I spent very little time in Bratislava but I loved every minute of it…what made it so special was the fact that although pretty much nobody spoke English (even the woman at the tourist office in the airport could barely speak it!!), everyone I came into contact with was very kind and also, it was not a “perfect” city. What I mean is that, from an architectural perspective, there is a lovely mix of beautiful, well maintained buildings and others that are crumbling to pieces…it was more “real”, edgy, a mix of old and modern that certainly charmed me…
And they had the best gargoyles there!!
This more modern one was across from my hostel:
My hostel is on the right of this street:
Obchodná is one of the main shopping streets in Bratislava and it took only a few minutes to walk to the old city and the castle. Notice the Canadian flag on the left in the background? I went to explore, it turns out there is a Canadian Bilingual Institute in that building — as you may have guessed, they offer both French and English lessons there!
After entering St. Michael’s Gate, I came across these musicians and stopped to enjoy lovely sounds I had never heard before.
Then I made my way to Hlavne namestie (the Main square); it was a warm, sunny day and I was really happy to see how beautiful it was there…
They had cute little stalls where they sold souvenirs (nothing that really caught my eye though):
I would have liked to visit the town hall but it was under renovations:
They have a good sense of humour here in Bratislava; this statue of a soldier who looks like Napoléon was quite tongue and cheek (Napoléon’s armies attacked Bratislava twice):
While I was walking around, two of the Catalan men I had met on the train and the tram came over to see me and asked me if everything was ok; they were clearly concerned because I was travelling alone and wanted to make sure that I was well. So sweet 🙂
I then decided to go visit the Primatial Palace, which, regardless of its less than appealing colour, is a stunning building. I walked up to a gentleman who was standing by the door and asked whether I could visit and he exclaimed: “of course you can! Why not?!” and then he asked me where I was from and said: “why have you come from so far to visit Bratislava”? He was very happy when I told him it was to discover its beauty.
None of the other employees there spoke English yet they were so sweet to me! They pointed and smiled in response to my questions and tried to help me as best they could. I was pretty much alone in there for the entire visit except for the end when I met a very charming elderly couple from London, England. The woman informed me that they had ditched their tour group in order to explore the city on their own, for they were travelling by boat with a group of elderly people and she said they were too young for such a thing and they didn’t like to feel like cattle. Ohhh, how I knew what she meant by that! For my first trip to Europe in 2006 I joined a tour group and I really didn’t like being shuffled from one place to the next, regardless of whether I was done exploring the city and regardless of whether I was interested in stopping at the next location! We talked for a good while; turned out they were also heading to Vienna the following day. I had to laugh when at the end of my visit, I heard Céline Dion playing in one of the reception halls…hehe.
Considering that the Velvet Revolution took place in 1989, Bratislava is a very progressive place! The mayor had decided to create a free Wifi hotspot right in the heart of the Primatial Square! It was very interesting to see the people on their laptops, completely oblivious to the tourists surrounding them (and to me taking their picture)!
Behind the palace there was a great statue of Saint George slaying the dragon:
I kept walking beyond the main square and felt as though I was in medieval times in some parts…I loved that feeling of discovering little treasures here and there…I felt as though the city’s secrets were slowly being revealed to me. I came across a building that I found to be truly fascinating; it was very old and falling to pieces but it had been turned into a work of art, quite literally. The windows had been boarded up and on them, artists (I have not discovered if this was an initiative of the city or whether it was the work of one person) had painted variations of well known works of art by Van Gogh, da Vinci etc. on them, on both sides of the building.
I liked this building too, which was pretty but also slowly crumbling away…
In contrast, not far away I saw:
And speaking of contrast…
I love that pic; notice the expression on the faces of the men in the back on the left! Priceless.
I thought this was really stunning too:
All in all, I would strongly recommend visiting Bratislava — it has so much to offer! Not the least….