Welcome back to another travel blog, a little Brucey bonus for you! This wasn’t a blog I expected to be writing when I embarked on my travels but sometimes you never know where the journey is going to take you. When I first arrived in Vienna I was organising doing a walking tour with my friend Nic and he was telling me the day he spent in Bratislava, the nearby capital of Slovakia. I hadn’t realised quite how close they are but there’s only 80km between them. I thought it would be a great way to spend a day, adding another country into the mix. I convinced my roommate Hannah to join me on her last day, making it three countries in one day for her as she was moving on to Budapest in Hungary that evening.
Our plan was to get the 9.15 train from the central station so we left with plenty of time as Hannah had her big bag with her ready for her train to Budapest that evening. I went to buy the tickets while Hannah found the lockers and I discovered that there is a specific Bratislava ticket. It costs €16 for a day return and also covers public transport while you are there! A pretty good deal if you ask me.
It took just over an hour to arrive in Bratislava where we pointed our noses towards the castle. On our way down we must have been walking through Slovakia’s embassy district and we made a game out of guessing which country they were. It was another glorious day, probably the hottest of my stay, so the walk got a bit sweaty! When we arrived at the castle the views weren’t the best I’ve ever seen although you could see across the Danube and back into Austria. There were a lot of cranes in the way and I think we were looking out onto a bit of an industrial area. The castle itself however was very nice! It had lovely gardens to walk through and the views from those, looking into the old town, were much nicer.
We walked down from the castle to the city walls and came out by St Martin’s cathedral. From there we were on the edge of the old town and just wandering through the streets in the bright sunshine was lovely. Now that we weren’t climbing uphill like earlier it wasn’t that bad! We found the main square with the city hall and several of the statues that are littered throughout the city. One is a man tipping his hat to passersby, there is a Napoleonic soldier leaning on a bench in the main square and the most famous, the Man at Work (or Čumil, the watcher), a worker peeking out of the sewer while taking a rest. There is a legend that says if you touch him on his head and make a wish it will come true, as long as you keep it a secret forever!
We carried on and out the other side of the old town in search of one of Bratislava’s most popular sights, St Elizabeth’s church. It is a vibrant blue building that is an icon of Slovakia. It was really stunning but completely tucked away behind a school that it was originally built to serve. By this point we were both ready for some food so headed back to one of the streets we had walked down with lots of restaurants. We settled on a traditional Slovakian restaurant where I had a stroganoff with beef, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms in a creamy sauce (€15 with a beer) and Hannah had goulash with bread dumplings. We had a drink to cool down after lunch (€2 for a beer) and picked up an ice cream (€2) as we were walking back to the train station.
Because Hannah was heading to Budapest in the evening we had given ourselves plenty of time to get to the station in time for our train, which in turn was supposed to get us back to Vienna in plenty of time for her next train. Emphasis on supposed to… When we got to the train station in Bratislava there was a delay which continued to get longer as we waited. Throw in getting on the wrong train when it pulled into our platform and a last minute platform change and the return journey wasn’t quite as easy as the outward journey. Saying all that, we did get back in time for Hannah to dash through the station, grab her bag and make her train!
Back in Vienna, I hopped on the subway back to the hostel because I was exhausted and sweaty and grabbed a few things in Hoefer (€6) before chilling in the hostel for the evening.
I was really pleased to have the opportunity to visit a new and unexpected country for me. Bratislava was beautiful, a really cheery, charismatic place. Of course there is more to do than we were able to fit into 6 hours but at the same time, I think you can fit the essence of the city into a day trip. I’ve heard that the nightlife is very lively so if that’s your thing it would be nice to stay overnight but I would say that one night would be all you really need.
Throughout these travel posts I have been chronicling my spending and it’s time for the big roundup. Here is what I spent on two weeks travelling in Germany and Austria (and a little bit of Slovakia) –
Transport (Mulhouse to Munich to Innsbruck to Vienna) – €91.40 (£77.74)
Accommodation (15 nights in hostels) – €423.93 (£360.57)
Eating out – €220.65 (£187.67)
Groceries – €66.77 (£56.79)
Activities – €40.50 (£34.45)
Miscellaneous (trams, small souvenirs etc.)- €43.30 (£36.83)
And with that, it really is the end of the travelling series! Next stop: Tenerife!