Apologies for my short absence, but I have once again been on holiday! This has been quite the year for holidays, one which I know I won’t get to recreate any time soon, and so I jumped at every opportunity to get out of the country (or sometimes just to other parts of the country). As you may be able to tell, this time Matt and I jetted off to Bratislava, in Slovakia. Most people, when told where I was going, would either reply “Where??”, or, with a slightly confused look on their face, “Why?”.
In answer to the first question, a super quick geography lesson: Bratislava is the capital – and only major – city in Slovakia. Slovakia is sandwiched between Poland to the north, the Czech Republic to the west, and Hungary to the south, and also has borders with Austria and Ukraine. Bratislava itself is on the very western point of Slovakia, meaning that it’s quicker to get to, and is actual very near to Vienna (in Austria). In fact, it’s closer to both Vienna and Budapest (Hungary) than it is to the only other big city in Slovakia, Košice.
And on to the why. Bratislava was actually one of the stops on our interrailing trip two years ago. We only stayed for two nights, arriving late and leaving early, but it was one of the most memorable stops of the holiday. This time around, we actually ended up going back to the same hotel, because it is quite frankly awesome, and really doesn’t cost that much for the standard you get. It was just the same, if not better, than I remembered, and we fitted so much more into our visit.
So, onto a bit about the holiday itself. The hotel we stayed in was the NH Gate One, which is actually really near the airport. However, everything in Bratislava is really quite near the airport. It’s really not that big. The hotel is a bit out from the city centre, but Bratislava actually have a great bus system, which we had a (mostly) really positive experience with. We had upgraded to a superior room, which was gorgeous, and had views of the city. One of the best things about the hotel is that it has a spa (pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna etc), which is small but seriously luxe. It’s made even better by the fact that, because the hotel is predominantly used for business, the spa is never busy, and often we were the only people in there. I’ve also become quite the fan of the steam room, and of course I can always appreciate any kind of jacuzzi!
You may be wondering about the title of this post. Ďakujem means thank you in Slovak, and it was honestly the only word we memorised. Saying “hi” instead of “ahoy” or even just “haló” meant that we basically pre-announced our Englishness and hopeless inability with the complex Slovak language, and so most Slovakians knew then to switch to their often excellent English. Such a British thing to do, but we were never going to get to grips with much of the language in five days!
Everyone was very friendly in Bratislava, and we ate at some amazing restaurants and cafés. A favourite of ours was Gatto Matto, a fantastic Italian down a tiny side street in the Old Town. The Old Town in Bratislava was really where we spent most of our time, when we weren’t swimming, shopping, or sleeping (Matt caught up on a lot of sleep on this trip!). There was a shopping mall right across the road from the hotel which we popped into a couple of times, but the great places to eat and drink were really in the Old Town. We also visited a couple of chocolateries (Schokocafes or Čokoládovňa), one of which, Bon Bon, was absolutely amazing. The hot chocolate there was literally pure melted chocolate, and came with a liqueur of your choice. I chose white chocolate with a mint liqueur, which was just amazing.
We also had dinner at Carne Valle, famous for it’s meat, although I had a pizza. We had tapas at La Cava Barcelona, along with a huge and very expensive bottle of cava (21 euros instead of the 4 euros we found it for in Barcelona), followed by a fantastic creme catalan for dessert. Another hit was a wine bar with a great selection of wines by the glass, and which was amazingly decorated inside. Overall, a great trip for food and drink!
Apart from exploring the Old Town, walking up to the castle, and being generally touristy, we didn’t really do an awful lot else. It was great to have plenty to do, but not to feel pressured to see and do everything, which made the whole holiday seem really nice and relaxing. And it was relaxing – we went to the spa every day, had lots of lie-ins, and generally just did what we felt like doing day to day. There was next to no planning, and that was nice, because there was never anything forcing us to get up and go somewhere, nor lack of time pushing us to do lots of things in a limited time frame. I would happily have stayed for a lot longer and never got bored.
I hope this post has given a bit of an insight into what Bratislava has to offer, and please bear in mind that there is more to Bratislava than just the Old Town and good restaurants – but that’s for the next visit!