Trip to Slovakia (Click on any image to load a larger copy)
Slovakia is the less known half of the former Czechoslovakia and became a separate country in 1993. 11 years after its independence, Slovakia joined the European Union with 9 other countries. To celebrate this, I decided to visit several of the new members of the EU a few days after they joined. After leaving the Czech Republic (See Trip to the Czech Republic), I took a train to the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. I was told that few tourist go to Slovakia, so I was looking forward to my visit.
After changing my Czech koruna to Slovak koruna, I headed off to the Hotel Kiev. This was an interesting hotel. It was the best of the Soviet-Era architecture, poorly designed and even more poorly built. The elevations have to be the slowest ones in the world and the elevator doors open before you actually arrive at the requested floor leave the user with a 6 inch step to make in order to get off the elevator. The lock on the door barley functioned giving me a large sense of security. The plumbing made funny sound, when it worked which was not all the time. In their zeal to make the hotel an icon, the designers had between-the-glass blinds installed. Unfortunately these did not quite work and half the blinds were broken where one side of the blinds was open and the other closed resulting in fan shaped window coverings. Despite the short comings of the hotel, it was good to experience the differences between Soviet-Era era hotel rooms and Western style hotel rooms.
I began exploring the city after having lunch. The first attraction I saw was the SNP Monument. This commemorating the Slovak National Uprising of 1944 when Slovaks fought the Nazi puppet government of their country. Unfortunately the Uprising did not succeed and Slovakia continued to be under the Nazis until the Soviets liberated them in 1945. I continued to the Grassalkovich Palace. This palace was built in 1760 and is now the Seat of the President of Slovakia. Soon after I arrived at the palace, the Honor Guards had a changing of the guards ceremony. Next I went to Michael's Tower, the entrance to the Old Town. The tower contains a museum on weapons which I enjoyed seeing. I walked around the old town for a while seeing old town hall and the Slovak National Theater. I eventfully walked back to my hotel for the evening.
The next day, headed back to the old town but this time I walked south from my hotel to the Danube River and entered old town from the east. My first stop of the day was at St Martin's Cathedral. This was the church were Slovak Kings were coronated. It is a beautiful church that has unfortunately been marred with the highway for the Novy Most Bridge being only a hundred meters away. Next I walked to the Primate's Palace which is where the mayor's office and a Municipal Museum is located. I bought a ticket for the museum and was surprised to see that the ticket was also a post card. I used the post card but none of the post cards I sent from Bratislava ever reached their destinations. In the afternoon, I took a boat trip down the Danube River to see more of Bratislava. It was a good idea but the trip lasted about 30 minutes with no commentary and the boat was full of school kids on a field trip.
I went to the Bratislava castle the next day. It is a large castle on a hill containing several museums including an art gallery and the Slovak Nation Museum. While exploring the Slovak Nation Museum, I heard for the first time in 4 days a conversation in English. This maybe a good indicator of how many tourist visit Slovakia (Not too many). From the castle I was able to see an overview of Bratislava and Petrzalka (Bratislava suburb on the other side of the Danube). Bratislava is a beautiful old city that contains some ugly Soviet-Era concrete buildings but Petrzalka is only Soviet-Era concrete apartment blocks. Hopefully something will be done to make Petrzalka more attractive.
After checking out the next morning, I took a taxi to the train station to catch a 1 hour train to my next destination - Vienna, Austria (See Trip to Austria). I enjoyed my visit to Bratislava but think that it should have been a day trip from Vienna rather than a 3 day trip that I took.
I used a Olympus C-750UZ 4.0 Megapixel Digital Camera. The images were cleaned up a bit with Adobe PhotoShop Elements (To correct the color balance). Additional Camera Information
|Last Updated on January 2, 2009||Images and Text © 2004 Andrew Patton - Copyright Information|