Arrival in Bratislava
We arrived mid-afternoon in Bratislava from Villach via Vienna and immediately grabbed a taxi to the apartment. There were a couple of changes using local transportation and a 20-minute difference in travel time. We wanted to get checked in and drop our bags at the apartment.
The taxi dropped us off and said the apartment was to the right. We looked around for a couple of minutes and could not locate the address. I called the apartment and we were on the wrong side of the street and the address was not marked very well. That is my story and sticking to it.
Once checked in and bags dropped off, we headed out for some food before walking around town. There was a kebab shop across the street near where the taxi dropped us off. Who can say no to a street kebab? Since it is better to shop on a full stomach, after lunch we found a little neighborhood store to pick up drinks and some snacks for the room.
Bratislava Old Town
Luckily, we were only a short walk from the old town square and the tourist info center. We picked up a 2-day transit card for about 25 euros for both of us. Although that is more expensive than some other cities in Europe, it was fine; we could see a lot of the area outside of downtown if we wanted and had time.
We proceeded to walk around the old town area looking at the architecture and to get a feel of where we were. The streets were quite busy with both locals and tourists. As a result, a lot of the restaurants and pubs were starting to see some early dinner (or most likely libation) business. Since we had just eaten, we kept walking around.
Bratislava feels very small if you are in the old town area. However, we were only in a small section of downtown. Therefore, it was obvious once you were higher up in elevation that it is a much larger city. At the opposite end of the old town area from our apartment, Bratislava Castle is on the hill overlooking the Danube and most of the city.
After walking around for several hours, we decided to find a Slovakian restaurant before it became too late. Unfortunately, the one we were looking for couldn’t be found. However, we found an Irish Pub on a side street and it was not very busy inside. They had typical Irish food, including Fish and Chips, Irish Stew, and even Shepherd’s Pie, plus Guinness on tap. So, we gave up on the local restaurant and stepped into the pub. By the way, they had me at Guinness on tap.
While we were eating, the Atlanta United soccer match was on TV (it was a rerun). We were eating and drinking Irish specialties in Bratislava, Slovakia and watching US soccer on TV. It was a good way to end a day of about 6 hours of traveling and 3+ hours of walking around.
Back to the Apartment
We walked around for another 45 minutes or so before heading back to the apartment. The room was nice; it was a studio apartment with a small kitchen area. I had issues getting the AC to work and had to swallow my pride and ask for help at the front desk. Obviously, my old eyes could not see something on the remote that was in plain sight. I tucked my tail and returned to the room to turn the AC on and to clean up before going to sleep.
These Shoes Aren’t Made for Walking
The first full day started off slow. As I was putting on my shoes one of the laces almost broke; it was hanging by a thread. I had to find a store that sold shoelaces close by and was open. Fortunately, there was a shoe store about 15 minutes away on foot. We walked through several small streets and alleyways to find the store on the main shopping street.
Unfortunately, all the measurements were in CM not inches and I did not even know how long in inches I needed. However, the person working in the store suggested a size based on my shoes and the laces were only €2 for the pair. Luckily, they were an exact match in size, color, and style of the previous laces.
One Day to See Bratislava
Unfortunately, we only had one full day in Bratislava to see everything and had to make the best of our time. Our first stop was the castle overlooking the town. Since we had a 2-day transport pass, we took a streetcar and bus to the castle. This was a short 20-minute ride to get near the castle, and then we had to walk about 5 minutes to get to the entrance.
We had to change our mode of transportation at the Presidential Palace. The architecture is Austro-Hungarian and was definitely built to impress. I could imagine seeing the building in Vienna.
The castle sits on a hill overlooking the Danube and Bratislava. Austria and Hungary are on the horizon and only 6 and 18km away respectively. The castle was buzzing with tourists due to a tour bus arriving at about the same time as we did. Even though the tour bus was there, it was not terribly crowded and we had a lot of space to roam.
In the area near the castle on the Danube side, there are a lot of hard surfaces and minimal landscaping. However, the side closest to the old town and the rear side of the castle had a park-like appearance with a lot of greenery and benches. Due to our time restraints, we only spent about an hour at the castle before we needed to move on.
Quick Trip to Devin
We decided to do a quick trip to Devin to see the old castle and to give us a break from the city. See the post for Devin here.
Over the Danube
To get across the Danube, there is a double bridge with a pedestrian/bike level and a vehicle level. My wife thought it would be a great idea to go to the top of the UFO tower, one of Bratislava’s most famous attractions. Since the bus from Devin dropped us at the bridge, we just needed to walk across the street and up the ramp to access the walkway level. Although the walk is not that long, there is a lot of traffic on foot and wheels. You need to pay attention to prevent becoming a statistic.
If you have read my other posts, you will know that I am not keen on heights. On the opposite side of the Danube from the castle, there is a tower that straddles the bridge across the river. Therefore, you now know why the chicken crossed the river. There is a small ticket office to purchase tickets for the elevator to the top of the UFO tower. Due to construction, you have to walk along a temporary short walkway to the elevator.
When the elevator arrived we walked in along with another couple for the ride up. However, the woman looked like she was seeing a ghost. They were Danish and her husband said she was afraid of heights. The elevator was small and could only fit 4 or 5 people max. Unfortunately, the elevator was not a smooth ride and it made a lot of noise. I could see the panic in her face all the way up the 300-foot ride.
Once you make it to the top, it is well worth it. The views are the opposite of the castle and at about the same height above the ground below. I concentrated on taking pictures and videos to keep my mind off the altitude. A few minutes after we reached the top, the Danish lady finally emerged from the restaurant area. She was still looking frazzled but was able to walk around the lookout area.
Nature Calls and the Ride Down
We walked back down to the bar/restaurant level and found the bathrooms. I will have to say, this was one of the oddest bathrooms I have ever seen. You have a great view out the window from the urinal that is basically a bucket on a post. It wasn’t a bad bathroom; it was very modern and nice. It was a surprise to see and the view was awesome. However, if you have a fear of heights, it might be a challenge to use the facilities.
Back to the Old Town Area
We returned to the other side of the Danube to head back towards the apartment and to find dinner. However, there is an old church, the Blue Church, one stop from the apartment that we wanted to see. We jumped off the streetcar early to see the church and then continued back to the apartment on foot a few blocks away.
While walking around Bratislava earlier in the day, we found the restaurant we couldn’t find the night before. It was about 2 blocks away from the apartment, not 10 blocks like we thought. Therefore, we decided to give it a try that night. The restaurant has a patio area on the sidewalk and an inside dining section.
Since the reviews were great for the restaurant, it was a must for local cuisine. However, I will have to say, the reviews did not do it justice. The food was excellent and reasonably priced. I could have eaten there several more times if we weren’t leaving the next day. After dinner, we took a final lap through the old town area before heading to the apartment.
We still needed to pack our backpacks and get ready for the train the next morning. The next day was going to be a long day of travel from Bratislava to Amsterdam. We planned to give ourselves a little extra time in the morning in case of any delays with us or our transportation. Therefore, we were getting up at 5 AM to catch an early streetcar and bus to the station.