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August 1st 2017
Published: August 1st 2017
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I woke up early to get various metro links to ‘Schwedenplatz', where the boat leaves to Bratislava. I got on the boat and we started cruising down the (actually quite murky brown) Danube. As we got a bit further out of Vienna and the clouds started to clear, the river surface did start to reflect the blue skies……so I suppose I can let Strauss off!

It only took about an hour and a half to get to Bratislava as the catamaran boat was pretty speedy…..and we were going DOWNSTREAM! (Well remembered all my avid readers! ? )

I walked to my hostel (named Hostel Blues, hopefully for the music not the emotions) and left TP there while they were preparing the room to allow check in. I hate myself a little bit for this – but I found a subway (they are everywhere now in Europe) and managed to get my fix of salad! I have been dying for some proper vegetables and salad after eating so much crap from train stations. I’m even hoping that I can cook a Sunday dinner soon if I can find anywhere that sells gravy!

After settling in back at the hostel, I went on yet another walking tour around the city. I went with another girl who was staying in the dorm with me, whose name is Gabriela and comes from Rio in Brazil. It turns out the Gabriela and I have been pretty much in the same cities at the same time. We were in Prague at the same time, and were even on the same walking tour in Vienna without knowing it. We both also leave for Budapest tomorrow, but she is going by bus later in the day.

The walking tour again covered the main sights of the city, and our guide spoke about the history of the country following it being a part of Czechoslovakia, and the way that the country had been affected by communism. There were a couple of facts about the Slovakian’s traditions though which I found interesting. The first tradition is one which happens on Easter Monday, where all of the women stay at home and have to be visited by men. The men bring a bucket of water, and a stick or whip made from plaited willow branches. The tradition is that the men have to throw the bucket of water over the women, to make them ‘clean’ for the following year, and then hit the women with the whip. The willow is a sign of being strong and beautiful so apparently it is a compliment if someone hits you with this, as they are saying you are beautiful and ‘giving’ you more strength and beauty for the year to come. The women then reward the men for being so ‘nice’ by giving them money or chocolate…. Weird! The guide told us that one year the men did this to a tourist who ran to the police to say she’d been assaulted in the street! She also assured us that it is only tradition and we didn’t need to start a protest for women’s equality.

Another Slovakian tradition is at Christmas, when people open their presents after dinner on the 24th December. Their traditional dinner is a carp fish caught from the river. The fish lives at the bottom of the river where there is a lot of mud, so the fish doesn’t taste very fresh. For that reason they catch the fish for about a week in advance of Christmas, and let it live in the bath until the 24th so that the fish lives in clean water for a while. On the 24th, the father comes to kill the fish (even though the children already think of it as a pet! ☹ ) and the children aren’t allowed to open their presents until they have eaten all the dinner. The carp has so many small bones though that there is always a news report each year on how many people have had to go to the hospital after choking!

The guide mentioned to us that the horror film ‘The Hostel’ was set in Slovakia, and apparently it was so awful that the number of backpackers visiting the country dropped by 70%!.(MISSING) I’m very glad I didn’t watch that film before my visit – Uncle Tim!!

After the walking tour, Gabriela and I went for dinner at the creatively named ‘Slovak pub’ and had a traditional cream of garlic soup served in a bowl made from bread, and layered in a Slovakian cheese. It was very nice….and we stank for the rest of the day!

Bratislava is small for the capital of Slovakia, but picturesque in the centre, and sightseeing is manageable in a day or two. So a short overnight stay before heading to Budapest the next morning! ?

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