Slovakia: Bratislava

After waking up, I went outside to claim a few more slices of Okay Pizza.  Surely there would be food in Slovakia, but I wasn’t planning on passing through Vienna again and figured that this would be my last time.

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The next mission was getting myself on the right train, complicated immensely by the number of stations Vienna has.  I didn’t even realize that there were other international stations, but when I arrived there was definitely no train.  A good while later, I was on the other side of the city, aboard the correct train at last, and shortly on my way.  The most incredible part of the journey were the sprawling wind farms, with literally hundreds of massive turbines.

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I arrived to Bratislava at one of the more suburban stations, meaning that I would need to walk for an hour before getting to my hostel.  The weather was nice at least, and it gave me a chance to enjoy all of the prefab soviet blocks.  There was a massive bridge spanning the Danube and also lots of street art to enjoy.  This was the third capital city on this river that I’ve visited, with just Belgrade remaining.

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I had to walk through the old town before arrivimg at the Blues Hostel.  The price was decent and the staff had a lot of personality, and with my various delays I was ready to just get checked in and start the day.  They informed me of another walking tour and also pointed me in the direction of some traditional food.  I feasted on bryndzové halušky, which is sheep’s cheese with bacon, oil and dumplings.  It had a very hearty and distinct taste, but it went down well with one of the local beers.

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We gathered for the walking tour in some centrally located park, and I was able to take in a slew of interesting points about the city.  The tour included a description of the many statues, the architecture and of course a lesson in Slovakia and the Czech Republics intertwined past.  One such statue.

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One of the most interesting tidbits about the city was how it was the coronation city of Hapsburg Empire, back when they were all together.  The ceremony took place at St. Martin’s Cathedral, and then the royal couple would walk the coronation path, marked with little crowns.  The cathedral also has an 8kg gold crown on the steeple to signify the royal significance.

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There were a few other stops that included the president’s palace and our guide also gave general information about the city’s development.  The one other place worth mentioning was the ‘Smurf Church’, very clearly built in an art nouveau style.  Among all the old churches of Europe, I had never seen something quite like this.

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Back at the hostel I started to talk with some of the others and bumped into a fellow Michigan guy.  We has some nostalgic chatter as I made dinner.  I intended to go to the store to get something simple but then found a plethora of ingredients in the communal cupboard.  That night I feasted on pasta with lots of spices and several handfuls of granola.

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There was talk of a pub crawl that I was I initially hesitant about, but figured in the end that going over budget in the name of fun was acceptable every once in a while.  They came by the hostel to pick us up and take us all over to some place where about ten of us gathered together.  We just chatted for the first hour or so, and surely you can see what characters they were…

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The night carried on to club that was actually packed with people – good – but drinks were no longer gratis, which was bad.  I mingled shortly and returned to get some decent sleep.

The next morning my mission was to stop by a couple of things in town before heading to the next destination.  One such place was the castle.  I had seen it briefly the day before but I sought to garner a grander gander.  I didn’t go inside or anything, the view of the city from the hill was sufficient.  The best picture was from the day before, when I had first arrived.

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The other mission was to add another entry to my McTravelling log, the McSyr, which I had seen on the menu the day before. ‘Syr’ means cheese in this language, so this sandwich was doubly significant to me because of its position between two pieces bread.  This was basically a massive mozzarella patty with some tartar sauce.

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That wasn’t enough to tide me over of course, so I went to a supermarket and picked up some real cheeses and another loaf to last me a few days.  This was my first time getting one of the stinky, moldy varieties.  I got one other type as well, but clearly it isn’t worth writing home about.  I had all the essentials, so I was off to the train station to go east.

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