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Published: April 3rd 2009
Slovakians don't speak Spanish....Now this won't really surprise many of you, and yet the number of times we started conversations with an Hola
or threw a por favor
on the end of a sentence surprised even us. After so many months of speaking Spanish it is still our first resort when faced with uncomprehending locals. Thankfully English tended to be widely spoken and we stuck to that after mumbling a few words in Slovak that we weren't really sure how to pronounce.
We flew from London Stansted directly to Bratislava airport and had organised to be picked up by the owner of the apartment we were staying in in the Old Town. And thankfully there was a young man holding a sign that said 'Lara Craig' on our arrival in the unassuming airport. He drove us directly back to our apartment for the weekend, chatting in English about the upcoming marathon and explaining that Bratislava is really just a small village. Our apartment was right in the centre of the Old Town, minutes from the Danube, the Central Square and strangely enough the Tescos and apart from the cold shower had everything we could possibly want. We decided that
as it was late we would start our adventures tomorrow and went to bed.
Our first aim of the morning was to stroll around the cobbled streets of the Old Town and have some breakfast taking in the churches and lovely architecture before taking the bus to Devin Castle.
Devin Castle is about 20 minutes outside Bratislava. It is situated ontop of an outcrop overlooking the confluence of the Danube and Morava Rivers allowing its inhabitants to control trade along the river. It has been settled since the Neolithic Period and at various times have had the Romans and Celts as its occupiers. Aside from being a good strategic location it is also extremely picturesque, overlooking the rivers, the countryside and the sweet little town of Devin. The Castle itself, though mostly in ruins is quite fascinating, with doorways into the mountainside and turrets springing from isolated boulders.
After exploring Devin and walking along the river, we caught the bus back to the Novy Most
(New Bridge), the UFO like structure that crosses the Danube and was built by the Soviets. It is situated next to the Old Town and Bratislava Castle and demonstrates
the difference between the older architecture and that of Soviet times particularly well.
After a lunch of beers, pork, cabbage, ghoulash and dumplings we walked up to the Bratislava Castle for views over St Martins Church, the Old Town and the New Bridge. The wind was gusty at this stage and it was cooling down from the lovely day we had just had.
We had dinner and a few more drinks, including some decent Slovakian wine and wandered through the streets of the Old Town. It was a lot quieter than expected and nothing like the Bratislava portrayed in the movie The Hostel
(a horror movie set in Bratislava in which backpackers are killed for sport, which as you can imagine deeply upset the Slovakian people). We did see a few groups of English stags-parties but in general the city was quiet.
On Sunday it rained as we expected. We shared our little umbrella and strolled from the Old Town, watched the marathon runners (although I think we can safely say they weren't all running a whole marathon as there were numerous people who looked like they had never run anywhere before, and even
one man who wasn't wearing any shoes!), walked across the Starý most
(Old Bridge) over which the Soviets had invaded Bratislava.
Once we couldn't stand the rain any longer we went to the Slovakian National Museum where we thought we could learn some more about Slovakia and its history. However we ended up visiting an extremely interesting photography exhibition about Tibet and seeing the largest number of stuffed animals we had ever seen, from giraffes to hummingbirds.
The rest of the day was spent sitting in cafes and looking in shops until we headed back to Bratislava Airport for our late night Ryanair flight back to the UK.
We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Bratislava and always enjoy getting away...we're off to Wales soon and then Croatia so we'll keep the blogs coming!
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