I knew that we (my Husband and I) had just a month left in Hungary as part of my first work assignment. So we decided to make the maximum use of the time we had here (in a sleepy Hungarian town which I can barely manage to pronounce) and visit Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
It was a sunny, bright morning on Saturday and I was surprised we had such good weather at the beginning of March. Bratislava is just a 2 hour (180km) drive from Szekesfehervar, Hungary (told you so!). If you are driving, then remember that there are toll roads and you need to buy toll for both Hungary and Slovakia. While the Vignette to use Hungarian Motorways is available in Petrol stations, the vignette for Slovakia is only available at the border. It costs 10 EUR for a 10 day pass.
The first glimpse of the city was the UFO Bridge, built by the communists which is a controversial bridge as some of the citizens think that it disconnects the old town from the castle. But I thought the bridge looked very distinct, unlike any other I have seen. After crossing the bridge we soon reached our hotel, Mercure Centrum, Bratislava. The hotel was really good and I had absolutely no complains about it.
The first impression of the city was that it was relatively quiet and laid back with hardly any traffic and few people (most of them tourists). It is a 1.5 km walk to the old part of town from the hotel. So we never had to use the public transportation.
Once we reached the old town, we decided to have lunch quickly after which we had a walking tour at 3 pm.
We had lunch at a small restaurant and ordered Potato pies with sheep cheese, sour cream sprinkled with spring onions. Normally there is also bacon with it ,but since we are vegetarians, we ordered without the meat. Slovakian cuisine has a lot of meat, but they also use a lot of potatoes, sheep cheese, milk and eggs for many of their dishes. We tried Slovak beer, Zlaty Bazant, which was pretty good.
We joined the free walking tour which was very informative about the Slovakian history and culture. The tour takes 2.5 hours and it is a good start to know the city. The tour took us through all the main highlights of the city, like the town hall, the interesting statue of Cumil, St.Martin’s church, the St.Michael’s Gate which is the only gate remaining of the old city and the blue church. I really liked the Church of St.Elisabeth (Blue Church) for its architecture (I am a fan of Art Nouveau).
After the walking tour, we took a walk along the river and the hues of the evening sky were amazing! I got some great shots of the UFO Bridge and the castle. The castle looks very nice and defines the cityscape even though we never had the time to explore from inside.
Then we took the elevator to the UFO Observation Deck and had a glimpse of another capital on the Danube. This was the third capital city on the Danube that we were visiting (First was Budapest and then Vienna). The view was good (U can see both Austria and Hungary from here) but nothing spectacular. Worth a visit though. The UFO deck also has a restaurant and bar which is nice.
We decided to try the traditional Slovakian Halusky, potato dumplings with sheep cheese in a traditional Slovak restaurant, Flagship. I highly recommend to go to this restaurant for it’s beer, ambiance, food. We had a very good time here.
We were not so lucky with the weather the next day. It was cloudy and gloomy. We had brunch at a cafe called Urban House which is a really nice cafe for food and drinks. The ambiance is really nice and cosy and made me want to lazily spend the whole day there. But we had to leave and drove to Devin Castle.
The Devin castle is definitely worth a visit.
It is just a 13 km drive from Bratislava and the medieval castle ruins are located at the confluence of the rivers Danube and Morava and at the Austrian border. There is a war memorial close to the castle indicating the start of the Iron Curtain.
After having lunch at a cafe close to the castle, we said our goodbye to Bratislava and drove back home.
In short, Bratislava is no where close to the other European cities I have visited and definitely not a must-see place but it is a sleepy little city with a bit of history and some good cafes. Overall it was a good, relaxed weekend.