As you know, we’re currently in Vienna, Austria. As you might not know, it’s only about an hour from Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Geography!
Being promoters of a very multicultural area that has us within striking distance of Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia, the good folks at ÖBB – the Austrian rail company – have a bunch of regional promotions that allow for easy access to a bunch of cities in the region.
This makes it crazy easy to get to another country – culture, language, scenery, and all that – within a very short amount of time. Bratislava is the closest, so we picked up the ÖBB’s round-trip Bratislover (ha!) ticket for €15 and headed out there for the day.
Oh, the ticket also includes public transport in Bratislava, which makes things even easier. You have to use the outbound ticket the same day you buy it, but you have several days to return. And if you’re into cycling, you can take your bike for free.
Who can turn down a visit to another country for only €15? Come on, son!
After navigating the unfinished main railway station in Vienna with its crazy construction everywhere – hey guys, might want to finish it before you open it, just sayin’ – we made it a few minutes late for the soonest train and waited an hour for the next one to leave. No big deal.
Onward and eastward, we made it to Bratislava an hour after that. Woohoo!
As we were plotting our voyage, Ang happened to notice that the annual Slovak Food Festival was going on at Bratislava Castle while we’d be there.
Food festival! You know what we had to do.
More and more food.
More and more drink.
And lots of sun.
We have to say that it’s probably not the best idea to plan on exploring a city after you’ve caught a buzz and eaten way too much delicious Slovakian cuisine with a side of heat stroke, but whaddyagonnado?
We headed to the center anyway, and being it was a Saturday, most shops were closed.
That didn’t stop hordes of German retirees from clogging the streets with their little headsets, but we managed to weave around them and catch some sights before heading back to the main train station.
Regardless of the fact that Slovakia is in the EU – Schengen Area and all – it’s still Eastern Europe. That means it’s got its post-Cold War charms and a bit of chaos. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’ve been to Eastern Europe, you probably get what I’m saying.
Which is why it wasn’t really a surprise to find our train listed on the fancy digital board…and then…no train. The digital board, the one that actually tells you when trains are coming and going, what platform you should be on, and whether they’re late or not. The board!
The paper schedule said there was a train as well, but we’d come to find out from the station info center that there was, in fact, no train at all. There’s construction going on this summer, and they’ve cancelled 1/3 of the trains every day. They instead go to an entirely different station.
But that didn’t keep them from putting it on the digital board. Which amazes me.
So anyway, no big deal. We kicked about for another hour and then hopped on our train, exhausted from gluttony, and rode an hour back to Vienna.
While we quite enjoyed our visit to this up-and-coming European capital, we also didn’t really take advantage of everything Bratislava has to offer. That doesn’t really matter, though, because: 1) New Country Day!, and 2) Food Festival.
And really, what better way to sample the local culture by gorging yourself on local cuisine in the garden of a castle?
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Have you ever been to Bratislava? If so, what’d you think? Any recommendations (we’ll be heading back there)? Let us know in the comments!