The night train was a little bit better-- no horrible border crossings, but some guy was throwing up really loudly a few compartments down from us. Thankfully for me, I had earplugs, but I don't think Dad got too much sleep. But we were in a 6 person compartment by ourselves. We initially had a few roommates, but they moved to another empty compartment and we had all the space to ourselves. Good thing too-- there was almost no storage for bags in the compartment, and our backpacks definitely did not fit an any of the available spaces.
Thankfully we were able to just throw them on some of the other beds. Lucky! Anyways, we arrived in Bratislava at 5:40 AM (4/20), leaving plenty of time to wander around.
We found our hostel without any trouble, rested for a little while, got all jazzed up on espresso, and wandered up to the castle. This castle is definitely different than the other ones we have been to so far-- very square architecture with 4 identical posts.
Like an old fashioned bed! We walked up to the top to check out the beautiful views of the Danube River, and tried to go inside but there was nothing in there! All of the other castles/palaces have had really ornate interiors, but this one was literally empty. Oh well!
After checking out the Danube from above, we decide to walk along the banks. Luckily, there was a nice park with tons of tulips, statues, and fountains along the whole length of Old Town. There were tons of benches, and they all had WiFi access!
Unbelievable. Europe is so far ahead of the US when it comes to free WiFi. Also, we have finally stumbled upon springtime! It was bout 75 degrees and really sunny-- I even got a little bit sun burnt (no surprise there). But the winter coats have been stashed and the skirts unearthed from the bottom of my pack, yay!
AND the fountains have been turned on for the most part, which is adding a whole new dimension to all of these attractions.
After the Danube, we went into the heart of Old Town to check out a few cathedrals and the square. While all of the Old Town's in Eastern Europe have been similar in some ways, the have all been markedly different. Bratislava looks more like Tallinn than anything else.
You can definitely see the mark of communist rule on all of the towns-- big square concrete buildings mixed in with the colorful quaint architecture of the independent cultures. There are dozens of really interesting sculptures scattered around Bratislava; apparently the most photographed place in Slovakia is this sculpture of a guy climbing out of a manhole.
There was a giant crowd of Asian tourists in front of it, taking pictures next to it. But I was able to sneak a clear shot. Quite a bit of hype for a silly sculpture, although I guess it was pretty clever.
After Old Town, we went back to the hostel for a rest and shower. Then back out for dinner. We went to a little traditional restaurant and had a truly excellent meal. I still can't get over how great the food is here, and so cheap! Our entire dinner was less than 20 Euros, and we got drinks, salads, and nice main courses.
Good news-- we got table water for free today! HOORAY! Maybe the days of paying 6 dollars for tiny bottles of Evian are over. After another few hours of walking around, we headed back to our hostel to catch up on sleep. As it turns out, Bratislava is pretty small and 15 hours of walking was definitely enough time to make a pretty good impression of the town. Anyway, off to Austria tomorrow! Dovidenia!
Just realized the date. Can't say I am sad about missing 4/20 in Boulder. Although I could have probably picked a more celebratory place to be in Europe. Amsterdam maybe? Oh well, Slovakia was perfectly adequate to avoid the entire mess. Hope everyone had a good/safe time!
Well, the day certainly got off to an early start.