Before I get into my journey to one-half of former Czechoslovakia, I wanted to share my thoughts on Bratislava, Slovakia. Even after only a few hours in the charming town, I fell in love with the art, the culture, the people. Bratislava is such a quietly magnificent place, unassuming in its allure. It doesn’t boast about its beauty or its history, it simply is. It’s as if Bratislava is introducing itself, saying “Hi, this is me, as I am. I’m not trying to impress you, but I’m glad you’re here.”
Something that becomes increasingly apparent to me as I go about my nomadic lifestyle is that the people make the place. Or rather, life is only as good as the people you get to share it with, no matter how long your paths meet. Wandering around Bratislava, the most memorable moments were chatting with shopkeepers, waiters, other bookstore patrons. Slovakian people, in my (albeit limited) experience are the warmest, friendliest people who are so passionate about their craft and their country. I wish I had more time to delve into their world.
The day my new friend, Jackie, and I spent in Bratislava was, in a word, perfect. Serendipity was everywhere, and it was quite the blessing to not have the pressure to check off a list of “27 Must-See Places” and rather let the city guide us, and create an experience all our own. And now, to what I saw and did in the beautiful Bratislava.
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“I bought roundtrip train tickets to Slovakia for $20” is a sentence I never thought I would say, yet here I am. After living in Prague for about two and a half weeks, I decided to start my European escapades with Bratislava, Slovakia: the perfect day trip from Prague, especially because Slovakia used to be part of Czech Republic!
Jackie and I did not plan the day whatsoever. But when we got off the train, we were starving, so we headed into the Old Town district for some much-needed brunch. We chose the cozy Urban Bistro, where Jackie ordered some avocado toast and coffee, and I opted for semolina porridge and hot chocolate, because of course.
We popped in and out of some artisan boutiques on a cute strip in Old Town and picked out some small, handmade souvenirs. While exploring, we stumbled on what seemed to be some kind of celebration in a square! Everyone was dressed up in homemade costumes, there were bands playing in the bandstand, and dancers teaching young children dance moves! I don’t know what was happening, but it was delightful to experience.
Then, we found St. Elizabeth’s Church, which is completely decked out in a gorgeous pastel blue hue!
Next, we ventured over to Stara Trznica, an indoor marketplace! We soon realized we had arrived just as all of the merchants were packing up. But, that didn’t stop us from picking up a stunning loaf of chleb and chatting with George, a convivial man representing the beautiful island of Crete with his array of spices and olive oil.
There were only a few hours of daylight left, so Jackie and I trekked up the hill to Bratislava Castle just to discover the last entry was at 4pm, and we had arrived just a few minutes past 4pm! But, the view was worth the journey.
We finished off the evening with some traditional Slovakian food at Slovak pub, a cozy second-story haunt with walls covered in old portraits and traditional art. Jackie and I feasted on a “platter for two” which consisted of lots of cheese, dumplings, and potatoes. For dessert (because I have the world’s largest sweet tooth and always need a lil something) I ordered sweet cottage cheese pierogi with butter, cinnamon, and cocoa streusel. It was to die for!
So, a little fun fact about me: every country I visit, I try and purchase the second Harry Potter book in the country’s native language. All day, we stumbled on bookstore after bookstore. And all day, they were all, inexplicably, closed. But thankfully, down the street from Slovak Pub, there was a bookstore that was open and had a copy of the book in Slovak! It was a wonderful close to a wonderful day.
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