Bratislava, what can I say?
After travelling on one of the busiest trains I have ever been on, I arrived into Bratislava hlavná stanica and was greeted by the hustle and bustle of probably one of the busiest train stations I have ever been to. Overcast, cold and with the sky a dull grey, my first impressions of Bratislava were not high.
As I made my way to my hostel, whose name I won’t mention because it was beyond terrible, my thoughts instantly went to “this is nothing like Prague”, and well of course it isn’t. The view from my hostel dorm window could only be described as ‘bombed city aesthetic” and I had the pleasure of sharing the room with a great guy who was way to old to be staying in a hostel and had a great loud conversation on the phone at 1am. But really, what could I expect from a hostel which was €11 a night, and I was only there for one night as well so I couldn’t complain.
After deciding on an early night, I woke up the next morning, packed up my backpack and checked out of the hostel. This is where the apology comes in, out the window went my first negative impressions of Bratislava. As I walked down into Old Town, what I found was an unexpected city full of people, food and an amazing café and coffee culture.
Walking through the back streets of Old Town
By now I was starving, so I ventured into Urban House on Laurinska Street, armed with my last €25. The staff were friendly and attentive and the clientele ranged from business people, to hipsters. Urban House wouldn’t look out of place in Grey Lynn or Kingsland back in Auckland.
Urban House, Laurinská 14
After devouring some shakshuka and a couple of coffees, I head off up the hill to Bratislava Castle, which offers amazing views of Bratislava… well they usually do but as my luck is on the lower end, I had to compete with a blanket of fog. The castle has beautiful gardens and the park surrounding it would be amazing in summer.
Delicious shakshuka and coffee at Urban House
From the castle, I made my way back down to Old Town and wandered the back streets, finding a new one to go down every time I came across a group of tourists. Admittedly that is something I prefer over Prague, there are a lot less tourist in Bratislava, which in turn means a lot less hassle from hustlers. After spending some time walking through Old Town, I made my way to jump onto a tram and then a bus to the airport. My mistake, do not go to the airport hours before your flight like I did.
Since I’m not from a EU country, and I’m cheap enough to fly Ryan Air, I need a visa check stamp every time I fly with them (I believe this is a Ryan Air only thing). If you get a nice ticket desk person, they usually just stamp it and you’re on your way, get to head through security and chill airside with all the good cafes etc. But if you get the lady I had at Bratislava Airport, you will be made to wait until check in for your flight opens before they will stamp it. The problem with this being, there is literally nothing to do in Bratislava Airport before you go through security.
So what did I learn from my 24 hours in Bratislava? Do not judge and make first impressions about a city when you get because, the next day you could be very pleasantly surprised.
I’m not sure if I will make it back to Bratislava, actually scratch that, it’s actually cheaper to fly into Bratislava and take the train to Prague than it is to fly into Prague… so I may very well make it back to Bratislava, and when I do I definitely want to spend more time exploring the city and travelling a bit more into Slovakia.