You are probably wondering where Bratislava, Slovakia is located or what would even possess a person to go there. Well, according to the map, reviews and blogs that I read, it’s cute city and a natural stop as you move through Eastern Europe. Additionally, I was on the search for the best Christmas markets. Bratislava is situated along the famous Danube River and shares a border with Austria and Hungary.
Upon arrival at the bus station it felt like this cold, sleepy, haunted place. By the way.. the Flix bus is the business. Because I arrived an hour before check-in, I had a beer on the patio and tried to look up things to do. When I finally got checked in and made my way to the room, something was weird. I looked around and the clothes seemed to belong to men or boys. I called down to the desk and she confirmed I was assigned to a mixed gender room. Yea… Negative ghost rider. I came back to lobby and returned the keys. It was a whole $17 for the three days and she told me it was not refundable. Umm… you can keep that as a donation because I am not staying here. I used my Booking.com app to search for a reasonable accommodation. And to be honest, I am quite funny about where I stay. That’s why I invest time to find a place that fits my style. I’m not sure if I dropped the ball, but I went back through my booking and I couldn’t find where it stated I would be in a mixed gender room. I was nervous with it being the holiday season that I wouldn’t be able to find something within range of my disposable travel funds. Just in case your wondering, I have a budget for spending, but I also have money that is considered emergency/disposable. I would say this was a situation that made it okay to use that money. I found the cutest accommodation called Bluebell B & B at a great price. The rating score for the B and B was in my preferred range, so I booked. I must say that the hostel in general was clean, included a lift, laundry room, large storage room, patio and kitchen just to name a few. As a solo female traveler, I’m just not comfortable enough to room with men I don’t know.
When I arrived at the B and B, I could tell it was situated in a prime area- adjoined to the Czech embassy and Kuwaiti right across the street. Later as I walked around I noticed the United States Embassy on the opposite side of the B and B building. That equated to a very safe neighborhood with security close. The room was large and clean. I settled in and took a walk towards the music and lights around the corner. Less than 500 feet was a Christmas market with ice skating, mulled wine and food! It was the feeling of you scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream. I roamed for some time while sipping pipping, hot mulled wine in the cold air trying to determine what I would have for dinner. I finally settled on grilled cheese, teriyaki gyoza and potato dumplings. Oh my goodness!!! Completely amazing choices. The grilled cheese is literally a thick piece of cheese melted on a hot griddle. It is browned to perfection and served with a small piece of bread and topped with cranberry jelly sauce. I had more than one. Gyoza was traditional in nature and drenched in teriyaki. I retreated to my room after one more mulled wine. I hope you can see the theme that is developing.
So I found this cool app and I am not sure if I mentioned if before, but Free Tours is the business. Don’t ever get on another Hop on Hop off tour if the city you are visiting is listed on the app. It was a rainy Monday and part of me wanted to stay inside, but I also wanted to explore the city. So I soldiered on and went on the tour…. in the rain. Along the way we visited Old Town, City Walls, Cathedral, various city statues and discussed how communism and monarchy impacted the country. The highlight was ending at the Bratislava Castle. From the castle you are given a panoramic view of the city. You can see the Danube River for as far as the eye can see. The UFO of Bratislava is right across the river. The cathedral is right in front of the castle area. The neighborhood leading to the the castle is called the Bermuda Triangle. People are known for bar hoping, drinking too much and getting lost. I found Patrick, our tour guide to be very knowledgable about not only Bratislava, but the surrounding countries and their impact.
But just a heads up… The Bratislava wind is no joke. My umbrella broke into pieces and I had to buy a poncho that was thinner than a trash bag to survive the tour. Afterwards, I went to Ramen Kazu to warm up for lunch. I made a quick stop by the room and then headed to the UFO tower to get a magnificent evening view of the city for miles in all directions. Patrick suggested a visit to the only brewery on the river. As it turns out it was closed, but worth the walk for the carbs I needed to burn. I decided to continue walking until I ran into the major mall. I found a few things and then walked home. I do have to say the people were very nice. I got up the next morning and walked to Starbucks. Afterwards, I packed my luggage and caught a Bolt to the bus station. The ride to Vienna was about an hour. It was a smooth ride on the Flix bus with internet and heating. It probably seems like my time was short in Bratislava, but it was meaningful. The Christmas market was fantastic. The B&B was a nice retreat from the hostel life and the food was satisfying. Additionally, I found a hot tea infused with vodka. Honestly if you are looking for an off the beaten path, European country to explore for a short time, I highly suggest Bratislava.
Last but not least, this is also the day I realized that that I booked my hostel for Prague back in November and the date had passed. Only I would do something of that nature. Not sure what I was thinking. Either way, I spent my ride to Vienna searching for hostels that could possibly meet my standards. Fingers crossed and as you will find out later, I found an amazing place!