My first impression of Bratislava was not exactly a good one.
While we were in Vienna we decided to take a day trip to Bratislava, at the suggestion of our host. We bought a return train ticket and crossed from Austria to Slovakia. Our host had been there before, so my sister and I were dependent on him to help us get around.
He wanted to take us to Bratislava Castle, because castles are cool.
You want to know what’s not cool? Riots. Especially riots in a foreign area. But the worst part was actually our taxi driver. He didn’t know English or German and it took us forever to communicate that we wanted to go to the Castle. If you’re going to be a cab driver who waits outside a train station you might want to at least try to communicate with the people you pick up (not that I’m saying he should have learned other languages, but he could have been a lot nicer and a lot more helpful).
As we approached the castle we noticed that something was not right. Our driver had taken us to a gate that was currently blocked by 20+ people who had bandannas covering their faces. That is not a good sign. Also not a good sign – the police squad standing near them, in full riot gear with those big riot shields.
Our cab driver tried to get us to leave the cab RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS! We tried to get him to drive us away from here, but he stopped the cab and basically kicked us out. Worst. Cab. Driver. Ever.
We got out of the cab and briskly walked away from the scene. As we rounded the castle we could hear chanting and we did our best to get away from it. Call me a coward, but I did not want to get stuck in the middle of a riot in a strange town.
So, yeah, not a good first impression.
We walked around the castle (avoiding the streets) and made it to another gate. Needless to say, the castle was closed down and they weren’t admitting anyone. I was actually sad about this. While I’m not particularly interested in Marie Antoinette or her mother, Maria Theresa of Austria (who lived in the castle), I had heard that the castle was supposedly haunted.
That damn riot deprived me of visiting a haunted castle.
Since we couldn’t get inside we walked down the mountain/hill and into the city. We passed by a building that had seen better days:
Before getting to the bottom, where the more modern buildings were. One example is the Grassalkovich Palace, where the President of Slovakia resides. Also, it has a really cool fountain in the plaza outside.
Our host led us to a restaurant that he’d visited previously for dinner. We ordered a traditional dish, which seemed to consist of mushy something or other (possibly lard) in a cheesy sauce with bacon. Not only was it super cheap, but really filling. Just don’t talk to me about calories.
We asked our waiter about the riot, but he had no idea what it was about. (When I came home I tried to google it but there was nothing – I still have no idea what that riot was about.)
Now that things had calmed down in ol’ Bratislava, we got out to enjoy some of the downtown area. We did some shopping (at super cheap stores) before heading back to Vienna. On our way to the train station we passed by this:
No doubt the most confusing movie ever – Inception in Solvak.