My First East European City!
Bratislava Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
June 26th, 2007 – by: Vagabondatheart
The pace set on this trip is a bit too ambitious and realizing that quality is sacrificed for quantity of cities Iâ€™ve laid out, Iâ€™ve downshifted and decided, for most cities, a minimum time has to be dedicated to fully (as much as four days will allow) appreciate the visits. For a while, it felt like I was â€ścity surfing!â€ť
Staying in Vienna was very comfortable, especially with my friend Patrick helping out with a place to stay, showing me around the town, and introducing me to his other friends. Memorable days in Vienna included smoking the hookah with apple flavored tobacco and enjoying dinner atop a rooftop of his friendâ€™s apartment while enjoying the sunset and the vista of Vienna.
Leaving Vienna, I was advised by Patrick to take the ferry to Bratislava, Slovakia along the Danube rather than the train. At $25 for the hour and half trip to my first Eastern European city, the experience of taking a high speed catamaran was spectacular! The very thought of carving the famous Danube in a boat is a momentous experience for some reason.
Landing on the shores of Bratislava, I managed to find help in English, buy a tram ticket and found myself hiking the final 500 m to my hostel called Possonium. Checking into my eight person dorm room, I found my bearing and headed down to see the old city center of Bratislava.
It didnâ€™t occur to me that the movie, â€śHostelâ€ť, was about Bratislava. Personally, I hope more movies about how scary and backward Eastern Europe will flourish if it means keeping the crowd away from Eastern Europe and Brazil (â€śTuristaâ€ť was the Brazilian version of â€śHostelâ€ť), but the secret is out and you wonder when all the â€śundiscoveredâ€ť places and getaways on earth will disappear.
Itâ€™s all relative. Bratislava in the middle of the OC would be a treasure, a major tourist drawl, but situated between the first tier cities such as Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, and Prague nearby, itâ€™s more used as a transit point and garnering only a day or even a half day stop.
You always meet someone, group of friends, or interesting characters. I met up with and hanged out with an Italian film student, Stefano, who lives in Cork, Ireland. And like all wonderful Europeans, after they get to know you, they invite you to visit their home and want you to marry their supermodel Italian sister.
The monetary unit is the Slovak Koruny (SKK), but Slovaks will convert to the Euro next year.
My heart sank when the elderly Slovakian lady at the ticket booth didnâ€™t speak a single word of English as she waved her index finger in a windshield wiper motion. No problems. I had the whole speech prepared in Slovak and managed to ask for a ticket to Budapest on a certain date and a roundtrip fare (for some reason roundtrip to and from Budapest is cheaper than one way). I literally practiced saying it in Slovak for about 15 minutes before getting in the line.
I did notice that Slovaks were more curious about me and noted more curious stares in Bratislava than Budapest or Vienna. Youâ€™ll see the narrowest house in Europe, Baroque palaces, the Bratislava Castle, see an impressive line of old Soviet era apartments on the other side of the Danube, and the Slovaks are very pleasant, eager to help. Bratislava is a relaxing place to recover from the summer madness in the other cities and an easy day excursion from Vienna.
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