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Published: December 9th 2016
We woke up late, so packing wasn’t as stress free as I would’ve hoped for, however we discovered that we actually can organise ourselves in a little bit over an hour, that is with all three of us taking shower, Millie having a full breakfast and packing. Not too bad at all I guess, still next time a slightly earlier wake up call for sure!
When we got to the station we even had 20 minutes to spare! Just about enough time to say good-bye to the High Tatras... Who would’ve thought? You could actually see them in their full glory that morning, better late than never I guess! As I suspected, just like in Poland, the train we were taking had carriages within the carriages... Fortunately there were 6 seats in the cabin rather than the 8 like in the Polish trains. We were in a cabin with a Slovak granny with her two granddaughters, they were sitting in our spots at the window, but not that it mattered, we had seats and that was the most important thing – 4hours and 40 minutes to go then! Millie was overtired (probably should’ve slept a bit more during the night...just
saying...) and was really fighting it trying not to go to sleep... she finally gave up though... pheeew...
Somewhere along the way a woman with a small boy joined us in our cabin. She straight away pointed out to me in Slovak that the seat next to me and the one I was sitting on were hers – I definitely didn’t need to speak Slovak to understand that... Well the ones next to the window were mine, but I didn’t make a big fuss about it, did I? Granny said something in Slovak, which could’ve only meant she would swap the seats if needed to, but the woman gave up in the end. She sat her boy next to me and sat down next to him leaving her bag in the middle blocking the whole cabin. Grant offered to put the bag on the shelf, which she agreed to, giving us even a tiny smile! Next thing she called for someone on the corridor and soon after a guy (assuming her husband) came over with a pram and for the next ten minutes or so, they were standing on the corridor arguing loudly. Granny was following the conversation with
a big disapproval on her face, shaking her head every now and then... I thought the whole thing was simply hilarious, but to avoid any more dramas, I decided to squeeze in next to Grant with Millie, so the couple could have their two seats – who knows maybe that was the main reason for the argument? I wouldn’t know as my Slovak knowledge wasn’t that wide... Soon after the couple sat down on their seats and an awkward silence fell in the cabin. Thankfully Millie broke the silence with a few giggles to one of the little girls. We started wondering with Grant though how on Earth did we end up with 5 adults and 4 kids in a 6-people cabin? Either there was some overbooking on the reservations, someone sat in the wrong cabin or someone in the cabin didn’t have a reservation at all – since the couple said the two seats were theirs, our suspicion quickly fell on the granny – did she have any reservation at all? Half way there... The rest of the journey went very smooth... Since it got pretty tight and hot in the cabin, Grant went with Millie for a walk
to the food carriage, the couple got off a few stations later and I finally had a chance to do some blogging.
When we arrived in Bratislava, we were hit by a gust of warm air – looked like the summer was in full swing here! Nice change comparing to Poprad, but slightly too hot when you’re walking with two backpacks and pushing a pram... Short walk to the hostel thankfully... very short actually as 5 minutes and we were there – talking about a great location! I had some doubts about booking a room (even a private one) in a hostel as they sure can be quite dirty and noisy, we were in luck though as not only we got a gigantic room with a private bathroom, kitchenette and a big balcony (sweet!) but it actually pretty clean (for a hostel) and totally IKEA furnished as well. Not bad at all. What can I say? A big fan of IKEA! 😊 Although it looked as if the people who were putting the furniture together might have missed (or simply skipped) a few steps in the DIY booklets – one of the chairs was falling apart and a few
screws were sticking out of the bed, thankfully out of reach for Millie... Minor details so they definitely didn’t change our opinion about the place. Overall, hostel experience with a baby, not too bad at all!
We still had quite a few hours of sun left that day, so decided to check out the Old Town. We had to go through an underground passage to cross some main street and once again I was quite puzzled... It seems that all around Europe escalators planning is not really on the agenda at all... Just to keep the people semi-satisfied, one escalator is put somewhere randomly and it doesn’t seem to matter that you actually need to take a few sets of stairs to reach it though... Very disable and pram friendly... Not that we really mind carrying the pram a few steps here and there, it’s just seems totally illogical to me... After a 15-minute walk we were in the Old Town and I have to say I really liked it from the first sight. I guess the sunlight was adding a bit of a glow to the old streets. Not only that though – you could just feel the
good vibe in the air. We walked around just to get an idea of what was there to see for the next two days and from what we saw we knew we were going to have a nice time here.
The following day the main thing on the agenda was finding a pub that would show the Australia-All Blacks game... Talking about priorities! 😉 First another stroll through the Old Town... Passing by the 14th
century Michael’s Gate, the Old Town Hall, numerous statues and squares... We also walked into the 15th
century St Martin's Cathedral, which actually turned out to be one of Grant’s favourites churches/cathedrals we have visited so far – mostly due to the fact that it had been built over the cemetery and you could actually see some skeletons in one part of the church. A part of the floor was covered in glass and underneath they have excavated some graves – definitely not a sight you see too often.
It turned out we didn’t really have to look for a place that would be showing the game for too long –the first Irish pub we came along had plenty of screens and channels
and were more than happy to put the game on one of these screens... One thing sorted then! Now only to get the little one to take a nap and we’d all be happy! I decided to take Millie for a stroll up to the castle – always easier to put her to sleep when we are on the move. Wearing a baby in a 30C heat and walking up the hill wasn’t a great idea but we made it and it was well worth it if only to see the beautiful panorama of Bratislava from the castle. Then it was back to the pub to watch the second half of the game with Grant. Very satisfied with the score (but then All Blacks never really disappoint) we went for another stroll around Bratislava... We watched a game of chess along the way and almost took part in one as Grant was invited to play against some local pro but judging by the match that was currently taking place there was a loooong wait ahead so he politely declined and we continued our stroll by the Danube. We made it to the castle once again, this time altogether and then
circled the same streets of the Old Town once again, observing people and in general enjoying the atmosphere of Bratislava.
The next day we ventured back to the Old Town again. This time we had to look for a place with a roof almost straight away as it started raining as soon as we got there. Good time for a little snack and a cup of coffee I guess. I thought we could try a local snack – halusky, a kind of dumplings usually served with cheese and bacon. I have seen some people ordering it as a snack to a beer before, still for me it didn’t really feel like a snack at all. I would rather have it as a side dish with dinner, maybe with some stew or goulash or in a soup... But then it’s probably because they actually reminded me of its Polish cousin – kluski lane or kluski kladzione which usually are served for dinner. My mum would sometimes make them and we’d eat them in a soup. Still quite nice to see a similar dish served in a totally different way.
Thankfully it stopped raining
after a while, so after wandering the old streets again, we decided to check out the other side of the river. It didn’t take too long before it started raining again though... Sitting in a beach bar when it’s raining doesn’t even sound right, but it was the only place open on that side of the river. We could only imagine that this place was full the day before. Now there were only a few people around and most of them were simply waiting out the rain. It looked like the clouds weren’t going anywhere though, so after a drink and a small lunch for Millie, we put our raincoats on, took out the umbrellas and went for another, this time a very short stroll. Back to the other side of the river through the UFO bridge and straight away we started searching for another place to sit down. This time to have a bite to eat as well... I was tempted by one of the signs offering a 3-course menu for Eur10, hoping to get some nice dessert actually. Even though the soup was nice, the rest of the meal was very disappointing – quite greasy main course with
a kilo of cheese and a piece of cake that looked as if it came out straight from a package from a supermarket... Grant’s goulash was definitely a better choice. Ah well, can’t always choose the better meal... 😉
On our last day in Bratislava we decided to head out from the city to a nearby village to check out the ruins of the castle – Devin Castle. It was pretty straight forward to get there – we only needed to jump on a public bus and after 15 minutes journey we would be there. We got to the bus stop but didn’t really have a chance to look for the tickets as the bus pulled up almost as soon as we got there. We’d just buy them from the bus driver then. Or so we thought as he just waved us in and buried his head in his hands... He looked as if we had a week long hangover and definitely wasn’t happy to be working that day... He actually looked like he should’ve been driving the bus at all... We got to Devin in one piece though... Pheeeew... We walked around the ruins for a while and
were surprised to see the highest part of the castle (meaning the most interesting one) was actually closed. Too bad... Also the view of the two rivers – Danube and Morava – meeting together right at that spot, would have been more impressive if it wasn’t so gloomy outside... By the river we found a memorial for more than 400 people who were shot there trying to escape to a nearby Austria from the communist Czechoslovakia... And to think that it happened in supposedly peaceful times...
After walking around we went for a bite to eat. This time I wasn’t going for any menus... I had goulash on my mind since I watched Grant enjoyed his the day before... Thankfully it was on the menu (with delicious steamed dumplings of course) so a trip to Devin turned out to be a total success. From the restaurant we saw a bus driving away and thought just then that probably we should’ve checked the return schedule at the time we arrived here... Ah well... A little too late... We went to the bus stop and yep, buses were going once an hour only... nice! Back to the restaurant for a cup
of coffee then... As we were leaving quite a few buses started pulling up to the castle full of army men, dressed in their festive outfits, add to it an orchestra and some TV crew... There was definitely something going on there – our guess some anniversary commemorating the war... or maybe the shootings... We thought of inspecting this event a bit closer, but in the end gave up on that idea... The last thing we wanted was to interrupt some important ceremony by sticking our heads in the middle of it... Instead we bought the timed tickets and hopped on the bus. Since the bus was going extra slow I was of course stressing out that our tickets would run out of time before we even got to Bratislava. They did in the end actually, but thankfully no one checked them... We could’ve always just played silly tourists in case we were caught, right?
Once we got back to Bratislava, we headed back to the Old Town for our final stroll. To add a bit of a purpose to our wandering this time, we decided to check out Bratislava’s famous bronze statues – not too difficult as they
were located almost next to each other: on the main square the leaning Napoleonian and Schöne Naci with a cane and a top hat, and a few steps further the curious Čumil peeking out of the sewers... The last statue was a bit more difficult to find though... I have read that there were four statues, so we were still missing the Papparazzi! I have googled the street name a few times and we seemed to have walked around it in circles until finally standing on the spot where the statue should’ve been I checked it again and it looked like the statue has actually been removed – it was standing at the area of a restaurant and since the restaurant changed its name and owners, the old owners simply took the statue with them... How about that? Apparently negotiations are still in place to restore the statue to its original place, mostly for tourist purposes of course – sounds like a bit of money might be involved in that...
And that was the end of our stay in Bratislava. We were really positively surprised about this city and realised we could actually stay with a baby in a
hostel after all, so a few lessons learned as well. Seeing all the offers for Vienna from here, we started wondering why we weren’t heading there next as it probably would’ve seemed like the most logical choice of destination... Instead we were heading the opposite direction, to another capital... Next stop: Hungary, Budapest!
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