(Let Beirut entertain you as you read about the city!)
We rolled in shortly before lunch at the main station. The station itself wasn't terribly modernized and we had some confusion figuring out how to get tickets for the bus into the town center. As it turned out, you can buy them from the tobacco stand near the bus stop. However, though everything we read recommended getting a bus to the center, it didn't really seem necessary. It was a very short ride down just one street! On the way back at the end of the day, we just walked.
|Bratislava Mar 08|
We wandered through Michael's Gate (see the photos by clicking above!) and conveniently came upon a restaurant recommended by the guide, Prašná Bašta, and decided to eat there. The food was really good and cheap and I would definitely recommend it, though every single customer was speaking English or German. I imagine the locals look at the tourist prices and laugh at how we are all getting ripped off, but without a language guide bigger than the one in our guidebook, we couldn't have eaten at a more local joint. Our main dishes were so good and the prices so decent that we both ordered dessert too, which was also great! (Some kind of crepe-like thing with chocolate and apricot. Get it!)
After lunch we walked around the old town and up to the castle. The weather was great and it was all quite picturesque. See the photo album for proof, and for some info on the sights we saw! The only downside of Bratislava is that the old town is the only tourist-friendly area - step outside and all the signs and menus are only in Slovakian. The old town was completely packed with tourists, mostly German-speaking (Austrians?), but also many, many Americans. The tourists seemed to all be of the variety who find themselves to be brilliant photographers (I'm making fun of myself here, too), so they are constantly in your way taking five minutes to get a perfect shot of their kid doing something adorable in a cute little adorable eastern European city, while their wives make comments to each other about how the local traditions (being conveniently sold at the tourist market) are so quaint, in the most condescending fashion possible. After a few hours we ran screaming from the tourist zone, and found that the streets were completely empty and of course we could not read a thing (though it was easier to make guesses than it had been in Hungary!). The difference between the two areas was quite extreme.
We wandered back toward the train station, which reminded me of an American train or bus station - dirty and full of vagrants. The bathroom had no toilet paper, no soap, no flush, no lock on the door. We ate at a nearby cafe, then caught the hourly train shuttle to Wien, which is only an hour away. (Hint: Bratislava could make a very nice day trip if you are spending some time in Wien!) By the way, the bathroom on that train isn't so great either. There were pubes all over the seat and when I flushed the toilet, the sink ran (I tried not to ponder this too much). I think the worst thing about traveling is always worrying about where your next tolerable bathroom experience will occur! (Or dehydrating yourself to avoid finding out!)