Bratislava: Slovakia’s Capital of Quirks and Castles

Most SNP - The UFO Bridge of Bratislava Slovakia - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com

Disclaimer: This post is a bit kooky because (a) It was written after 2 days of very little sleep and (b) My visit was during temperatures reaching nearly 40 degrees Celsius which were broken by torrential downpours. So my view may be a bit ‘off’.
What does that mean for you? You get to go and discover it for yourself – and then add your thoughts in the comments below!

Every night, Bratislava comes alive. Little elves run amok, cans of color in hand. They make their mark on every building they pass, just as our four legged furry friends have taught them. Government building, restaurant, private residence. Nothing is unreachable nor untouchable. Nothing will hold them back.

Sepia Bratislava Slovakia - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Sepia Bratislava Slovakia – by Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps – www.MissMaps.com

And each morning when the city awakes, the little elves hide in abandoned buildings, proudly watching others discover the newly decorated walls. Letters here, symbols there. Graffiti scribbled everywhere.

Whether or not you believe these little elves exist, after a minute’s walk down any street in Bratislava, you will agree that something of the sort does indeed take place. The evidence is everywhere, and whether elves or bored adolescence are the main markers, I do not know. But I can safely say Slovakia’s capital city is more decorated with graffiti than any in Europe.

 

Click on an image to view photos from Bratislava Up-Close:

 

Under layers of spray paint is a city of red roofs, pastel facades, and brick streets. Old Town remains in superb condition, its buildings standing proudly side by side. Housed in the walls of Old Town are cafes, restaurants, bars and ice cream stands, brought to life by university students and children attached to parents by the string of a balloon. During my three-day visit to Bratislava, I resisted all but once to pass over the 60 cents required to indulge in a ‘bol’ of Cucoriedka – one single scoop of blueberry ice cream. Given the temperatures were nearly tapping 40 degrees celsius, the expenditure wasn’t entirely necessary, but highly justifiable. And as I licked up every morsel without one drip hitting the steaming pavement, I rightfully decided that it was also highly enjoyable.

The ice cream was savored as I walked up a gently sloping hill to Bratislavský Hrad. Nearing the castle walls, I noticed the line of pedestrians in front of me turning around. One by one, as if pool balls hitting the table’s edge, they each turned back and scattered in various directions. One woman in a long black dress covered in large red roses and was let to pass. Knowing there was a chance for success, I too tried to enter. But alas, as I neared the gate and made eye contact with the guards, each slowly shook his head side to side.

 

Click on an image to view photos from Bratislava Up-Close:

I followed the others back down, passing along the Danube River. I may not have gotten to see the outcome of the castle’s recent 50 million dollar renovation nor its housed Slovak National Museum, but I did get to see nearby Most SNP. The Most, or ‘bridge’ in English, is a peculiar site. With only one pylon, the cable-stayed bridge is topped with a flying saucer which is home to a restaurant offering 360 degree views of the surrounding lands. Inside the flying saucer is a restaurant appropriately named “UFO”.

Bratislava is a unique city, with its many cafes, castles, and quirks. One hour from Vienna, two hours from Budapest, and three hours from Prague, it is easily accessible by public transportation from a number of well-loved European capitals. Yet so few take the time to visit! Maybe it’s because of the elves.

 

Click on an image to view photos from Bratislava Up-Close:

 


Miss Maps’s Quick Guide to Bratislava:

Get there: A bus travels directly from Vienna city center and Vienna airport. Tickets can be found for less than 8euro one-way from GoEuro.com

Sample Local Flavors: I arrived with an empty stomach and jumped for joy at the site of 70 cent hot dogs for sale outside the bus station. Local? No. Healthy? Maybe not. Cheap? Yep.
For more authentic yet still affordable bites and sips, head over to Pulitzer near Christopher’s Gate in Old Town and try their Bryndzove Halusky: Traditional Slovak Dumplings. Delish!

Converse:
Please: Prosím (pro-seem)
Thank you: D’akujem (djya-koo-yem)
Yes: Ano (ah-no)
No: Nie (nee-ay)
Cheers: Na zdravie (nah zdrah-vee-ay)

Rest Well: Dorm rooms in Hostel Freddie Next to Mercury has four beds, each with their own kitchenette and bathroom. Downstairs is a bar and garden, perfect for late summer nights.

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6 Comments

  1. First time I heard about elves in Bratislava. 🙂

    Bratislava really is a lovely city, especially when the sun is shining. We lived there for a year and a half before moving back to Sweden.

    There really are a lot to see, it just takes some time to see find most of it once you leave the old town. The old town is really nice for a day trip, but to visit places like the Devin Castle and the Slavin war memorial you will probably need a bit more time. There are also a quite interesting WWII bunker – Bunker BS-8 – a few kilometers south of the old town, at the Austrian border.:)

  2. Yey, my hometown 🙂 You mean they didn´t let you enter to the castle area? That is really strange because you can enter for free – it is only the museum that you need a ticket for. There are also brand new gardens up there that I haven´t seen for myself yet! Btw. do you remember how much were the halusky dish in Pulitzer?

    1. Oh awesome! Yes it was closed – there were security guards and police standing around it. There must have been an event going on, because they let in a few people who were dressed very well. I’ll look for your pictures of the gardens when you go! As for Halusky, it is under 10euro for the dish and a drink. Not as cheap as the hot dog stand, but definitely more delicious!

      1. Hmmm, no ides what that was, I haven´t heard of anything special going on. I´ll try to remember that and post some photos then 😉 Happy to hear you liked halusky, it is a strangely looking dish, haha 😀

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