06 April 2010

Get them out, Bratislava!

We landed in Bratislava at about 8pm on Sunday night.  Unfortunately, it was Bratislava Petrzalka station, which is south of the river and a reasonable distance from the city centre, and even further from the main train station, near which was our hotel.

It did show us one interesting facade of Bratislava that we wouldn’t have got from arriving at the main station.  That was of green fields suddenly giving way to communist era tower blocks almost immediately, with no hint of suburbs or out-lying towns and villages that you get most other cities.  It’s the most densely populated residential district in central Europe.  When looking at it the next day from the vantage point of Bratislava Castle, it is almost feels like it is continuous block of high rises, with barely a gap.  If the weather had of been decent, it would have made an interesting picture, instead, I’ve had to grab this one from the web:

Coming out of the train station on a dark cold wet April night wasn’t much fun.  It looked pretty dodgy and closed, but there was one ticket office open (although it was difficult to tell, the lady at the desk seemed to be doing her best not to be seen).  With about 5 words, she managed to tell us how to get a bus to the main train station (down stairs, up stairs, over road).

We managed to get the bus, which was quite efficient and quick.  Arriving at the main station, though, left us with a similar feeling to the other station, dodgy and somewhat menacing.  Eventually we managed to find our accommodation, Hotel Spirit, which was a delightful place, despite the weather.  We were re-acquainted with the eastern European custom of getting ketchup with pizza (which we'd noticed while living with a Romanian couple).

The weather on the next day continued as it had been, cold and wet.  Continuous drizzle.  We realised pretty early on that there wasn’t that much to do in Bratislava.  It did make a difference that it was an Monday, but worse than that, Easter Monday.  Nearly everything that a tourist might want to do was closed.  Even if that hadn’t been the case, Bratislava felt limited.  We’d already booked a couchette train to get us out that night.

We eventually settled in a pub called the Slovak pub, which our helpful receptionist had recommended to us the previous night.  I like to equate it with a Slovak equivalent of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

A couple of random tourist sat down at the table next to us.  After about 10 minutes, a group of mature Slovaks got up to leave the pub.  A 50-something lady amongst them had spotted the fact there was a few foreigners nearby.  Pulling up her jumper, she flashed us!

Audrey hadn’t seen it, and I looked around at her stunned, speechless.  She looked at me, and then beyond me, and her jawed simply dropped.  Then the ‘lady’ left the pub.  It was a good talking point to start a conversation with the other foreigners, they'd been similarly shocked.  We enjoyed a few beers with them, before making our way to the hotel to pick up our bags and head to the train station.

The night train was as pleasurable as ever.  Bumpy ride and difficult to sleep.  Arriving in Krakow at 6:30 this morning, we made our way to Hostel Faust.  Today was a typical tourist day, loads of nice old buildings (especially churches – We've never been to so many of them in a single day), but the weather was rubbish, and I was knackered due to the night train.

I’ve settled in for the night, and have made a few more friends over the last couple of days:

Kelt beer (left) was alright, nothing to write home about, but the Zlaty Bazant was pretty good everywhere we had it (below).

Zlaty Bazant again (lower left), but the dark beer version, very malty, very sweet, and easy to drink.  The other, Kosovice (left), tasted pretty crap at this pub, had one later that was better, but not much better than average.  They were all Slovak beers I managed to get in.

These are my Krakowian friends.  Mr Karnas is just being polished off as I post this, have enjoyed it, but it wasn't as good as Warka, which both Audrey and I thought was a damn solid beer.  Both reasonably strong, 6% and 5.7% respectively, but nothing on Kaper, which weighed in at a hearty 8.7%, but really didn't taste like it.  Easy to drink, dark and malty, could get rubbered on it very quickly.

I get the feeling this could be more of a beer blog than anything else.


Ada said...

Beer slogan indeed. Reading your prev blogs- this feels more like Stephen's guide to European beer than a travelogue...

PS DId you catch the Bayern Munich vs Manchester U game?

Unknown said...

Well Sok,

I have read your blog with great interest and I liked the look of that slide.

That women who was trying to hide in the ticket office in Bratislava would want to get her act together. She could be out of a job soon. I couldn't believe she flashed you in the pub later on.
Cheeky sort.


Sokratees9 said...

I might cut back on the beer pictures, unless it is especially interesting. I've picture of me drinking a can of a "strong irish stout" called Belfast which I'll post soon. IT was 8.1%, and I struggled, but like the trooper I am, got to the end of it.

Aido said...

That Warka beer is pretty good cos drank loads of it when I was in Poland last year. Anyway hope yas are having a good time anyway.