Saturday, 10 March 2012

A city of two halves - Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava is a capital city the size of Chesterfield. It also has a split personality. On the north side of the Danube is the old city, full of quaint cobbled streets and cafes, whilst south of the river is an grey, Soviet tower block-scape. These two parts of the city are connected by a bridge which seems to have had a spaceship crash into it. Some interesting facts about the city are that it is the only capital which borders two countries; Hungary and Austria. It is also the closest neighbouring European capital city (if you don't count the Vatican City and Rome), with Vienna being just 60 km away.

We found a hostel close to the train station, although everything is close in Bratislava. The hostel had the convenience of a substantial bar in the basement. Luckily Bratislava didn't seem to be in full party mode like Budapest so we could have a beer and still manage get some sleep without being disturbed. Bratislava was the location of the gruesome horror film Hostel - I've never seen it but apparently some hostellers come to a bit of a sticky end - and the bar was decked out in this theme.

In the bar was an Italian studying in Sweden. We asked him why he had chosen Stockholm and he readily admitted that his main motivation was for the girls. He was in Bratislava to have hair removal on his chest, presumably to increase his chances with the Swedish ladies.

During the day we wandered around Bratislava a little aimlessly. James was drawn to a toy shop and we whiled away an hour playing with the toys and chatting to the shop assistant. When asked what was the best thing to do in Bratislava he recommended the Clock Museum. We went to check it out but unfortunately it was closed. Instead we walked up to the castle which has commanding views over the Danube. Before returning to the hostel for a beer.

The majority of the next day was spent trying to ascertain whether we could get a boat up the Danube to Vienna. We were meeting a friend in Vienna and wanted to arrive in style as it wasn't just any boat, it was a hydrofoil. Sadly the hydrofoil only operates during the week in the summer, preventing us ticking from off another form of transport on this trip. Instead it was back to the train station.

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