By | June 3, 2006

BratislavaBratislava is a nice change of pace from Budapest and Prague. Therefore, it would have been better for us if we could have stopped in Bratislava after Prague and Budapest, but you can’t just go rearranging the geography to suit your itinerary. Bratislava is between Budapest and Prague on the train line, so that’s the order we took.

Bratislava is quite a bit smaller than Budapest and Prague. While the subway were vital to our seeing much of those cities, Bratislava doesn’t even have a subway. There are a couple tram lines, but you can walk to most things of interest. After not being able to figure out the tram information, which was only in Slovak, we took a taxi to the aprtment we had rented. The cab fare was 200 Slovak Korunas, or about US$6.5, which was pretty reasonable for the distance.

The main tourist destination is the Bratislava castle. It is up on a hill right next to the old town area and can be easily reached on foot. You get a very nice view of the city from the castle.

Even relative to Prague and Budapest, Bratislava was very inexpensive. If it hadn’t been so close to the beginning of our trip, we would have done more shopping there.

Unfortunately, it rained quite a bit while we were there. And it was cold. Very cold. I often went out in two shirts and two jackets. They were very lightweight shirts and jackets, but heck, it was June.

We did get to see the dedication of a status of Hans Christian Andersen. The Danish Embassy seemed to be organizing the event, and a girl was handing out Danish chocolates with marzipan to the dedicated members of the crowd standing in the rain. After some children sang and played musical instruments, some more children came running out with paper bags on their heads that appeared to have faces painted on them. Since everything was in Slovak and Danish, I’m really not sure what was going on, though I suspect it was related to one of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales.

There were a surprisingly large number of large tourist groups winding their way through the city. Then again, it was quite inexpensive there and the city is interesting.

One unfortunate development is that Bratislava appears to be a prime destination of English bachelor parties. With beers costing 50-75 cents, you can guess the attraction. We ran across quite a few groups of 20 or so rowdy young Englishmen. They were mostly well behaved, and their loutishness was mostly being inflicted upon each other. The bachelor was usually forced to wear an outlandish dress, such as a pink ballet dress. One bachelor was in a full Superman outfit. We even saw a bachelorette group where the bachelorette was dressed up like a farm girl and was carrying a tray with a tea pot and cups.

We were fortunate that a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition was at one of the museums while we were there. The exhibition included many pages from the Codex Atlanticus. There were also wood reconstructions (or in some cases, wood constructions of things Leonardo likely could not have built) of objects in many of the drawings. One cool item was a circular tank. It looked more like a flying saucer than a tank.

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