When we finally landed in Bratislava, the Mean Girl had told me everything she knew about the city. The exchange rate is super twisted, USD 1.46 was enough for the supreme executive suite in the city. A nickel given as a tip is enough to make a hotel concierge slap his boss and announce that he is now opening his own hotel. It is where absinthe is made really strong and a little overdose would make you hallucinate enough to make out with your own twin.
I really do hope you’re not buying that, since basically The Mean Girl just described the whole Bratislava scene from the movie Eurotrip!
The capital of Slovakia (ha! Bet not many of you knew that either :p ) that we met was nowhere as wild. In fact, it was so tame that we were the largest group to wander around the city together. We did see a few people, like the frail old ladies who wore fur coats but left their pale legs bare and the fur-cap wearing old gentlemen, but mostly we were left on our own. Maybe because it was a Sunday and people chose to stay indoors; maybe because it was the end of December and people drove away to livelier neighbors to celebrate the end of the year. Still, it was only two days after Christmas and it was quite a bummer to see the city so deserted.
Honestly, we came to Bratislava because it was the cheapest way to get to Vienna and decided to spend a day there. The name Bratislava sounds pretty and certainly it was a pretty place even when explored with grey clouds hanging above our heads. Old churches and buildings graced the old town, quaint and adorable.
The Bratislava castle, or Bratislavsky Hrad in Slovak, was a graceful attraction although only the grounds were open by the time we got there. The view of the glittering blue Danube river and the city from the castle grounds was simply gorgeous, but the view of the castle looming on top of the hill from the Danube was even more intriguing.
Even so, roaming around Bratislava made me feel quite melancholic. Here was a beautiful city with glorious days in the past, but statues of distressed peasant women and stern looking thick-browed and pointy bearded men in the town’s center reminded me of the hardships under the communist regime.
Bratislava was pretty, but it needed a lot of further work to be a desired destination in its own right instead of just being a hub to go to other more popular Eastern European cities. The most intriguing place for me in this lovely sounding city is Bibiana, the International Art House for Children. It would be a wonderland for me to visit, but sadly it was closed when we were there. Worry not, my dearest Ron is sharing her account of the Bibiana experience here!
This is not to say that we did not have fun in Bratislava, in fact we had a blast with our host: the ever so kind Mr. Key. He was so nice, he even apologized for making not-so-funny jokes. Unanimously, the cheerful tropical travelers agreed that he is the highlight of our day in Bratislava. In fact, he was so remarkable a person that we might just visit Bratislava once again to see him!
Den Haag, 4 March 2010
Gypsytoes – of a trip in December 2009
P.S.: The tropical travelers continued the winter trip to Vienna.