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Published: October 29th 2007
This bridge spans the Danube and is the first thing I saw as I rode towards the city.
10th October - 12th October.......... Bratislava........
I arrived back in the Land of Oz yesterday but let's you and I pretend I'm still over there having a good time!
Don't forget you can click on a photo to enlarge it.
It was an easy ride out of Vienna and before I knew it, I was cycling towards the derelict Austrian-Slovakian border crossing. It was so unused looking I didn't even notice the officer in a booth and had to go back when he called out to me. I'm glad they don't shoot and ask questions later any more. The guide book warns to appreciate the last town in Austria because things were about to change. Being on a bike and changing from one country to another highlights the saying "Oh, but for the Grace of God, go I". The results of a period of failed communist regime is obvious from the first sight of Bratislava, Slovakia's capital. A skyline of square, functional, identical high-rise. The bikeway becomes patchy, poorly signed, with poorly maintained surfaces or even non-existent. Barking dogs become more obvious in comparison to Austria and Germany where I rarely heard them.
Bratislava is such a
funny mix, epitomized by the river view of its hilltop castle on one side and spanned by a 1970s bridge which has a decided UFO take to it. The compact historical centre is delightful and obviously benefiting from foreign investment and is in stark contrast to the blandness of the city that surrounds it. The imposing baroque palace and buildings are from Marie Theresa's reign of 1740-80. 1918 saw it become part of the newly formed Republic of Czechoslovakia and then in 1976 the capital of a federal Slovak Republic and then in 1993 an independent Slovakia. It is one of the newest EU members and still maintains its own currency. You didn't need to know that.
I very much enjoyed their playful use of public statuary that is dotted around the old town. Things are cheaper with a 500ml beer only costing about $1- not much chance of an alcohol free day. I went one night to see Mozart's Don Giovanni for only $20. It was held in the Slovak National Theatre which is very much as it would have been when it was built in 1886.
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