A common conversation I’ve had with folks back home lately:
“I’m now headed to Bratislava.”
“Brati-what? Where in the world is that? I’ve never heard of it.”
Where is Bratislava?
Well, my little geography students, Bratislava happens to be the capital of the fairly newish country of Slovakia. We all remember being back in school learning about a country far, far away called Czechoslovakia? Although, I’m hesitant to say that as a kid I pronounced it ‘Checkle-slovakia.’ Well, the second half of the compound word finally declared its independence after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and a new nation was born.
Bratislava is often overshadowed by its much larger, much more touristed ‘step-brother,’ Prague. But, I’d been to the jewel of the Czech Republic and had heard that Bratislava was just as lovely, but with less crowds and even lower prices.
Bratislava Tourist Attractions
So, what to do in Bratislava? Bratislava is great. It is another one of those places that caused me to walk around its cobblestone, medieval, pedestrian-only old quarter with a bit of a smitten grin plastered across my face. Not only is it charmingly filled with story-book castles and towers and some amazing gothic and baroque architecture, beyond the Bratislava tourist attractions, there is a great artistic, cultured feel to this town.
The streets brim with colorful cafes, museums, theaters, and art. It’s summertime so there are outdoor concerts nearly every night — the sounds of Jazz and even Latino beats wafting through the echoey centuries old cavernous lanes.
Art & Culture in Bratislava
There are these fun whimsical life-size Bronze statues at every turn—‘the Frenchman,’ ‘The Peeper,’ and ‘The Photographer.’ I can tell I’m in Europe again—there’s an artsy, creative feel to these cities that seem to give them a progressive edge over many American cities. Although Millennium Park in Chicago is one place that comes to mind that always reminded me of something I’d find in Europe.
The plazas and lanes here burst with life and public art mixes with form and nature. After 7:00pm, families come out with their kids for a refreshing gelato treat, lovers nuzzle and purr into each others ears on benches lining the park, girlfriends laugh and chat over a glass of wine, and the tourists snap happy photos of this fairy tale scene that is real life Slovak-style. I was only here a couple days and spent most of my time just strolling and wandering, but go here for this ultimate guide on things to do in Bratislava.
Something hard not to notice here — the people are all beautiful. I have to say, so far on my trip, these are the most gorgeous women, as a group, that I’ve encountered. Of course, I’ve seen pretty Asians, Australians, Argentineans, and Emiratis, but the majority of the gals I pass here could all be walking right off the runway of a fashion show. You know them as all the eastern European models on the pages of the fashion mags: extremely tall with legs up to their neck, thin, and nearly perfect skin.
Another sign I’m in Eastern Europe? Beer is the breakfast of choice here with many locals. Every morning I undoubtedly see guys hanging out at cafes way before noon with a couple pints of lager and a cigarette. I like to do as the locals do, but I still prefer a latte and maybe some scrambled eggs. Or a bagel—something else Slovakia has. I haven’t seen one of these since… hmmm … maybe Australia, but I honestly don’t recall any there either.
The one odd thing that stands out amidst the scene of medieval delight, besides the rows and rows of communist apartment buildings just on the ‘other’ side of town and the Soviet super highway that was built right through the old Jewish quarter destroying dozens of old buildings in its path, is the local McDonald’s.
But even McDonald’s is brimming with life under the umbrellas on its alfresco ‘McCafe.’ This little slice of America somehow, if it’s possible, takes on an air of European charm.
For more ideas check out this blog that covers a few different tours of Bratislava.