Second key-point of my trip, Bratislava was a city that I needed to see again, my first (and also the last) visit of it letting me a good impression I desired to come back in at more pleasant time of the year.
More photos on my Flickr!
Train connection in Žilina
Checking for my train I thought about several way to go to the Slovak capital. Two implies Brno or Ostrava, one – easiest – Żilina. By the end of the day I decided to choose the northern Slovakian city where I had great moments during my first visit last December.
The correspondence gave two hours for myself in Žilina, it was more than enough when you know how small is Žilina. Arriving in the city I bought my ticket to Bratislava before going to the centre. City was doing important reconstructions of the station underground passage and of the commercial street pointing the main square. When it will be finish the city will gain some points of cuteness!
I walked in the city slowly, pulling my too big luggage to the old market square. Houses around it are still looking very nice but after having been in Wrocław my scale of appreciation have changed of dimension. I ordered a cold coffee from the hot drinks menu and drank it on the square, having a view on the closed church of Saint Paul the Apostole. I also wanted to visit the church of the Holy-Trinity but a religious celebration was going on. Last time I didn’t but I finally found the tourism office, on the main square between the trees and the temporary beach-volley ground. It was really small and looked more like a kiosk where you can buy cigarettes and chewing gums than like an official tourism office. I got my maps and informations from the girl sitting there, but no postcard or any gift.
Festival in Bratislava
During the first moment I was in Bratislava I managed to break my suitcase. One wheel decided to go wrong and to complicate the rest of my trip. I had a hostel relatively close to the railway station but it was difficult to pull the luggage until hostel and it was even more complicated to lit it on two floors… Mansard Hostel is located in a good place, close to the old town and right before the Slovak Pub 🙂 After the checking my first task have been to take a shower and to change my clothes: more than 30 degrees in the town!
For my first day I was really boring and stay in the heart of the old town, no desire to go exploring wild places. I passed under Michael Gate and walk to the market square where a big concert of traditional Slovakian music was. The concert seemed to be part of a festival « Traditional Days » that was taking place the two days I was in Bratislava. I really liked the music played and the dances. On the Prime Minister Palace, different activities were proposed to people: wood sculpting, ceramic, traditional hand crafting… also the smell was particular.
Bratislava used to be own by Austria and called Presburg, that is also the most common name of the city castle. Presburg castle is a tall square white building looking over the Danube and the historic center of the Slovakian city. It takes a little of time and energy to reach it but despite being simple, the castle deserves to be seen. The view on the old town is not awesome but from the terrace the city seems very similar to Tallinn observed from Toompea. I also went on the Parliament terrace and watch the Danube, last time was completely foggy, this time not.
I enlarged my walking area by moving alone the Danube, to see the boats, the bridge and the sunset. I stooped in the Dubliner’s pub for a beer and tired, decided to return to my hostel for the night. 9pm and I took a second shower while my Spanish roomates had a siesta.
Walking around the old town
A long night helped me to recover (even if in Třinec I did) and I was the first of my room to get up, 7am! I did the check out at 8am and left my heaving suitcase in the common room. I will not see it fir the whole day.
Cold morning and nobody in the streets but me. I went to the second hill of Bratislava which has the Slavín monument and soldiers cemetery. I got sweaty by 10 degrees, you can image how steepy is the slope!
Without breakfast I became hungry and wanted to stop at first in the UFO restaurant near the main bus station, on my way I planed to check some monuments and especially the Blue Church, famous for having being built in the Art Nouveau style. It was only when I went to a café in the old town that I realized: I totally forgot that church. Sorry, I went to take my bus to Devin and tried to not forget to visit the blue monument later.
Ruins of the Devin castle
In Třinec my friend informed me about a castle that I could like to see near Bratislava (I love castle). Located in Devin, old village now part of the capital, the castle has existed from the time of the Great Moravia. Later it has been a strategic point of the commercial route and military borders, and own by a rich family until Napoleon army devastated it and transformed into ruins.
To go there I needed to use the bus 29, going each half hour from 10am on weekend. The ride takes 35 minutes and lead to the castle hill. I was surprised to have to pay for visiting the castle, and reduced ticket cost 6 euros! In Devin was organized a large medieval camp and festival, but for me who only wanted to see the ruins it was really too expensive. Being already there for the probably first and last time of my life I paid. I saw hundreds of performers, regulars people dressing, cooking and sleeping as in the old times.
The ruins themselves was very similar to the Gediminas tower in Vilnius, destroyed construction, large and simple tower on a hill, was just missing a Slovakian flag dancing with wind. I got a little cold due go my clothes, I wasn’t prepared for a strong wind and a possible rain. Another difference with the Vilnius tlwer is that the local museum was free, or I must say, that I haven’t need to pay more to see it. Topic concerned first Slavic tribes established in the valley. I planed to stay for one hour and it was all I needed. Soon I’ll get back to the old town.
Exploring the down-town
Within the same bus I came back to the « under the bridge » bus station and walked to the centre to find a restaurant. I tried once again the Slovak Pub that my friend from Bratislava showed me and which satisfied me well. Same good and points as the last time: the food is very tasty but the service is extremely slow!
I remembered the Blue Church and went to see it. Well, that is true the church is blue. The Art Nouveau style seems very strange and not appropriate for such construction. In Riga as well as in Bratislava I love those buildings, but applied on a church, not anymore.
I kept walking to the Danube river to see the Apollo bridge, my orientation skills were a bit rusted and I end on an abandon bridge that only pedestrians can cross. For the first time I was on the other bank of the river in Bratislava. I walked along it till the New Bridge of the National Slovakian Uprising from which I can admire Presburg castled from a new angle.
When I returned to the hostel to take my luggage I asked for taking a shower again before my departure and it wasn’t a problem at all. Then it’s fresh and clean that I took a bus to the railway station and bought my ticket to Budapest!