Our train to Bratislava was only about two and a half hours so I caught up on some more sleep. We got off at the train station and headed to our hostel which was about 20 minutes away. We walked through the city and to be honest I wasn’t really impressed at first. There was hardly anyone out and we passed a lot of abandoned buildings on our walk to the hostel.
After getting checked in and catching up on our wifi and talking to our families, we headed to the main street to grab dinner. We planned on eating at a traditional Slovak Pub the hostel recommended, but it was packed and smokey inside so we found a really cool burger place down the street. Grace and I both ordered the classic Slovak burger with the famous sheep cheese on it. The burgers were delicious as well as the homemade raspberry lemonade!
We got up pretty early the next morning, planning on going on a walking tour at eleven. Since we had less than 24 hours in the city we set out early, exploring the main square of the Old Town. There were tons of cool sculptures and artwork scattered about the sidewalks and benches. We found a place to eat breakfast, enjoying hot chocolate and some scrambled eggs and ham. At breakfast two guys staying at our hostel joined us because they heard us speaking English, turned out they were going on the same walking tour as us.
Our guide, Andrea, was absolutely wonderful! She is a native of Bratislava and was a great guide, incorporating the history of the town with her personal experiences. She pointed out a clock in the main square that her grandmother told her was where everyone met for their dates. She also told us about the Slovak traditions for Christmas and Easter. For Christmas everyone buys a live fish and keeps it in their bathtubs for a couple days, and then on Christmas Day they cook it up for dinner. On Easter girls get cold water dumped on them by guys, then the girls have to give them gifts such as money and alcohol. Legends say that the cold water will bring girls health and beauty, however I think girls get the pretty crappy end of the deal!
On our tour we walked through Old Town, seeing statues of famous Slovak heroes and traditional buildings, such as the national theatre. We passed by Bratislava’s arguably most famous sculpture, a bronze man in a pothole, apparently it is good luck to rub his head (which Grace and I did), but also rumor has it that if you rub his nose it will bring a baby (We avoided this one…)
The most interesting part of the tour was learning about the huge influence communism had on Slovakia and the struggles it has been through since the recent split from Czech. We also walked by the famous blue church which provided a sharp contrast in a city still somewhat dominated by communism architectural influence.
We spent the rest of the afternoon with our Canadian friends, Parker and Ryan. We ventured up to a Cathedral and then to the castle overlooking the city. There was a food festival going on and I really enjoyed walking through all the stalls, mostly amongst locals, seeing and trying all the food. It definitely reminded me of something in Asheville! I ended up eating a Nutella crepe and Grace and I split a roasted chicken and potato pancake. All delicious but definitely not on the healthy side!
We quickly went up to the castle, checking out the awesome view of the city and the exterior of the castle. We said bye to our friends, hurried back to the hostel and made it in time for our train ride to Prague.
We had about a four hour train ride to Prague which was a nice time to take a nap and catch up on blogging. After arriving we walked to our hostel, discovering that Prague’s streets were pretty confusing; winding in all circles and not making much sense. After arriving to our hostel they informed us we had to stay at a different place a couple minutes away due to some damages in the building. (Not totally sure- some information was definitely lost in translation) We arrived at our new hostel, which is a great location, super close to the main town square. We got settled and set out to find some ice cream we had been craving all day. The guy working the desk gave us a wonderful recommendation of a place off the square a bit. On our way there we walked through the square for the first time. Even in the dark it completely wowed me. The churches, building and clock tower were all beautiful and the square was spacious and teeming with street performers, restaurants and of course tons of tourists. We watched the clock change, also pretty underwhelming like the Glockenspiel in Munich, but still a must to see in the city.
We got our ice cream which was delicious and wandered around the streets, delighting in all of the charming buildings and shops. We walked to Charles Bridge, another staple in the city. It is also beautiful, set on the water with the castle and cathedrals in the background. We walked across the bridge enjoying the water and the scenery. Even after a couple hours, I could already tell I was going to love this city!