This new year break was the second one in my life when I was away from home. I went to the yet undiscovered Mitteleuropa, visiting three capitals in one go: Slovakia’s Bratislava, Austria’s Vienna and Czech Republic’s Prague.
Bratislava welcomed me with seizing cold and wind. I left St Petersburg in sports shoes so you can imagine I was quite unprepared for long strolls. Even my camera was unprepared – it got all cold and its battery died on the first day before I could take the pictures of the misty snowy Bratislava.
Wandering in the relatively small old town of Bratislava won’t allow you to get lost for sure but it will provide you with quite a number of small details that I appreciate much more than anything else.
Adorable curves and street lamps all over the old town of Bratislava:
Right in the center of the old town. Wonderfully decadent.
But the most decadent street is Kapitulska which leads up to St Martin’s Cathedral. Reminded me of Thessaloniki’s Ano Poli.
This street is also right next to the city wall. Just one street but almost each house is mouthwatering for such decadence freaks like me.
A missing house which left its trace on the surviving neighbor’s wall:
I wonder how many more years these houses will last. The on eat the end of the lane doesn’t seem to be doing particularly good anymore.
13th century St Martin’s Cathedral. A place to warm up your frozen limbs before continuing your explorations:
Old pharmacy with a small opening for giving out prescription drugs?
The most famous bridge in Bratislava aka Most SNP and one of the city’s symbols since the 1970s. Also features a restaurant on top of the UFO-like tower. In that kind of weather it just lacked some lights to compliment the picture.
The remains of the city wall and the houses crawling up the hill crowned by the Bratislava Castle:
Frozen garden inside the reconstructed Bratislava Castle. This cloth is used for shielding the trees.
A frozen alley close to the National Theater. Looking all like Paris or Vienna (as I discovered later on).
Misty Danube after I’ve recharged my camera and went for a walk to the river. Children were playing hockey on the ice. Well, it’s not technically Danube, this is an intermediary stream Karloveske Rameno that I’ve crossed over to reach the real Danube. There’s also a Water Museum there.
I went up to see the city from the Bratislava Castle hill several times. The castle itself did not impress me much- it has been heavily renovated (or rather recreated) as it fell in disrepair and remained in ruins until 1950s. Although every magnet or postcard features the Castle as the most recognizable symbol of the city, I preferred the view from the Castle. They say you can see Hungary on a fine clear day from up there:
On one of the days I went to yet another castle, Devin Hrad or Devin Castle, one of the popular attractions very close to the place where my dear friend lives. It is situated at the confluence of Danube and Moravia rivers, a very fine spot!
It’s one of the most ancient castles in Slovakia, And as is common with (remains of) the castles, the view from the top is worth all the climbing and entrance fees 🙂
It was a windy day with some glimpses of sun so I could enjoy the scenery and was almost blown away when I got to the top of the hill. Unfortunately, the very top part of the castle was closed (it’s winter after all) so I could only wander round the lower towers.
That small tower is called the Maiden tower and immediately attracts your attention (and there’s of course a number of legends built around it). Love the sheer bulk of the castle, the massiveness and the roughness of the stone against the riverside background:
Remains of a 9th century church with the only thing still intact – the view over Danube. After all, the name of the castle, Devin, actually derives from the Slavic word for seeing, although other interpretations include such meanings as ‘the place of evil spirits’ or ‘castle of the girl’ among others.
On my last day in Bratislava we made a walk in the city center – and there was sun, finally. It looked even prettier with the sun, especially through the stained glass window – just like a fairy tale town!
These pictures were taken from inside the Town Hall which is now a museum:
You don’t need a monocle with these windows 🙂
All in all I really liked the country. I didn’t see much but I could grasp the easy-going spirit of the place (and I enjoyed the language too!). There’s something to the Eastern Europe that makes it closer to my heart. It’s not that fixed as the Western Europe and thus less predictable.
And yes, you can purchase locally produced sheep and cow-milk cheese and yogurt from a vending machine at the public transport stops. None of your chocolate bars or fizzy drinks please! 🙂 We’ve tried this cheese, called Mini Parenicky, which reminded me of suluguni:
Here pictured with spaetzle, cottage cheese and some salad. It was a very nice lunch we had at my friend’s place before I grabbed my rucksack and set off for my long way back home.
The following posts will be about Vienna and Prague.
This post goes to the Travel collection.