I had such a weird feeling.  Growing up in the Cold War, it was so strange to be in this place.  I thought to myself, "Wow...I'm actually behind the Iron Curtain!"  As we stopped to get a bottle of water and went to the tourist office, we also had the realization that almost no one spoke English.  And those who did didn't speak it very well.  Yikes!

We  quickly decided that it would probably be best if we didn't stay the night in Bratislava.  We didn't have previous lodging arrangements, and we decided a night train to Prague would be the best option for us.

Quaint cobblestone ally in Bratislava Centrum
  We managed to find out that the train to Prague left from a differnt station adn to get there we needed to take bus 93.  Somehow, we were able to communicate enough to get a ticket from a non-English-speaking lady and hopped onto bus 93.

It was really kind of sad, because we started seeing life (as you picture it in your mind) in a former Communist state.  There was tenement after tenement, fraffiti on every flat surface, and no joy in the faces of the people.  They just all looked so...stoic.  My heart ached.

After a while, the bus stopped, and everyone got off.  Even the bus driver started getting out.  It was at this point we realized something was very wrong; there was no train station, no castle, no obvious tourist spots.

A main street in Bratislava Centrum

The bus driver (who also spoke not a word of English) managed to figure out our problem, and we managed to figure out our mistake:  right bus, wrong direction!  (You'd think we'd never travelled before!)  So, we walked to the nearest bus stop and waited for another bus 93 (going the other way, of course) to come by.  I gues you could say we got a nice tour of the city!

We got in line at the train station to get tickets for th eovernight train to Prague.  We spent the next 30 minutes (at least) trying to explain to the ticket agent (who, of course, also didn't speak a word of English) that we wanted 2 1st class tickets in a sleeper on the 23:44 train to Prague.  I actually started feeling really bad for her, because she was abviously getting exhasperated!  We finally got our tickets, but I was not convinced we ahd a sleeper.

Moonlit square in Bratislava Centrum
  So, we went to the information desk to find out.  The lady said she spoke English, but she never really understood what we were asking.  She kept saying our ticket was good and that we had a reservation, but she never confirmed whether or not we had a sleeper.  I didn't think we did.

We decided to give it up until that night and go on into the Old Center where the castle and tourist areas were.  We meandered our way down and took in the sights.  The sun was starting to set, so we didn't get to go to the castle, although we got some pretty pictures from Old Centrum.  There were lots of old streets and allyways in Centrum that just wound their way all over the area.  It was fun just wandering and window shopping.  We had some great coffee at one shop, a lovely dinner at a nice restaurant, and a yummy dessert at another cafe.

Sculpture in Bratislava Centrum
  Thankfully, once we entered the Centrum, there were a lot of younger people who knew English pretty well. 

A lot of places, probably the majority, were decorated in modern style, which was strange to see in such old places.  It was obviously a very popular style, though.

One of the most entertaining sights we saw was a recurring theme of bronze sculptures of a man doing various things.  We found him as a Paparazzi (outside the Paparazzi Cafe), climbing out of a manhole, leaning against a bench wearing a Napolean hat, standing with a welcoming guesture, and on guard in a guardhouse!  We had fun finding him!

We made our way to an internet cafe we we could email our friends and family and upload pictures.  While we were there, we tried a local draft beer that the bartender suggested.

Sculpture of man coming out of manhole
  It was very good!  European beer is so different (and so much better) than American beer.

We meandered our way back to the train station where we found a ticket agent who spoke enough English to confirm my suspicion that we did not have a sleeper car but that the conductor could sell us one if there was room.  Thankfully, there was.  I was exhausted and immediately crashed, waking only to show my passport at the Czech border.  I didn't sleep well.

vwskull says:
I agree about the people living behind the Iron Curtain, you can hear the sadness dripping forth from their eyes!
Posted on: Sep 21, 2008
Eric says:
Sounds like an exhausting trip, but good that you finally made it to Prague! I went through Eastern Europe last summer, but missed out on Bratislava. Agree with you on the european beer comment!
Posted on: May 07, 2007
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Field of windmills
Field of windmills
Me in Bratislava
Me in Bratislava
Quaint cobblestone ally in Bratisl…
Quaint cobblestone ally in Bratis…
A main street in Bratislava Centrum
A main street in Bratislava Centrum
Moonlit square in Bratislava Centr…
Moonlit square in Bratislava Cent…
Sculpture in Bratislava Centrum
Sculpture in Bratislava Centrum
Sculpture of man coming out of man…
Sculpture of man coming out of ma…
photo by: EmyG