Bratislava, Slovakia, Day 4—6

Friday, October 4, 2013



For the second stop on our journey we left the bustling center of Prague for the quieter capital of Slovakia. Taking the four hour train ride to get there afforded us with some of the most beautiful countryside of the entire trip. As wide vistas slid past us I was reminded how so many moments are simply impossible to capture by camera. Still I tried.

Squashed between bigger and stronger nations (Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, and Poland), Slovakia only recently emerged as its own nation following the Velvet Divorce, when on January 1, 1993 Czechoslovakia split into two nations: The Czech and Slovak Republics. We arrived to the city famished and swindled. Paying nearly three times the euro needed for a cab ride to our apartment. Apparently in Eastern Europe it is absolutely essential to call a cab rather than just hailing one from the street. Lesson learned. Our first stop was a jaunt through the Old Town. Where we found one of my favorite meals of the entire trip! Roast duck with red cabbage and traditional dumplings. Seriously. I'm still savoring those flavors.

One of the nice things about Bratislava was how the compact size made it easy to feel like a local. One of the most interesting places we visited was St. Martin's cathedral—sandwiched between the highway and Old Town. Back when Buda and Pest were occupied by Ottomans for a century and a half, Bratislava was the capital of Hungary. In fact, nineteen Hungarian kings and queens were crowned in this church and a replica of the Hungarian crown still tops the steeple.* On the east side of the crumpling facade we were fascinated by a dozen Vincent van Gogh paintings. No explanations, just a wall of beautiful replica art facing the open courtyard. One night while wandering through Old Town I heard the unmistakable sounds of street musicians. We followed the noise and discovered that the boisterous troupe was actually a fashion parade, showcasing local designers. The first of its kind we were told. Then, because we were tourists, we climbed up the city to cross another castle off our castle bingo card.
*Historical facts taken from Rick Steves' travel guide.  
For other glimpses of Eastern Europe see Prague, Budapest, and Cesky Krumlov
All images by me.

1 comments:

  1. Eastern Europe is such a well-kept secret. I think people under rate it and it's one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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