I didn’t plan to travel to Slovakia when I started this sparkle adventure, but when a new friend in Vienna mentioned that it was only about a one hour and 15€ return trip by train; I decided to go. It was too inexpensive and too close to miss out on the opportunity of visiting a whole new country! I had no plan and no expectations as I boarded from the station in Vienna, and as promised, within an hour I had country hopped.
As I got off the train, I was greeted by a ‘Welcome to Slovakia’ sign in a somewhat dated (dingy) train station. Within minutes I noticed that English speaking people were not as easy to come by in this country, and getting info about the town was somewhat confusing even from the best sources in the station. The three of us set out, map in hand (although still not the greatest navigators) to discover Bratislava.
It was a Saturday late morning and I guess I expected a little bit more energy; or even other people walking around. We later learned that it was a holiday in Slovakia that day, but I have no idea what locals do on their holidays? It was a ghost town. Beautiful little ghost town, mind you, but fairly lifeless. So we began aimlessly walking around in hopes of discovering something (anything) that would catch our eye.
The streets were cobblestone and the buildings all bright and colourful with red clay roofs. Almost every street corner had some kind of charming fountain and romantic alleys came from every direction off the streets.
There’s a beautiful walking path along the bank of the river with restaurant patios and sheesha bars set up for tourists. We stopped for a quick drink on one of the patios to enjoy the view (the prices for lunch were somewhat out of our budget – even the tap water cost 2€).
In an attempt to find a more reasonably priced dining spot, we got lost on the bus (go figure!) and ended up taking a quick trip to the other side of the bridge for a stunning view of a 15th century castle perched atop the hill.
Later we walked up what seemed like thousands of steps in 40 degree weather to get a closer look of the castle and a view of the city that is so beautiful it can’t even be explained.
We found a lovely tree-lined street in the historical city centre and sat outside on the patio of 17’s Bar to grab a bite to eat. The prices were so much cheaper than anywhere else I’d visited in Europe so far; around 5€ for a filling lunch, an ice cold pale ale beer and an expresso pick-me-up.
On our way back to the train we stumbled upon Old Town Market hall; a 18th century building filled with venders selling everything local! Cheese, wine, skin care products, pastries, candles, plants, essential oils, produce, ect.
My day in Slovakia was a really nice one. Bratislava is a town that is dripping with charm and just standing on those stone streets you can feel the history. I don’t think I’d ever return, but I wouldn’t take back that view for anything! I think surprised myself the most with the sheer spontaneity of this little trip. I know that in the journey to find my sparkle, sometimes the ‘plan’ will have to be thrown away. I’ll need to deviate from the beaten path and take the road less travelled. It’s better for me to stop thinking about where exactly I’m going to be in a week or in a month. I’m just going to focus on the 24 hours I have in front of me and do all the things I can to get closer to the person that I want to be.