Slovakia: Day 1 (Bratislava)
Taking a night train can be fun especially if you have cool berth mates and it can be affordable compared to flying or hiring a private transfer ie from 30€ to 75€ depending on the number of people you want to share your cabin with and whether you reserve in advance or buy at the train station the day of travel. But it can be exhausting too as you can only sleep for a few hours (and not great sleep at that) and you arrive in Bratislava f/k/a Pressburg from Kraków at 5:30 a.m. I advise if you want a nap or shower to either book a hotel or hostel for the night before you arrive or see if you can pay a surcharge for early check in or request early check in for free. I tried at VIP Apartments but as I expected it was challenging as its the weekend because there are few, if any, vacancies in old town which is where you want to stay. And VIP was a great little place to stay but again expensive during the season at $75USD but not that expensive compared to other places. I wouldn’t stay at VIP if you don’t like noise til the wee hours of the morning though because the Slovaks and tourists alike are having fun at the bars below me on the Main Street. Anyway, I did get to drop my luggage off though and start wandering the town showerless to sightsee on a mere 2-4 hours of sleep from 5:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. But this is part of traveling the world and part of the fun. I never complain because what I’m doing is a dream come true and worth every little inconvenience. And look on the bright side ie you can get pretty great photos of this lovely little town on the Danube River before the tourists and locals wake up and certainly before the tourists descend on the town from one of the numerous river cruise ships.
By 8:00 a.m. a couple of breakfast cafes open up and I would highly recommend you grab a bite and a delicious cup of coffee or a smoothie at Mondieu Cafe on the corner of Michalska and Panska. They also special make macaroons to die for. Also, I recommend you see the 14th century Michael’s Gate and tower before heading to see the Bratislava Hrad Castle. Unfortunately, due to the EU summit the castle is closed to visitors but the most important photo op is not and that is the spectacular view of the Danube River from the courtyard of the castle.
I must say that aside from the view up top of the Danube, your best bet for spending your time in Bratislava is going to be walking the charming little old town and seeing St. Martin’s Cathedral. I went to pray there and was blown away by the incredible display of stain glass windows. And, over in the square, there is water fountains, flowers, outdoor markets for shopping and eating just like most of Europe and at night an incredible light show or two along with bars, music and people having fun.
I will say I had my doubts about Bratislava when I arrived. But by the end of the day I was absolutely in love with the vibe in this town. It felt a lot like a little Lisbon which is one of my fave cities and one I would actually consider living in.
Tomorrow I head out via train to Budapest so that’s all for now. From Slovakia with Love.