When planning this holiday, the one thing that attracted me to this particular tour, were all the different names of the countries that we would be visiting. It might not make sense, but these aren’t place names that you hear very often in conversation (or I don’t at least). Many of these names I heard in news bulletins many years ago, on History programmes or the Discovery Channel. For some odd reason in my mind it almost seemed like these places are very far out of reach because it sounded like a fairytale. So now it almost seemed unreal to be able to walk on the streets of places like Slovakia, to name but one. (T.L)
Slovakia is situated right in the centre of Europe and boarded by 5 different countries, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic. The drive from Prague on day 5 included an afternoon stop in Bratislava which is about another two hour drive from Budapest where we were spending the night. (A.M)
After a 3 hour drive from Prague, we reached the adorable little city of Bratislava. And no, I’m not being condescending – it really is a cute city! It reminded me of a dear old grandparent, who is just waiting to tell you stories and share their treats with you! Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and set along the Danube River. This is a pedestrian only town, which means the bus had to stop at a certain point and we had to head to the centre of the town on foot.
I’m sure by now you’ve realized that Europe is known for its many castles and Bratislava definitely didn’t miss out on a castle either! Before heading into the town, we had the privilege of taking a tour to the Bratislava Castle, which is perched on top of a hill.
The Bratislava Castle was only constructed in the 10th century, but underwent many changes. In 1430 it was converted into a Gothic fortress, became a Renaissance castle in 1562, was rebuilt in 1649 in the baroque style, in 1811 the castle was destroyed by fire and lay in ruins until the 1950s when it was rebuilt. (T.L)
As with most castle’s this one is also built up on a hill which gives it spectacular views on the city and the river Danube. From here you also get a great view of the “UFO bridge” and tower. It’s pretty obvious when you see it why it go that name but the official name of the bridge is Most Slovenského národného povstania (Most SNP) or Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising.It’s the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane. Slow cap for the engineers.
The pillars of the bridge also has a bar and restaurant. (A.M)
If you’re travelling from places like South Africa (where your money isn’t worth much when you head to Europe) then Bratislava is the place to go! You get a lot of bang for your buck, especially when it comes to food. The Old Town provided many great places to choose from for lunch and while lunching, you can enjoy the many statues that Bratislava has become famous for. Initially a few statues were brought to the city centre to shed some of the greyness, but it became so popular with tourists that now there are many different and quirky installations to look out for. (T.L)