After leaving Budapest by train, we finally made it past eastern-central Europe into firmly central European territory – the sleepy and beautiful city of Bratislava, Slovakia! For those who don’t know, I spent about a month studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic (home of the “czech me out” shotglasses everyone collected for a while). During that time, my classmates decided to take a day trip to Slovakia the day before our flights home left, and absolutely loved it. At that time, I wasn’t flexible enough to travel to a new country on a day’s notice. I don’t harbor many regrets, but skipping that day trip had long been one of mine, perhaps in part because it showed me how inflexible I used to be when it came to making plans. So, Slovakia was a must see for me on this trip.
Much like Prague, it has gorgeous buildings with red roofs, friendly people, and a castle perched atop the hill. I initially wrote this post with my glass of sparkling Slovakian wine, watching the sun set on the castle from the window of the Airbnb, right next door to the glorious main cathedral in downtown Bratislava ($30 a night, and we did laundry for free!). Slovakia felt like a restorative breath of (literal) fresh air after the oppressive feeling we got from Budapest (I’m sure you will notice a change in my writing style as well).
We took it easy, exploring the town primarily by foot – unlike Prague, it’s a much smaller city with a central old town and surrounding business districts. We started right outside of our amazingly-located Airbnb at the cathedral, which is a bit more plain compared to the ornate churches we’d seen in eastern Europe recently.
Then, we walked over to the old city walls, which now run alongside the major highway which connects Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, and Prague. Interestingly, Bratislava is known for a Soviet-era bridge called the “UFO” bridge, which is also right on this highway – really an interesting sight, especially once you see it from the old town!
We then continued walking through the city, basically taking in the architecture and pedestrian streets. One of the most interesting sights outside of the typical opera house and parliament was a blue church, which almost looks like a cartoon come to life.
Unfortunately, it was closed to visitors inside, but peeking through, the pews are all bright teal and the walls have graphics and quotes on them like something you’d see in a graphic novel. Then, we headed to a cafe for a light snack of a traditional Slovakian cake – essentially a custard pie with whipped cream, topped with a fine layer of pastry and chocolate. It was delicious. We also met a very friendly dog belonging to the table next to us who took a liking to my boyfriend and sat with its head in his lap while we read for about an hour (I think it secretly wanted to try the cake!).
We ended up not trying any traditional “Slovakian” food outside of the cake – for lunch, we had incredible Thai food (one of my favorite restaurants during my month in Prague was Thai, so I suspected Slovakia might have similarly incredible Thai food – it does!. Also, if you’re ever in Prague, Modry Zub is the go-to Thai spot, as validated by some friends who recently visited it on my recommendation and confirmed its still as good as I remembered!). Our dinner was Italian, mostly to give our stomachs a break from sour cream and dill.