Touch down in Bratislava

Trip Start Sep 23, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Where I stayed
Vegas Hostel

Flag of Slovakia  , Bratislava,
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What does 4 get you?

A McDonald's Value Meal?  A day ticket on the London Underground?  Cost of two shots in a cheap pub? Total cost of a flight to Bratislava from London?  Total cost of a flight from Krakow back to London?

And still you wonder how we can afford to travel so much? 

So there you have it.  Perusing Ryan Air one day, I noticed that seats were going for 4 a pop, and with a bit of looking around on the website, figured we could fly in to Bratislava, then fly back from Krakow, for 8 total.  Including all taxes and fees.  How could I not whip the credit card out?

Back in the saddle alongside me, was Helly, my long-time travel partner and person I like to annoy most.  She also gives a different perspective on things, and keeps me out of trouble.  An essential traveling partner, for sure.

We flew out from London Stanstead, which at stupid a.m time on this particular day is rammed with cheap asses, stag parties, backpackers and business men, all trying to get through the security checkpoint that takes forever.  It's almost as bad as Dubai or New York for waiting times. 

Flight was half full, meaning there was no rush for the best seats as is standard on ryanair.  Two hours later, we are in Eastern Europe.  Slovakia to be more specific. 

The day is stunning.  Clear blue skies and very warm indeed.  Great start to the trip.  We get the 70p local bus into the city centre, passing the communist era housing estates on the way in.  Whilst not intimidating, it's not particularly welcoming out in the suburbs.  Soon enough though we are wondering from the last bus stop into the old town, which is stunning, to say the least. 

Since it's still early morning, we decide the best way to start off is to get completely lost walking around, and see what happens.  We don't bother taking maps with us anymore - if you need one you can always find a free one at the airport or bus station, plus of course the cell phone in your pocket will probably include one on there.  We walk around the smaller back streets and alleys, away from the cafe lined main streets.  Back here, we find loads of derelict houses falling apart, which look fantastic still.  The buildings are gorgeous, no concrete blocks here, no neon lights, no prefab housing.  It's all cobbled streets, dusty courtyards and cracks in the walls.  Something that appeals to me, I'll admit.

We pass by numerous Churches, Embassies and little cafes.  We head through the more visited central old town, with it's up market stores, expensive restaurants and fountains galore.  We spend a few hours just staring at all the old buildings, thinking about all the history that they have witnessed. 

In the afternoon we head out of the old town, and north to the University area, where we can find a place to stay and something to eat.  We end up at the Vegas Hostel.  Forgive it's name, it's not like that.  A small place, pretty popular too.  Cheap too - 15 a night, including free breakfast, wi-fi and all the things most European hostels offer these days.  We spend the late afternoon looking around the Castle, high up on a hill overlooking the city.  The Castle itself was closed due to renovation, but the views of the old (and newer parts) of the city are well worth the trip.  Across the wide River Danube is the newer part of Bratislava, all high rise concrete blocks and shopping malls.  It even includes a bridge that looks so much like a flying saucer that it's known as the UFO bridge.  To the West are large hills, part of Austria, the border between there and Slovakia on the city limits.  To the East, about 15 miles away, is the border with Hungary. 

We end the night in a local pub, very popular with students, known as the Slovak Pub.  I'd imagine it's in a lot of guidebooks considering how many different types of people were in there.  It sells a lot of traditional Slovak food and beer for stupidly cheap prices, especially since Bratislava isn't considered cheap.  A full meal and a few beers cost less than 5.  The shots of liquor here are 50ml, twice the standard of the UK, and about a third of the price. 

Naturally, we take full advantage of this - it's Helen's birthday, afterall.
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