Published: May 6th 2010May 6th 2010
Today we were set to leave Budapest, we had thought about this for quite some time the day before as we were considering staying on as we enjoyed Buda so much. In the end even though it is significantly better value in Buda we both had never been to Bratislava.
So Bratislava it was, just a 3 hour journey by train and we were there. First impressions were not great, the weather had changed for the worst (first time we really had cloudy weather) and the city looked a bit bleak and dull. Anyway I reminded Ania we were only at the train station and things surely would improve, and yes the train station was a dive as well! We immediately enquired about train tickets to Berlin as that was our next destination and was shocked when we found out it would cost a whopping 82 euro per person. Ok so it's a long journey like perhaps 10 hours but still. We really had to sort this out as needed to be back in Poland by Sat.
We found the hostel relatively easily, just a 5 minute walk from the station. It was called Hostel Possonium and seemed very
Castle overlooking the Danube
Two lower towers overlooking the river. To the left towards Vienna and right towards Budapest.
smart and clean. Cost was more than Budapest but still OK.
We spent the majority of the afternoon attempting to find a connection to Berlin which we wanted in the next day or 2. (wireless in this hostel is not good by the way!!) Eventually we gave up and decided to try the bus station which is a good 30 minute walk. On the way we checked out the Old town and the centre which was very small. Not what you would expect for a capital city and not much going on. The other interesting thing was they had already changed their money to Euro. Pretty much the first in eastern europe to do so as Hungary, Poland and Czech still have not.
Stuff here was still pretty cheap, one could get a beer for €1 from a bar and eat really cheap for less than €5. As the weather was lousy we just went to the bus station and to our amazement there was a bus going directly to Berlin at 9:40 on Thursday for a mere €36. Now you might wonder why we were going to Berlin when we were so close to Poland? Well it goes
like this, international tickets to Poland are way expensive and soooo slow. Even the locals tell you this and they recommend to get to Poland you should go via Czech and Germany! Would have loved to go to Krakow but just not an option unless we wanted to spend days on the train. Anyway we got our ticket and basically it would take about 12 hours to get to Berlin.
Did not do much else that evening, cooked our dinner and had a few beers.
Well just when we thought the hostel was empty and very quiet about midnight a group of about 18 people from a Metal group turned up. They absolutely turned the place upside down and made so much noise. Now I have stayed in a few hostels over the years but these guys were out of control. Ok so Ania complained to some of the guys but nothing changed and in the morning we had a word with the guys in charge. It's pretty bad when you basically get no sleep as there is a party right outside your room I said. To that the guy on last night pretty much
said I did not hear it and laughed, guess we are in a hostel after all but still pretty bad. Note to those who want a party this might be the place as there was bar downstairs as well. Sorry guys but in this case the Americans in particular were so damn loud :)
Anyway after that great start to the day we headed out, weather had vastly improved and blue skies and sunny weather were on the cards. Here we were both in shorts and t-shirts and getting funny looks from the locals. We did a day trip to Devin Castle, the #1 site in the area apparently. It was a short bus trip out of the city so we went for it. The castle itself is from the 14/15th century and has a commanding position high above the sea with a fantastic view of the rivers, the Danube and Morava. Short history bit for those intersted, Napolean himself ordered it ruined as part of his campaigns in the 1800s because of it's stategic position so must have been important! Anyway once you get up there there is lots to see and you can walk most of it.
Unfortunately when we went the top towers were closed but still got some pretty awesome views. Also not to crowded but sure it would be in high season and especially afternoons.
As the bus only comes once an hour we pretty much had no choice but to sit in the sun and have a local slovak beer, Lovely :) Anyway when we did finally get the bus back to the City we checked out things a bit more thoroughly, walked along the river and old town again. Also went up to Castle Hill and walked around the city castle. This has been rebuilt several times and actually burned down at one point in the 1830s, so not quite the same character and features from Devin castle. Still a good place to get a good 360 degree view of the city and plenty of gardens etc so one can just chill out and relax! Lovely spot and took a few pics here as well. There is a strange bridge called UFO Bridge which spans the river. It also has a lift up to a viewpoint with restaurant (of course!) which you can see from here but looks pretty unspectacular in the
Entire city in view from here.
daytime. Apparently good at night so might be worth a look. Other than that there is not much else to see here.
Good points? Well the people are friendly and mostly speak some english, very affordable, the city is walkable but I just don't see what else this part of Slovakia has to offer. I think it probably lies more in the countrysides and mountains where winter sports and hiking are very popular. Anyway something to consider for others, I would definitely go more off the beaten track if I came back and head to the Tatras mountains.
Tomorrow we were off to Berlin, so this will be my last post for a while. We plan on visiting family and friends for approx 3 weeks in Rzepin, Gdansk, Koszalin (coast) and Warsaw the capital of Poland.
Then flying to St Petersburg on the 22nd May for the start of our Mighty Transiberian trip to Bejing.
There are more photos below