Walking the Bridges of Central Europe—Bratislava
The quaint and frequently overlooked city of Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, welcomed me with its cobblestone streets and pastel-coloured WW2 buildings. When I first arrived in this beautiful city, I found myself under bright and clear skies. I felt quite at home as an unpredictable thunderstorm broke out when I set out to explore a few hours later, reminding me of the infamous Manipal rains. As quickly as it began, the storm cleared within a matter of minutes. Being a smaller city, two days in Bratislava sufficed to cover the major attractions.
THINGS TO DO
1. Old Town –
Located at the center of the city, Old Town packs in much more than its name suggests. It’s quite easily accessible from most parts of the city through recognizable narrow streets with many souvenir stores and eateries lining them. Like a network of threads, they lead to the central wider roads hosting more of the same. The antiquated buildings towering on either side of the streets make up the atmosphere of the place, with tourists turning heads to soak in the culture. Michael’s Gate, the only city gate that has been preserved over the years, is situated within the area as well. Though there isn’t one sole attraction that draws tourists here, the restaurants and stores can be explored over the better part of a day. Travelling as a family, it’s always an issue to find a unanimously agreeable place to eat. Luckily for us, the variety of food from burgers and pizzas to traditional Slovakian Lokse (potato pancakes) forestalled any debates on food. I also discovered the creamiest and most colourful ice-creams I had ever seen that was served on picture-worthy goth inspired charcoal waffle cones. Do watch out for the famous four bronze statues installed in various parts of the town – “Cumil”, “Paparrazi”, “Napoleon’s Soldier”, and “Schone Naci”. Without pictures with these sculptures, one’s visit to Bratislava could not be considered complete.
2. Church of Saint Elizabeth (The Blue Church) –
Often referred to as a cake because of its baby-blue colour and white decorations, this building’s architecture seems to one that can be found in a children’s fairy-tale. The church is fairly small on the inside and can be seen during visiting hours for free. Due to this church’s uncommon exterior, it’s one of the top attractions of Bratislava.
3. Devin Castle –
One of the many castles that were destroyed by Napoleon in the early 19th century, this castle’s ruins are located on a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. It can be accessed by taking the convenient local buses that stop a short walk away from the entrance to the site. Though the buses themselves were convenient to ride, finding and conversing with the ticket seller was a task. It mainly consisted of a lot of gesturing and over-enunciation. On arriving at Devin Castle, we saw that it not only provides beautiful views of the nearby town, and the Danube, but also has an informative exhibit of artefacts found at the castle hundreds of years ago. At the center of the castle ruins is a fairly deep well that’s now grilled for obvious safety reasons. My sister and I had a bit of fun pouring water in and waiting to hear it reach the bottom.
4. Starý most –
Directly translating into “Old Bridge” this wooden pathway has been built over the Danube in Bratislava and runs parallel to the popular Most SNP bridge. Comfortable benches have been installed along the bridge. Locals and tourists to enjoy the views of the city over the river. After a tiring day of sightseeing, this bridge is a great place to appreciate the sunset and a clear view of the Bratislava Castle for those who would not want to waste an evening in the city.
Unfortunately, there were also a few places I didn’t visit this trip. The Most SNP bridge where the UFO tower is located comes recommended as does a visit to the restaurant—watch.taste.groove. We decided not to add the Bratislava Castle on our itinerary after coming across some underwhelming reviews of the castle. Although many tourists found the castle’s interiors to be less than satisfactory, rumour has it that the gardens make up for it. If time permits, a trip to the castle grounds would be a good pastime. To add on, Primate’s Palace was another recommended attraction we could not afford to see, purely because of jet-lag and exhaustion from travelling.