After the previous day’s difficulty finding somewhere for breakfast, we decided to eat at the hotel and enjoy a big buffet that had tons of options.
We headed to the train station, bought our day tickets to and from Bratislava (just an hour away from Vienna), and we got on the train early. We looked at photos from our trip so far and laughed a lot thinking about all the memories we had made already. Across the aisle sat two clearly rich and very snobby girls who spent the entire ride bragging to each other about the trips they’ve been on and their designer brand clothing and suitcases – they were trying to one up each other and show off. It was obvious without speaking the same language, but my cousin confirmed after realizing we both were eavesdropping.
So Bratislava is a city many people have actually never heard of. It’s the capital of Slovakia and has a population of around 500,000 people. It sits on the River Danube and the River Morava and is bordered by Austria and Hungary. It still has a relatively low tourism rate, so it is a different experience than some of the major cities of Europe.
Once we arrived, we felt a lot of confusion about how to get to the main part of the city. We got on the right bus, but missed the stop we wanted. The bus driver did not speak English very well, but one of the passengers told us where we needed to go. A French couple who also didn’t speak the greatest English got off the bus with us and we crossed the street to the other bus stop and headed the direction we had come from. It’s important to know if you make a mistake or wrong turn when you’re in another country, there is always a way back and this time it was very easy to figure out.
When we arrived in the main part of the city, we were happily surprised. It felt like a much more authentic European city with few tourists, less English spoken, and stunning architecture. The people in the town were incredibly friendly and really helpful because I think they were glad to have people from other parts of the world visit their city and they were proud of their home. So we walked around and saw small streets and old churches.
We entered one church and were able to sit and watch a baptism take place, which felt pretty special to witness.
The city is full of interesting art and very cool, humorous statues:
We had fun walking around and looking at everything the city has to offer and we had a more personal experience because of how quiet the city was compared to some of the huge cities we had just visited.
We had lunch in a small Slovakian restaurant where I enjoyed gnocchis with chicken and Katharina had a traditional soup. The food was really great, but the service was slow because it was really busy and understaffed and the servers were clearly overwhelmed and stressed out. We had fun though because a cute family sat next to us and the little kids played with us. I like children a lot and it’s easy to play with them in any part of the world because you don’t need a language in common to communicate.
After lunch we found a yummy gelato stand (have to try ice cream in every city of course) and sat by a fountain as we enjoyed the deliciousness.
After ice cream, we we walked around and stumbled upon this amazing courtyard and a man playing piano. He was a wonderful pianist so we paused for a moment to really listen and take it all in.
We found a nice vintage clothing store and popped in and I bought a cute sundress for $6. And then we walked up to the castle. It was hot outside so the uphill walk up became harder than expected, but it was completely worth it. The first written records of the castle date all the way back to 907AD!
From the castle, you can see amazing views of the Danube River.
We met some guys from America at the castle who offered to take some photos of us, which we appreciated. It felt good to talk to Americans again, we didn’t run into too many during our travels so I missed it.
After looking at the castle for a while, we slowly headed back down to the bus stop, found the right bus and caught it just as it arrived. We happened to see the same French couple who we had met on the bus ride into the center of the city earlier in the day. They were not as impressed with the city as we were. I think it’s important to have an open mind when you travel and take things for what they are, not what you hope and expect them to be. The city is beautiful and has a lot to offer and we had an amazing day there together. We made it to the train station and found our train. It felt so good to sit and relax and have that hour off our feet to just hang out. A really nice man sat down and talked to us the entire ride back. He ended up giving us all kinds of advice for the remainder of our trip and even let us try some traditional cake he had with him. He had travelled extensively throughout Europe and spoke several languages. I love meeting people along my journeys, sometimes you get the best advice and ideas that way.
Once we made it back to Vienna, we headed to our hotel and cleaned up so we could go out again. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant that was extremely crowded and took some time, but it gave us more of a chance to talk. It was a beautiful night, so we walked around the city one last time because the next day we headed to Budapest!
I still can’t get over the lovely architecture!