I knew before I even came to Europe that I wanted to get to Bratislava (Slovakia) at some point. It’s only an hour train ride from Vienna, and when I did some travel agent specialist courses in the fall, I had learned a little about this destination – and knew it was a must-do.
Last week, I met Debbie at the Expat Meet and Greet. She had been wanting to go to Bratislava as well, so we decided to be travel buddies. She’s from England, so it was very easy to communicate – no language barriers there – well, except for some of the slang words that the Brits use that make no sense to us Americans….
If you know me, you know I don’t do early mornings unless absolutely necessary, and today was no exception. I took the UBahn out to Stadlau and grabbed the train to Bratislava at 10:36am – Debbie was already on it, as she had picked it up at the actual train station. The journey to Bratislava went by SO fast – just under an hour. We took the bus to get to the old city center…. only to miss our stop and end up on the other side of the Danube River – oops. We got off at one of the stops and crossed to the other side to get the bus in the other direction. Let’s call it the scenic route!
The first thing on our agenda was to walk up to the Bratislava Castle. I love castles, so this was the main thing on my list of sights to see. We walked up the hill towards the castle. Along the side near the castle entrance is an overlook area where you can look down on the Danube River. It was a great vantage point! Then we went into the castle grounds. The little plaque told us that a castle had been there for many centuries, but burned down in the 1800’s. The current castle is a totally rebuilt one. You can walk into the courtyard of the castle, but there wasn’t really anything going on there – and you couldn’t actually enter the building. But the grounds around the castle were very lovely.
After exploring the castle grounds, we headed back down the hill and over to the Old Town section of the city. It had all the charm and beauty you would expect of an old European city. We spent the afternoon weaving through all of the streets. Because we were both on a very tight budget, we had packed our lunches in our back packs and stopped on the steps of a pretty church to have our sandwiches. I’m really finding out that Europeans do not understand the concept of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Milos had told me he disliked it, and now Debbie was saying it sounded very unappetizing. What can I say – I guess we Americans all grow up with it, so it’s a totally normal lunch option! I had packed that and some pretzel sticks. I know you’re very excited to hear about my oh-so-interesting lunch. 😉
We continued our walk with a stop at Tesco, which is apparently a British grocery store chain. Debbie was looking for some of her British tea. This was the closest to a real grocery store I’d seen over here so far. Most of the stores (at least in the cities) are very small. But this one was quite large, with many many food options! Debbie found some tea and lots of cheap spices – significantly cheaper than Vienna. What we were most impressed with was the bakery section. I behaved myself at the sight of all the yummy looking doughnuts and pastries. (With much difficulty.) BUT – I couldn’t resist the bread! You could get long rolls for only 0.06 euro! I stocked up on bread and it only cost me a whopping 1.48 euro for all of it!!! Score! Hey, when your money reserves are very low, you do what you can to make every penny count. Bread is filling and does the trick when you’re hungry! (And I’ll go back to more well-rounded, healthy eating when I get home – right now, it’s about making my few remaining euro stretch as far as they can go.)
After walking around a little more, we decided we would head back to the train station. Since it wasn’t actually that far, we decided to walk and catch the 4:46pm train back to Vienna. Although as we approached the train station, we saw it was 4:42pm…. so we ran. Of course it was the farthest train platform, but we made it just in time. Before we knew it, we were back in Vienna and I was getting the UBahn back to my apartment. Fortunately, I only had to ride the U2 line, which takes me right to my apartment. (Since I’m right next to the Taborstrasse UBahn stop!)
My favorite sites of the day were:
-Walking around the castle and taking in the spectacular views from above the river.
-The beautiful light pink baroque building – it looked like a mini-palace!
-The dragons worked into some of the detail in a lot of the architecture and carvings on some of the buildings.
-The narrow cobble stone streets that led to hidden courtyards.
Here are some pics from my day in Bratislava!