From Vienna, a day trip to Bratislava on Eurolines bus network costs a grand total of 9 euros for a return trip that takes just over one hour. I hopped on the bus at 9am and had a spectacular one hour trip across the border into Slovakia. In my mind I will always remember Slovakia as a country full of multi coloured farmers fields: wheat, corn and beautiful yellow sun flower crops. The fields are also full of what seems like an army of huge windmills which apparently provide most of the energy for the country. The bus dropped me off under Bratislava’s huge bridge that crosses over the Danube River called Novy Most. The city is jam packed full of Eastern European looking churches, and I mean teaming. The map makes the city look like an open air church museum. I walked through the streets and danced along the cobbled sidewalk while blasting Satisfaction by Benni Bassi from my ipod. I arrived at St. Martins Cathedral which is the most famous of the churches and is situated right beside the entrance to the old town. The small, pink, yet elegant Mayor’s Palace is an enjoyable spot to grab a coffee and stare at the cute little water fountain in the square.
I made my way to the main street that ends at the National Theater. This street is packed with very expensive and thus very nice restaurants. I gazed through many of the menus and enjoyed running my fingers through. I made my way to the Danube River and sat on the boardwalk reading more of my scandalous romance novel under the hot blazing sun. My next stop was to shop till I dropped. Everything is so cheap in Slovakia. I bought an awesome shirt that I would have paid 30 euro for and only ended up paying 6 euros! There are loads of trendy little clothing boutiques. A great way to splurge on cloths without the big bank attack.
After a good shopping experience I am always ready for some food so I found a very cool spot to eat called Slovak Pub (sounded promising). The restaurant was grand, had a wide selection of traditional Slovak options and was full of locals (this is always a good thing). I was told upon entering that I had to spend at least 300 crowns to use my visa so seeing that 38 crowns makes up one euro I thought it would be more than easy to eat up 10 euros worth of food. How wrong was I! Never in my life have I ever stared at a menu and felt pressure to order more and more. The food is so cheap here I had to order four things off the menu and didn’t even break the 300 mark (he let me use the Visa anyways). I ordered a half liter of the local Zlaty Bazant Pils which cost a grand total of 80 cents! The menu was teaming with many perogie recipes so I got two of those. I then ordered a bowl of traditional garlic soup in a bread bowl. My “main course” (if I can call it that) was Bryndzone halusky which is basically small balls of gnocchi in a sheep’s cheese sauce topped with bacon. My second main course was stellar. Called Gazdovskyrezen and consisting of a stuffed breaded chicken with the wildest stuffing I have ever come across (how does cheese, ham, sausage, bacon and pickled gherkins sound). I had spent a grand total of about 9 euros and had eaten enough to feed a small Luxembourg army. My stomach gave me the “pregnant and expecting” look which is ever so unflattering. A stark contrast from my expensive times in Norway but good things such as this do happen to wonderful people like me. I have never eaten that much food in my entire life and I will remember it forever and ever (I took several pictures in case I forget down the road when I am senile). I pondered ordering dessert earlier but I couldn’t fit another bit of grub into my delicate mouth. The Slovakian specialty is a dish made of plum stuffed dumplings. Forever and ever I will regret that my stomach would not accommodate just one more plate of sweet.
In the late afternoon I walked up a very steep cliff to Bratislava Castle. The castle looks over the entire city in all directions. I was panting when I got to the top and took a nap under a nice big tree and re-hydrated myself. The castle was built by the Roman Empire back in the day to keep tabs on everyone and everything that looked suspicious (perhaps dumpling bakers and other shifty locals). I had 4 hours until my bus left for a return trip to Vienna so I walked across the bridge to the other side of the Danube and found a huge multiplex, crossed my fingers and prayed that films were cheap and in English. To my wonderful surprise I arrive 5 minutes before the Da Vinci Code starts, the movie costs a grand total of about 3 euros and it is in English with Slovak subtitles. I had read the book earlier in the summer (in Scandinavia) and was looking forward to seeing how the movie had faired. I had heard over and over that the critics hated it at Cannes. I can see why as I noticed so many diversions from the book. Mistakes and ridiculous sensationalism. It was mildly entertaining and a great way to put my feet up. On the bus back to Vienna I stared out the window as the sun started to turn golden across the fields of windmills and windy sun flower fields. Slovakia is excellent…
…and did I mention beautiful scenery?