Two hours northwest of Budapest lies the quaint capitol city of Bratislava, Slovakia. I may not have otherwise visited, but when a friend from Altria put it on her travel agenda I said, "Why not?!" If you are traveling to Vienna, Prague, Budapest or Krakow, I highly recommend adding a day trip to Bratislava at least.
Okay, honest time: there is not a whole lot to do in Bratislava. I do not recommend planning a full vacation just here (although I am sure those who live there are cringing as I write this), but I do think it is worth seeing if you are in the area.
There is a lot of history in Slovakia, including being part of many other empires throughout the centuries. We saw a few key places in the city, but what I really enjoyed was the leisurely pace, which included enjoying a fruit-infused champagne cocktail and yummy food in the pedestrian area.
The downtown area is full of winding, cobblestone streets that are lined with cafes, restaurants and little shops. It was relaxing and not even close to being crowded - much less touristy than Budapest or Vienna. And getting around is easy enough, making it good for a Traveling Newbie like me or for small families.
Not only is this palace beautiful on the outside, but it is also neat to tour inside. Before serving as the seat of the Mayor of Bratislava, this building witnessed witnessed the signing of the Fourth Peace of Pressburg in the early 19th Century between Napoleon and a Holy Roman emperor. Yes, we saw a lot of Napoleon's wake during our trip (including the Trakošćan trip - more in a later blogpost).
The furniture and architecture were neat, but I really enjoyed seeing the tapestries displayed throughout the palace. During reconstruction in 1903, these six tapestries were discovered tucked away behind a wall. It is estimated that they were woven in the early 1600s. Crazy! And admission is only like $3 - worth a quick peek!
LIke many of the castles we saw, Bratislava Castle has been in its location for centuries (or iterations of it, at least). Since it did not open until 10 am (what?! how are eager travelers supposed to see all of the sights before it gets hot?!), we did not tour the actual castle or garden. But the hike up was good exercise and the view over the Danube was very pretty.
About 20 minutes from Bratislava is a small town and castle called Devín. Again, I highly recommend seeing it if you are in the area anyways. Devin Castle is a large estate that contains ruins from old houses, an hold chapel and the old fortress. Yes, it is a little hike to the top but the view and structures are incredible to see up close.
Whew. Only a couple of blog posts left to catch up! Thanks for hanging in there.
Love to all,