Bratislava – Slovakia
First Impressions of Bratislava
My 1st thought when I disembarked from the bus was ‘what a hell hole’ I seemed to have ended up at the arse end of nowhere! Unfortunately bus and train stations always seem to be located in the most visually undesirable parts of the city, which doesn’t help with 1st impressions.
Once I had located the correct bus and worked out how to buy a ticket I was on my way towards the centre of town. The bus weaved through the graffiti ridden of Bratislava, passing by decaying buildings and soviet era blocks of flats.
I was hoping that I would find something better and more desirable, something historical or architecturally stunning, to make my visit seem worthwhile.
Well what can I say about the Freddie at Mercury hostel? It was staffed by the most miserable people on earth! If there were a prize for being unenthusiastic about your job, they would win hands down. It was a real effort for the receptionist to check me in, he clearly loved his job!
The dorm hallway smelt of a musty BO, wee mixture, which hit you when opening the door. The dorm itself was pretty good, uncomfortable beds but I still managed to sleep. Luckily I bought earplugs so I couldn’t hear the Polish man’s musical snoring.
The kitchen was clean and had a stove, microwave and fridge freezer so that was all good. In the basement was a bar/chill out room. I only went in there once as I spent most of my time in town. There were a group of crazy Greek guys talking about the economy and the pending crash of the Euro currency.
The Old Town
So far my impression of Bratislava hadn’t been great but luckily that was about to change. In the afternoon I walked into the town centre and found the ‘Old Town’. It was a lovely historical centre with a great atmosphere and interesting architecture.
I went on a walking tour to learn a little about the history of the town and of Slovakia. The country has been through some changes over the years, some good, some bad. Our tour guide Dominika was very knowledgeable and was also able to advise me on where to find a bar where I could get gluten free food. I had a nice meal, topped off with a few glasses of rose wine. I was all set!
I was in town for 2 nights, so on the 2nd day I went walking around the centre and down by the river, followed by a trip to the castle. I met a friendly Australian girl who was also travelling. After walking around for a bit and having coffee, we went our separate ways.
For me Bratislava was a city of 2 parts, a lovely historical old town and a horrible, seedy, grimy part. Presumably it’s the later part that Eli Roth based his 2005 film Hostel on.
Rubbish film, which according to Dominika the tour guide, didn’t do much for tourism in the country!
I’m glad I went, the people were very friendly and helpful and seemed genuinely interesting it talking. Would I go back? Well not as a tourist as I’ve seen everything. As an English teacher? Who knows.